As many of you are undoubtedly aware by now, major changes are sweeping over Serge Lutens. They extend beyond changes to the mere look of bottles or their pricing and entail a whole reshuffling and revamping of the many lines or collections within the brand, thereby signifying a new marketing and business approach by Shiseido which took over the full management of the Serge Lutens brand a year ago. Many of you have already read the news of the specific changes elsewhere, but not everyone follows the same perfume sites or groups, so I thought it was worth a post here on Kafkaesque so that everyone had the chance to buy any old favourites whilst they could before the higher prices kick in.
At the end of this article, I’ll share some thoughts about the possible larger meaning of all this, why I think Shiseido differs from other companies (like L’Oreal or LVHM) that have taken control of perfume houses, why the nature of Shiseido’s relationship with Lutens might be cause for cautious optimism, and, finally, which Lutens fragrances have, in my opinion, have already undergone reformulation prior to the new bottling.
Companies rarely make official announcements of their business or perfume changes so, before I start, I want to give full credit to Jakub Piotrovicz of Persefume, Daniel Pescio, and Jan Gonzalez for uncovering the facts. Jakub was particularly diligent in compiling the various bits of news from different sources, and he kindly confirmed the latest findings with me the other day, such as the fact that Jan Gonzalez actually traveled straight to the horse’s mouth, the Palais Royal, late Saturday to obtain the official status of possible discontinuations (or, rather, as “official” as one can have without a company press release). Denyse Beaulieu of Grain de Musc also deserves credit for announcing news of the new bottle designs and details of two, new, upcoming Lutens fragrance releases on her Instagram feed. Finally, I would like to thank Raphael Schäfer for his great kindness in alerting me to the many changes last week.
Early reports seemed to suggest that Serge Lutens was discontinuing as many as 10 fragrances, plus one perfume packaging collection, “Le Vaporisateur Tout Noir,” which perfume lovers usually just call “Le Vapo” line. The ten fragrances are:
Bas de Soie
Sa Majesté la Rose
A La Nuit
Jeux de Peau
Fille en Aiguilles
According to Jan Gonzalez’s conversations with the Lutens people at the Palais Royal, these fragrances will indeed be pulled but not discontinued. Instead, they will shuffled and moved from the Export line to the Exclusives Collection. However, the Lutens people confirmed that the Vapo line will be axed completely.
The way Serge Lutens classifies its many different “lines” can get confusing if you’re not aware of the details, so it might be worth taking a few minutes to go over how things are set up, particularly as the pricing, bottle quantities, availability, and accessibility greatly differ — and that will be significant. The company has an Export line which consists of thin, narrow bottles that are available at any Lutens retailer or distributor around the world. The bottles are 50 ml and are priced around $150 or between €105 to €115.
In addition to the Export Line, Serge Lutens also sells larger bottles called “Bell Jars.” These are available ONLY at Serge Lutens Paris’ headquarters, his EU/International website, his American one, or at Barney’s US. (Fragrances sold at the last two come with an 80% price hike over the normal retail price.) As a general rule, many of the fragrances in the Export line are also available in the large Bell Jar size, but (and this part is important) a number of highly acclaimed fragrances are ONLY available in those Bell Jar formats and are thereby frequently called the Paris Exclusives. (Again, they are also sold at the aforementioned sites and with the 80% price increase for the US, but generally nowhere else on earth, not London, not Sydney, not Hong Kong, nowhere.) Some of the Paris Exclusives are the most artistic or highly acclaimed fragrances in the brand, like, for example, De Profundis, Iris Silver Mist, La Myrrhe, or Tubereuse Criminelle. All the Bell Jars are 75 ml in quantity and are priced around $300 or €175.
In order to be more democratic about accessibility and price, Serge Lutens has often permitted several of the Paris Exclusives to be available in the “Vapo” line. He tends to switch around which fragrances are offered as such, but the important thing is that the “Vapo” line is sold outside of Paris, is available at numerous Lutens retailers around the world (like, for example, Canada’s Perfume Shoppe or France’s Premiere Avenue), and is cheaper in price. A portable black atomizer and two 30 ml refills (so 60 ml in total) are available at prices ranging between $135-$190 or €90-€140, depending on the scent in question. At the current time, one of the few ways people from Canada to Germany and beyond can access several much-beloved Bell Jars via retailers and at a relatively affordable price is through the Vapo line which presently includes Feminite du Bois, Ambre Sultan, Iris Silver Mist, Rahät Loukoum, De Profundis, and the only lavender fragrance that this lavender-phobe has ever purchased, the gorgeous Fourreau Noir. So, the loss of this option is quite a big deal; not everyone can travel frequently, easily, or cheaply to Paris, or can afford to buy the fragrances in the more expensive bell jar format.
The fact that the Vapo line is being permanently cancelled and that some of the most popular fragrances (like my beloved Fille en Aiguilles) will now only be available as Bell Jar exclusives is merely the beginning. There will be no new fragrances added to the Bell Jar. Up to now, Serge Lutens typically had one new addition every year. No more. Instead, the Paris Exclusives seem to be where old fragrances will be parked and removed from wide circulation. New releases will go to the export line or the super-luxury priced Section d’Or collection where prices tend to start around $600 or €500.
If all this business about lines and collections hasn’t confused you enough, there is more. There will be an entirely new line coming, but there is no information as to the sort of fragrances which will be included or its pricing. I suspect that it will be a middle-tier line in its price, somewhere between the export and the Section d’Or ones.
In addition, the Export line will be renamed as “Le Collection Noire.” Existing export fragrances like, for example, Chergui or Datura Noir will continue to be part of this new line, but all of them will be repackaged in 100 ml bottles and sold at a €180 price. At the current time, these fragrances cost €105-115 for 50 ml, so the Euro price increase isn’t too bad for double the juice. I don’t know what the current $150 US pricing will go up to, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were around $220 or $230 which I’ve found is the median or ballpark starting price for a number of niche brands.
Grain de Musc’s Instagram page has a photo of the new packaging design if you want to see. I rather like it, finding it to be sleek in a chic-ly minimalist fashion. One extremely surprising bit of news for me is that, according to Denyse Beaulieu, De Profundis and Vetiver Oriental will be moved from their typical spot in the Paris Exclusives/Bell Jar collection to the new export, more widely available “Collection Noire” line. [UPDATE 6/19/17: A reader has just informed me that Denyse Beaulieu said on Instagram that she was mistaken about De Profundis being pulled from the bell jar line.]
While most of the news has pertained to existing fragrances, Denyse Beaulieu has some details on upcoming fragrances. Serge Lutens has a new export fragrance called Dent de Lait whose literal translation is “milk teeth” but which I think is better read as “Baby Teeth.” (Plus, the baby connection is supported by a photo on her Instagram page showing the new bottle.) She says the notes are: aldehydes, almond milk, and incense. I seriously hope that is only a microscopic portion of them, per Serge Lutens’ tendency to keep the full note list secret, because those three together with the whole Baby aspect triggered a full-body shudder when I first read it.
In addition to Milk or Baby Teeth (shudder), Ms. Beaulieu announces that there will be a new addition to the super-luxury Section d’Or line called Bourreau des Fleurs. The reported notes include charred woods, immortelle and licorice effects but, contrary to the perfume’s name, she says there will be no “fleurs” or flowers included in this one. [UPDATE 11/19: I have a review for Bourreau des Fleurs.]
I’ve spent some time pondering the greater meaning of all these changes, and my thoughts became more positive once I heard that those 10 fragrances weren’t being permanently axed. The initial reports of a total discontinuation had left me with my jaw on the ground, particularly since a number of the fragrances seemed to be more in the oriental vein and extremely popular. I simply could not understand why those particular ones were being pulled while others — widely panned flops like the revolting Laine de Verre or uninspiring La Vierge de Fer, the polarizing Nuit de Cellophane or Datura Noir, and the hideously insipid, thin, watery, fresh, and clean Eaux Collection — were remaining untouched. No-one will ever convince me that Laine de Verre, for example, is a best-seller, or that the mewling mainstream “fresh and clean” aesthetics of the Eaux brought much critical acclaim to the brand. But things make much more sense, at least from a business and marketing perspective, now that I hear the 10 better or popular fragrances are not being killed off entirely.
Essentially, it seems to me that Shiseido is opting for a pincer movement approach to the brand’s offerings which seeks to broaden its market share while simultaneously maintaining its exclusivity. Think of a chicken wish-bone in its shape; Shiseido is going high and low, simultaneously. It’s maintaining fragrances like the Eaux at their affordable price (currently about $110 for 50 ml) because they have a common, mainstream “clean and fresh” scent which will appeal to the masses. The less commercial scents with a darker, more oriental, less mainstream style or a more challenging niche aesthetic will get either a fresh marketing upgrade via new 100 ml bottles, or the patina of exclusivity by being removed from mass circulation and planted in the Bell Jar/Paris Exclusives line. These last two moves also come with the benefit of higher prices for the company. Meanwhile, the brand will continue to expand its ultra-luxury brand to take advantage of that particular burgeoning market, a move which further benefits Shiseido by acting as a bulwark against possible devolution of the Lutens name when Shiseido carries out its planned global expansion by adding new Lutens stores. In other words, by emphasizing the luxury collection while also making certain legendary fragrances more inaccessible outside of Lutens stores, Shiseido might well be calculating that it won’t dilute the famed Lutens exclusivity with its plans to open shops all around the world.
Time will tell if their gamble pays off, but I’m a little more encouraged than I was when I first heard the news back in 2015 regarding the new stores. Back then, I was rather aghast at the thought of freestanding Lutens shops mushrooming everywhere and thereby reducing the special meaning of the Palais Royal headquarters. Those of you who are new to perfumery or the niche world may not be aware of the full significance of that single purple-coloured boutique, a magical place where one could smell beautiful legends not found anywhere else while being teased by the tantalizing thought of the reclusive Oncle Serge perhaps lounging close-by, up the circular staircase to his secret lair on the second floor on one of his rare trips from his Moroccan compound. Perfume lovers would often talk about making a “pilgrimage” to the perfume “mecca” or “shrine” at the Palais Royal, and they usually weren’t speaking hyperbolically or in jest. They meant it. I meant it when I’ve said something similar. The Palais Royal is a bloody big deal in the perfume world if one has an ounce of love for Oncle Serge! So, the thought of that special purple place being devalued by a sudden outcropping of stores all over… it didn’t bode well in many of our minds. Was Shiseido all about the money?
Well, perhaps not, because these latest plans seem to indicate at least a certain protectiveness over the brand name. Unlike LVMH which has milked the Guerlain golden goose nonstop through an unrelenting torrent of new releases, sometimes as many as 20 a year and with a heavily mainstream scent profile, Shiseido is taking a more carefully calibrated approach to Lutens and seems intent on maintaining its exclusivity. The lower priced, more democratic option of The Vapo is going out the window; the prices are rising; the popular dark oriental style with which Lutens made his name is being limited to the Exclusives or the frightfully expensive Section d’Or line; and certain things continue to be available solely at Lutens stores or websites (Barney’s being the sole exception). I find it telling that, if you’re a fan of the original, signature Lutens aesthetic — the dark, smoldering, orientals or the pioneering, revolutionary, challenging “Art” (with a capital “A”) creations — you now have to pay more and/or journey to a Lutens shop to find it. It may not be happy news for us longstanding fans and consumers, but it has a certain positive significance from a brand, marketing, and business perspective, I think.
While a number of people have expressed concern about the fact that Shiseido has fully taken over control of Serge Lutens, I am more cautiously optimistic. For one thing, Shiseido and Oncle Serge have had a close and very symbiotic relationship for more than four decades now. For another, Shiseido was always financially involved with the brand. Just like the Wertheimer brothers advanced Coco Chanel the money to start her business and owned roughly 74% of the rights while letting her run things as she pleased, so too did Shiseido fund Serge Lutens’ foray into his own brand back in 1990. If Shiseido is now stepping forward in a greater, more active capacity, it may well be because Oncle Serge is getting on in years and doesn’t have the most robust health, but he’s still the creative director and makes the olfactory decisions. Plus, I have to say, in my opinion and from past dealings with Shiseido, I’ve found them to be extraordinarily protective of Serge Lutens, the man. When I obtained my exclusive interview with The Maestro some years ago, I had to go through several people at increasing hierarchical levels at Shiseido’s corporate office; they acted like fierce, zealously protective gate-keepers who guarded the door and served as intermediaries for any access to the elusive Serge. And they were enormously watchful about anything that could possibly impact the Lutens’ image, right down to the photos I used. In fact, the head lady actually chastised me quite sternly for not sticking to the scant handful of personal photos on the Lutens website when I published the interview and for using other photos of him from magazine articles around the web as well. (In reality, I had told them well in advance that I needed a lot of shots and that I would use internet images, but I think something got lost in translation.)
The point is, Shiseido is both fiercely protective and extremely controlling of every detail that impacts the image, business, and success of their longtime friend and colleague. And they seem to genuinely value and care about him as a person, not merely as an investment. So, no, I do not think the LVMH/Guerlain parallels apply here, and these latest moves by Shiseido seem to demonstrate a greater concern for the Lutens patrimony and brand reputation than anything LVMH has ever done with Guerlain, not to mention the vile, vulturous, parasitic L’Oreal with the poor YSL Parfums brand. This is a completely different situation because Shiseido is no outsider coming in for the first time; they’ve always been behind Oncle Serge, right from the very start. Now, they’re merely relieving some of the pressures of running the business, while trying to expand the brand. That last part is the bit which concerns me, but at least their motivations seem to be, in my opinion, in the right place. Only time will tell what actually unfolds from all this. (Personally, I am far more conflicted and pessimistic about the change in Uncle Serge’s olfactory aesthetic over the last few years than I am about Shiseido’s marketing decisions.)
If the news is potentially somewhat positive from a future marketing and business perspective, that doesn’t mean it is for the perfume-loving consumer who has been a Lutens fan for ages. The simple truth of the matter is that many companies use new packaging and bottling as an excuse to save money by reformulating a fragrance with cheaper or weaker ingredients. Plus, Oncle Serge has never hidden the fact that he reformulates things. Not only has he mentioned it in past interviews, but I also have a vague, hazy memory from a few years ago that the Palais Royal manager (possibly Suleiman, his right hand man?) told one of my readers quite bluntly that all the Lutens fragrances had been reformulated except for one (at least at that time): Serge Noire, the fragrance that Serge Lutens made for himself and the only one that he supposedly wears himself from time to time. I can’t remember all the details of the story and I may have gotten a few things mixed up after so many years, but the bottom line is that Serge Lutens reformulates, reformulates frequently, and is quite likely to have reformulated even further when they re-release the scents in their new 100 ml bottles in the newly renamed, higher priced, Collection Noire line.
If you’re a longtime fan, that obviously means that you should think about stocking up on your favourites before they’re further weakened and changed. FragranceNet and Fragrance X both sell genuine Lutens at significant price reductions, sometimes as much as 40-50% off. I’ve purchased quite a few Lutens from Fragrance Net in the past and have always been happy. For international readers, they have various sub-sites for the Euro, British, Canadian, or Australian consumer. Plus, as an added benefit, the vast size of their stock has meant I’ve often gotten an older bottle, ergo, one of the less reformulated versions. (My A La Nuit was actually stronger than the sample I used in my test all those years ago, and it’s such a gorgeous, bright, strong, bridal jasmine. While the scent doesn’t last long on my skin, the bottle I got from Fragrance Net actually has comparatively better performance than the sample.) However, you may find slim or slimmer pickings at both discount sites right now; since the news of the Lutens changes got out, people have been purchasing back-up bottles and some scents are sold out.
A number of my readers are new either to niche or to perfumery as a whole, and they may well want to take advantage of this news to get a bottle of one of the Lutens that they’ve heard so much about. But I have a word of caution for you: if you’re reading an old review (mine or anyone else’s) to ascertain which Lutens you should invest in, please examine the date upon which it was written and compare it to the release date of the scent. The fact that Serge Lutens reformulates so often means that a number of the fragrances are no longer they way they were when they first swept people off their feet. It also means that, when someone on Basenotes, Fragrantica, or elsewhere, is raving about one of the scents, they may be raving about a version which is no longer in the stores.
I’m thinking above all else of Chergui, one of THE most beloved Lutens for both men and women alike, because I think it has been particularly hard hit by changes. I cannot tell you the number of private messages or comments I have received from people over the last few years, saying that they tried Chergui because of all the acclaim or because that’s what someone on Basenotes recommended to them as a newbie to the brand, but, once they tried it, they ended up thinking: “it’s terrible,” “I can’t see what all the fuss is about,” or, in one case, “it put me off trying anything else from the brand.” Chergui was released in 2001 and it had already changed by the time I reviewed it, but the version that I last smelt in a store was completely different even from what I had written about: it was excessively powdery and synthetic with a deluge of soapy clean musk, an immediate hit and more elevated amount of ISO E, and significantly weaker hay and tobacco aspects. Frankly, I thought the end result was awful, a major disappointment, and, for my personal tastes with my loathing of major levels of laundry white musk, well-nigh unwearable. [Update: To be clear, I’m talking about Chergui within “the last few years,” so roughly from late 2014/early 2015 onwards. One reader commented on his bottle of Chergui from 2013, but I am referring to the more recent/most recent version of the scent. In other words, what is currently in stores now.]
While many others also feel Chergui has been gutted for the worse, it’s not the only fragrance in which they or I have noted depressing changes. In my opinion, the once-fantastic Cuir Mauresque has taken on plastic-y, burnt, and excessively synthetic attributes, and that was the version I smelt in 2014 or 2015, so who only know what it’s like now in 2017. My reviews for Gris Clair and the once delectable Un Bois Vanillé are also for the poorly reformulated versions. Numerous readers have reported De Profundis has changed in the last two years and has not fared well. Last year, the perfumer at a much admired Indie brand told me that he’d ordered two bell jars scents, Fourreau Noir and Iris Silver Mist, and that both had completely changed from what he’d once loved. (He was actually rather horrified at what they’d become, and called one of them “wan” and “watery,” although I can no longer remember which one it was.) [Update: As these dates should hopefully make clear, I’m again talking about a time frame from late 2014/early 2015 to now.]
It’s not all bad news. On a happier note, I haven’t heard any reports of my beloved Fille en Aiguilles being badly gutted, and if you’re a fan of Tom Ford’s Plum Japonais, you should look into the Fille because it was the original and it is also significantly better, in my opinion. Also, people who purchased Arabie after my review last Fall all seemed very pleased with it; any changes since its original launch date in 2000 haven’t been of the sort to disappoint people. Finally, I haven’t heard anything at all about La Fille de Berlin.
I realize that my comments about the reformulated nature of many Lutens classics will discourage a number of you from trying them, but I thought it was important to share my opinions candidly. I believe it’s better to be forewarned with knowledge of a possibly major alteration than for it to creep up unannounced and have it slap you in the face after you’ve spent a hefty chunk of money. So, now it is up to you whether you think it is worth your while to purchase a back-up.
So, those are a few of my thoughts. What is your reaction to the news? Will you or have you bought some back-up bottles? How does “Milk Teeth” or “Baby Teeth” (shudder) sound to you?
Ciaooo super article et très bien écrit comme toujours !
A wonderful confluence of reporting, Kafka dear. Thank you for bringing all of this together. I’m inclined to agree with your assessment re the rationale, and relationship, behind these changes; as a consumer I confess to some concern around what this will mean for the scents themselves. Logic tells me this is a strategy to ensure the brand’s survival in a rapidly changing marketplace, and likely an intelligent one.
Change is inevitable and I recognize that we’re hardly the target market when planning at this scale. Many of these scents were groundbreaking, and I hope they will find a continued place. The SL legacy though will depend on Shiseido’s ability to not compromise on quality while allowing a space where courageous creative expression can still be celebrated. Time will tell.
I agree with so many things you wrote. Isn’t it utterly depressing that we — the knowledgeable, sophisticated niche consumer with a love for the original style of Lutens fragrance — are no longer the target market? Instead, it’s either the mainstream masses with their love for the hideous, watery, discreet “fresh and clean” style or the very wealthy who can afford to spend €600 or $600 on a 50 ml bottle. 🙁 I find it rather demoralizing, even if that’s what’s needed financially for the brand to flourish. Let’s hope this new middle-tier line has fragrances that are between these various extremes, both in price and olfactory aesthetic.
That’s exactly what I was thinking when reading your excellent post. “But wait!” I exclaimed, startling my unsuspecting cat. “Aren’t we (the knowledgeable, sophisticated niche consumer with a love for the original style of Lutens fragrance) the very people that you put you on the perfume map??” I too shuddered with the thought that a line much beloved by aforementioned customers would be re-vamped to appeal to those masses who would be cutting their (milk) teeth on fragrances that only stand up because they happen to be in a bottle. Worse still – for my wallet anyway – those perfumes that remain available (changed though they may be) will probably be further out of my reach.
One must not startle one’s Furry Rulers from their lounging repose upon their thrones! Bad slave, bad! 😉 heh. Joking, teasing, and my animal obsession aside, you pinpoint our quandary so well. What are we, chopped liver? Apparently, the answer is that we’re neither a Russian oligarch nor one of the teaming masses who hates perfume so much that they gravitate towards Non-perfume like the vapid Eaux. (I have a friend who is SO anti-perfume, you wouldn’t imagine, and one of the only things she contemplated ever wearing was one of the Eaux because, she said, “it doesn’t smell of actual perfume and it doesn’t really count.” My eyes bugged out of my head to such an extent at her comment that she couldn’t help but laughing. The horror, the travesty!)
BTW, I saw what you did there with “cutting their (milk) teeth” and I thoroughly approve! 😀
Guffawing with laughter at “doesn’t smell of actual perfume.” Oh the humanity…
The “milk teeth”/”baby teeth” is awful, btw. Truly terrible. Like chewing tin foil. Full body shudders abound.
HAHAHAHA. Each and EVERY time I write out “Baby Teeth,” I twitch. The very first time I read the name, my eyes bugged out of my head as I shuddered to the bone. I honestly cannot imagine what possible note additions they could come up that would make me want to spend $200+/€180 on an aldehydic, lactonic scent called Baby Teeth. I honestly cannot.
This Dent de Lait sounds absolutely horrible!! Dégueulasse!
I wished I could go to the Palais Royal so badly… I want to buy Encens et Lavande since a very very long time (I mean years!) and it really seems impossible outside Paris. (Je suis au Québec, au Canada)
I will stock some Filles en aiguilles and Gris Clair, and probably some of Le Vapo line that are available like De Profundis and Fourreau Noir. Thanks for talking about it while it’s still possible to find some.
I also think the association with Shiseido is more natural and they are there for mostly good reasons. If I know Serge Lutens at all it’s because of them! When I was young in the late 80s/early 90s they were all about him at Shiseido and it’s one of the very few brands I still respect in cosmétiques…
Also, I wished I had bought Chergui a long time ago! Now I don’t even want to smell it.
Sans blague, vraiment degu!! Quel horreur. As for Shiseido, I’m like you: the very first I heard of Serge Lutens was in Paris decades ago in connection with his work for them and his particularly ravissante photos for their cosmetics line. He did brilliant, brilliant work for them.
Chergui was my gateway drug! Alas, I bought a new bottle a few years ago and actually gave it away, figuring either my taste had changed or it was reformulated. Yes, too powdery. The powder-y note had always been there; it just seemed amped up.
What do I think in general. I’d already lost my interest in SL fragrances. The new offerings turned me off totally, their names and the prices.
All good things come to an end. . .though I suspect SL and Shiseido will do just fine.
Well, you weren’t imagining the changes to Chergui, nor were you alone in your reaction, Julie. I remember one poor chap writing to me in utter befuddlement and asking, “what am I missing here? Everyone raves about it! I couldn’t wait to get it off.”
Thank you for sharing your thoughts about SL’s new offering fragrances, both as a general rule these days or the upcoming ones. I know others who feel as you do, my dear.
Even though there are 101 comments here, I feel the need to add that I ADORED Chergui (Serge Lutens, are you listening?!)!! I once had a blog and pronounced Chergui “my new lover!” I was obsessed with it, then with the entire line, and a whole new world of fragrance opened up to me. It makes me sad knowing this won’t happen to anyone new, but I hope that there will be other houses that will fill the gap. A part of me suspects, sadly, that market factors will keep this from being true.
Thank you so much for gathering all the intel and turning it into a great article!
I need some time to make sense of it all. I am glad discontinuation is not the case here. But I worry about (another) reformulation round. And moving it to the exclusives is a price increase (if you count price per ml.). Oh and bigger bottles, erhm nothing wrong with 50 ml, right?
So I am probably going to get at least one back up bottle of Fille en aiguilles. Even though I live in Europe, relatively close to Paris (hey, 3 hours by high speed train that is pretty close right?) .
I visited the Serge Lurens store last spring, and it was like a small magical place. Almost like being transported into a fantasy book haha. And the gardens of the Palais Royal were full of narcissuses and hyacinths. So the whole surroundings smelled fabulous as well.
Oh…and Milk teeth….I dont like it at all. Even in french. Any perfume name with Lait / Milk and / or teeth in it does not sound attractive to me.
Nothing wrong with 50 ml at all! In fact, for people with large collections, smaller is more practical!
I think it’s wise of you to consider getting a back-up of Fille en Aiguilles. And I’m with you on “Milk Teeth” (*shudder*) — whether in French or in English, the name does not sound remotely tempting or appealing to me!
Yes small bottles are better.
I am a ‘rookie’ (my life as a perfumista started 1,5 year ago). Therefore my collection is very modest, I even bet most people here consider it ‘tiny’ haha.
But its expanding rapidly. So I am already rejoicing when houses offer 10 ml travel sizes! (Another reason to love Hiram Green)
I did get my Arabie from Fragrancenet and the bottle’s batch code was from 2013. No problems at all with it. I got it last year. Right now they have Arabie for $54. I got my bottle of Jeax de Peau through the Serge US site. They made me pay shipping ? I did get a boat load of samples from them though. I have my Fille en aiguilles and I am pleased with it. I was checking the prices recently and FeA went up to $103 at Fragnet and just sold out on Notino’s site. I was watching the prices of Ambre Sultan for I wanted to get it. I just picked it up at Fragnet for $61, along with Un bois Vanille for the same price.I have gotten samples of older Serge’s from friends and I have had some 2013 to 2015 samples myself from boutiques , and yes things have changed, but for the prices I got what I have of Serge Lutens, I won’t ever be able to repeat it. Their beautiful and I love them. I am looking to get Annick Goutal’s Ambre Fetchie . Oh, forgot to mention; almost had the older label Sable’s , but boop, gone . I do have the new one though. I also almost had Amouage’s Jubilation XXV pre, but the same thing, boop, it was taken off the radar map.Sable’s just sold quickly and Jub,well my friends dad fell in love with it. Both were 75% full. Sable’s was selling for $59 and Jub $160. Oh, I got a very lovely price on Puredisatnce’s M from my friend before that one left my radar screen.So all didn’t end badly. Now my fingers are crossed that my order for the two Serge’s goes through. 5 O clock just sold out as well as others. Thank you so much Kaf for the heads up regarding Serge .Where would we be without you.
Your friend, Eddie.
Eddie, thank you for sharing the sudden price increases for Fille en Aiguilles on FragranceNet and that it is sold out on Notino. Where is 5 0’Clock Au Gingembre sold out, Fragrancenet?
Yes, 5 O’Clock Au Gingerembre sold out on Fragrancenet . They just had it and boop, now they don’t. A number of the others are gone now too. Notino had Serge Lutens FeA just recently as of this last week for $88. Then it popped up to $93, then sold out. It’s being notified, you’ll get emailed when it comes back in for $88. That’s how Notino’s pricing structure goes. TF’s Tobacco Vanille was on Special Offer for $137. Then it moved up to $138 to $140. The special is over and the price went back to $183. They more interest, sales of it, the higher the price follows suit. I don’t think Fille en Aiguilles will be offered at the Notification price, but it might just for a little bit. A tip for your viewers. If you want something at Notino’s, but you have to wait, maybe you order a few other things recently and you need to get more cash, you can put it in your basket. I used to do that and I got my basket price,even though the price was currently higher. I don’t know if that still works though. All I can say is get notified . One of the Tom Ford’s at Notino’s ,London, price has been slipping . For the 1.7 ,just a few days ago, it was $132. It is currently at $127. Maybe lack of interest. Watching Guerlain’s Santal Royal .It’s in the Special Offer bin. it’s going for $104. It was holding at $110 for awhile. Notino had Special offers of Creeds for $140 to $150 for the 4oz.. Those move really quick. Yup,just get Notified and or just visit their site or bookmark it for a daily check. Good luck everyone..
Thank you, Eddie, my dear. I’m sure your tips, suggestions, and pricing information will prove very useful to other readers. xoxo
THANK YOU FOR THIS. Fille is my scent, and after reading this post, I ran to the Sephora down the street and grabbed the last two bottles – which buys me about two years till I have to figure out what pine scent to next try!
HAHAHAHA, I love it! Excellent! I would have grabbed those last two bottles, too. Hold them close, and enjoy!
I have a back-up bottle of the original Chergui, Fleur de Orangiere, Fleur de Citroniere (sp), A La Nuit and a couple others…and I am glad I have them. Now days I’m lucky when I’m able to buy a new bottle let alone back-ups.
I know, back-ups are a definite luxury!
Thank you for the extremely informative post. Even if I could buy a new bottle at the moment, it would not be “Milk Teeth”!
*choke* I just snorted out some of my Diet Coke at that last line.
It’s hilarious how many people hate “Milk Teeth” as a name. Seriously, what were they thinking?!
Dear Kafkaesque, it’s so good to see your new posts, and best wishes for good health and well-being to you and your Hairy German! Thank you also for the thorough report of what is happening with Serge Lutens and Shisheido. it’s a relief to see that some of their best fragrances aren’t being discontinued altogether. Your wonderful review of Filles en Aiguilles was the first review on your blog that I read, when I was first investigating niche perfumes. It’s delightful, and I feel fortunate to have stocked up on it. I have found the versions of De Profundis, Tubereuse Criminelle, and Fourreau Noir that I purchased from the Serge Lutens website a couple of years ago to all be thoroughly enjoyable. I’ve never smelled the original Chergui, but what is available now does seem to be watered down. For hay and tobacco, for me nothing beats Slumberhouse’s Kiste (which I had to try after reading your review). I’ll be looking forward to your thought about Bogue’s MEM, and especially the new Dryad from Papillon!
It’s lovely to see you, Holly. Thank you for stopping by after all this time and for your welcome back.
Kiste is a fantastic tobacco scent, so I’m glad you have something that you enjoy in that category and I’m even happier to hear that you have old bottles of some great Lutens like Fille en A., Fourreau Noir, Tubereuse C., and De Profundis. 🙂
Thank you so much for this, dear Kafka! This has calmed me down quite a bit – I have been checking your blog several times daily in anticipation of this promised article! I just got my back-up of ‘Serge Noire’ today and am honestly considering getting one more plus one each of ‘Fille en Aiguilles’ and ‘Ambre Sultan’ – all due to the possible refomulation. Although I’m a bit divided regarding ‘Fille’ because, from an aesthetic point of view, that glorious dark liquid would look amazing in a bell jar (I do store my fragrances in a cool and dark place but I do like to take a look at them from time to time!). I am warming up to the new design – I still think the label is out of proportion in regard to the size of the bottle but they might look really great in real life. The fact that Shiseido wants to open up more stores produced a positive feeling for me at first as I do think it would be great if the perfumes were available to a wider audience, so they can at least TRY something other than fragrances that come in a pink colour but now that most of the greats will be bell jars, then I’m not so sure of the impact it will have. Am I right when I assume that, within Europe, the bell jars will exclusively be sold in Paris and not in the upcoming stores? I live in Germany so I can order them from the webpage easily but, of course, I can’t smell them beforehand. Thank you again! All the best (and welcome back!)/ Eise.
Haha my thoughts exactly “Fille en Aiguilles would look awesome in a bell jar!” but money wise it’s less smart.
Dear Eise, how glorious and gorgeous a Bell Jar of Fille en Aiguilles would be. You know what I’ve always yearned for but never been able to afford? The special limited-edition versions of some of the bell jars. I think the one for Mandarin Mandarine will always be one of THE most beautiful bottles I have ever seen! (I used to dream of Fourreau Noir or one of the other ones in that bottle since MM’s celery note is a bit disconcerting to me.)
I would have to see the new bottles in person and close up to assess the proportions of the label, but I will keep your words in mind when I have that chance.
In terms of your question regarding the upcoming stores, I would have to assume they would make the bell jars available there, but it is merely my assumption and guess. I mean, in America, all the Barney’s shops across the country sell the bell jars (admittedly at that whopping price increase), so it’s all THAT different in terms of the theory and increased access. I’ve phrased that poorly, but I’m sure you gather my basic meaning. If they’re going to have Lutens shops sprout up all over the planet, it wouldn’t make much sense NOT to have the bell jars available. Plus, fashion houses typically include their exclusive lines in their high-end luxury boutiques, like Hermes, Dior, and the like. I imagine Shiseido will follow the same model. And I also assume that Germany will be one of the first countries to get a Lutens boutique, given the size of the fragrance market there.
Have you checked out FragranceNet’s European subsite to see their pricing for the other Lutens fragrances you’re considering as back-ups? I’m not kidding when I say that some FragranceNet discounts can be as much as 50% off retail! It wouldn’t hurt to check. Just make sure to change the “Currency” listing at the very top, right-hand side of the page from US to Euro: https://www.fragrancenet.com/fragrances/serge-lutens
Thank you for the FragranceNet suggestion – will definitely check it out! I usually do a search on a consumer site called idealo.de, which then lists the various prices of a particular fragrance – and you can find the most amazing deals in Germany. ‘Serge Noire’ I got 54% off the suggested retail price and ‘Ambre Sultan’ – yes, I just ordered a back-up 10 min. ago! – was 48% off. So really good deals. And you’re totally right, it would make complete sense to offer the bell jars in stand-alone stores. And oh how I agree, the old limited editions are so spectacular, just really stunning! In one of his Instagram Stories from the recent presentation, which is sadly no longer available, some quite beautiful engraved bottles were also shown. I’m not sure which line they were from, although I suspect ‘Section d’Or’. Do you have any information about these engraved ones?
I’m grinning at the slightly sheepish “yes, I just ordered a back-up 10 min. ago!” Haha, rock on. I like your style.
In terms of your Instagram question, I don’t use the site and I’m not certain as to what bottle design you’re referring, so I’m afraid I can’t properly answer. The Section d’Or does have some limited, engraved bottles from what I remember seeing when Renard Constrictor and its siblings were released in the Fall 2016 cycle, so if they were tall, narrow, black bottles, it must be those. I remember a wealthy friend with finicky, highly sophisticated tastes positively GUSHING about the special bottles after seeing them in the Paris store, but even HE thought they were too expensive to buy and he generally spends quite freely on luxury items. So, bottom line, their price tag is… not cheap. Even by the standards of Lutens limited-edition bottles. :\
It must be those same bottles and they are just not an option for me. Not even in the non-engraved versions – if I had 550€ and had to chose between one from Section d’Or or a couple of good vintage favourites, I would most certainly go the vintage route. Looking forward to the upcoming new line. Would be great if it turns out to be a place for more challenging and experimenting frangrances. Fingers crossed!
I was reading the news on grain de musc’s Instagram account the other day; Dent de Lait sounds kind of appealing to me as long as the milk aspect is enhanced but without testing is hard to tell; it might be good or it might be atrocious. I’m with you on the fact that the style Lutens has adopted in the last years worries me more than the Shiseido partnership and as you state people forget that in a way Shiseido created the Lutens brand. He was always independent but Shiseido was always behind from the very beginning so that part doesn’t worry me one bit. As far as reformulations, they will never stop and I have the ones I love secured so I won’t be rushing to buy backups (I like the exclusivity move; don’t discontinue but move to bell jars and as far as I recall only Nombre Noir was disc, everything else becomes a bit harder to find but still available) but I am eager to see if the new line/s are up to par with uncle Serge. I’ll never spend the money they ask for the Section d’or, bell jars who knows I might get one some day but let’s see if the man still has a magical touch!!
I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the various aspects of the situation, Alex, and I’m glad that someone else worries more about the ongoing changes to Uncle Serge’s fragrance aesthetic than what Shiseido will do, business-wise. And you make an astute point that no Serge Lutens release (that I know of anyway) has ever been actually discontinued. Technically, Nombre Noir doesn’t count because that was a Shiseido release, not a “Serge Lutens” one. Plus, there were some rather unusual circumstances involving that one particular scent. But you’re right, Oncle Serge has never yanked one of his own creations!
When I read your last post, i decided to do something I have never done before. I bought a back-up bottle of Fille En Aiguilles, because I love it so. What saddens me is that all these companies have either pandered to a bland and mediocre mass market, and/or they have priced themselves out of the reach of so many, myself included. The sample companies, and the decanters are the ones who will benefit from this market that will be excluded.
Hear, hear at: “What saddens me is that all these companies have either pandered to a bland and mediocre mass market, and/or they have priced themselves out of the reach of so many, myself included.”
One of the things that frustrated me last year was an industry trend I’ve noticed whereby the effects of niche (and its pioneering, fun, exciting, exploratory style or its emphasis on high quality, more expensive materials) no longer trickled downwards to the mainstream, designer, commercial market. Instead, the safety, unoriginality, and overly synthetic nature of the designer or mainstream market was trickling UPWARDS to shape niche creations. One major reason why, imo, is that niche brands are increasingly opting for high to luxury pricing; it’s harder to sell a $350+ perfume if it’s too edgy or interesting, and it’s easier to sell if it’s a conventionally bland, utterly FAMILIAR and safe scent that merely happens to be microscopically better in quality but in a much more luxurious bottle. In short, niche was becoming increasingly infected with the flaws of the mainstream, department store fragrances but at significantly higher prices. And, often, with significantly hyperbolic, BS press releases which insisted that said scents were allegedly the height of rarity, originality, and uniqueness. *snort* Pandering to the mass market tastes and to aspirational associations without actually working to deliver GOOD quality with the BEST materials and making something other than the latest La Vie Est Belle clone…. that is a trend that frustrated and disillusioned me enormously last year. And I don’t think it’s going to be any different going forward, either. 🙁
Since half a year or so I’ve been waiting for the right moment to get Jeux de Peau …
Such a shame they’re discontinuing these fragrances in the more “user- and travel-friendly” format. I already regret not buying some other Serge Lutens in the 50ml
And why are they discontinuing the Vapo Line? Bad choice, SL!
I’d rather buy five different 30ml bottles than one 75ml Bell Jar … Actually travel sizes are a big plus for me when it comes to niche perfime. I would now only buy 100ml of a perfume I really love (Hello, Boadicea Mayfair :-)) because I see I have enough to wear for the coming years already. I’ve been trying to be a reasonable consumer and use up, what I have. Maybe I’ll get another A la Nuit, and maybe Datura Noir (she was nice to me last time…)
I didn’t respond to your last blogpost and am rarely commenting online, but I love reading your blog. And I love animals. Very happy to hear your beloved dog is doing better and much waiting for news from the puppyzone.
My animals (hamster, horse, goats) are also getting older with all the little issues that come along with it. And let’s admit we’d throw out all our perfume bottles if we could just ensure them a long, happy and healthy life.
First, welcome to the blog, Blue Velvet, or at least welcome out of lurkerdom. 🙂 I hope you’ll feel comfortable to pop by on occasion in the future. Second, thank you for your kind words on my site and on my Teutonic Lord and Master. I have to say, I have longed for a hamster and guinea pig for years now, but I’m always afraid my boy would eat one as an appetizer. :\ And horses… I miss having horses! How many do you have and what type/sort?
In terms of perfumery, I am completely with you on the practicality, benefits, and need for smaller sizing options — no matter what the brand and as a general matter! The sorts of people who follow niche are the very people who are likely to have large amounts of fragrance and not be a “Signature Scent” wearer with only one bottle. One of the great things about brands like Histoires de Parfum is their varied size options and the fact that they offer 15 mls. I am far more likely to be a fragrance if it comes in a smaller (and, yes, more affordable size) than if it’s only offered in 100 mls because, as you noted, one has to REALLY love a fragrance to buy an expensive 100 ml bottle if one is awash with a large collection already.
BTW, it’s nice to hear from a Datura Noir fan. Or, at least, that she was nice to you the last time around! LOL. (I can’t recall the last time someone said something nice about her to me.) She seems to be quite a polarizing scent, doesn’t she?
Also as an aside: you can be CERTAIN that I will post a ton of puppy photos if/when I get one. I’m so excited and cannot wait. I’ve missed puppy paws, puppy tongue, and puppy smell.
Yes, about her (Datura Noir) I can only say good things now, but in the beginning she almost killed me with an overdimensioned coconut, which then disappeared the next time I wore her and since hasn’t shown up again… Anyway, I saw her good and her bad face.
I have a norwegian fjord horse. He’s almost 20 now. I’ve always loved thoroughbreds but then life just brings along someone and you can’t escape it… Lucky me.
I have my second djungarian/siberian now. They’re both quite different characters. The first one was (strangly) interested in humans and loved to come to sit on my feet/houseshoes while I was around. After she died, I rescued another one from a much too small cage and being a toy for kids. Calimero is now 2yrs 8m and a real granpa hamster, but still out and about storing seeds for the coming 20 years… He’s a more typical hamster and not interested in humans at all. I think hamsters and guinea pigs are great to observe, but they just want to live their life in peace, best with no humans interfering with them. With my horse I can go for a walk, just as you can with your dog, and all of us enjoy it.
Just a tip with Fragrancenet . If you just search Fragrancenet, click it, then search Ambre Sultan within the sites search base, it will go for $65, but if you search Fragrancenet Serge Luten Ambre Sultan, then it should pop up for $61. Right now Fragnet is offering a 25% discount, but the search as suggested is giving you 30% . There’s only 6 Fille en Aiguilles at Fragrancenet left. Wish you all the best in your searches and finds.
Time for me to re-up on Fille and try Arabie while I have the chance. The new bottles are lovely, the increase in price not so much.
I definitely think you should try Arabie while it is still… well, the way it is. I have a feeling you may rather enjoy it, Rich.
Thanks for this. I’m going back to Paris in December, and as always, will visit Palais Royal, but now with a certain vigilance. But what of Mr Sheldrake?
I doubt that Serge Lutens will ever end his association with Christopher Sheldrake. 🙂 All the players here have extremely long-standing ties and bonds of loyalty between them, and that includes Mr. Sheldrake.
Thank you Kafka for this thorough review of this confusing remaking of the brand. That’s some major revamping. I had no idea that when they mean “there will be no new bell jar”, it really means no new release in bell jar at all in the future. Like you, I’m relieved that the axed export bottles will be going in the bell jar, and I understand the decision from the business point of view. However, at the same time, the once lusted-after, precious, mysterious bell jar collection now kind of feels like a purgatory… My feelings are a bit conflicted.
I’m wondering if they’ll continue the yearly ephemeral edition, which was a great way for people to get to know some of the exclusive bell jar. Another issue, since Lutens is offered in Sephora, their 180€-per-bottle price seems at a much higher price than most perfumes offered on the shelves. Although a higher price will probably illicite respect within new customers, I can hardly imagine that they go immediately after Lutens which is more obscure than most brands in Sephora. Can Shiseido have the cake and eat it too? Only time will tell.
By the way, I love your interview with Mr. Lutens so much! The questions are really well thought and original, and it provided a unique angle to get a glimpse of this enigmatic personality. It’s interesting to know that Shiseido actively helps to protect this personality. I feel easier in my mind that it might not be the shameless exploite à la LVMH and L’Oréal.
I can understand how the bell jars may now seem like banishment to purgatory. I can see a bit of that too, StellaDiver. (You’ll always be Yinghao in my mind, though! I am not good with change. lol)
I don’t know what exactly you mean when you say “yearly ephemeral edition”? The easiest way for people to get to know the Bell Jar scents if they couldn’t travel to Paris (or didn’t want to order blindly off one of the SL websites) was through the “Vapo” line, which is why the cancellation of that option will have an impact.
I agree with you on the Sephora pricing issue and that €180 is more than the typical fragrances carried there. However, Sephora does carry Tom Ford Private Blends, and those are similarly expensive, so it may well depend on the particular Sephora market and country in question. In France and some parts of Europe, Serge Lutens garners far more respect in some groups than Tom Ford does, while others will be familiar with the name just as much as they’re familiar with Tom Ford’s. It will be interesting to see how things develop.
Ah yes, I forgot about these Private Blends. My local Sephora has a very limited TF selection, and I usually look for conventional designer brands there, so I didn’t pay much attention. 😛
The ephemeral edition, or collection/édition éphémère, that I refer to, is the tradition that SL brought one bell jar fragrance into the more widely available export range each year, such as 2008’s Bornéo 1834, 2006’s Fumerie Turque, 2011’s Tubéreuse Criminelle, etc. I don’t think it’s listed as a separate collection like Le Vapo, but some sites and blogs use this term to distinguish them from the regular export bottles.
Ah, I see. I’ve never seen that term used here or at the sites I’ve looked at/linked to, so maybe it’s a regional thing. Either that or I never looked carefully enough. LOL. 🙂 Thank you for explaining, Yinghao.
I think I threw up in my mouth a little upon reading Milk/Baby teeth! Are you F***ING kidding me? no. Just….. no. Ugh. Jesus wept.
I thankfully caught wind of the SL shake-up about a month ago, and was able to buy back-up bottles on fragnet for about $55. each. I’m sorry to see the smaller sleek black Vapos go however. They were a good option for folks who can’t spend the money on bell jars. And the new “exclusives”?? Pfffttt…. not for me, not at those prices, likely not ever. Maybe a decant, who knows. The whole upward spiral of prices in perfumeland has been much on my mind this past year. It’s puzzling to me honestly. I mean, at what point do people just give up, throw hands in the air and say “no more.”??
Again, so happy to see you back in action, and to hear that your Furry General is feeling better! Phew. Xoxo
LOL at your first reaction upon reading about “Dent de Lait”! Haha. I wonder if someone in marketing may have offered a cautionary “Er… maybe that isn’t the most appealing name? Perhaps we might think about other options?” suggestions?
You know, the second fragrance doesn’t have the most uplifting name in translation, either: “Executioner of Flowers.” Between Babies and Executioners, one must wonder what exactly is going on in dear Serge’s mind. :\
I think the point that people just throw up their hands in the air and say “Basta” will really depend on the person and their socio-economic group in specific. Wealthy Russian oligarchs may well see the Lutens brand in a new light with all these changes, starting with the Section d’Or, while wealthy people in a lower financial bracket than billionaires might think of it as a more affordable alternative to Roja Dove, comparatively speaking. It’s the little guy and middle class who are being squeezed out, just like they are in many larger or more significant aspects of life. :\
And, honestly, I think those last two groups have ALREADY flung their hands in the air about the industry’s spiraling perfume costs. More than one of my readers with large collections and previously unrestrained purchasing tendencies has told me that either they no longer buy perfume the way they used to, or they buy merely a few each year. It’s not merely the changes in olfactory style which are to blame; the increasing prices are just as responsible, if not more so. But again and alas, we are not really the target group or groups when these companies make their decisions. 🙁
Here in the U.K and in the EU you can still obtain bell jars and oblong bottles from their online shop. I bought De Profundis and Borneo about 2 yrs ago and 18 months ago respectively. I still get emails from SL with offers etc free shipping, samples etc with orders. Unfortunately in the US bell jars are nearly impossible to obtain, so I’m told. Still time maybe to stock up! I must order Silver Mist……..
Yes, that is the Lutens International website which is mentioned in the article and which ships out to the UK and EU. Bell jars are not sold in any UK shop.
My heart dropped a couple of times while reading this one. First, when my beloved Daim Blond was on the list of rumored discontinuations, and again with the awful Milk Teeth reference. What? I can’t even imagine telling someone, oh I’m wearing Milk Teeth, isn’t it divine? They’d send me to the loony bin for sure!
Thankfully Daim Blond won’t go away, and I already have a backup bottle. I may buy another one just because I love it and wear it so much. As for our bottle of Chergui, it will be cherished for as long as it lasts. We wear it sparingly, only during the coldest of winter, so we can eke a few more years out of it, even with the two of us sharing it.
I am cautiously optimistic too, after reading this, that SL won’t be decimated by corporate greed. Thanks for your usual thoroughness!
First I would like to say, “WELCOME BACK!” I have checked on your blog probably about 50 times or so since December to see when you would post again, it is a pleasure having you back.
Now onto the discussion of probably my favorite fragrance house… These changes do not look bad to me, and I agree it seems they are trying to target a larger audience while keeping the exclusivity intact, which could be good. The new Section D’Or sounds very interesting I will say, not sure about that Teeth fragrance though, we’ll see how that goes.
Also to the aspect of reformulation, Chergui was my first SL purchase (as it seems to be for many people), I find the sadness people have with reformulations may be more psychological than anything.
My bottle was produced in 2013, most likely far after the reformulations to where people say it’s awful, and I absolutely love it! It has a strange connection to Shalimar, to me, that I enjoy. So if this is the same fragrance everyone hates, then I must have bad taste, haha! (Although it seems people on Fragrantica still absolutely love it) It also has very good longevity (projection not as much, but honestly I never had good projection with an SL fragrance outside of my gem from them, Cannibale)
Of course this also points out to the fact that I probably never smelled an old version of Chergui. Maybe I would have liked it more, or even less, I don’t know. I also wonder sometimes how often maceration plays into fragrances we buy. In the past I felt I had to keep a fragrance for a while before it really opened up, whether it was due to my nose changing or actually the molecules changing.
Now I’m not saying SL doesn’t reformulate, since it’s clear they do and they have been honest with us which I think is really important, but I also feel it doesn’t always change because they are cheapening ingredients, maybe rather there are true factors that play into it. Perhaps Serge himself wanted the change to the fragrances, make them more modern and contemporary. Maybe his taste personally changes and he wants to give his creations a more approachable edge, especially ones that have been around over 10 years. As said in your article, he has never discontinued a fragrance, so there is a possibility he changes them of his own will.
I am not trying to defend a company who truly may be doing everything they can to make more money, but I am trying to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that we should trust Serge and Shiseido’s judgement on their fragrances and the changes they do to the brand and formulas. I would hope everything is done for a good reason, and if a fragrance was not what he wanted it to be that he truly would finally pull the discontinuation on it.
Also would like to point out I only have Fourreau Noir in the Vape line, which is sad it’s being discontinued. I love my Fourreau Noir though and it doesn’t smell like it would have changed as much as someone else said in your article. Again though, maybe I don’t have the same perception since I haven’t smelled the original formulas!
I’m just rambling on but those are my personal thoughts on the situation here, I look forward to the change and new releases, although maybe my wallet won’t, lol. All I know is I have smelled the cheapest fragrances to some of the most expensive like Roja’s Haute Luxe, and I still find SL to be a high-quality fragrance house that will always be at the top or near the top to me. 🙂
Hi there, the Chergui reformulation period being discussed and that so many people dislike is within “the last few years,” so somewhere from late 2014/early 2015 to the present time, 2017. The latest version. I should probably have made that clearer in the article. I’ve added an update to make that crystal clear going forwards. You’re right that how it smelt in 2013 was very nice. One of my own bottles is from 2012 and I enjoy it a lot.
Comments about some of the other scents pertain to how they were either in the same time period or last year. The post indicates the recent nature of the years in question. 🙂
Thank you for the nice welcome back.
I took the plunge and bought both Daim Blond, Fille en Aiguilles and Arabie. I’ve always liked these three to varying degrees but just kept to my decants (too many bloody perfumes already). This move has encouraged me to splurge on the FB before the possible future price increase. My favourite Serge Lutens is still Fourreau Noir. I bought mine last year in Canada so I assumed it’s the reformulated version. I think it’s still pretty damn good still!
Do you find Ambre Sultan very powdery? Was it reformulated badly to your knowledge?
Chergui has always felt one dimensional to me especially after reading your initial review. It does not feel like a complex oriental to me.
I haven’t heard anything terrible about Ambre Sultan, only that it had weakened (depending on the person’s tastes and perceptions, quite substantially in some cases, less so in others), become thinner, and become quieter/softer on the skin. There have always been people who found that Ambre Sultan turned a bit powdery in the drydown, due to the benzoin no doubt, but I think that is a skin issue as well as a perception and taste issue. In terms of the heightened quietness, Serge Lutens has never been a brand that has BOOMED across a room, so people’s baseline for what is a strong vs. quiet scent plays a role in these reports, but reports of dilution or a weaker scent do seem to be rather consistent over the last few years.
Thank you for this review. This year I have learnt so much more about his close relationship to Shiseido and his influence in creating those amazing old photographs for their ads. I completely agree that this acquisition is completely different then many others. I can completely support this one with less skepticism. I have to agree about the love for Arabie. I have noticed Chergui changed, not necessarily for the worse, bit a sample I had actually seperated which I found unusual. I shook it and it seemed to mix again. When I sprayed it was fine but I really thought that was odd. Due to a new friend in the industry, I have recently had the opportunity to try La fille de Berlin which I find to be a very realistic honey dipped rose scent. I know you wrote about it in 2013. I find it divine, I love it and I think it really is a good seller. Leaning more to feminine but beautiful on a man too. Especially now with men wearing pink shirts and every one and their dog getting their eye brows plucked. There are a lot of rose lovers out there. But my favorite is still Arable and Daim Blonde go figure.
Anyways just wanted to say thank you for a fantastic and reassuring read. You have a way with words
I’m glad you’ve found a few Lutens to love, Mike, and that you are feeling reassured about the brand. I had to laugh at the comment about men wearing pink shirts and getting their eyebrows plucked. ROFL. It’s true, waxed eye brows are a definite trend. In some cases, it can be a positive because, let’s face it, unibrows are rarely a great look, and I personally happen to like pink shirts on men (some men), but let’s hope those godawful lace men’s onesies or transparent men’s pastel lace shorts die a quick death. Those are a hideous fashion trend!
Wow! You are on top form! This is a great, informative post with all your usual brilliant incisiveness and attention to detail. It saddens me to read it, though, as I feel that, in spite of Shiseido’s estimable protectiveness of Oncle Serge and the brand, its profit margins are the real motivator and the poorer perfumista will lose out. But, I guess that’s what business is about. Sigh.
As for reformulations – of course they ALL do it! And all the time!! And even just after they’ve launched a new fragrance …. I have actually bought some Chanels (and other houses’ offerings) immediately they’ve come out, and then back-up bottles just months later and they have already changed. Not so much reformulated, more diluted – dilution is the biggest rip-off in the industry as far as I am concerned!
How is HG doing? I know you tell him every day that you love him and that you make the most of each other.
I completely agree with you, dilution is the biggest rip-off and another one of the worries that a perfumista faces when buying new bottles. I read a Fragrantica comment only a few weeks ago about Kilian’s Apple Brandy where the person said that the tester bottle he tried in Harrods was strong with a high proportion of oils/essences but the bottle he ordered soon after from the website was massively diluted in comparison. He was complaining, quite understandably, about feeling ripped off.
My Furry Master is displeased over the amount of time I’ve been spending on my laptop, particularly since that means that he’s not getting his paw kissings quite as frequently, but he’s doing well, generally speaking. He’s perpetually hungry because of the prescription oral steroids, and seems to be a ravenous pit who acts like he’s being terribly starved, but I have to keep him underweight due to his hip dysplasia, so he’s never happy in that regard. It’s actually a constant struggle and worry to keep him feeling even moderately satiated (it never seems to happen) while keeping an eye out to his waist line and making sure he doesn’t gain even a few extra pounds that will stop him from being able to get on the bed. :\
How is The Imperious Emperor? You had briefly mentioned in passing some concern with him, mixed in with the delight. I hope it’s not a health issue?
Well, the imperious one is nearly 17 so I suppose health problems come with age ….
Oh, your poor, hungry German! I’ve been on steroids myself, so I know how he feels. But, hunger apart (and the irritability – “roid rage”), I remember how much better I felt while I was taking them. The awful thing is you can’t explain to him that eating loads is not good. I wonder if there is something that can fill his stomach without putting the weight on? Carrots? Would they work for a dog??
Carrots are great for dogs, and I feed more than you would imagine. Carrots, celery, broccoli are daily staples that I add to his prescription meals, with apples or pears as his tidbit for his dinner snack, and watermelon for a special treat (I limit it due to the high sugar content, since he’s meant to be underweight for his hips). I actually give him SOOOOOOOOOO many carrots to fill him up on top of his kibble that his poo is sometimes… well, let’s just say it ends up being a bright colour from the undigested parts. LOLOL. 😉
Anyway, impolite details apart (and I do apologise for those), none of this actually seems to fill that bottomless need of hunger created by the steroids. My vet has warned me that His Highness would act as starved even if I fed him five times as much, but it is difficult not to feel as though one is abusing one’s child, even if he is a bit of a dramatic princeling when it comes to complaining about his (allegedly empty) tummy. Perhaps one day I’ll share with you some photos of His Majesty daintily eating a celery stick with closed eyes and in complete bliss. It’s really hilarious to see.
Did you take steroids for arthritic, joint, or bone pain? Were the beneficial effects short-term or long-term for you? My father and some friends have had the injections for those sorts of conditions and found them extremely effective, but only a short-term basis. Actually, I don’t mean to pry or be inappropriately intrusive, so please don’t think you have to answer. Just know that I don’t mean this to be a one-sided conversation merely about my boy, and I do hope to get to know you better in general. 🙂 A warm hug to you, sweet Jillie Cat.
Sorry for the delay – dratted computer problems! You are not prying and I appreciate your concern. I have a rheumatic problem and when this flares up a course of steroids helps to dampen it down. Steroids work like a miracle, but of course they have huge side effects too.
I would love to see the HG eating the celery stick!
Gorgeus as usual! Guessing how it could be useful, there is a sort of field guide about Lutens perfumes (months, years), although I’m not sure about its reliability.
The Raiders site is an excellent one, and they’re both diligent and thorough in researching things like dates, significant markings, what to look for in ascertaining the age of bottles, etc. I’ve turned to their Guerlain research for my use personal use as well as citing them in my vintage reviews, so let me reassure you that you can rely on them, too. A top-notch site, in my opinion! 🙂
(Fille en Aiguilles) is now SOLD OUT at Fragrancenet and Notnon’s .Twisted Lily has ONLY ONE item available and there are some at LuckyScent. You also could check Barney’s of NYC. Good luck in your searches and your finds everyone.
Sorry Notino’s , not Notnon .
Good to know, Eddie. Thank you for keeping me and us updated on the availability issue and where some bottles may still be found.
Quickly popping in to thank you for the post, informative and thorough. I am becoming more sensitive to IsoSuper, not that I have the horrible experience you have with it, but it gets on my nerves after a while. By now I am convinced that it is in Feminité du Bois, and the Santal ones. I wear them less than I did. But as I am warming up to BWF, and I have been thinking about A La Nuit after draining a sample last summer, I did decide to buy it at a good discount. I have also dug up various SL samples to smell if I need to buy anything else before inevitable increase in price. Cuddles for you know who.
In my opinion, there is definitely ISO E in Feminité du Bois and in at least one of its progeny, Violette du Bois. I think Sheldrake has used ISO E in other Lutens, too, like De Profundis to give just one example, because he’s one of those perfumers who likes it. (Polge Sr/Pere is another.) I think Santal Blanc has ISO E, but I can’t recall right now if I detected it in the Mysore one which I haven’t smelt in a while.
I think it’s smart to re-sample some in the line while deciding which ones to buy before the price increase, particularly if your samples are current or recent.
Hello Kafkaesque, and thanks for coming back! I too checked out your blog x-times, and am pleased to see you have decided to continue! I hope it works out for you well!
Well, change is around everywhere, and not always for the best. As in overall global politics there seems to be more bad news (say USA) than good news (say France). Same thing in the world of perfume.
As far as Serge Lutens is concerned, I guess we will all be scrambling to Ebay & Co. to obtain the “good old” editions — like with Guerlain, Dior et al…
And as always, the Italian website “Raiders of the Lost Scent” is indispensable vis-à-vis batch codes, so also the Lutens batch codes. Tante grazie!
For those who aren’t aware of the site: http://raidersofthelostscent.blogspot.be/2015/10/how-to-recognize-serge-lutens-perfumes.html
The Raiders’ website is such a valuable and essential treasure — for this and so many other brands! Definitely worth reading for any vintage scent that one is considering purchasing.
I am not the biggest fan of SL fragrance as the style is to the sweeter side, but I like Fille en Aiguilles and contemplated a few times on buying a bottle. Also like Tubereuse Criminelle and Santal Majuscule and dislike Chergui and Fumerie Turque.
There are a few I want to try and didn’t have the chance, like Iris Silver Mist and Sarrasins.
so does that mean that Vetiver oriental and de profundis will not be available as bell jar anymore?? I still cannot believe this.
It seems not, and that they’ll be pulled from the bell jar line. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were eventually recycled back into the bell jar format. Serge Lutens does tend to play around with which fragrances are available in the Export line vs Bell Jar line, and often moves one from export back to the other. Maybe it will happen again with De Profundis and Vetiver Oriental at some point down the line.
What surprises me is that while de profundis and vetiver orinental are pulled from bell jar line,some of the regular line turns into bell jar as well. I haven’t tried vetiver oriental but I have de profundis. But i have a feeling that they’ll reformulate it for sure, as a new line. I’ve heard that the travel version of de profundis is already not the same as the original. I can’t wait to try it as a 100ml.
So that means we can buy de profundis much easier now, all over the world rather than at barneys or paris??
Yes, De Profundis will now be widely available as part of the export line or, to use its apparent new name, Le Collection Noire. 🙂 And, yes, I too have the feeling that it will be reformulated or even further reformulated when put in the new packaging. You’ll have to tell me what you think when you try it. 🙂 Have a lovely weekend.
De profundis will remain in the bell jar collection. I just heard!
May I ask from where? Denyse Beaulieu of Grain de Musc (who has close contacts with the Lutens people) reported it would not remain.
I asked her(grandemusc) on instgram, 2days ago, she said that actually she made a mistake on her post, and that de profundis will remain in the bell jar. A famous blogger also went to the Paris royal and reported she did not see de profundis as a 100ml new collection 🙂
Thank you. I will add an update to my post stating that Grain de Musc has said she was mistaken regarding De Profundis.
Hello and nice to hear back from you!!
I started reading your article with two minds, either restock my favourites or just give up on the brand once and for all. I am someone who has been sorely disappointed by the reformulations mostly Chergui (only because A la Nuit kept most of its profile but no longer lasts on the skin). So if they’re reformulating La Fille de Berlin, I *mighy* buy a back-up but I have to admit I don’t care much for the others 🙁
p.s. was also flummoxed by the changes in De Profundis (have never smelled it before) but which are apparent to me when I read your review or Victoria’s (Frolova) and compare it to what I have on my skin.
OK, let me see. Just got my two bottles from Fragrancenet. Un Bois Vannille batch code XSK38 X .September 2015. Ambre Sultan, no letters then numbers then x. What is there is this set of numbers then a letter impressed on the box and etched on the bottle .They follow, 62110M . Also underneath the address’, on the box, there’s a difference .I don’t know what GLO. means , but on the Un Bois ,GLO.12234, and on the Ambre 12207. Another thing, on the bottom of the Ambre there is an embossed 10 on the upper left corner .On the bottom of the Un Bois, there’s not. Now to the most important , is there a difference in the Ambre, sadly yes. I have a sample right from the Serge USA site, so I compared the two. The sample is more thicker, more resinous for a lack of terms. More Ambery I guess . The bottle, thinner, but not much. The notes are there though. I have looked at the Raider’s before and saw that the letters are first. I have also contacted Serge Lutens, before hand regarding this and they said that the letters are first. Why I contacted Serge before , well I got a bottle of Fille en Aiguilles that was like this. I will I also got a bottle of Chergui from Fragrancenet and it was just fine along with Arabie. Both are from 2013. So my question is does anyone know why the the batch codes are like this ? Are these testers from Serge Lutens ? Any info would be helpful. I know most aren’t concerned with batch code numbers, but I just like to say I got an older bottle, that’s all. I hope I have made sense in what I am saying, for I am running out the door right now. Thanks always, Eddie.
Fragrances batches and codes are really the expertise of Raiders of The Lost Scent, so I would write to them. I’m afraid I know nothing about the Lutens bottle coding system or numbering. But I’m glad to hear you got a 2013 bottle for Chergui!
Will do. Got them bookmarked .
Hi, Kafka! First of all – thank you so much for returning to posting here! I’ve never commented but I read all your posts and I truly love and appreciate what you are doing a lot! Sorry for not saying that earlier. It’s always a great pleasure reading you. Second – one thing about availability of SL Bell Jar exclusives. There is a Serge Lutens store in Moscow, Russia where you can find the whole Bell Jar line and this line is also available here at Molecule stores (incl. their online store http://molecule.su/serge-lutens.html ). As much as you love to have the full and detailed information on everything, I though you should know that, too. And thank you again!
First, welcome to the blog, Aliyarm. Second, how fascinating about the Moscow Lutens store. Is this a relatively new thing? Because I had never heard of one there before, and I wonder if it’s the result of Shiseido’s plans announced in 2015 to launch separate new stores outside of Paris. It’s been roughly 2 years since that announcement, so perhaps Moscow is the first one? Even if it’s not, the Russian market seems to have its own set of rules. Perfume companies often seem to have completely separate websites and fragrance releases just for Russia. (Like Xerjoff, to give just one example, which has one website for Russia and one standard one for the rest of the world.) Lucky you! 🙂
As for Molecule, judging by their website and offerings, it seems to be a similar deal to what Lutens struck with Barney’s in America a few years ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if this, too, is a relatively recent development and part of the larger Shiseido marketing expansion.
Either way, I greatly appreciate you alerting me to the special Russian retail situation since that is not a market that I know in any depth. I occasionally list Russian shopping links at the end of my reviews when they’re easily found, so I will try to remember to include Molecule — and not just for Lutens either! Thank you again, Aliyarm, and have a great weekend.
Thank you very much for the warm welcome! Very much appreciated!
Serge Lutens boutique was opened 2 years ago in Moscow and Mr. Lutens even graced the opening with his presence. Here are a couple of links: 1 – in ENG – http://www.nstperfume.com/2015/06/18/new-serge-lutens-boutique-in-moscow/, 2 – in RUS but you can see some pictures from the event there – http://thevanderlust.com/ru/city/moscow/shop/2431.html.
Actually we have pretty wide range of niche perfume brands presented here, some of them have been here for years. E.g. we have had SL export line here at least for 10 years already if not longer. More niche perfume stores are opening these days so we are really lucky :). The only issue is the price, I normally order perfumes from First in Fragrance for example to avoid paying twice or even three-four times as much.
If you wish I can give you a (relatively) full list of our niche perfumes stores/boutiques, so that you could include that info into your reviews. Just let me know.
Thank you again.
And please, call me Aliya, that’s my name.
Two years ago, that makes sense. It’s part of the new Shiseido expansion plan and explains why having the bell jars outside of Paris is a relative recent development.
Believe me, I know that Russia has a wide range of niche brands and has had them for a while. You guys are a very wealthy market that all the big brands court and seek, whether it’s the special Roja Doves, the special Francis Kurkdjian MFKs, special Xerjoff websites, etc. That’s why I said “Lucky you” earlier. 😀 😀
I appreciate your kind offer of a relatively full list of all Russian retail boutiques. It’s very considerate of you. However, and please, I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, my retail list is merely meant to be courtesy and to cover some of the bigger options out there, as opposed to being complete or geographically thorough. I don’t have the time to provide direct shopping links for every major country or shop out there. Most bloggers can’t be bothered to look up *any* direct links for shopping, but I like to provide a few just to make it easier for people to have a starting point if they’re interested. Beyond that, though…. well, my reviews take a massive amount of time as it is, even before I get to the Retail/Details section, and shopping isn’t really my focus, so I’m sure you understand. 🙂
Thank you again, though, for the extremely considerate offer. I mean it when I say that it’s very sweet and thoughtful of you, Aliya. xox
Oh yes, all those “Russian specials” !
Well, of course I wouldn’t bother making a list of “all Russian retail boutiques”. That would be a nightmare and not helpful at all. That’s not what I meant , sorry for the wrong explanation! Believe me I do understand the amount of work you do reviews wise and I totally worship you for that (in a good sense, you know). What I meant is to be able to help you avoid wasting time while searching for that links for “some of the bigger options”. Because I already have that info and it’s no problem sharing it. That’s all ☺️!
And please don’t get me wrong, I don’t insist or anything like that. In case you need some links, I’m always there to assist.
Sorry for disturbing you!
No, please, my dear, I understood what you were trying to do and I only wanted to explain back in return why things are limited. Please, please know how much your thoughtfulness meant to me, because I am certainly no Russian shopping expert. In the past, I actually have linked to some Russian stores, depending on scent, when the specific fragrance that I’m writing about has shown up in a Google search as being in the store already. But I readily admit that it’s not the most accessible shopping market for me due to the language difference and my lack of knowledge. You telling me about Molecule was already a huge help and a site that I will *DEFINITELY* keep in the mind in the future. If I link to it in upcoming reviews, it will be because of you, so thank you, my dear.
And you never disturb me! Ever. Please accept both my apologies and, if I may, if it’s not weird, a gentle virtual hug from me if I hurt your feelings in any way. I’m very sorry for that but I can promise you that you never disturb and that I’m truly grateful for your insider help and knowledge. *hug*
Dear Kafka! I can’t say how much I’m touched by your kindness and care! Please don’t worry – I haven’t been hurt or anything like that .
And of course your virtual hugs are accepted ☺️ anyway! It’s not weird but very much appreciated ! *hugs back*
Eh, I wanted to give my very long two cents on this whole situation since I first had a niggling intuitive feeling something was going on with SL as a brand.
I have a lot of sentimental value attached to brand since my late grandmother enjoyed his Nombre Noir perfume bought on a trip to Paris many decades ago. I was also attracted to his dark, dare I say ‘devouring Mother’ cult of beauty and still love the nearly primordial implications of his brand. I even used his images as a starting point for an Art History project since it tied in so well with the female cave art and rituals our teacher talked about so much (argh I miss that woman!).
I’m just not optimistic that the brand will translate so well into the growth of the 21st century with how people think nowadays. I usually can see the bright side of any situation, but I feel that the heavily symbolic, esoteric, babe-in-the-womb, Piscean mystery of Serge Lutens’ whole pathos will largely be lost on the Instagram-era of fashion which I’m unsure how Shiseido will handle, unless it’s exposed to worldly consumers who are mature enough to handle the very human themes being presented in his perfumes.
It’s a shame the Exclusives collection will be overlooked unless I’m misreading things. In such a pushy, extroverted culture such as our own, I think it’s interesting to find a medium which deals with the less sexy qualities of femininity than those being pushed by most perfume houses today, even niche ones! As with my grandmother, I found a nice little nook in his scents for expressing an aspect of womanhood people too often ignore, namely the one which associated it with the very life forces of the universe, something usually relegated to stuffy university libraries and behind temple doors. I know I’m going off on tangents here, sorry for sounding like such a Lutens junky.
I just hope that the powerful, sometimes disturbing, shrink’s chair qualities of his work will be given their due. If Shiseido starts pumping out generic perfumes for generic Brendas (no offense to any Brendas here), I really don’t know how I’m going to feel. Leave the sweet patchouli floral mall eau de blasés where they belong imo.
You write beautifully and powerfully about Serge Lutens’ intellectual philosophy, symbolism and psycho-intellectual ethos, as well as its artistic and feminist meanings for you. There is much food for thought here. I see and completely understand your concerns.
My thought is that, so long as Uncle Serge continues as the creative director and shapes the fragrances to his bent, I think there is hope because I simply cannot see him submitting his vision or ethos to a shopping mall culture. I truly think that he would quit before he sacrificed his artistic vision. One of his two upcoming new releases is reported to be inspired by his mother, so I don’t think he’s abandoning the themes which have inspired him. But we shall have to see how things turn out. :\
Thank you for your reply! I don’t know I didn’t see this until now? I was afraid my comment came off too wordy or haughty for some, I can never tell when I’m just running my mouth or actually saying something intelligent and thoughtful.
I will always be a devotee of Serge, even though I find most of his perfumes too emotional and powerful to be worn a lot outside the home, depending on the situation. As long as the essence remains, I’ll be happy. Eventually we’ll all be like those older women and men decades ago who grew up with houses like Guerlain, knowing one era and remembering how much it affected them over the years, driving the younger generation crazy with our stories of musky florals and resinous spices. The thing is, art tends to recycle itself, so even Serge Lutens is probably inspired by those evocative, complex scents of his childhood as well, and my hope is the cycle will eventually repeat itself and some other little one somewhere on this earth will be born with the same need to express such beautiful art as he once did.
sorry if I missed this point made anywhere but is the verdict on de Profundis that the current formulation is not worth trying since it has been ruined and that rave reviews are describing something that doesn’t exist anymore?
Given the individuality and subjectivity of personal tastes, I don’t think there is any one “verdict,” but you can find comments at the end of the De Profundis review and one or two here as well about the way that De Profundis has changed or people’s feelings about what they tried. Personally, I think it’s usually (not always** but usually) worth trying things for oneself because everyone has different tastes and different skin. It’s simply wiser to be forewarned that a scent may be different than what was previously described.
** Something like the current version of Opium, for example, would be an exception to this rule if one is a passionate fan of the original.
I am thinking specifically of the huge laundry musk reported in more recent reformulations I hate this in perfumes and then if I factor in the difficulty of getting samples and then knowing if what I sampled is what will arrive and the fact that this would involve a special order and I think I am happy to just rule this out completely…
Thanks for the Serge Lutens update. I’m sad they are getting rid of my beloved A la nuit. Quite frankly I hate the new packaging, it looks like cheap hotel shampoo, very commercial. It feels like I’m being cheated on, like all those years I admired Serge Lutens’ concept for its authenticity and uncompromised creativity, and all of a sudden the whole thing is turning into a commercial nightmare!
I agree with you. The new packaging is not doing the brand any favors. It’s garish (terrible font choice) and cheap looking. I’m sad about all of this. Lutens has been my life raft since all of my favorites were discontinued or sold to Lauder.
I saw the new 100 ml bottles in person in Fenwicks in Newcastle (England) last week was was stunned at just how ugly and cheap they look. The labels look cheap and since they are VERY tall and flat it seem likely they will be easily knocked over too…
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Many thanks for the detailed info and apologies for being late to the party! I am pretty well covered for my Serge Essentials – most were bought several years ago, and I bought back-ups for Chergui & Daim Blond. I picked up Arabie a few weeks ago from an online retailer that I suspected was holding ‘older stock’ and was not disappointed. I agree that we have cause for optimism with the increased Shiseido input but, sadly, have to say that after trying all of the new ‘exclusive exclusive’ line (all released here in HK) I could only draw a very big blank – the prices seem out of whack (quality of ingredients, notwithstanding) and the compositions just don’t grab me at all . . . I has a confused! 🙂
update on the collection noir on fb
I am very tempted to purchase fumerie turque bell jar from Paris.
Have you heard anything about it being reformulated?
Please advice … I always loved this one
When was the last time you tried it? The fragrance has been changed since its original debut. How much it will have changed for you depends on which version you tried and fell in love with. I know the one I reviewed back in either 2013 or 2014 was a revised version, and I believe Lutens changed quite a number of his fragrances further since 2014. (To name just a few, Fourreau Noir, De Profundis, Chergui, Fille en Aiguilles, Cuir Mauresque, etc. etc.).
Since I don’t know which version you tried and loved, I’m afraid I don’t really have advice for you unless you’re able to sniff the fragrance first. And I know that may not be easy unless you’re actually in Paris, visiting there, or can stop by a Barney’s store in America. I will say that if you end up w/ a bell jar of Fumerie Turques that you don’t love, you’d probably be able to sell it easily on eBay since that is one Lutens fragrance which almost never appears in any form.
Thank you. I had 2 bottles of the original smaller bottles. Lately I tried a sample from The perfumed court which was the same. I’m just not sure which version they had.
I am sooo disappointed with the reformulated Ambre Sultan I just bought!
I have merely a tiny bit left in my 2011 purchased bottle and ordered a new one a few weeks ago. This morning, with all the reformulated debate going around, I decided to give a go to the new one instead and whaaaat? 4 sprays instead of one to merely get a vague scent? I sprayed at 6 am, it is now nearly noon and have to actively sniff for the scent. And where is the sweet warm amber tone gone??? The juice is also much clearer than the 2011 version, like a light tea compared to a strong brew.
I also got the same experience with an emergency buy before discontinuation of Le Baiser du Dragon from Cartier, for which I still have a half 30ml bottle from 2007: the tenue is a laugh! It would not have been called an eau de toilette some years ago. And I fear already for all the scents from my collection that will need replacement within the coming years. It is a shame and a scam.
To this point, I think that the IFRA allergene/health concern was just an excuse not only to try to kill the competition from niche perfumes by banning off frequentely used natural products but also a very clever move to increase the sales – when you spray 4 times when you used to spray 1 to get a faint scent, either you change for another juice (what I will do), either you buy more often because you empty your bottle much faster.
Anyway, being European, I hope that some perfumers will fight for what’s right and defy the IFRA, like what we do here against regulation on cheese and other artisanal products. Especially when you compare the number of victims of these to, let’s say, roadkills or victims of tobacco use, preservatives and enhancers in food etc. BTW, when were componants banned from tobacco?
You have my full and utter sympathy. You’re also not alone in hurriedly buying back-up bottles of Lutens upon news of last year’s major packaging/line/collection changes and being horrified at the sudden changes to a fragrance that you once loved. One of my best friends read this post at the time it was first published and rushed out to get a second bottle of Fille en Aiguilles because she had only a small portion left in her original 2013 bottle. She told me that she received her new purchase and actually REELED BACK in horror at the woody-amber aromachemicals that were now used in the base. She’s actually a perfumer, so she knows her materials, her nose is more sensitive than most, and she’s very well aware of synthetics suddenly popping up in a fragrance where there was previously nothing overt, intrusive, and abrasive.
In short, I had hoped that Fille en Aiguilles had been spared major, significant changes before the 2017 Lutens brand/packing/collection changes, but it seems that, no, it actually HAD been changed sometime between my original review in 2013 (which is what led her to buy her bottle) and 2017.
The reason why I’m bringing this up is that I think quite a few people ended up in your exact situation as a result of the news, only to discover major changes to the fragrances that they had purchased years and years before. Changes in colour can be one indicia, but the major thing is changes in the richness, depth, power, longevity, and ingredients in the scent. For example, Chergui has had its tobacco completely gutted and, even worse, it’s muted even further by a veritable tsunami of white musk. Un Bois Vanille also has had its white musk component amped up to a HUGE extent to make up for the weakness of the juice but mostly, imo, to hide the severely diluted quantities of its critical components. From what I hear, the white musk fake-out and over-compensation trick also plagues the new version of De Profundis and Fourreau Noir. Fourreau Noir also has a major dilution issue on top of that, according to two very upset emails that I received last year.
Bottom line, I sympathize. A LOT. And I also share your feelings about the IFRA/EU regulations. I’ve written a lot about that, in fact. I’ve raised the tobacco issue that you mentioned but, more than that, more than anything, I strongly believe that the changes are due to the aromachemical companies lobbying/funding IFRA to begin with. Remember, IFRA isn’t the law, only the EU regulations are, but the EU adopts IFRA regulations and guess who funds IFRA? Aromachemical-producing companies like Givaudan, IFF, Firmenich, and the like. Guess whose former executives go from those companies to sit on the board of IFRA? Yep, once again, people from those companies. Guess who benefits the most from IFRA/EU restrictions on natural ingredients, where everything from roses to orange, cloves, carnation, eugenol, myrrh, and everything else gets significant ceiling caps — BUT… BUT — somehow, aromachemicals like ISO E Super(crappy) end up with a whopping 21% maximum? Once again, it’s companies like Givaudan and the like.
I’ve written four or five posts on the issue of IFRA/EU fragrance restrictions but, if you read anything, read this one:
That article covers a host of the problems facing the EU regulation, how the standards are set, potential biases therein, weirdly split divisions within the fragrance community (houses like Chanel vs. others, for example) and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, the utterly *FLAWED* scientific analysis that underlies all the recommendations to begin with. To quote just one part of my article:
“What is more troublesome is the very real likelihood that all these doctors or scientists . used unsound, highly limited data as the basis for their ruthlessly stringent 2012 proposals to the EU. I’m wholly unqualified to speak to the underlying science, but Mark Behnke has an advanced degree in chemistry and wrote about this issue for his site, Colognoisseur:
Even I know that you need controls in a scientific study, but there seem to have been none used here. And only a one-time test on a mere 25 patients?! It’s rather astonishing.”
That’s just a small part of it, and you can read the full article for the complete picture and discussion later, but I wanted to raise the point now because, unlike cigarettes, the science is fault on this one. There is no doubt that cigarettes kill, but the “science” underlying the perfume regulations is scientifically unsound in terms of scope and results.
As for your hope that, in Europe, perfumers will band together to do something, well… hm. I’ve written two or three detailed articles which discuss, in part, how a handful of perfumers have spoken out, usually on the indie or niche side, but how a good number of the powerful major perfume houses (Chanel, LVMH, Dior, etc.) have either been intentionally silent or have flipped-flopped on the issue.
You can read the article for the details or additional links, most of which are in the piece that I linked to you up above. Ultimately, however, this current, particular thread is about Serge Lutens and changes to his line, not about IFRA/EU regulations and the faultiness of their argument. It’s my fault; I I got carried away (as usual) by the anger and frustration that I share with you. Believe me, we’re not alone on our feelings about the matter, but there is little to be done and you cannot expect either the perfumers or the big perfume houses to save the day. 🙁 I’m happy to continue the discussion over in the relevant IFRA/EU posts/thread later on, if you wish and when my schedule permits, after you’ve read the articles and if you have any thoughts on the information therein.
Bottom line, welcome to our large “IFRA/EU SUCKS” club. 😉 😛