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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Perfume Review: Chypre Rouge and Mandarine Mandarin

Review by Tom

Chypre Rouge

Luten's newest, after long build-up now on our shores (thanks to Columbina for the sample). The first dab on my arm made me think of Framboise, the raspberry liqueur. Not that it actually smells like raspberries, but the boozy sweet hit reminds me of the smell of it. Almost immediately, Immortelle asserts itself, drier than the immortelle in Sables and something that smells like strong fresh thyme.
Slowly, a mossy, pepperiness joins in, but never really develops much further. I don't get the licorice notes that Columbina gets (and hates), and I don't get the promised almonds. I get a pleasant mossy chypre that is rather sweet and rather... red. I hate to say it, but I am rather indifferent to this one, leaning towards not liking it. It's sweet, it's red, it's only vaguely mossy and I find the immortelle at the same time overpowering and rather...dull. As I type this, I am checking the sky for storm clouds lest I be hit by lightning for finding a Serge Lutens creation dull, but there you are. I will give this one more of a try later on, since I've had Serge's that I have had to try several times before the "eureka!" moment, but I am not pawing at the counter at Barney's, charge card in my teeth, murmurring "gimme" over this one. If that moment happens in the interim between me typing this and it being put up, I'll let y'all know..

P.S.- the moment never came. It's nice on me, but not wonderful.

It's been a perfume weekend at Casa de Pansy (and yes, you'll have to scroll down to the beginning of my blog to get the reference: why yes, I am a post whore. And an attention junkie.). I came home Saturday evening to find (finally) my sample package from Nez a Nez, as well as a sample I'd gotten from eBay of:


I spritzed myself this am and sniffed throughout the day. It starts with an almost Christopher
Brosius-like accord: exactly like tearing into the first Satsuma of the season in late fall. You can
smell the tart juice and the bright oil of the peel. I also get something that smells a bit like orange flower, but it's just a whisper like the ghost of summer on a fall day. After a while, the Madarin/Satsuma bit starts to take a backseat to the spices (I smell clove and nutmeg) as well as some smoky tea. Labdanum is in there, adding depth and mystery. At the end there's musk, not a lot, but enough to ground this scent is a way that's just captivating. I like this one far more than Chypre Rouge, and frankly cannot fathom why this is in the exclusives and CR isn't. Perhaps that's me being selfish, but this would be a perfect late fall/early winter scent that I would happily pop for if it was at Barneys, but am not going to go the operatic friendship-straining depths (aren't y'all glad you only know me on the internet?) that I was willing to go to over MKK or Chene. While I like it miles more than Chypre Rouge, I wouldn't recommend you doing so either.


I got home to send this (yes, I do write on company time, In my job, if you're typing, you're working) and read Patty's excellent comments. She nailed what I felt about the two "Mandarine-Mandarin is everything I wanted Chypre Rouge to be, though they aren’t the same in composition..."

Mandarine-Mandarin reminds me of the holidays in a way- Satsumas in your Christmas stocking, spices, wreaths, cashmere blankies and warm hearths. Wonderfully comforting.

I may have to rethink that importuning on my friends thing. Now who do I know who's going to France?

Chypre Rouge is now available Barneys at $120, since like Daim Blonde it is a Haute Concentration. Mandarine-Mandarin is only available at the Paris salon for 100 Euros. How I wish it was the other way around.


Blogger chaya ruchama said...

Mornin', Tom-

Liked hearing from you again....

You might try layering with Ambre Sultan- that combo really nails it.

I also suspect that a smidge of Vetiver Extraordinaire would be amazing with it and cut the sweetness for you !

Try it, you might like it !

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us [as if we could stop you...or want to...]


6:30 AM EDT  
Blogger Patty said...

As much as I was irritated with Chypre Rouge, I adore M-M, I'm glad you are loving it too!

8:09 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If CR and FdOranger had a baby, it would smell like MM. I liked MM a LOT (show me an orange scent I don´t like!) but it smelled a lot like Oranger...

That immortelle is very present in CR. I think I liked it more than most people.

--- March (posting anonymously since I can´t remember my blogger password)

8:18 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

That's exactly how I feel about Chypre Rouge, "I am rather indifferent to this one, leaning towards not liking it". I wish I could express an opinion on Mandarine, but I still have not received my decant. Grrr.

8:49 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

I think you may have been spared the lightning hit because I've been hit so many times for continuing to find it unremarkable each and every time I've sampled it. :-( Haven't tried MM yet, but I'm increasingly sure it will be a must have for me...thank God for Ebay, despite the budget busting prices.

8:54 AM EDT  
Anonymous Leopoldo said...

I'm one of those rare freaks who much prefers CR to MM. And I'm gonna try Chaya's layering thing - I guess with CR is her intention.

What's not to like about a female BO/curry/sugar syrup combo? Eh? Eh?

9:14 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

I like CR fine--but, like you and L, find it unremarkable. I enjoy MM much more, but I think I will be satisfied with the 1/3 oz decant I managed to obtain There are certain Serges that do move me to go through the mishagas necessary to obtain a bell jar, but so far, this is not one of them.

9:18 AM EDT  
Blogger chaya ruchama said...

I'm sorry, Tom-
I DID mean CR w/ Ambre Sultan...
CR w/ VE...
CR w/Poivre Samarcande, if you'd like to dry it out a bit...

10:21 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I'm trying not to buy more! Don't make me!


12:58 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I just wish it was easier to get.

12:59 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I'll have to sniff Fd'O. I haven't yet.

1:00 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


CR was a diasppointment. I think you'll like MM better- but I don't think you'll be blown away.

BTW- did it take about 300 years for you Nez a Nez samples to arrive?

1:01 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I don't think I've heard many people that were crazy about it. Perhaps our expectations were too high- if this had come out from anybody else I'd have been impressed. For me CR is like watching David Copperfield pull a rabbit out of his hat- you expect a little more...

MM is a little more.

1:03 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


If it works on you, more power to you. On me it just missed.

1:04 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

301 years to be exact. And when they finally arrived, two samples were open and of course leaked all over the package. My poor home still faintly reeks of BERRIES.

1:06 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Lily- I've come to the same conclusion about MM. If it shows up as an export, I'm first in line at Barneys. But I am not as willing to extort it from friends overseas, as I was with MKK. Besides, there will come a day where I will need another bottle of MKK. I'll save my begging favors for then

1:07 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Mine hadn't leaked, but the bag they were packaged in was wholly inadequate for a trip across town, never mind a trip across the ocean. But I'm still gonna test 'em.

In the interest of science, natch.

1:10 PM EDT  
Blogger Erin said...

Oh stop it! I don't want to try MM, I don't! I can't hear y'all mmm mmm mmm lalalalalala.

Immortelle dull? I also won't hear of that. Wait, it will save me money! Yes, yes, dull, unbearably dull.

(Sorry, Tom, good review. Synapses misfiring, I had too much pumpkin pie for breakfast.)

1:47 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


It's dull. Dull I tell you! Back away from the MasterCard!!!

Mmmmm... Pumpkin...

3:02 PM EDT  
Anonymous greeneyes said...

Oh phooey...I just got my sample of Chypre Rouge on Tuesday, but haven't tried it yet. Doesn't sound so hot. Looks like I'll be hitting eBay for a sample of Mandarine Mandarin, though. Just when I swore I was through ordering samples for a while...oh, the lies we tell ourselves!

5:09 PM EDT  
Anonymous Ina said...

I found Mandarine-Mandarin quite difficult to describe but you've done a great job, Tom! I just smelled it again, and what I'm getting is smoky celery that eventually grows into sophisticated spicy amber. Love it! I wish I liked Chypre Rouge more, too.

5:15 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Yes, I've told myself time and time again that I won't be ordering samples for a while. A while usually ends up being about eight minutes.

7:18 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Thanks! That's nice of you!

7:19 PM EDT  

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