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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Perfume Review: Serge Lutens Mandarine Mandarin

I believe that I am the last person in the perfume universe to try Mandarine Mandarin. Two decants got lost in the post and I thought the scent was jinxed, but a generous friend lifted the curse by successfully sending me a sample. And here I am, all aflutter, testing the latest Serge Lutens creation…It is dark, sweet, and as complex and mysterious as I like Lutens’s scents to be.

Mandarine Mandarin goes on my skin through three very distinctive stages. It starts with a sweet citrusy-floral accord. I smell honeyed orange blossom, over-ripe mandarins and oranges. A slightly green and softly smoky/spicy note is woven into the citrusy sweetness preventing it from being completely jam-like. As time passes, the citrus accord subsides and the green-spicy aspect grows stronger, and we are suddenly presented with stage two, which, although as sweet as the first one, is much darker, much more substantial, much stranger than only slightly quirky top notes. Here I smell the remains of orange blossom, strongly brewed Lapsang Souchong, a rose that is as black as the night, lots and lots of smoky honey and an ingredient that seems to be a hybrid of celery and immortelle. It has the bright, crunchy greenness of the former and the spicy meatiness of the latter. It is odd, it is somewhat out of place in a blend called Mandarine Mandarin, and it makes the scent unmistakably and very appealingly “Lutens”. This dark-sweet-spicy-meaty stage lasts for a long time, perhaps 5-6 hours at least, before evolving into the drydown that is much more subtle then the rest of the scent. This final stage witnesses the return of citruses, it has a slight herbal undertone and a general cologne-like feel.

Mandarine Mandarin is to me Lutens at his best. It is a strangely-beautiful perfume with rich “texture”, depth and complexity. I like it a lot. It isn’t one of my most beloved Lutens perfumes (although it is too early to tell, his scents have a tendency to sneak up on me and suddenly madly infatuate me) and I am not sure yet if I want to jump through the hoops trying to obtain the bell jar…but I cannot help but admire it’s tasteful, sophisticated opulence.

Mandarine Mandarin is part of the exclusive line and can only be purchased at Les Salons du Palais Royal in Paris, €100.00 for 2.5oz.

The image is from


Blogger tmp00 said...

As usual, your descriptive powers far outshine mine: celery! That's exactly what was cutting the immortelle. The white part of the celery, before you wash it: earthy, rooty and yet clean. Like you, I am on the fence about going through the friendship-straining hoops to get a bell jar (or paying over $200 on eBay for the bell jar). I think the answer is in the drydown; it's beautiful, but it's just not quite, quite enough to make me make that leap. (Blame it on the government: those bell jars are 3.4 ounces and the carry-on limit is 3! Dammit, if we can't smell fabulous the terrorists have won!)

But I tell you , if this shows up at Barney's I am right there...

11:07 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Ina was the one who alerted me to the fact that there might be celery in MM. And I prayed there wouldn't be...but there was...but it wasn't fatal at all, in fact, it was actually enjoyable. I too think that the drydown is not as much of a letdown really sort of belongs in a different scent somehow.
But if it ever shows up at barneys, I'll be right there too :-)

11:12 PM EST  
Blogger Erin said...

Now Tom - no disrespect to colombina - but your comment about the CB I Hate perfumes aspect of the orange was right on the mark. I am in the same place as you both on this one - stages one and two are haunting me, but I do not feel up to the commitment of a bell jar. YET. I was spooked by how much the Body Shop Satsuma body butter deepened the top notes, and became suspicious that the whole thing was too *easy* but I keep thinking about the black tea notes, and Patty's description of the sun-dappled room in a dark, cozy house. *sigh*

1:51 AM EST  
Blogger elle said...

I am madly in love w/ this deliciously opulent scent. You described it's complexity beautifully. Ummm...including the unexpected appearance of ce***y. However, for some very strange reason, which I can only ascribe to an act of magical alchemy worked by CS and SL on that otherwise awful note, it is rendered inoffensive to my nose. The lapsang souchong, the honey, the immortelle, the spices all totally distract me.

7:48 AM EST  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

You ALWAYS write w/ remarkable flair, lovely one...

I have yet to sniff and succumb.
I'm just too vulnerable to olfactory seduction these days.
Ergo, I can't be trusted...

7:52 AM EST  
Blogger lilybp said...

Well, I liked this, especially the opening, but I can't say that I am in love. Perhaps I need, in a desperate attempt to spend more money, to try it again.

8:01 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Even a simple mention of that Body Shop satsuma thing is enough to turn me off MM forever. I avoid the part of the mall with Body Shop like a plague...the problem is, the darn thing is so strong, it scents the whole mall. Ugh
*erases memory of having read about the satsuma comparison*

8:26 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

So you get immortelle too? Or whatever it is tat smells like it? Looks like it is SL's and CS's new favorite note. Well, better that than, say licorice. Iam waiting for the day when SL decides to do an aquatic scent, you know? I just want to see if he would be able to do his magic and make it wearable for me. I doubt it. :-D

8:27 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

You are tsrong, I know you are! You can sniff and not succumb! :-)

8:28 AM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

Huh. Will have to resniff for the c*l*ry.

One of my favorite SLs. The immortelle... sigh. The whole deal. The oranges ... sigh. But I hardly ever want a bottle of anything, I'm not loyal enough to work through a decant...

8:29 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I probably even liked it more than you did, but it is not love either...not mad, crazy love anyway. If a bell jar fell into my lap (happens all the time, you know, heh), I'd have used it with much pleasure...but for now I am saving my efforts and money for other SLs I crazy-love.

8:30 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

So you get the immortelle too! OK, now no one can tell me it's not there. :-)
I am the opposite, I need either bottles or nothing. I have a thing about samples and decants. I sniffed- they must go. :-)

8:31 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Deep lust is makes us buy things that we stop caring about as soon as the lust goes away...and it usually does go away :-)

8:42 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet another Lutens, which I'm sure your beautiful review will surpass the actual result on my own skin. The beauty of Lutens eludes me, and I am not all disappointment since they are so exclusive and expensive. I have a decant of La Myrrhe on the way, and I am hoping this will be one Lutens whose beauty does not pass me by.

Which are your very favorite Lutens, by the way, M?

8:58 AM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

No, I will beat you -- I still haven't tried it. I was given a sample and I actually managed to lose it. Can't find the darn thing anywhere.

9:07 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I hope you love La Myrrhe! It is the one Lutens I absolutely cannot wear. It hates me :-(
My favorites would be: MKK, Daim Blond, Bois et Musc, Bois Oriental, Encens et Lavande, Iris Silver Mist...and I know I am forgetting something.

9:11 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I can't believe you beat me to this :-) It actually took me weeks to finally try my sample, that's how afraid of celery I was. :-)

9:12 AM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

Marina, what are your favorite SL's? I remember trying MKK and totally freaking out over the "skank note". Even though that was only a couple of years ago, I feel I have matured enough to get into it now. So, what are your must haves, your full bottle worthy Serge Lutens?

10:17 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

If you can enjoy some of the dirrrty Montale creations, you can enjoy MKK too :-)

My favorites are: MKK, Daim Blond, Bois et Musc, Bois Oriental, Encens et Lavande, Iris Silver Mist

10:20 AM EST  
Blogger Caitlin Shortell said...

I agree that MM is fabulous. I also smell the celery others smell, but I think it's FBW for me. I just love citrus that much, as I found recently with Tubereuse 40.

11:44 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I don't really smell the celery per se, I think it's in there like a touch of nutmeg in a cream sauce or a dash of salt in a chocolate truffle. It just deepens and makes less syrupy the immortelle. Kudos to you guys for discerning it.

Celery haters have no fear!

12:19 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mandarine-Mandarin was tricky for me: from instant love to so-so mehness. I get lots of celery in top notes, hence the drydown is the best part. It's also not really meaty on me. More shimmering and spicy and lacquered. Lovely review! :)

12:33 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Love Tubereuse 40 to. Ah, what a smell...what a price! :-D

12:48 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I'll second what Tom says, celery haters have no fear :-)

12:50 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you! I love it but not madly...

12:53 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I quite liked it. It strikes me as very, well, perfumey. And darn feminine too - more so than Datura Noir, even. It's nowhere near FBW, not when I'm halfway my bell jar of Encens et Lavande and steamed about several other scents anyway...

1:18 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

When I think of how easy (if expensive) it is to order bell jars from Britain, I regret that I ever moved. Waaah!

1:43 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yes, but could you contend with all the other odd stuff in this funny country? (I'm trying to think of bizarre things, and all I've got is Morris dancers frolicking away in my brain, flicking black pudding - bleurgh - at each other).

and, if you ask nicely, I'm sure there are Euro folk who'd be happy to ship stuff to you as and when necessary.. ;-)

1:58 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Bois Oriental, Bois et Musc and Bois et Fruits are my favorite Bois scents.

2:26 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Now that I am not there, I cannot think of a single bad thing about Britain...ok, TV tax maybe, but that's like a tiny little thing. D'you know what I miss the most?...Food! I won't let anyone make jokes about bad British food. Bad indeed. One can't find a decent kebab here...indeed one can't find any kebab where I am. *sigh* Chips with salt and vinegar eaten right out of a paper bag *cries*

2:28 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful review.

5:04 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you so much, Sadie!

5:09 PM EST  
Blogger Erin said...

*not mentioning the B- words again* I really do like this. It does haunt me a good deal. I'm currently indulging a Chene fetish, but when I get off that particular exclusive, this may be next on the list.

5:34 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Why don't I quiet "get" chene :-( Unfair!

6:27 PM EST  
Blogger Dusan said...

Hope it's not too late to join the party and say how much I love MM. True, I smelled it from a wax sample and yes, I know it doesn't quite do justice to the scent, but what I smelled was breathtaking! Agree on the celery-like note, though vegetal would be my choice of words. And then come the smokiness and spiced jammy orange goodness, wrapped in silky floralcy. Yeah, I'm waxing poetic, but I just can't help it - I'm in love! Or to quote March above - sigh. :-D

10:48 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

"Wrapped in silky floralcy" - what a great description!

10:49 PM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

Tom, now I need to ask you the same thing...what is your favorite SL? I have a good friend going to Paris on Saturday (I just found out today) and he has agreed to visit the SL Boutique. Help! I must decide virtually unsniffed what to get. I am thinking either Fumerie Turque or Chergui. However, I can easily be swayed...

7:37 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

(I just know what Tom would say. He'd say Muscs Koublai Khan. And I'd second that) :-)

7:53 PM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

Thanks...I need to make up my mind ASAP!!!

10:23 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I am a frequent reader, but don't usually comment. In this case, I just HAD to... A belly jar actually fell into my lap as a gift. And I couldn't keep it because all I get is celery/coriander/cumin and mostly LOVAGE. So - just to give a different opinion: Celery-Haters: beware of spending 200$ on an jar!

8:05 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Aw, sorry you didn't enjoy it!

8:23 AM EST  

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