Perfume Review: Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin

In time for Valentine’s Day, Serge Lutens is releasing the first of two new fragrances for 2013. It is La Fille de Berlin (“The Girl from Berlin”), a unisex rose perfume that tries to pay homage to a woman’s strength, resilience and beauty in the face of destruction.

Lutens is a very intellectual perfumer who seeks to render concrete the most abstract of theories and images. That is never more evident than in his press materials for La Fille de Berlin — such as his explanatory video which you can watch below and which has been translated in full on YouTube.

A shorter, barely less oblique explanation of the scent is available in the press release posted on Fragrantica where Mr. Lutens describes the perfume as follows:

A flower grown under our ruins, cut off from the world, appears before your eyes to all of us to open our eyes. I took courage in both hands in her flowing Rheingold hair. On the lips, I tasted blood. My girl from Berlin showed combative, more beautiful than ever–and so I broke my contempt and yet my shame, hiding under the guise of my pride. Through the power of criticism, of love and hate, God and the devil, death and life, I drew a furrow in which she disappeared. And while the maelstrom together beats on me, I pay homage to her beauty enraged.

A scene from "A Woman in Berlin" ("Anonyma: Eine Frau in Berlin".)    REUTERS/Constantin Film/Handout  Source: Reuters article 2008

A scene from “A Woman in Berlin” (“Anonyma: Eine Frau in Berlin”.) REUTERS/Constantin Film/Handout. Source: Reuters article 2008

If all this esoterica leaves you sighing, you’re not alone. Long story short, La Fille de Berlin is meant to pay homage to the strength of German women who survived the Soviet occupation after the war — though there seems to be something much darker, more ominous, and much more violent being referenced in both his video comments and in the press release references above to shame and blood. If you read the complete YouTube quote from Mr. Lutens, you will get a full sense of the incredible bleakness, anger, betrayal and misery which seems to be at the start of his dark, almost existentialist mythology for La Fille de Berlin. (One almost wonders if he’s talking about rape, in addition to some sort of actual or symbolic “murder.” No matter how much resilience may be his ultimate theme, the whole thing is very unsettling.)

Since none of these things are a happy way to sell perfume (especially on Valentine’s Day), Mr. Lutens tries to be slightly more positive in his quotes to The New York Times where he states, “Beauty is the moment in which you rise up […] It is the moment when you pick up your head, stride through your own ruins and climb up the mountain.” Okay, it’s still not particularly happy and cheerful, what with “your own ruins” — but, at least he tried.

La Fille de BerlinThere are no perfume notes for La Fille de Berlin. Lutens is a perfume house which often omits a large part of the ingredients in its perfume description but, here, it does so completely. The rumour mill says that La Fille is a rose and pepper scent, while Luckyscent feels some of the notes are “Rose, violet, pink and black pepper, musk” — but Lutens himself has stayed silent. On his website, the fragrance is only described with still further (and, by now, rather exasperating) lyricism:

She’s a rose with thorns, don’t mess with her. She’s a girl who goes to extremes.
When she can, she soothes; and when she wants … !
Her fragrance lifts you higher, she rocks and shocks. 

That’s all well and good, but I’m afraid I find nothing shocking or extreme about La Fille de Berlin. It’s a lovely rose scent which starts with peony-like roses before taking a fruity (and almost fruity-patchouli) turn, then becoming rather austere and, by the end, quite nondescript. I found it pretty average as a whole, and far preferred LutensSa Majesté La Rose for a rose scent — and any number of other Lutens fragrances in general. If truth be told, La Fille de Berlin was actually a bit of a disappointment. I’m not alone in feeling that way. One of the handful of reviews already out is from Cosmetopica (who also couldn’t make head nor tails out of Lutens’ lyricism). She, too, found the perfume far less distinctive and exciting than many of Lutens’ other creations.

Peony roses at Warwick Castle, UK. Photo used by permission from CC at "Slightly Out of Sync."

Peony roses at Warwick Castle, UK. Photo used by permission from CC at “Slightly Out of Sync.”

La Fille de Berlin opens on me with a wet, dewy rose note that is faintly similar to the sweetness in a tea rose, but slightly richer and redder. That said, it’s not as rich as a hearty, beefy Bourbon or Damask rose, but something in-between. Perhaps, large peony roses? Soft violet notes flicker and dance at the edges. Sometimes, the scent seems soft and slightly powdered. At other times, heartier and deeper. The violet notes vaguely evoke YSL‘s Paris in its original formulation but Paris is a much warmer, headier, more intense, and spicier take on roses.

As some others have noted, there is a subtle green note which is present. It’s as if Christopher Sheldrake (Lutens’ favorite perfumer and traditional cohort in olfactory adventures) sought to bring in the scent of the green, leafy sepals which protect a rose bud. The green notes are hard to describe. They’re not like those at the start of Sa Majesté La Rose which is a much more lavish, baroque and dramatic scent after its green, slightly soapy start. In La Fille de Berlin, the green elements are fresher and slightly dewy, and underscored by what seems to be geranium leaf.



There is also an unexpectedly woody element, like that of a rose’s own stem, and elements of rich, wet soil. It’s an odd mix — greenness with earthy, loamy soil and the faintly woody aspect of a rose stem — and it makes me wonder if Christopher Sheldrake sought to disassemble every part of a rose before putting them back together again. He’s done that deconstruction trick for Lutens before; it was handled brilliantly with the tuberose flower in Tubereuse Criminelle.

Ten minutes in, La Fille de Berlin begins to take on a fruity aspect. At first, it’s the unexpected scent of cherries. Then, it’s just a general fruity smell under the veneer of sweetness and it strongly resembles some purple patchouli fragrances I smelled last year. Specifically, it calls to mind Marc JacobsLola and, to a much lesser extent, Chanel‘s Coco Noir. Both are scents with rose, a fruity patchouli element, notes of pear, pink peppercorn, and geranium, over a base of musk. As the Fragrantica notes demonstrate, Lola, in particular, is a primarily rose and peppercorn perfume with fruity-patchouli overtones. I own Lola and Coco Noir, so I sprayed on a little bit of each on my legs to see if I was just imagining things.

Purple rose at Warwick Castle, England. Photo provided with permission by CC from "Slightly Out of Sync" blog.

Purple rose at Warwick Castle, England. Photo provided with permission by CC from “Slightly Out of Sync” blog.

I was not imagining things. Though Lola opens with heavy fruit notes, it soon develops into something extremely similar to the jammy, peppercorn rose in La Fille de Berlin. Coco Noir is completely different in its opening, but it too has that jammy, purple, fruity patchouli element in its middle stages. (I reviewed it here, if you’re interested.) It should be noted that Christopher Sheldrake (who undoubtedly created La Fille de Berlin) was also responsible for Coco Noir, along with Chanel’s in-house perfumer, Jacques Polge. But it is really to Lola that La Fille de Berlin seems most similar at the start. The main differences is that the latter is slightly less fruity, much more subtle and fresh, and of infinitely better quality. There is nary a screeching synthetic in sight — which is much more than I can say for Mr. Jacobs’ creation.

Two hours in, La Fille de Berlin changes. The sillage drops even further, and the perfume takes on a cold, austere, almost metallic bent. It loses what warmth it had and becomes a linear progression that is predominantly rose with white musk and light sandalwood. It is far from exciting. Victoria from Bois de Jasmin had a far sexier time with the scent, experiencing amber, musk and faintly “naughty” bits:

A couple of hours later, my skin smells of amber and musk. La Fille de Berlin has an intriguing animalic note that would be untoward and raunchy if the rest of the composition were not so refined and polished. The reference here seems to be Serge Lutens’s own Muscs Koublaï Khan […] a rose wrapped into so much musk and civet that it becomes something else altogether. La Fille de Berlin, on the other hand, is much less musk and more rose, and it’s well-behaved enough to be worn to the office without raising anyone’s alarm. But when you press your wrist to your nose, you notice the naughty and smoldering bits. The impressive tenacity will ensure that you will be aware of La Fille de Berlin for the entire day.

I only wish I had her experience; it sounds infinitely more interesting! Having just tested extreme animalic musk and naughtiness in Parfum d’Empire’s Musc Tonkin, I’d be quite alert to the presence of any skanky notes or civet in La Fille de Berlin, no matter how minute and refined. But, alas, I simply don’t smell it here. No amber, either. There is some earthiness which was there from the start, though faint, but I attribute it to the undertones of what seemed more like patchouli than animalic elements. And, even so, on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being extreme earthiness), I’d place the note at a 3.5 at the start and at a mere 1 towards the end. Instead, something else is much more evident. I swear, even in the dry-down, there is a fruity note! It is much, much more subtle than it was at the start, but it is still there. I find it excessively sweet, and I blame it on the pepper which has to be closer to the fruitier type of pink peppercorn berries than to anything black and biting.

As a whole, my experience with the final hours was much closer, again, to that of Cosmetopica. She owns and loves Muscs Koublai Khan, so she would have noticed any animalic similarities had she encountered them. Instead, she detected milky sandalwood in the dry-down. I agree; I found a definite creamy, soft, milky aspect to things, though to my nose it didn’t smell like strong or, even, genuine sandalwood. More like an ersatz cousin, if you will. For the most part, it was mild and quite overwhelmed by the white musk and by that endless fruity element.

La Fille de Berlin had average sillage and very good longevity. The perfume projected for the first twenty minutes before settling in to become much more discreet. It became close to the skin about three hours in, though it was still strongly noticeable if you brought your wrist to your nose. The overall duration of the scent was a little under nine hours on me. On Cosmetopica, it was eight; on Victoria from Bois de Jasmin, “the whole day.”

All in all, La Fille de Berlin is well-behaved, refined, unisex perfume that is perfectly pleasant — with all the implications that accompany that last adjective. As Cosmetopica’s review noted, one buys niche perfumes with their higher price tag for something that is slightly more distinctive and interesting. Serge Lutens has perfumes that run the gamut from being intellectually brilliant masterpieces that are not versatile scents for everyday use, to things that are simply lovely and constantly wearable, to scents that are occasionally just perfectly “nice.”

This is the latter. Though the bright pink colour of the liquid is absolutely gorgeous and though I wanted to love it, at the end of the day, I found La Fille de Berlin to be quite boring. And, for reasons I can’t quite pinpoint, it wasn’t a particularly happy scent in my mind either, unlike Sa Majesté La Rose. (That conclusion doesn’t even consider Mr. Lutens’ incredibly dark and depressing backstory for the perfume which, ideally, I shall forget about as soon as possible.) However, as with every review, perfume is a wholly subjective thing — so what may not be my cup of tea may be a ravishingly sophisticated, discreet rose scent for others. As always, it’s best to try it and see for yourself.

Cost & Availability: La Fille de Berlin eau de parfum is available right now on the Serge Lutens website where it costs $120 for a 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle. In other currency units, I’ve read that it will cost €78. There does not seem to be a bell-jar for the scent on the website. It is also available right now for $120 on Luckyscent — which ships internationally. Luckyscent is not showing any samples for sale at this time. I will update this post when the perfume becomes available at other retailers, such as Barney’s or Harrods — both of which traditionally carry a handful of Lutens perfumes. La Fille de Berlin has just debuted, but is supposed to be fully launched in March 2013, so I suspect it may be a few weeks before it is available outside of the company’s website or in its Palais Royal headquarters in Paris. The perfume is part of Lutens’ “export” line of fragrances, so it definitely will be offered at other selected retail outlets. For other countries, once mid-March comes around, I suggest using the Lutens Store Indicator guide on its website to help you find a location that sells Fille de Berlin near you. Samples should also be available soon on decant sites, and I will update this post once I see them listed on places like Surrender to Chance.

53 thoughts on “Perfume Review: Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin

  1. I like your review. Haven’t smelled this Lutens yet but I just got a newsletter mail from Lutens yesterday with an offer of a sample, so I claimed one. If I was fast enough I would get my sample in a couple of weeks (when I previously claimed Santal Majuscule it arrived almost 1,5months)

  2. Cosmetopica here. 🙂 Many thanks for your mention of my site. I should perhaps point out that the YouTube video wasn’t out when I got my fragrance (it was sent to me by the firm well ahead of time, as I write for an industry publication), and the video does, I think, clarify things a little, though not in a way that makes it any more pleasant! Serge himself is a lovely chap but there was an edge of violence to the text for Vitriol d’Oeillet also that was rather disturbing. I just wish La Fille lived up to its savage promise – for me the pepper element is so backstage it’s almost not there, and the rose itself is too inoffensive. I don’t have an office job and I don’t care if people don’t like what I wear, so I will wear it, I think, but I will find myself reaching for Sa Majesté, Paris and Parisienne rather more often.

    • Hi there! Nice to see you. 🙂 You’re very welcome for the reference. As for the video, I wouldn’t give it a second thought as — frankly — the scent seemed to have nothing to do with the mythology he described. And thank God for that, too! Plus, I doubt most reviewers even know it’s out there; I only caught it accidentally.

      I admire Mr. Lutens and his enormous intellectualism — I think he is quite brilliant (as is as Christopher Sheldrake). But this perfume….. far from their most creative, distinctive work, imo. Now you have me keen to read the text for Vitriol d’Oeillet. With the violence you see there, the rage and bleakness in La Fille de Berlin, and the funereal aspects of De Profundis, one has to wonder a little….

      By the way, I don’t care if people don’t like what I wear either. LOL. 🙂

      • I live in France and when I have to deal with some functionary I always wear De Profundis. I think there is something about that smell of chrysanthemums – inextricably connected with death here and the ceremonies of Toussaints – that intimidates people on a subliminal level. 🙂 Happy to send you the text for Vitriol, if you can’t track it down. I had the pleasure of Serge reading it out to me himself, as I perched on a purgatorially uncomfortable Moroccan chair upstairs at the Palais Royal, both of us sipping green tea and nibbling petit-fours, himself surrounded by fluttering vendeuses, who look after him most carefully and affectionately.

        • What a sight and scene! You lucky devil. I have a friend who would give her left arm (and probably her right foot) to meet Serge Lutens! She dreams of finding her way to his Moroccan villa and kidnapping him, then looking after him in a way that is far more than just merely affectionate. 😉 (I’m actually not joking. She adores him and his perfumes so passionately that she bought a bell-jar without reading any reviews or even sniffing it once. That was the first of many Lutens purchases, as she now considers herself a “Lutens girl, and only Lutens.”) I fear this review will break her heart, so perhaps your details about him will assauge her a little. You may want to inform him, next time you see him, that there is a lawyer in Michigan who worships at his feet. 😉

          I’d love for the text for Vitriol but since, alas, I don’t have a sample yet, may I beg a delay in the favour? I will write to you, if I may, to request it, if I can’t hunt it down myself. I’m planning on reviewing De Profundis, Cuir Mauresque or Fumerie Turques next time I do a Lutens review.

          As for France, I grew up there in large part, so I definitely agree that the French respond deeply and intensely to certain scents but I would never have thought it was chrysanthemums which affected them subliminally! Very interesting. I would have chosen carnation for something intimidating, though I suppose treatments like in Caron’s Bellogdia show it can be a much happier scent than that normally associated with it.

          • Interesting – I just find carnation beautiful, but there were many of them at my father’s funeral, so I suppose it does have similar connotations to chrysanths, like lilies. I am gearing up to buy a vintage Bellodgia, as the modern one is OK but fades very quickly. Vitriol is not so pretty but is more striking and it lasts SO much longer, which for me is important in a fragrance – I don’t want to be endlessly reapplying it. I can send you a decant if you want – they gave me a full bottle.

            I know, I was very lucky to meet Serge. 🙂 He doesn’t travel often and I think I was one of only three journalists he saw on this occasion. You may tell your besotted friend that he is very flirtatious. When I went in, I was convinced he must be gay, but I came away with quite a different impression! LOL. And he is beautifully turned out, very funny and charming, and surprisingly blunt about the fragrance industry, and about lots of other things. We spoke for several hours, about the Royal Family and heaven knows what else. I think everyone who meets him falls a bit in love with him.

            As for La Fille not being quite as good as it might be, Une Voix Noire and Santal Majuscule more than make up for it, I think – I’ve had friends tearing my arms off for decants. And BTW, La Fille is not the only fragrance they’re releasing this year, the PR tells me – they will be doing an autumn release as normal. He says he doesn’t know how that rumour got out.

          • I don’t think I should tell my friend any of that or she’ll end up camped on his doorstep at Les Palais Royales! *grin* It was bad enough that I posted a photo of him once but your comments may be the last straw, and then I’ll have to bail her out of jail. 😉 But he does sound fascinating. Forget the perfumes, tell me more! Which royal family member is he most interested in? (You’re British, so I assume you were talking about your royal family.) I used to write extensively about the royals — from all over, though I focused mostly on the Japanese Imperial Family. I have just a handful of the posts up and hidden on the blog, but if you’re interested in food, you may want to check out the two-part series on the Windsors’ favorite things to eat. 🙂

            Thank you for letting me know that La Fille is not the only scent which they are releasing this year. I will correct that. As for the other two scents you’ve mentioned, I haven’t smelled those either alas. I have small samples of Ambre Sultan, Muscs Koublai Khan, the now-discontinued Datura Noir, Fleurs d’Orangiers and Un Bois Vanillé in addition to the ones I mentioned earlier, but I never smell scents until I’m ready to review them. It lets me go in, focus on the scent completely and not have any preconceptions due to a rush or an inability to focus on things properly. Given how long each of my reviews are, and how many other lines I have to review, I’ll probably be going through all those by the time Mr. Lutens comes out with his next one! LOL.

            I would love a sample of Vitriol, but I could not impose on you in that way. I would feel very guilty as I have a bit of a neurosis about that. Remnants of my British nannies, I suspect. But what I would love is if you drop by from time to time, as I will do with your lovely, really fascinating site. I don’t often “click” with someone as I have with you and I suspect we have a lot in common (and not just because you live with a menagerie of animals, either). 🙂

            I wish you luck and good fortune in getting a bottle of vintage Bellodgia. I’m always outbid whenever I’ve tried to get one on eBay, though the prices are much better than for Tabac Blond. Good lord, the prices for that one….!!! And, I’m like you, I cannot abide constantly reapplying scents. Given how my skin/body normally consumes perfume, it means that I end up shying away from anything that is light, airy and sheer. On me, that would last about an hour, if I were lucky. Alas, Lutens’ absolutely gorgeous, rich and heady A La Nuit was also unsuccessful. It lasted less than 30 minutes! I was quite crushed.

  3. I’ve only recently discovered the Lutens line and I like what I’ve smelled so far. I love a good backstory as well, even if it isn’t all that happy. I’m not going to rush out to try it but eventually I will get to sniff it. It sounds nice but nothing worth going out of my way for.

      • I bought Filles en Aiguilles (did I spell that right?) right after I sniffed it. I really like Santal Majuscule, Chergui, and the orange blossom one. I also thought De Profundis was interesting as well. I haven’t tried too many of the others yet but I’m working on it. I have a large sample of Chergui and I’d love to get a bottle for the hubby. I like it but I think I’d really like it on him.

        • Hurrah for more Chergui love! I definitely want to try Santal Majuscule, Poodle. I hear nothing but the best things about it. Fleurs d’Orangiers is very pretty. And De Profundis should be up soon for review, so hopefully, I’ll love that one to make up for La Fille de Berlin. As for Fille en Anguilles, it has never been on my radar for some reason. I have no idea why. But for you to buy it right after a mere sniff….!! 😀 I definitely will note it for future sample purchases.

          • It’s been a winter of incense for me and it hit the spot. I don’t think it’s very complex on me but it smells like winter and forest pine and puts me in a happy place.

          • Hey Poodle, have you tried Comme des Garcons Incense Kyoto Series 3? It was love at first sniff for me and now I have a FB. What can I say except I have no will power?

          • I have a sample of Kyoto and I do love it. Avignon is another love and that one was a blind buy for me. I need to try the rest of that series. A girl can never have too much incense.

        • Poodle, your tastes are a lot like mine. The firm gave me a Fille en Aiguilles but my husband stole it. 🙂 So they gave me another one, which was very sweet. I don’t wear it as much as I would like, as the DH is always wearing his (now alternated with Ambre Sultan). And Chergui is just wonderful. Fleurs d’Oranger is a wonderfully comforting fragrance, and since you also like De Profundis you’re clearly not scared of difficult fragrances. I would try Jeux de Peau, Muscs Koublai Khan and Miel de Bois too – all extremely distinctive.

          • MKK is on my list to try. I’ll take a look at those others too. Thanks! MKK sounds like a love/hate scent which always interests me because I love to see which side I take with those. How lucky for you to be given some Lutens!

  4. I have to say, I’m disappointed this one was so middling. I love the backstory, and if I thought the perfume could match such a story, I’d probably be first in line to try it, if not do a blind buy (what can I say, I’m a sucker). Unfortunately, your review makes it seem that isn’t the case. I have a weird fantasy that someday I will move to Berlin and love it. Not sure why, as I’ve never actually *been* to Berlin, but all my readings indicate it’s the place for me, or at least, that I’d be a good fit in Germany. *sigh* But that’s neither here nor there. The jam accords don’t seem to enticing to me. I suppose one day I will make an effort to sample this, but it has certainly moved down my priority list after reading this review.

    • I was disappointed too, and that was before I read the full YouTube backstory and got completely turned off. Speaking of which, I think Lutens should have released that full story earlier so that some perfume blogs and places like Luckyscent weren’t under the mistaken impression that this is a Marlene Dietrich homage. Serge Lutens’ story seems infinitely more grim than anything associated with a glorious goddess like La Dietrich. I’m convinced he’s talking about rape, as well as murder (though it’s unclear to me whether he’s being metaphorical about the latter). All in all, that backstory has left a profoundly unsettled feeling, while the perfume itself is so average and nondescript that the dichotomy is quite striking. As for the jammy notes, Trish from Cosmetopica found the roses “too inoffensive” — which is much worse in a way, especially for a scent that is supposed to be all about roses. To my mind, that really translates to “dull” and even more nondescript than what I smelled. You should read her review, however, as well as the impressions of her friend (who, alas for you, also found jammy, “fruity” notes). Nonetheless, I think that — as compared to your beloved Tom Ford Noir de Noir — this won’t be your sort of rose scent.

  5. Such an insightful review! I was excited about this scent as I’m a fan of rose scents(love Noir de Noir, Baie Rose 26, Portrait of a Lady) but I must admit that this new Serge Lutens creation doesn’t seem promising to me. Im big SL fan but I also noticed that some scents are just “nice” from his line. I want more oomph, drama,and not a safe office fragrance 🙂

    • Ross, I think all the “drama” went into that backstory about rape and murder (and God knows what else he was talking about) in Soviet-occupied Berlin! There was none left over for the poor rose. LOL. Have you tried Sa Majesté La Rose? If you get the chance, you may want to give that one a sniff.

      • I guess you are right about drama in “La Fille de Berlin”! I haven’t tried Sa Majeste La Rose but definitely intrigued by it. I only own two Serge Lutens fragrances(Chergui and Tubereuse Criminelle) and recently blind bought Arabie due to the fact that I love the notes in it. I think I’ll be testing SL Sa Majeste La Rose next.

  6. Lovely indepth review kafkaesque. Kudos on snatching up a sample so quickly. Your review seems to mimic what everyone else is saying 🙁 Such a shame – he needed to rip this rose apart, and put it back together in a way far more dramatic, even if it started with the heated pepper of Vitriol D’Oeillet and I’d love to smell the cherry note you mention be almost piercingly sweet and syrupy. Lutens’ best rose remains Nombre Noir without a doubt!
    Thanks for the write up – beautifully done 😀

    • Thank you, Freddie! I appreciate your kind words. And, if *I* found La Fille to be boring, I can only imagine what *you* would think! LOL. 😀

      • LOL! This is very true :’) I sometimes appreciate simplicity… we’ll see… I have been looking for a true rose these days D: Maybe I should just stick with Majeste and buy it.

        • “Simplicity” is not a word I associate with you, my dear. To my friends, I’ve called you the Alexander McQueen of perfume bloggers and perfumistas. I think it’s quite true and meant to be the highest compliment. As for rose scents, I have to wonder what you’d think of Tom Ford’s Noir de Noir. Not a rose soliflore by any means, but I think you’d like some of its baroque lushness and richness.

          • 😛 <3 I love that! You're so sweet haha. I'm a bit of a messup when it comes to taste though! Hahaha.
            I'll be sure to re-sniff Tom Ford's offering, I haven't paid it much attention 🙁 Maybe because I don't WANT to like the brand. Pathetic I know.
            My current fav roses are, Tauer's Incense Rose, Nombre Noir takes the number 1 spot (but I can't afford it!) – man I just haven't found the right rose this is terrible! D: !!!!

          • Heh, my best friend in Denmark absolutely refused to try Tom Ford perfumes because he didn’t want to like anything to do with the man. He ended up accidentally getting samples of Ambre Absolut or Tobacco Vanille (can’t recall which) — and LOVED them. He was most disgruntled. LOL.

            I want to try so many more of Tauer’s perfumes, so I will add Incense Rose to my list. But, of more importance in priority, is something else you recommended (I have a whole list of “Freddie Loves” to go through). It’s going to be Vero Profumo’s Rubj. I can’t find the Humiecki & Graef that you recommended on Surrender to Chance, so that line will have to wait, but you’ve made me quite obsessed with trying Vero Profumo’s stuff. Since there is 10% of all samples today, I suspect I’m going to place an order. Probably the 3-perfume set. And perhaps Byredo’s Black Saffron too. (The M/Mink one you loved may be a little too avant-garde for me. LOL.)

            I’m glad you like my nickname for you. You’re extremely talented. (And damn cute.) If I end up ever writing to you as Mr. McQueen, you’ll know why. That said, I draw the line at wearing any perfumes that you fondly describe as “smelling of feet”…. *grin* 😉

          • Lol! Aw you’ve made me smile. Kafkaesque – email me via the address at my About Me with your address – I’ll send you some samples of my favourite things :D, including the Rubj, M/Mink, Bosque etc… x

  7. Hi Tara. Being raised in France by British nannies sounds wonderful. Much better than being raised in Yorkshire by coal miners, as I was. 🙂 But you’re right, I’m British but live in France, in rural isolation rather than anywhere interesting. I went up to meet Serge in 2011, I think it was, for the launch of Vitriol and De Profundis, a meeting arranged by his then amanuensis, Liliane. I gave her a bottle of local calva and she was so nervous about all the press (there was to be a big presentation later that day) that she poured herself a glass and drank it straight down. Now that stuff’s like rocket fuel, LOL. It nearly blew her head off. She never forgot me after that and was always sending me bottles of scent for my birthday and Christmas (sadly she’s now gone – retired, I think). This is how I built up most of my collection of Lutens, though I’ve also bought quite a lot myself, on Ebay.

    Serge is a big royalist and is fascinated by the Royal Family because he thinks people in France have no roots. Important to have them, he said, even if you reject them. And he loves English eccentricity – he said in England, people just accept him and his ‘interesting’ little ways, where in France, they think he’s weird, so he was very pleased to be speaking to someone English (I think he only speaks French himself).

    • Tara? My name isn’t Tara, but feel free to call me Kafka here. 🙂 The story of how you made poor Liliane drunk on calvados is hilarious!! The poor woman, I can quite imagine the scene. My favorite story though is imagining you on those spindly, excruciatingly uncomfortable Moroccan chairs as you sipped green tea and Serge had his vendeuses fluttering around him like solicitious butterflies. Ha. Again, you lucky, lucky thing!

      I’m really surprised (and a bit saddened) to hear that Serge thinks French people consider him weird and don’t accept him. I’ve always thought the French revered intellectuals and artists; he is most definitely both! Interesting too that he finds the French to have no roots. I have none myself, so I fully understand where he’s coming from about fitting in and finding a place where you feel you’re accepted. Out of all the many places I’ve lived, France has always seemed the most like home, whereas England (to give one example of another place where I was raised) did not. But, ultimately, he’s escaped to Morocco — like another Frenchman who didn’t always think he belonged and who was an artist at heart: Yves St. Laurent. Misfits who escape to the exotic to feel most safe…. I quite relate. LOL (My place would be India, I suppose.)

  8. When I heard about this one, I thought you would like it. With the musk, sandalwood and reconstructed rose, but I guess I was wrong. Wish this one had more pizazz, perhaps a bit of civet or cumin to spice things up a bit. I am really turning around on my hate of civet and cumin. I used to despise it, now I can’t get enough. I think my vintage Bal a Versailles did it! I am starting to love civet in perfumes because they add a complexity and depth to a fragrance that is wonderful. I think La Fille is lacking in that element. Although it sounds nice, I probably won’t spring for a full bottle. Nice review K. BTW I am backed up on my reviews, I have over 50 samples that I have to go through.Also I finally changed the name of my blog. I’ve been meaning to do it, but got too busy. Finally had the time to do it between my hectic workdays. LOL. Have you tried the Amouage Lyric Man and Femme. I hear people saying the Lyric Femme is more masculine than the male version.

    • Whoa, I’m quite stunned at your sudden love for civet and animalic notes! But, if anything could do it, it would be a vintage perfume. (And Bal à Versailles at that! How lucky to get your hands on the vintage original!) Still, what a sea change, Ferris. Are you going to go back and re-try Mitsouko to see if you like it more? If you’re now keen on civet, you should read about Musc Tonkin and give that one a whiff. Its opening is animalic beyond belief!

      I suspect changing the name of your blog won’t impact my following you and I think that should still carry over, but I will check. 🙂 No, I haven’t tried Lyric yet, in either version. I have Dia and some of the Opus Library collection to test out but, like you, I’m a bit backed up in my reviews. If my reviews weren’t always so damn long and if I didn’t have this obsessive need to research every detail imaginable, I could probably get to things much sooner. LOL.

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  10. Thanks for this very comprehensive review – I love Berlin, so the name of this new release caught my attention, though I have yet to try it. I love roses, and many combos of rose/violet/pepper (Kenzo Indian Holi / Flower Oriental / Vivienne Westwood Naughty Alice for example), and thought this might be right up my street till I got to your comparison with Lola. Lola gave me a serious headache, and I found the plasticity of the flower-topped bottle a little disconcerting. I am still curious, but will approach with due care.

    • PS I am adding you to my blog roll without ado, not least because I read Kafka and Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus at uni. I am currently having a Sisyphean knitting experience indeed, whereby I knit so much, then have to “rip it back and start again” (as the song doesn’t quite go).

      • LOL! My kind of woman –one who appreciates both Kafka and Camus! Now, you only have to say that you love Depeche Mode or 80s music, and we may be lost sisters. 😉 Good luck with your knitting endeavor. And thank you for adding me to your blog roll. I’ve signed up to follow you by email, and I’m looking forward to getting to know you better. 🙂

        • Gracious, 80s music is my absolute thing. Indeed, I wrote a blog post uniting the themes of Berlin, my favourite 80s band, perfume and Kafkaesque gig venues. Will pm you…!.

    • Thank you for stopping by, Flittersniffer (love the name!). 🙂 I wouldn’t worry about La Fille giving you a headache just because Lola did. Lola is one of the most synthetic things fruity-patchouli scents around. And it’s incredibly over-powering too! (Yes, I own it, but that’s a whole other story. And let’s not even start on that gigantic plastic, flower top to the bottle. LOL.) In contrast, La Fille has superbly high-quality ingredients and is very discreet in sillage or strength. There are no synthetics to give one a headache, I promise; I’ve gotten them myself from some perfumes, but not from any Serge Lutens. There are other issues with La Fille, but if you love roses and rose/violet/pepper combos in specific, then I think you should definitely give this a test whiff. 🙂

  11. I’ll revisit this post once I get my decant of La Fille de Berlin. The backstory for this and other perfumes – don’t care about them one iota! The only Serge Lutens FB I own is … Iris Silver Mist…but I am cosidering Daim Blond and/or Boxeuses.

  12. I refuse to dive into details about the idea of this perfume: I think there are better topics for romanticising or even revisiting. I belong to the generation (maybe the last one) who grew up actually hating fascism and holding grudges against it… To think about it, I’m not sure I’d appreciate St. Bartholomew’s Day’s Huguenots perfume – even though I’m not religious.

    Anyway, it was interesting to read the actual review part and I will becurious to try this perfume:usually I like those Lutens that other fans don’t.

  13. I have a particular love for Lutens’ more challenging fragrances and am looking forward to this release. I haven’t smelled it yet (I think Aedes will have it this week), but I get the impression that there is a disconnect between the story and the fragrance itself. But who knows! I might love it and think that it needs to hang out with my other Fille en aiguilles 🙂

  14. Pingback: Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin EDP Perfume Review | EauMG

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  17. Undina, thank you so much for this comment. It seems nobody is bothered by “lyricism”.
    I’m another one concerned by this “story behind”.
    Tried to overcome myself: it’s only just a perfume after all, isn’t it? But it’s simply impossible, I just don’t agree with Lutens “philosophy”.
    Is it ok to wear scents from a perfume creator, who’s views on life are so much contradicting with your own? Is it just PR or an idea of a perfume, that is going to mess with your mind all day long?

  18. Pingback: War’s Unwomanly Face: Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin | Undina's Looking Glass

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