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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Perfume Review: Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque

Review by Tom

After being disappointed by Chypre Rouge and liking but not lemming Mandarine Mandarin, I was almost afraid that FT might be a third strike disappointment. I couldn't have been more wrong: this one is the stuff!

Opening with a blast of smoke that makes me think of a fire fed by seasoned hardwood in the library of my fantasy mansion, with a brief whisper of bitter cocao, the cocao quickly supplanted by lapsang souchong tea. The smoke subsides a bit to the scent of tobacco: the expensive, round and slightly fatty smell of the inside of a tobacconist like Dunhill, along with dark rum and a sweet indolent caramel. Rose and jasmine pops in and out: the merest breath of it, so ethereal and fleeting you almost want to turn around and see if there are some in the room (this is also one of the best roses I've smelled in perfume, usually I can't bear rose notes). There is a gourmand sweetness to it that smells delightfully fruity, almost like the home-made fruitcake my mother used to make, bursting with honey, currants and dates and moist with rum. That sweetness plays very close to the skin, however: I really have to stick my nose in the crook of my elbow to smell it. These notes weave back and forth and in and out, finally joined by leather, which grounds the drydown in it embrace.

This is full bottle worthy: full bottle and back-up bottle worthy. It's a fantastic comfort scent; imagine sipping tea in front of the fireplace in a mahogany-paneled library, languishing in the embrace of an overstuffed leather chair, a snifter of the best rum on the table next to you, the ghost of the scent of the hearths previous fires and the pipes smoked embracing you, the occasional warm wind bringing the scent of the flowers in the garden in through the open french doors. It's nearly 90 in Los Angeles today and the notes in this one really work in the heat; I think they will be even better in the cold.

Fumerie Turque is making a brief appearance in the export line of Serge Lutens. It's available at Barneys and I believe Aedes, and is priced at $110 (as are the rest of the formerly $92 ones).

The image is from


Blogger colombina said...

Aah! I want to smell what you are smelling. I want the mahogany panelling and the rum and the tobaco and that rose. It should have sooo made the earth move for me, but it hasn't. I mean, I like it, but....I expected an earthquake, a holy grail scent... *wails* Why doesn't it rock my world?!

11:13 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I'm sorry about that. It isn't quite and earthquake on me, well, it's a decent-sized tremblor: not San Francisco in '06, but it is Northridge in '94. It's not quite up there with the drooling gottamoveheavenandearth that Borneo or MKK was for me. But it was an instant get the Barneys card out purchase. And there will definately be a back-up bottle bought before it goes away. The only downside for me is that it's fairly fleeting for a Lutens, only a few hours. I've gotten used to applying them in the am and waking up to their embrace the next day.

Guess we're fraternal scent twins...

11:47 PM EST  
Anonymous Flora said...

Oh, it sounds just divine - I love the "other" SL of this general type, Arabie, so I imagine I would love this. I happen to be near a perfume shop that carries the full line - must see if they have a few of these before they all get snapped up! I must at least sniff...

1:14 AM EST  
Anonymous Leopoldo said...

It's a beauty, for sure. I agree with Tom and more - love this one. though, it has recently been smelling of mushrooms on my skin. Let's hope that passes...

5:35 AM EST  
Blogger elle said...

Gorgeous review! And you are right - this is back-up bottle worthy.

6:29 AM EST  
Blogger chaya ruchama said...

Oh, Tomski-
I wanted to love this, truly I did-
But it didn't love me back-
It became all sweetie-pie on me, then vanished on my skin.

7:09 AM EST  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

(Thanking the chemistry gods here:) I adore this, and went out of my way to get a bell jar, when that was the only option. I will definitely buy a backup before it leaves. I find that it is particularly good outside in cold weather: breathing it in with the iciness is heaven!!!

7:23 AM EST  
Blogger Kelley said... more! I have spent way too much on fragrance this year already!!! In fact, I have about 25 samples and three full bottles on the way as I type this. However, I have wanted to try this one for a while now. OK, maybe one more tester!

9:32 AM EST  
Blogger greeneyes said...

Oh, okay, I'll get out my sample and wear it already. Lovely review, quite convincing! But did they really raise their prices? Grrrr.

9:56 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I've never smelled Arabie, but I've looked at the notes and I think if you love that one, you'll like this one as well

11:40 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Mushrooms? Yikes! Let's hope that passes!

11:44 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Elle- Thanks!

11:45 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


That's too bad. Luckily it's sweet part stays really close on the skin for me. Sadly, it is less tenacious than other Lutens.

11:46 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I want to get to cold (well, as cold as we get in Los Angeles) to try it- I think I'll be thrilled!

11:47 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


That's what I always say: "just one more tester"...

11:47 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Barneys did (grrrrr indeed). Neiman Marcus has them at $92, but doesn't carry them all. Aedes doesn't list FT, but they are at $92 as well.

11:53 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

BTW- whan I was at Barneys the SA was telling me about a mystery woman whom she was convinced was a friend of mine, since she was online and also knew about the fragrances before they did. Who could she be?

11:54 AM EST  
Blogger Dusan said...

I couldn't agree with you more! My first bell jar, unsniffed at that, proved to be a heavenly gift from moi to moi. My favorite part is the initial blast of tobacco smoke that shortly thereafter gets drenched in rum. It lasts a good deal on me, but it does become a skin scent about three hours in. After that I mostly get a slightly animalic beeswax with a toing-and-froing patchouli, the whole underscored by a breath of gentle leather. I adore it, just like I do Borneo ;-) .
Thank you for a great review, Tom!

12:49 PM EST  
Blogger Erin said...

I expected to *love* this one and in a way I do... but I've just been absolutely blown out of the water by Chene recently, so I haven't been able to focus. My initial impression was that it was great, but I like Chergui better. I just tried MM yesterday and am currently trying to convince myself I don't absolutely adore that one, so I don't think I'll re-try Fumerie today!!!

2:12 PM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

It's the sort of thing I should have loved and didn't (Chergui is my Smoky Serge favorite.) But now my decant's long gone and I have to re-try it, because you've made it sound veeeeery appealing!

3:28 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Dusan- it is a great one. I love the way the notes weave in and out.

4:03 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Erin, if I had just smelled Chene (which concidentally I am wearing today). I'm afraid Fumerie Turque would seem a little less wonderful in comparison. But only a little..

4:06 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

March- I love and wear (and have a back up bottle of) Chergui, but it's more hay on me than smoke. If you'll pardon the imagery, if Fumerie Turque is my fantasy library, Chergui is my fantasy barn :-)

4:13 PM EST  
Blogger rockinruby said...

Great review! I love this one. I have loved it for some time now, and even wangled a couple of bell bottles from Paris last year. I have been doling out very small drops from that well....until now! I just received 2 bottles (yes, 2, she said, hanging her head in shame) from Barneys a couple of days ago. My SA says they have just about sold out of their initial stock already.

Oh, how I love this one. And I think for me it IS San Francisco '06, I really do. That smokey opening packs a whallop (which I love). I feel like I'm sitting beside the embers of a fire in some faroff land (maybe Turkey, maybe not). The sweet never becomes overly so. It's like having a sweet cup of coffee with a really good's a nice counterpoint, but doesn't overwhelm the smoke entirely!

And contrary to tmp00's experience, it lasts forEVER on my skin. I can always still smell it just fine the next day. If I had the cash, I'd fill a closet with the stuff....just in case.

It's been in my Top 10 since the day I first sniffed it, and I do not expect it to step down to make room for any upstarts any time soon!! :-)

9:20 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


It is gorgeous. The only caveat for me is the lasting power: not that I mind reapplying, not at all. It's just that it's so gorgeous that I want the lasting power of Ambre Sultan, which has lasted on me for as long as 36 hours (which is as long as I'll go without showering)

11:03 PM EST  
Blogger censorious said...

smells like JOOP!... wasn't at all the funeral pyre i had expected... so insipid and honeyed... and annoyingly fruity... FBW??... nay !!... i tried and it's down the sink you go

1:28 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

really? I got hearth fires and old mens club pipes. Strange how chemistry can be..

1:36 AM EST  
Blogger Solander said...

I love Fumerie Turque and your review is spot-on! Except, perhaps, for me it was a little more exotic comfort scent, smoking and eating Turksih delight in a cool stone house in the Orient rather than a library... Still a flawless gentleman doing it though..
I actually like Chypre Rouge too. I don't love it, but I can appreciate the refreshing oddness of it.

8:37 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think it's exotic too, my moribund mind has the image of the English library in the Moorish house in Beverly Hills in summer. The smoky sweetness, the whisper of jasmine and rose, the remants of fires long extinguished. I love it: I find it wonderfully comforting, and I guess I take comfort from what I know (or want to know)

2:30 AM EST  
Blogger Julia Walter said...

I periodically return to this review to relive my love of FT until I can afford a bottle. I first tested this a few summers ago at Aedes in NY before it became export-only. I love, love LOVE that you wore it in the heat. On me, this perfume blossoms in the heat in a way that it doesn't in the cold. Ugh... I might just have to put it on my credit card...

11:03 AM EST  

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