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Monday, February 04, 2008

Perfume Review: Serge Lutens Arabie and Fleurs De Citronnier

Review by Tom

I was having a bit of the "Video Store" effect for this weeks review, wandering around the plethora of stores Los Angeles has to offer and their olfactory delights.

Okay, I am totally lying.

This week was one of almost endless rain showers, the weird, histrionic rains that we get some years; sudden blinding downpours that cause hillsides to collapse, newscasters to intone darkly about "Storm Watch 2008" and Angelenos to huddle at home on the sofa watching Netflix (damn you Netflix! When will "on demand" work on a Mac!?! Grrrrrrr) I also did a bit of dusting and found samples of these two wedged between some DVD's and Frank Lloyd Wright: The Masterworks.

I had initially dismissed Fleurs De Citronnier as being a merely pleasant, feminine scent that was lovely but I personally would never in a million years wear. Spritzing it on my wrist I was a bit taken aback: sort of like Julie Andrews ripping her top off in "S.O.B." there are aspects to this good girl that are decidedly, wonderfully bad. Yes, there is the heartbreakingly innocent lemon blossom, but it is backed by a sheer hint of tuberose. The same tuberose that I smell in Tubereuse Criminelle, even down a hint of that smoky kinky Vicks accord. Just a touch mind you, but that and it's surprisingly musky drydown was enough to make me use up the whole sample in just a couple of evenings. Would I buy it for myself? Maybe a decant; I don't think I would need a whole bottle of it. You ladies please go for it though. My friend Bitsy (who is on the phone right now) says that it's pretty, and pretty on her, and that I'd better agree, or else...

Arabie I had tried a while ago and sort of found to be a bit much: too much benzoin-booziness, too much dried fruits, too much spices. Just Too Much... Of course that might have been the mood I was in. Somehow when I tried it this time it just worked in a way it hadn't before; suddenly it's boozy pruney woodiness was the snuggiest thing ever- the perfect armor against the sudden violent downpours and driving windswept chill. This is going to be a rather fraught week at work for various reasons that I won't go into boring detail about, but I think this might be the go-to fragrance for days like that this winter. Do I need a full bottle? Maybe...

Available at the usual suspects, $110 for 50ML


Blogger elle said...

Arabie is my permanent go-to scent when I need comfort - brilliant stuff. FdC is one of those scents that I wouldn't have thought I'd care for, but somehow find to be enormously appealing - all about bright sunshine and Spanish gardens on my skin. Glad you reminded me of it. Need to go hunt it down now that the days are getting longer and our forecast calls for mid 70s by Tuesday (am ignoring the 7 day forecast which grimly suggests this is not going to last - spring *has* to be here).

9:47 PM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

Funny that you are writing about SLs because I just discovered A La Nuit. Have you tried it? It is a lovely jasmine with this naughty undertone of sweat. I am not kidding here, there is some serious armpit lurking in the base notes of this.

Arabie is one of my favorites. I am not sure if it could ever replace Amber Sultan for top spot but it is lovely. I have never tried FdC, but I am going to see about a decant. It sounds lovely too.

10:11 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Arabie might ne necessary in my future. I like it a lot- even more than some of the vaunted Bois exclusives..

10:28 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


A La Nuit is a stunner- very true to the jasmine here in LA. Personally I wouldn't wear it, but I love smelling it on others..

10:30 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, I thought the same thing of Fleurs de Citronnier - until I wore a sample and it heated up in a very interesting way. It is not all that innocent!

And Arabie - what can I say except it IS too much, and that's why I love it! I had never tried anything remotely like it in my life, so I was quite taken aback. Once I recovered there was no going back - it only created a lust for the non-export Fumerie Turque for more of the same sort of feeling. I have yet to acquire any of that, but if I never do Arabie will be quite enough.

11:18 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, I love that you have a friend named Bitsy. Is her last name Von Muffling?

Second, you still don't have me convinced to try Arabie. I'm surprised it's getting so much love in these comments so far--all I have ever heard is "stay away!" I'm not one for syrupy sweetness in a fragrance, so I can't imagine I'd ever like it. I did just order a decant of Encens et Lavand though...are you a fan?

12:21 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think that Arabie might be one of the few exports that trump the exclusives...

1:22 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


"Bitsy" is the nickname; if the last name wasn't von Muffling, it is now!

Encens et Lavande is one of those that I am hoping the exchange rate will fall back to something in the realm of acceptable so that I can get a bell jar of. Grrr.

1:27 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell Bitsy von Muff to squirt like crazy with the FdC - she smells vunderful, dahlink.

Arabie - my gateway to niche. There'll always be a special place in my heart for this clove and cinnamon and prune and fig and spice and stew and benzoin and resin and leather and cough syrup wonder. Gawd, I love it.

You need a bottle of Encens et Lavande, I'm telling you. Tis the best ever.

3:50 AM EST  
Blogger kamala said...

boozy-spicy-justtoomuch with cinnamon, clove and cough syrup on top? clearly, arabie must go to the top of my "samples i want" list. :-)

we've been getting rain here on the east coast, too, but not nearly as bad as it sounds with you, and the temps have been in the 60s-70s - so i'm sending good weather vibes and yummy comfort scent wishes your way.

winter, begone, thou brutish befouled knave! -- there, i've mortally insulted it; spring is on the way! (oh, the joys of the shakespearean insult generator!)

4:52 AM EST  
Blogger lilybp said...

Never really got either of these. Perhaps I need to keep trying (holding out more hope for Arabie than FdC:)

7:25 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, yer spooking me. I too had an Arabie epiphany last night which was all your fault. Or at least, I was thinking of you when it happened.
You asked me when you reviewed Amber Fetiche to let you know how I liked it. Well, it's delicious & I thought, I should tell Tom. But then I thought, maybe now I love Ambre Sultan now too. So I tried & no, I really don't. Gak. But then I thought, I always confuse that with Arabie, do I still hate Arabie? And I loved it, fell asleep in it, woke up & put on more. Sniff sniff yum.

8:31 AM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

Tom, I am working on getting another bell jar but which to get? I have never smelled Encense et Lavande but I keep hearing how wonderful it is. How does it compare to Gris Clar? I really, really like GC but it is an export and Encense et Lavande is not...but is it that much better? How are they different?

11:00 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I know I do, but I am waiting for that exchange rate to come down. Right now a bell jar costs as much as a small car...

11:28 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


It must have worked; it's clear as a bell here today! Yay!

11:29 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


neither did I, they kind of snuck up on me..

11:30 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Ambre Sultan, much as I love it is a big beast of a fragrance. Arabie isn't even in the same zip code.

That's a good thing, mind you..

11:32 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


The easiest way to describe it is the way Marina did in her review- EetL sort of does what Gris Clair does, but backwards; EetL starts off warm and incensey and grows cooler with lavender. I think it's a better fragrance than GC, which can go over the top quickly if over-sprayed.

11:35 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arabie was the first Lutens I'd ever experienced. And to me it said everything I hoped it would say about the line: that over-the-top unabashed luxurious richness that says Serge Lutens. I almost bought it, truth be told. I don't know why but I guess I thought that I could appreciate it more knowing I didn't own it... like, if I owned it I would end up resenting it after realizing I didn't want to wear it more often than sniffing it before bed or something. :) Who knows... maybe some day... thanks for the post :)


1:23 PM EST  
Blogger Divina said...

Arabie is my favorite Lutens! Glad you are liking it better these days :) I love FdC too, I am very impressed by it. (I can't stand Fd'O btw...) *goes and hides from the hordes of Fd'O fans*

2:09 PM EST  
Blogger March said...

Lord, I feel like your post is one of those Signs of the End Times -- Arabie AND Citronnier? And I smell that same mentholated note in Citronnier but I loathe it.

Of course, now I will have to resmell it. Dang you.

2:15 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


That's a brilliant way of putting it.

I think it helps that it's been so cold and rainy here that Arabies particular fireworks are very welcome..

2:29 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


FdeO is gorgeous, but way too over-the-top for me to even consider. Tuberose is simply not my friend in anything more than minute doses
, despite my attempts to convince myself otherwise. I feel like I should have on a caftan or something wearing it.

2:31 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Right back at you- you got me resmelling a lot of things! Chocolate Vomit anyone? :-)

2:32 PM EST  
Blogger Gaia said...

Tom, you know what I'm about to say, right?
This is getting amusing. I had a similar FdC epiphany about three months ago. I took a sample with me to Florida and wore it every day, eventually deciding that I'll get a decant in the spring/summer. I don't do innocent girl perfumes, but all of the sudden the musk did its thing...
Arabie has started growing on me. It was a bit much even for my skin, or so I thought. But there might be a bottle in my future.

11:01 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


This is getting funny..

12:21 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So glad to see Arabie get the praise it deserves. It's my favorite of his, and when it's too hot to wear it, I sniff at the bottle and am enchanted all over again.

1:07 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I agree, and it's nice to hear that someone else does that bottle-sniffing thing when it's too hot for certain scents

12:01 PM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

That Devil in Arabie clothing is just winning converts one at a time. It's insidious, I tell you! and I am so not sniffing that one more time to "Make sure" I really do hate it. I do, I do, I do hate Arabie. I do, I do, I do hate ARabie.

Agree on Citronnier. one of the far underrated SL exports. It is spectacular in spring and summer.

1:24 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fleurs de Citronnier is one of my all-time favorites. This scent develops so beautifully over the hours, from tart citrus and white flowers to honeyed musk - just magical, never dull and adorably light-handed.

9:44 AM EST  
Blogger Mira Manga said...

Oh my, I just blogged about how Arabie is getting me through a Tough December - it really is a great comforter...brings the sunshine and some exotics with it..!

2:47 PM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

Arabie + Bois de Vanille is a winner!

9:19 PM EDT  

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