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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Perfume Review: Serge Lutens Chypre Rouge

Chypre Rouge is the latest fragrance to join the export part of Serge Lutens collection. The official description outdoes all the previous ones in its sheer poetical obscurity:

I remember looking at the forest ground, covered with dead leaves, and finding it both macabre and beautiful. Something caught my attention: a strange patch of moss at the base of a tree, it looked as if it were bleeding, purple and red. Ceremonial dress, splendid and dying, lit by the rays of a nearby clearing. “Don’t deny, you will confess!” In this doorless dungeon we look for an exit. Thin light comes from a murdering hole.
Eagle nest, precious stones, coat of arms, standards, what are we made of? Eternity, limpidity, freshness, beauty, velvet softness. A secret continent of which we would be the body, in golden darkness, moss of spices and vermeil. The kiss of a choirboy on the ring of an archbishop.
Softness and depth, secret in scents where, laying our cheeks we can only dream.”
(Please read the full text at Senteurs d’Ailleurs)

Chypre Rouge starts with a strange juxtaposition of a green, vegetal smell of celery and a dark, dry and smoky smell of coffee. It smells as bizarre as it sounds, and is quite wonderful. When immortelle joins the mix, Chypre Rouge becomes better still, since the note accentuates and enriches the spicy-vegetable aspect of the fragrance. Because of the immortelle note, Chypre Rouge reminds me a little of Annick Goutal Sables, however, the former lacks the syrupy thickness of Sables; at that stage of its development, Chypre Rouge is a much drier, much less sweet scent. At one point, I smell a sharply fresh-floral note that might be lavender and that, in conjunction with immortelle, makes me think of Dior’s Eau Noire. The woody accord of Chypre Rouge is smoky and warm, somewhat reminiscent of Chene…And, to conclude this orgy of comparisons, somewhere towards the end of the middle stage, Chypre Rouge acquires a sweet, darkly gourmand, licorice undertone, which makes it scarily evocative of my arch-enemy, Lolita Lempicka

Objectively speaking, the combination of sharp “vegetal” notes, smoky woods and sweet anise/licorice is striking and interesting. Despite the fact that I provided here a list of scents that somewhat remind me of Chypre Rouge, this is an entirely original, very interesting composition, certainly on a par with Lutens’ other weird and wonderful creations. Unfortunately, although I admire the idea and its execution, because of the Lempickaesque licorice drydown, I am unable to enjoy Chypre Rouge. I humbly predict, however, that the fragrance will have many fans, both women and men. I should also add that, like Cèdre and Daim Blond, Chypre Rouge is an Haute Concentration Eau de Parfum, and has great lasting power.

Right now, Chypre Rouge is available at Senteurs dAilleurs in Brussels and at Salons du Palais Royal in Paris, however, it should be arriving to the States in the near future.


Blogger elle said...

Licorice! Yumm! Great review! I know I'll adore CR. I don't like LL either, but I don't back away and reach for weaponry when I see it coming. OK, clearly I've been dwelling too much on Serge's prose this morning. Love him dearly, but, bless his heart, thank heavens he chose to pursue art and fragrance instead of writing. I had to go read the full text out of curiosity (especially after the kiss of the choirboy part). Now, after having read "I was a minute cell floating in a giant organism: aortas, veins, vessels, ramified trees that gave life to a fantastic world", I see that the press photo really is supposed to look like veins w/ CR floating around them. NOT an appealing image, Serge! Well, at least not to me.

7:06 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Wonderful review! It's funny that we were testing this at the same time--twins in many ways, I guess. I do like licorice, though, so ultimately I liked it better than you. Still have to test more to decide if it's FBW for me, but there's a good chance. Decantworthy, at the very least. And I think you are right that many will like it. Unless you hate anise or honey, it's a very wearable perfume that simultaneously feels very unusual.

7:50 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Wow, really?!?!? Licorice?!?! I'm so sorry -- I think that pretty much kills it for you, right? I didn't get that at all, although the Eau Noire part is definitely there. I have to go put some on again and look for licorice. I have a huge crush on it, although I admit reactions of others who have smelled my vial have been quite mixed.

8:07 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

*Sticks head cautiously from a trench, looks around for signs of Lolita Lempicka. Holds weaponry at the ready*


About Serge's descriptions... on some deep, irrational level, I know exactly what he means and understand him perfectly, but I could never explain what it is I understand. I'd need some serious drugs for that :-)

9:23 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I guess it would be unfair of me to say that I hate licorice/anise since, come to think of it, I love Eau de Reglisse, Fou d'Absinthe and really like L'Instant Pour is just that particular, heavy, dark-purple anise/licorice that dwells in the evil Lempicka and Aimez-Moi that scares me. And that's exactly the kind that snarled at me from Chypre Rouge.

9:26 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

If I haven't smelled any licorice, I'd have had a crush on Chypre Rouge too. As it is, (s)he is all yours! :-)

9:27 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, you make it sound even more appealing, Lempickaesque and all. ;D

9:53 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I'm dying to try it. My licorice tolerance is a bit higher than yours I believe (although Lolita Lempicka makes me gag). I'm hoping the licorice goes more towards Douce Amere than the evil LL. :-)

11:47 AM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Am almost afraid to try this one. Have a feeling Mandarine is going to be more my style...

12:29 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Don't tell me you like Lolita Lempicka! That *and* POTL? I am not sure we can be scent twins anymore ...

1:56 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I can't wait to hear what you think, but my guess is you will like this!

1:57 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Don't be afraid. Yuo luike Douce Amere, right? And I am not saying the two are very similar, but ...Chypre Rouge won't scare you. You might even like it :-)

1:58 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm...licorice doesn't scare me (and I've never smelled LL) but the honey, if it's too prominent, may be the deal breaker for me. This is so on my list!

2:44 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I didn't really get much honey as such. General sweetness yes, but nothing shouted, Honey! at me :-)
This is definitely worth a try.

5:14 PM EDT  

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