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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

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.


Blogger Unknown said...

You know, I feel the same way. It is such a pretty scent but I keep yearning for more complexity, more bizarreness, more depth. It's rather linear on my skin, and that acidy note that smells like ink doesn't make it weird enough. I really hope Serge Lutens isn't going donwhill... the last few releases have been rather underwhelming.

10:41 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Interesting. I still want to try, but the white-hot intensity of that desire is dimmed a bit.

10:58 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im not a jasmine fan to begin with, but the color of that liquid alone makes me want to have the bottle in my collection. I think its exquisite. Just don't wear it on your wedding day - it doesn't seem like it lends itself to white clothing.

I'll still try this one day. Who knows - maybe this will be one Jasmine scent that I DO enjoy. Although when you say the word artificial, It sort of sends me running screaming.

Thanks for another great review, M!


11:28 PM EDT  
Blogger Gaia said...

I'll try, because it's Serge, but jasmine is no longer my friend. Neither are most white flowers, lately. I'm still traumatized by the last time I gave Datura Noir a go.

12:04 AM EDT  
Blogger Erin said...

I am wearing TC today and what a striking and timeless scent that is. That is what the last few Serges were missing for me, the sense of a completely new vision of a raw material. Borneo approached that, even though it frightened me. There was that odd, amplified quality to it, and yet he'd/they'd already done that camphor/mentholated theme with TC, so it didn't feel like an entirely new direction. Sarrasins doesn't look like it will restore the magic for me.

12:24 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Commes des garcons Serge Lutens is not .. very few houses can skillfully use many different cutting edge synthetic molecules as CdG, although the synthetic white sandalwood in Santal Blanc is a half decent attempt by Lutens.

I have a feeling the japanese wizards CdG can do this whacky inky jasmine thing a whole lot better .. but one wonders, with A la nuit already in the Lutens lineup, why was there a need to devote resources to create yet another jasmine frag ?

12:59 AM EDT  
Blogger carmencanada said...

I've just tried Sarrasins yesterday at the Palais-Royal and reviewed it briefly on the Perfume of Life forum... The "ink" mentioned in the copy refers strictly to the colour, I believe. I caught the most fascinating animalic, Dzing-like note at one point (5/7" in the development) that made me yearn for more, then some musk and civet, which I would've loved to be more sustained. True, it's not the searing originality of Tubéreuse Criminelle but there is something of the "belle laide" in Sarrasins that I wouldn't be dismissing offhand. I was still having "scent flashbacks" late into the night even though the actual smell had faded. There's an interesting, cold-warm facet to this jasmine that could come from the adjunction of some spice, perhaps cardamom and cumin, but so deeply blended as to be nearly undetectable. I'll be re-trying this one.

1:26 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

lol CC, at one point "5/7" in the development ? I guess if we really really want to like a fragrance, we can ! :D

Enjoy Sarrasins in good health!

1:38 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be honest, I'm fascinated by the colour ! (but I'm scared by jasmine, or generally by white flowers).
Today it's a Louve day !

2:48 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for this review, M. I would still like to try it very much, although I'm not that impatient about it any more. also, I've got an impression of perfumistas all around the blogs being somehow dissapointed in Serge lately. I'm trying very hard not to be influenced by this general consensus, as Lutens and his perfumes are still a foundation and representation of the Art in modern niche perfumery for me. maybe we've been spoiled in the sense that we don't take enough time to appreciate every new perfume or our concentration is quickly distracted by all other 17 new releases each day. (only my couple of thoughts, of course.)
ps: how was Little Miss C's first pre-school day :)?

5:17 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

There's a definite note of something weird like ink -- Ina got it too, I think she described it as acrid? Meh. A disappointment. And it's so dark you wouldn't want to spill it on your clothes, would you... it's cool looking, but did they test it for staining? No, seriously! I wouldn't apply it wearing a white blouse.

OTOH, this really highlights A La Nuit's appeal. Maybe Serge's new strategy is to make lame repros of his earlier scents so you can better appreciate the originals?
Sarrasins/A La Nuit?

7:32 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a big jasmine fan & being new to it all, still a wide-eyed SL groupie. Having not yet found THE jasmine for me, I want to like Sarrasins. A la Nuit falls short for me. I find it one dimensional & not nearly as heady as the Annick Goutal soliflore jasmine. So, I'm editing out all the "meh" & focusing on the jet black, the smoke & the darkness & esp the mention of an animalic Dzing-like note. One can always hope.

9:05 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I'm not the only one recovering from a Datura Noir sampling. By the way, I have this totally irrational idea (fear)that if you mix the two new Lutens (the almonds of Louve with the white flowers of Sarrasins) you might actually get something very dangerously close to...Datura Noir.

9:11 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, that's a bit disappointing, but it does make me want to run home and put on A La Nuit! I must say, from the comments, the idea of the Dzing! like note intrigues me as well. I'm sure I'll sample it at some point. :-)

9:18 AM EDT  
Blogger carmencanada said...

Faizan, I was clearly typing too quickly to be intelligible... I meant that at one point, five to seven minutes into the development, the animalic note peeks its furry head.

10:32 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too find A la Nuit disappointing. On me it is a very one-dimensional and rather ephemeral jasmine. I adore white flowers and jasmine in particular, but I don't hold a lot of hope for finding my jasmine of choice in Sarrasins.
Datura Noir, while apparently traumatic for some, has that audacity that newer SL fragrances seem to be lacking. It is one of my favorites of the line...but I will try to keep its victims in mind and not wear it (as I am wont to do) on the hottest days of the summer when it is free to exercise its dark powers on the widest range of innocent passers-by.

11:14 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ering, I'm not a white flower lover (aside from jasmine) but I adore DN & esp adore it on sultry summer nights & esp esp on rainy summer days. Come by, we'll find a cafe & drive everyone mad ;)

11:41 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm not a huge fan of a la nuit, it's too much on me, and I prefer Sarrasins. For me, it feels like the equivalent of TC, but in jasmine. that pungent note, slightly camphorous, stays a long time on me, and I really lkike. Maybe it's just me. I don't think it's the best thing they've done, but I don't hate it in the least and will wear it a lot and enjoy it.

11:51 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked what I smelled of it, beautiful one.

1:11 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved it from the wax sample. The actual liquid sounds quite mesmerising.

2:05 PM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Just dropping in from the land of crashed computers (never fear: all will be well) to say-----I agree with you! Of course.

3:50 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I've been underwhelmed by the last couple of releases too. And I too want bizarreness. What SL has always been able to do so well is to combine oddness with wearability.

9:19 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am thinking that if your deskankatroning skin deskanks it even would be bored by it for sure.

9:20 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am not a big fan of purple scent, so it was actually a minus for me :-) I know, that is very silly.

9:20 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I was traumatized by Datura too. In fact by SL's and MPG's Daturas equally. Both were aggressively laundry-detergent-like on me.

9:21 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Exactly! Excatly! New vision. I want new vision for jasmine :-)

9:22 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am also puzzled by the necessity for the 2nd jasmine.
I imagine CdG could create something very unusual with jasmine.

9:22 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Is there a way for a non-member to read a review there?

9:23 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

This one is not scary jasmine, really. Despite the color :-)

9:23 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I agree, I think we are all becoming jaded in that respect. :-)

Little Miss C enjoys school very much, which makes me so happy.

9:24 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Yeah...also Gris Clair/ Encens et Lavande.

9:25 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Well, it might bloom on your skin in a perfectly wonderful manner! Fingers crossed!

9:26 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

now you said that...I think you are right! you could! *shudder*

9:26 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

It certainly deserve being sampled. Besides, what's meh on me might be WOW on you.

9:27 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

dark powers...yeah, that is a great description for Datura! :-)

9:28 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I envy you so much!

9:28 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

And I envy you too!

9:29 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Don't cry yet, it might turn out to be wonderful on you. We are EFTs after all!

9:29 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Prince Barry,
I would love to know what you think of it once you test the perfume!

9:30 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

The Land of Crushed Computers is the scariest land of all. To this nerd, anyway :-)

9:30 PM EDT  

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