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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

International Man of Mystery: Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque

By Donna

Not too long ago I reviewed Chergui by Serge Lutens, a fragrance I had wanted to try for a long time. It is currently in the Export range for a limited run, but another one that I was really curious about still remained elusive, a later scent with a tobacco theme, Fumerie Turque. Recently a new friend with European connections, a dashing and somewhat mysterious man at that, sent me this 2003 release that was once in the Export range for a short time a few years ago, but it never arrived at my local boutique, and so I was even more eager to sample it. It is everything I had hoped for and more.

I would certainly not call Fumerie Turque one of the “difficult” Lutens perfumes, but it does sit precariously astride the line between masculine and feminine, and if I had to choose I would say that it was intended as more of a men’s fragrance, not quite as unisex in character as Chergui, which itself tips a bit more toward the manly side. Fumerie Turque opens in a similar way, but it quickly becomes apparent that it is not quite as sweet, lacking the hay sugar note but still sweet in other more complicated ways. It shares the honey and beeswax with Chergui, and for a few seconds you might wonder if there is really a need for two tobacco scents in the line. Then it happens – the strong Turkish leaf and smoked leather arrive, and it’s a whole new animal. I do mean animal – this beast is on the prowl from the moment it hits your skin.

Chergui’s tobacco is a sweet pipe blend, while Fumerie Turque is just that - rough, strong Turkish stuff, the kind you might find in roll-your-own packets and unfiltered European cigarettes, the ones that are really, really bad for you. Although I have never smoked, I do enjoy the aroma of tobacco in its unburned state, except for cigar grade, which is just too strong and bitter and smells too much like it’s already been smoked. The Turkish style occupies the middle ground between pipe and cigar and when it’s surrounded by the sweeter elements in this scent - including currants, honey, rose, jasmine, and Peru balsam – it is simply hypnotic. It reminds me, not in smell but in concept, of another favorite Lutens of mine, Douce Amère – the bitter and the sweet are in constant flux, each one rising to the top only to be subdued by the other elements in a never-ending dance of opposites. Down at the bottom, notes of juniper and rather charmingly uncivilized patchouli make sure that the sweet parts never really win.

So, what does Fumerie Turque actually smell like? Yes, it smells of tobacco and leather and candied sweets and dark red roses, but it’s far greater than the sum of its parts.

It smells like the kind of smooth-talking bounder your mother always warned you about, and you know she was right.

It smells like James Bond in the Monte Carlo casino at 2:00 a.m. – and by James Bond I mean Sean Connery or Daniel Craig, not those other posers.

It smells like the hot, dark gaze of the stranger across the room that makes your heart leap as your eyes meet his in the silent language of desire.

It smells like transgression and hidden worlds and whispers behind beaded curtains.

It gives off its own heat like a dangerous wild animal passing too closely to your hiding place as you try not to be seen, and you feel its fierce breath as it hunts for its prey: you.

I absolutely adore it.

It makes me feel more than a little dangerous myself when I wear it, and that is an all too rare sensation in my life. Behind its candied façade is a seductive heart of darkness that’s impossible to resist.

Its lasting power is impressive, and if you put it on one day it’s still waiting to greet you the next morning like a sleepy lover, but on me something else wonderful happens too – between the currants and the leather and the honey, the long-awaited final stage of the drydown of Fumerie Turque smells like something I never thought I would find in a perfume; it gives off something very close to the aroma of a horse’s skin, warm and alive, a radiant fruity odor with an undertone of animalic wildness. That happens to be something I love very much, and finding that smell on myself because of a perfume is something delightful if totally unexpected. I like to wear it to bed so that during the night my own skin will be transformed into that velvety horse-like aroma in the morning. People who have never smelled a horse up close might think I am very strange, but anyone who has ever inhaled the delicious heat emanating from the silky neck of a magnificent equine creature will understand completely. Who knew a fragrance could make the transition from danger to comfort in such an unusual way?

Image credit: Sean Connery as James Bond via, not sure which movie it’s from, but who cares, it’s still eye candy.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've gone and pushed all of my buttons with Craig, Connery and horses (of all things...but I was a horsey gal for many years and it's one of the best scent memories ever). I just wore Chergui yesterday -- not the first time I've worn it, but definitely the first time I appreciated and craved it. I guess I know what the next step will be!

12:55 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Well, I've never had the hot dark gaze of a stranger, or if I did I was sadly staring off into space and didn't notice. Story of my life. I'm clueless. I don't think I have a heart of darkness, but then I have people who tell me that I can be as forbidding as a bowl of lemon juice soaked razor blades, soo

But I am in awe at the horse reference; I haven't been near a horse since I was a teen but your review brings back a flood of sense memory: horses and tack and bright mornings. That slight funk left on you from a horse who loves you and greets you with a nuzzle.

I spritzed a bit just now and will wear tomorrow..

1:12 AM EDT  
Blogger Proximity said...

... now I have to wash off my Iris Poudre ... nothing but Fumerie Turque will do.
Great review, of one of my favorites :) Thank you.

8:25 AM EDT  
Blogger Mals86 said...

You had me at Connery... (fans self vigorously)

I just got to try Chergui recently, and found that, although I usually adore spices, I didn't want them in my hay & tobacco scent. Once the spices burned off, it was wonderful. I might have sprung for a decant, except that I had already been knocked for a loop by the amazing SSS Tabac Aurea.

I love it that you've found the scent of seducing yourself. You describe it beautifully.

9:07 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this beautifully written review. I love Chergui and Fumerie Turque. They are so magically done, it's hard to not keep sniffing myself when I wear either. Interesting that although I agree FT leans more towards the masculine, the drydown is sultry, sexy feminine.

Massive thanks again,

9:57 AM EDT  
Blogger Aimée L'Ondée said...

ohhhh, I definately need to try this one. And so, just as one nonexport Serge Lutens addiction is finally nearly within my grasp (export bottle of MKK, come to mama!), I'll probably now end up with another one. sheesh.

10:42 AM EDT  
Blogger ScentScelf said...

Well, Donna, I had so much fun with your review, I can wait a bit before I start chasing down a hit of Fumerie Turque.

But I imagine I'll start chasing. ;) Lord, put one of those Bonds --or Timothy Dalton, sorry, I enjoyed him, too, however brief his foray--in my way and, well, things will just have to be dealt with in the appropriate manner.

Chergui brings me the same kind of comfort happy that I think gourmands do for some...but we don't need that kind of comfort all the time...I am quite happy to see if there is some stranger's gaze/horse's neck equivalent here for me. :) :)

12:47 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Chasarumba, thank you, I was warned by someone else that FT was the "next step" after Chergui, and now I know that it really did mean an escalation of addiction...proceed at your own risk! ;-)

1:22 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Tom, I knew you loved this one too, so glad I finally got to experience it.

1:23 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Proximity, glad to enable! :-)

1:23 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Mals86, now I am going to be on the hunt for Tabac Aurea! Thank you - I think....

1:25 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Lovethescents, thank you very much. The way this one changes over time is so fascinating!

1:27 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Aimee, MKK is another one I really need to try, although I expect that I will not be able to leave the house wearing it. With my skin's known affinity for Serge's scents, I am almost afraid to think of how it will amplify on me, I might get arrested or something.

1:29 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Scentself, LOL, I know just how you feel.

I will give you Timothy Dalton, he did have a certain intensity and I love his acting, but I think that the films he ended up in did not play to his strengths, he needed something more like what Daniel Craig is getting now. (Now it's my turn to fan myself.)

1:32 PM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

"but who cares, it’s still eye candy" - I love that! :-) An extremely enjoyable read from start to finish. Thanks!
I adore FT. It's one of the SLs I've been stockpiling. Can't begin to imagine life w/out it.

7:57 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Thanks Elle, I figured this would be something you would love! Now that I have it I can't imagine life without it either. If it comes back to the Export line I hope I can stock up too. And I am always happy to provide eye candy too. :-D

8:38 PM EDT  
Blogger Beth Schreibman Gehring said...

You know that I understand about all of those other posers.....I'm a Craig girl myself. Having fallen in love with Chergui and Fumerie Turque when I was in NYC I concur on all counts. This was a gorgeous review Donna and it will be a wee bit before I stop sweating:))))

12:18 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am a back up bottle of fumerie it... and chergui(but sometimes find it too sweet)i also find fumerie feminine...but with an edge....amazing how different smells create different feelings in people... for me fumerie is thinner that cherugui....anyrate i would never like to be without either!!!

5:54 AM EDT  
Anonymous Mimi said...

Wow. What a gorgeous, seductive review.

I love a horse's smell - it's one of the most delightful things I know of - sweet and fragrant.

And having a scent that makes you feel dangerous is so necessary!

11:19 AM EDT  
Anonymous marian said...

A couple of years ago I was looking for a 'forest" scent. The balsam note in FT is what stands out on my skin. I wish this had been available a couple of years ago- it would have fit the bill perfectly!

Now if I could only get the stranger you describe to hand deliver a bottle, I'd be more than happy to take a walk in the forest with him, even if he was smoking a cigar!

12:11 PM EDT  
Anonymous Flora said...

Thank you Beth, I figured you for a Chergui/ FT girl! :-)

4:10 PM EDT  
Anonymous Flora said...

Hongkongmom, I can certainly see how either of these would be really sweet and even comforting on many people, and Chergui does that for me, but FT is much darker and bolder on me, which I love! I would definitely consider it backup bottle worthy too.

4:12 PM EDT  
Anonymous Flora said...

Mimi, thanks so much, and total agreement on both counts. :-)

4:14 PM EDT  
Anonymous Flora said...

Marian, that is amazing, I do detect a balsamic note in FT but it does not dominate at all on my skin!

You can have the stranger only when I am done with him... ;-)

4:16 PM EDT  
Blogger xxdfarre said...

Love the smell of horses & have aoften wondered why no-one ever produced a scent to remind me of that unique smell. Must try and get hold of FT - wonder is it available in Oz?

2:54 AM EDT  
Anonymous Patricia said...

Nice review. I have everlasting craving (is it correct to call it lemming?) for some Serge Lutens now, after this and all the comments. For me what goes well with warm autumnal day are Halloween or Cabaret, with rainy one Habanita and Blv Notte. And I love all types of amber scents.

5:23 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm late to the commenting party! I love Fumerie Turque on a swelteringly hot afternoon-into-evening, sipping cocktails at an outdoor cafe, and feeling predatory.

12:04 PM EDT  

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