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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Serge Lutens Filles en Aiguilles: Perfume Review

By Tom

The newest Serge, available at Barneys. My French isn't nearly up to snuff for the ideography of the name (Girls in heels? Girls in needles? Huh?) I do get the idea of the needles as being pine. Growing up in New England I of course remember the smell of pine forests: the earthy smell of the resinous needles and the coldness of the brace of trees that stayed cool on the hottest summer day. We have pine trees in my neighborhood too, lining Coldwater Canyon Drive. Coming from the valley you can tell when you've entered Beverly Hills from Los Angeles by the canopy of the pines and the drop in temps.

According to Robin at Now Smell This the notes are "pine needles meld(ed) with vetiver, frankincense, fruit and spice notes”. I certainly get some of that but I think I also smell camphor in there: vetiver alone wouldn’t provide the forest-floor chill. There’s a part of pine that smells like creosote or turpentine and there’s just a dash in here too. It dances from hot to cool in a delightfully, well, Serge-y way that I find captivating. Yes, it’s an oriental, yes there are woods and yes there are fruits. But on me the fruits are a barely discernible sweetness and the woods are there to hold up the pine boughs. Oh, and that pine.. I used to love to steal off to the pines on a hot day with a book. I’d pick wild berries at the edge of the woods and could stay for hours in the shade with the slight breeze making what sunshine could manage its way in dappled. The flow of the Mill river a muted trickle, my afternoon reading “A La Recherche de Temps Perdu”, oh okay, Stephen King seemed Byronic because of the location. Uncle Serge never shies away from letting you smell the rot that produces a flower, and there’s a fair bit of skank in this one: cool earth, hot sunshine and fresh, resinous pine needles layering over the dried and going-to-mulch stratum of the previously shed.

In my mind I want Serge Lutens to shock me. But I think that’s sometimes not the essence of the house. Nuit de Cellophane was shocking in that he took on the fruity-floral and drove a stake through the heart of the whole genre: it’s sophisticated yet young, heartbreakingly lovely but flirty. Like the best of Lutens, it doesn’t come to meet you halfway, you have to come to it.

This is Lutens answer to those of us who wanted green. In this case, I am more than happy to come to him.

$140, at Barneys

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Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Thanks for the review! I plan to sniff this tomorrow at Barney's. I kind of hope I don't like it, otherwise, it's mine. My only worry is about wearability - what are your thoughts? It strikes me as very room spray-esque, mostly because of the pine. I adore pine candles, too, but I don't know that I want to smell like one. I guess I'll see tomorrow...

12:16 AM EDT  
Blogger Jarvis said...

Hi, Tom. Thanks for the review. Took me a few tries to wrap my head around this one, but I'm really enjoying it. I get a lot of the stewed fruit in it, though.

12:18 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I was thinking that it may be THAT sort of pine, but it isn't at all. It's really far more pine forest and the dreaded Pine-Sol. But I think we'd all love to read how you found it.

12:28 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Odd- I get not much on the stewed fruits, but I do get some forest fires..

12:29 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Tom, I agree with you on Nuit de Cellophane, I adore it, and I know I will love this one too, just because I trust Serge to do the best treatment possible of whatever fragrant element is chosen to be showcased. I love pine forests too, and I can't wait to test this!

(I escaped to the trees as a child too, back in New England - everyone thought the deep dark woods was something to fear, but I knew it was my friend. Unfortunately, it's usually other people who need to be feared.)

12:34 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think we were in adjacent woods! Did yours have blackberries on the edges? I've never tasted a blackberry that was as sweet as those small, wild ones that grew on the outskirts of those woods back in the day..

12:58 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haven't smelled it, although your review makes me think I should. The other reviews made me think that if I hung one of those pine-tree shaped car fresheners around my neck, stuck a mothball in my back pocket, stuffed my pockets with mulch and held a dried apricot in my mouth, I could do this on my own.
Serge, I understand you less and less and want you more and more.

1:07 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I know I've been accused of being a fan-boy, but I like this one. Heck, I bought a bottle.

Although I think I would pay to see you perform that simulacrum.. :-)

1:20 AM EDT  
Blogger carmencanada /Grain de Musc said...

Tom, I'm another one that gets -- on my own skin -- mostly pine and vetiver, and very little fruit. The camphory part is in the vetiver essence: raw, it's got that kind of blast (as in LesNez Turtle Vetiver). I find it quite fascinating in an almost Comme des Garçons-ish way, but I'm still on the cusp about getting it.

@Quinncreative: I hope it isn't my review that gave you that impression! :-[

1:45 AM EDT  
Anonymous lady jane grey said...

Thank you, Tom - I was waiting for the review. And I'm waiting for the perfume to arrive to the shops in Vienna : the notes are not really mine, but your description makes it very interesting (and after all, I have to find out, whether I get the fruits...)

3:21 AM EDT  
Blogger Louise said...

Thanks, Tom.

This was love at first sniff for me. I, too, get a strong childhood remembrance from Filles-though mine is left coast, Oregon woods, but also with our version of blackberries. Dead-on summer heat and some too-old for me book.

I don't get much turpentine or stewed fruit-but rather, a sweet balsam base that delights me.

I bought a bottle straight off ; )

6:03 AM EDT  
Blogger ScentScelf said...

This Tom review with the Louise chaser has raised my interestest level on Filles en Aiguilles. I am a fan of green...and its permutations--leaves, sap, needles, grass, etcetera...but am leery of camphor. For me, camphor isn't intriguing, or humorous, or bad boy attractive, or ironic; it just smells, um, bad.

Given the different takes on it, though, I have absolutely NO premonition of how it would be on me...which is interesting, after having read so many posts on it...kind of makes my search to find out somewhat akin to...[ahem]...finding a needle in a haystack???

8:18 AM EDT  
Anonymous March said...

This is just a great scent, isn't it? I love the turpentine aspect.

9:54 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

This is the first SL in a while that I really am feeling very hopeful about. Sounds divine!

10:29 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Thanks for clearing that up- that vetiver is quite the sinus clearer. I'm also getting a lot more smoke in the later phase of the drydown. I'm liking this one a lot..

11:38 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I'd love to read how it worked out for you!

11:39 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I did the same thing. The first day I tried it they said they didn't have it in stock. They called a few hours later to tell me a bottle surfaced, and I bought..

11:41 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I guess what I am smelling as camphor is the vetiver- it's not waaaay out there, it just chills things a bit, a ying to the smoky yang.

11:43 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I like that too!

11:43 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I liked it, even though it isn't going out of Uncle Serge's comfort zone.

11:44 AM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

Beautiful writing, Tom! I want to try this!

12:22 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Tom, this sounds so desirable with a huge I wrong? That is what I want to imagine, and I'll have to imagine a lot until I have the opportunity to bring it to my nostrils. Stranded in this turquoise end of the Mediterranean, I can just wait until my next trip abroad...:-<. The pine element, a rather scary one as Elizabeth points out in one of the comments, and the camphor one...all those medicines and antibacterials...but in the hands of Serge, who knows?

12:34 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I'd love to read your impressions of it, as I am sure would everybody else!

4:12 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


It's a great scent- I think you'll like it!

4:13 PM EDT  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

OK, smelled this today- the camphor initially bothered me a lot, and the similarity to the sweet spiced fruits of Chergui bummed me out, not being much of a Chergui lover. But now, I am really enjoying the sweet balsam base that Louise mentioned. I just don't know that I want to get through the top to get to this stage(it's been 4 hours since I sprayed it). Need more testing. Intriguing, and the pine is not really a factor, strangely. Got a little at the beginning and middle, but now, not much at all.

5:14 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I guess the users are going to be divided into two camps: Camp Pine and Camp Fruit. Whoda thumk I'd not in Camp Fruit?!?

7:26 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tmp00 and carmencanada: I don't know what's happened to me lately. Maybe it's the heat. I've always loved Serge in all his various reincarnations. I have a full bottle of retail-priced Arabie, for heaven's sake. And have used more than half!
But lately, I just can't take anymore camphor/turpentine/cedar/pine. In fact, the list of what I can't abide sees to get longer--rose, melon, musk. I am concerned that I'll be found sitting in a corner, sniffing at some little soliflore while dabbing salt water on my pulse points.

11:51 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am in that corner already, and will be delighted to have company :-)

11:53 PM EDT  
Anonymous Sjörn Plitzko said...

The is title of the perfume is ambiguous. It means girl on high heels on the on side and on the other girl on needles (ment are the pine needles...)

6:42 AM EDT  
Blogger Cat Fish said...

Thank you for the review. After sampling it a few times i get mainly pine, but a sunny warm pine (which reminds me so much of my childhood holidays by the sea) and incense, the smokey and rich, sweet incense. Only in the end the stewed fruits show up. Fully infected by it, now. Might need a full bottle! ;-)

6:53 AM EST  
Blogger margofandango said...

I tried this on and my first thought was aghh,liquorice.I wanted to scrub it off. I'm glad I didn't. After about an hour it was lovely,warm,soft and piney.I can't say I would wear it.Is it Uni.I would like my man to wear this.I'm glad he doesn't speak French, so he can't read the label. Every so often I would have another sniff of this scent.It gives a feeling of strength and warmth. I could snuggle up with this one.
Funny thing is,we got the Christmas tree today, I had pine resin on my hands after I had trimmed it. The same wonderful resiny smell. Give this one a chance,but put it on an hour before you go out.It had very good staying power.

5:11 AM EST  
Blogger Balutakat said...

Just wanted to let you know, Yes! It was your review that prompted my impulse purchase (this is way out of my expense league),and..No! I still don't regret it. I find its close sillage and ambiguous sexuality perfect for grad school classes, where I can cheer myself with a quick sniff of the wrist if the topic becomes dreary. People who hug me say "Oh wow, what is it?" but no one else, and that's good by me.

11:33 PM EST  

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