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Friday, February 10, 2006

Gris Clair by Serge Lutens

Gris Clair is the newest addition to Serge Lutens’s “export” line of fragrances; it will be officially released in March 2006. With notes of Mediterranean lavender, amber, tonka bean, iris, dry wood and “notes d’encens brûlé” (notes of burned incense), it is described by Serge Lutens himself in the following obscure, poetic manner:

This wandering pollen, like ashes dropped on a dead city, deploys its humble crowning with despair in the name of light from an adolescent sky. This magic dust brought by wind, has come to this austere and arid landscape made of rocks, luminous and sublime. Inaccessible, surrounded by stones, this flower – is it really a flower? – has made dew its watering hole. Insensitive to the burning of the sun, miracle in abandon, it survives. A magician, soft, hanging from its fingers of lace… slender roots. Eternal nectar; in its poor king’s cloak, stripped of its honours, “Lavender” I call it… grey the colour I give it. Poetic, marvel, diamond silk in eternal exile, she deploys her dry fragrance in a heart of flames which carries inside, in the name of beauty, the point of a star.” (From Senteurs d’Ailleurs)

Dry fragrance in a heart of flames” is quite a fitting description for this scent. Cool dryness and sweet smokiness compete for prominence all throughout the development of Gris Clair. It starts with a cold, indeed “clear gray” accord of lavender, which makes me think about expensive, classic men’s after shaves and colognes. In a moment however, an unexpectedly sweet accord of amber and tonka bean appears; without reminding me of any fruit in particular, it somehow manages to convey a vague, abstract fruitiness. It is an enjoyable stage, but the best part of Gris Clair is undoubtedly the promised dry wood and “burned incense”. When these two notes come into play, Gris Clair acquires the wonderful depth and richness one associates with the best Lutens’s creations. At this point, all the notes are apparent on my skin at once: the chilly lavender, the honeyed amber, the smoldering ashes of wood and incense.

Gris Clair is not the first Lutens’s scent to explore the theme of lavender and ashes. Encens et Lavande, a blend of lavender, amber, incense and sage, also combines the luminous coolness and the subtle smokiness. The two are by no means identical. Firstly, the smoky aspect is almost immediately apparent in Encens et Lavande, while Gris Clair takes time to arrive to that wonderful stage. Whereas Encens et Lavande graduates from the pleasantly brûlant blend of lavender and incense, with a hint of amber, to the coolly herbal drydown of sage, Gris Clair’s development is reverse; it goes from cold to smoky. Sage has quite a prominent position in the composition of Encens et Lavande, lending it an herbaceous quality, which is completely absent in Gris Clair. In turn, amber, paired with tonka bean, brings a sweet, almost “fruity” quality to Gris Clair, and there is certainly no fruitiness and not much sweetness in Encens et Lavande.

I like both Encens et Lavande and Gris Clair and couldn’t possibly say which one is my favorite. I imagine that fans of lavender fragrances would be quite pleased with Gris Clair. Encens et Lavande is a non-export scent, only available at Les Salons du Palais-Royal Shiseido in Paris. At the moment, Gris Clair is available at Senteurs d’Alleurs (€76.00 for 50ml), and as far as I know, they do not ship outside of European Union, however Gris Clair is an export scent and will be more widely available in March.

*Many thanks to T. who made it possible for me to sample Gris Clair!


Blogger lilybp said...

Oh, I can't wait to try this! Encens et Lavande is (much to my surprise) one of my favorite SLs--and this sounds just beautiful! Well, March isn't too far distant now. (But I do think whoever writes the SL descriptions should have his poetic license taken away:)

7:30 AM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

Lavande was just straight lavande on me, weird, it never went anywhere. Like a lavender room spray. I sent it on to P, wonder what happened for her? This sounds like it might have the Serge cedar lurking in there... what do you think?

8:21 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I think you will like it. I don't know whether you will like it more than EetL ...I liked them equally, they are different takes on the same theme so to say.

And yes, the poetry of it all...but I think the problem is that it was translated from French (by Senteurs people, who are in Belgium). Lost in translation, huh? :-)

9:25 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

In that case it is one hard to find and expensive lavender room spray :-)

There might be cedar lurking here indeed, can't imagine Sege not adding just a tad of his beloved cedar :-)

9:27 AM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

And I will hate it, right?

12:36 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have not tried any of SL perfumes , but do you know one that would smell close to a green mountain forest....or maybe more green in nature for spring?
thank you!!
i think i will pass to try The Encens et Lavande..for now.

12:58 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I can't remember whether you are not fond of lavender. If you don't like that note, you won't like Gris Clair, I think.

1:09 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

That's a godd Lutens scent...he certainly ahs many woody scents, but they are not exactly green, to my nose. Perhaps you might like Vetiver Oriental, though I don't think it is exactly what you are looking for. Un Lys is also green, but it is a floral kind of green.

1:12 PM EST  
Blogger Caitlin Shortell said...

Great review. I love Encens et Lavande so I would like to try this.

I plan to use that joke about taking someone's poetic license away. Hysterical!

3:36 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I would be very interested to hear about your impressions and comparisons (if any) with EetL!

4:49 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Then I don't think your lemming has any chance of surviving. Cris Clair is lavender first and foremost.

4:50 PM EST  
Blogger Trina said...

I love this review!!! You describe Gris Clair perfectly! I wish I got more amber and sweetness out of it, but it's still an awesome scent on my skin. Glad you like it!

5:57 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you!!!
I am really liking this one, such an enjoyable scent! It lasts a long time on me actually, basically all day.

6:12 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I will consider myself lucky then, to get fruity amber...actually, not lucky, because if I haven't liked Gris Clair, I only needed to buy Encens et Lavande, which I also love, but now I am lemming this one too. Bah!

6:56 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I am sorry to hear lavender does not work for you! I am actually lemming lavender scents this days. :-)

8:35 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I just got a sample of ths and I am very impressed. With it's change from strangely chilly lavender to iris and tonka to amber and back, this may be a full bottle purchase.

9:57 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am so glad you like it, I also thought it was very interesting, going from cold elegance to...well, warmer elegance :-)

10:17 PM EDT  

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