Perfume Review: Serge Lutens Sarrasins
Sarrasins is the latest addition to Serge Lutens's exclusive collection, described by the creators as "a sumptuous jasmin which smoothes its fur... a sigh of time" and "a stunningly beautiful jasmine, gloved in jet-black ink". Compared to Lutens's first ode to jasmine, A La Nuit, Sarrasins is sweeter and softer and perhaps even more "nocturnal". Whereas A La Nuit is a radiant vision of intoxicating white flowers, dazzlingly white and starkly contrasted to the blackness of the night, the jasmine in Sarrasins appears to me as if cast out of the darkness itself, an indistinct, shadowy shape blending with the onyx sky.
Sarrasins also strikes me as less of a pure jasmine, less of a soliflore than the gloriously true to life A La Nuit. There is honeyed, almost smoky sweetness in Sarrasins and an unexpectedly tobacco-like undertone, which certainly add intrigue to the blend but at the same time somewhat overwhelm the luminous and slightly animalic beauty of the jasmine. The scent has a strangely artificial feel, something raw, metallic, a little tangy. The artificiality seems entirely intentional, the effect purposefully designed to create a twist, to attempt that ugly-beautiful quality Lutens usually does so well. (Also note the conspicuous unnaturality of the unbelievably purple color of the juice.) Heaven knows, I wanted to love a new Lutens creation - and a jasmine at that! - but somehow Sarrasins falls flat for me. I can't put my finger on what it is exactly that disappoints me; my feeling of dissatisfaction is as hazy as the scent itself. Everything about the fragrance seems half-hearted to me; the jasmine is not allowed to fully shine and the "special effects" of smoke, ink and sweetness are not bold enough to seem truly original. The scent is very pretty and extremely wearable. I, however, hoped Sarrasins would do for jasmine what Tubereuse Criminelle did for tuberose, turning the flower into an odd and oddly compelling haute couture creation.
Sarrasins will be available at Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido starting from September 1.