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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Perfume Review: Serge Lutens Encens et Lavande

By Tom

First off, is there anyplace in this country in which the weather is not majorly sucking? (see, it's so bad I am channeling my inner 80's teen!) Ghastly, humid heat in the North, Auntie-Em sized twisters in the middle, snow (!) in the Northeast, and the Southland is just hot with enough mugginess to make it disgusting.

This weekend was Gay Pride and friends tried to drag me there. No thanks, said I. Despite the fact that I went well out of my way to live somewhere where the sun shines 320 days out of the year, I don't like direct sunlight. I also don't like crowds, loud noise and drinking in the afternoon; I wouldn't go to Mardi Gras either.

What, if anything you might be asking does this have to do with scent? Well, I did have to think what I was going to wear to the office today (Monday the 9th) while waiting for the new iPhone to debut. You see, my employers in their infinite wisdom have decided that the AC should be turned off on nights and weekends to save energy. Never mind that I work in a building that is inhabited 24/7 by various departments. Never mind that the HVAC system has to go into triple-overdrive on Monday to get our offices to less resemble a sauna by Wednesday. Never mind that it will inconvenience me, ME, Norma Desmond.

Now that I have lulled you all into a coma with my morning rant, I will review the scent I chose.

Encens et Lavande as you all know is one of the non-export fragrances in the Lutens line, meaning one can only get it by jumping through hoops. Or perhaps waiting for it to show up at Bergdorfs and paying though the nose (heat makes me grumpy). This is saddening, because I prefer this to it's counterpart in the export line, Gris Clair. E et L reverses GC's dance from light to dark: It starts off with the incense and gradually adds in the lavender with just a touch of the camphor that is amped up in the opening of GC. The icy lavender here isn't as forceful as the opening in GC; compared to Encens et Lavande Gris Clair seems somewhat shrill. The drydown marries the disparate elements to a smooth amber base, the whole in my mind making me think of the dark, cool interior of a perhaps abandoned stone church. Could there be anything more perfect on a scorching day?

As mentioned, like all of the non-exports, this is available only at the Paris Salon, or can be shipped to you if you live in the EU. Lucky you. Gris Clair meanwhile is available wherever Lutens' export line is sold.

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Blogger Divina said...

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunaely considering this is an exclusive) I can't get past the savory celery note in this one and tend to find the sage note a bit too distracting too :(

Wanna trade weather conditions? It's raining here today.... POO!


7:24 AM EDT  
Blogger rosarita said...

Encens et Lavande is, so far at least, the only SL that really works for me. It is tranquil calm in a bottle. I have a decant and dream of my own bell jar one day.

BTW, here in the lower Great Lakes area of the midwest, it's not too bad, weather-wise. You get your hot and humid days, like today, but in June you still have fronts that move through and cool things down for a day or two. After the winter we had, I'm fine with the heat, but couldn't agree with you more on the avoidance of direct sunlight and noisy crowds. Shade is good!

8:07 AM EDT  
Blogger Dusan said...

Oh, I don't mind heat at all, in fact I live for the summer. What I can't stand is humidity and that's exactly the combination we're having here these days. I should probably move to Hawaii...
I'd love me some EeL right now. I have an awfully busy day ahead of me and EeL is just the thing to keep me focused and concentrated.

8:48 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

This is probably the only lavender scent I love - it's pure magic and I wish I'd read this before I chose today's perfume. Will have to wear it tomorrow. Sweltering heat here and the humidity is so high this morning I really feel I should get out scuba gear just to walk outside. Still, can't complain much since I'll take the heat any day over winter's cold (which for me starts at 55 degrees).

10:17 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Actually, yes I would. We could use a little rain.Well, I could. But I should probably hope for it to come from the mid-West which is practically underwater right now.

10:54 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I lived in Milwaukee for a couple of years and loved spring and fall, it was winter and deep summer I couldn't deal with.

EetL is calm in a bottle isn't it? What a great way to put it!

10:56 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


No humidity ever. Hate to tell you but Hawaii is humid. LA is not. I was complaining about the humidity, but really for anyone from anywhere else they would have thought I was crazy. Here we get used to such a narrow range of conditions that when it strays a few degrees (or god forbids rains the world practically ends..

10:58 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I admit I flip-flop on that. In summer I have gilded memories of the coolth and the snugging up to flannel sheets, and in winter I bitch about the cold floors and it being dark at 4.

I whine therefore I am.

11:01 AM EDT  
Blogger the oblitterati said...

Three cheers for camphor! I admit I'm a sucker for the very cool herbacious bordering on medicinal lavenders and this one sounds fantastic. You've given me an excuse to elbow my way through Bergdorffs this week.

11:17 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why, I think lavender is a perfect scent for Pride week! That said, I hate lavender. Don't look good in the color either but I do rather love the lavender stripe that the city paints down Fifth Ave for the parade. However the idea of 9 gazillion glittery people marching in the sun annointed w Encens et Lavande fills me with horror.
I am personally toying with the idea of staying home this year myself. The sun, the crowds, the sweat ... I've gone almost every single year since turning 18 ... does this mean I'm getting .... *old*?

11:38 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Sadly, this isn't at Bergdorfs (yet, you never know). It's a Paris only one. Gris Clair is the best you're going to do. But that's not such a bad thing. Gris Clair is really nice. It's just sort of like being happy with your Golf GTI and then seeing a new Ferrari pass by.

12:03 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


It means you're getting discerning.

I was dragged to pride in NYC a few years ago. it was great to see all the people out for it, but it was about 98 in the shade and 100 percent humidity and I just wanted to kill.

In that heat I don't want to smell anything off anyone unless they can somehow radiate air-conditioning..

12:05 PM EDT  
Blogger Dusan said...

No humidity in LA? Ok, I'm coming over there then :-)

12:50 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Come one down!

4:28 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are all invited to my tiny apartment in the Sonoran desert (which most people pronounce "snoring desert") where the humidity is 5 percent and the temperature today was 110. Hey, it's a DRY heat.

Serge and I had a falling out after I fell in love with Arabie, but accidentally got packaged up and sent out as a fruitcake.

I actually like lavender, but in moderation. Not the schoolmarm-y kind that is sharp and mean and raps your knuckles. This sounds more like a nun in church with a ruler hidden in her habit.

11:18 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Oh sweetie, now that I'm 100 years old I might take you up on that offer. Dry heat is good for these old bones..

11:54 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Divina, you can count me in. Weather down here is bad as well. But on the other hand, I find this perfume very lovely. I love the celery notes. I takes me back to teenager era for me. :)

1:24 PM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Late to the ball, Cinderella mine...

I'm wit chu.
No likee the GC- microbially speaking, or in the scent arena.

Doesn't hold a candle to the REAL THING.

Big kisses to my favorite pansy.
[THAT WAS meant as a compliment, green eyes !]

1:53 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I don't get the celery, which isn't a bad thing at all..

6:35 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I wear my pansyness with pride!

6:36 PM EDT  

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