Colour me surprised, I actually like Guerlain‘s new LUI. Quite a bit, in fact. It’s not something I had expected; I’m a Guerlain classicist whose heart beats faster for the old, vintage masterpieces from the house, not the vast majority of fragrances released in the LVMH era. LUI is a rare exception. I find it enjoyable, even delectable at times, smooth, nicely balanced, easy to wear, and a cozy comfort. There is no fruitchouli or goopy red fruits to smother you to death with cloying excess; no cheap vanillin shrieking like a deranged, over-sugared, saccharine banshee; no laundry cleanness; no harsh woody-amber synthetics; and no bombastic amounts of caramel-praline bearing with such an intemperate degree of sickly sweetness that it would put a diabetic in a coma. No, nothing like that for once. Instead, there is only a soft, smooth, carefully calibrated, and good quality cloud of golden sweetness laced with floral, woody, smoky, spicy, and amber flourishes. It’s simple, uncomplicated, and hardly novel, and I grant you that my standards, expectations, and bar for LVMH-era Guerlain are basically at rock bottom levels but, even so, I wouldn’t mind a bottle of LUI for myself and it’s been a long, long time since I said that about one of the company’s new releases.
LUI is an eau de parfum that was released in June 2017 as part of Guerlain’s higher-end Exclusifs or Exclusives Collection. Judging by the company’s US website description, the fragrance seems to have been created primarily by Delphine Jelk, albeit in association with Thierry Wasser.
The aesthetic theme for the fragrance is declared in its marketing tag-line: “Lui, the fragrance for a new gender order.” On its US website, Guerlain goes further, stating:
Feminine. Masculine. Why choose? LUI is a fragrance that likes to blur the boundaries. Not entirely feminine, nor truly masculine, it is both at once. Inspired by a generation that is breaking free from gender norms[.]
Guerlain doesn’t stop there. It also describes LUI as “ambiguous,” then an “unexpected, gender-blending fragrance: LUI is ambivalent by nature, inherently complex[.]”
I just rolled my eyes and snorted. This fragrance has the complexity of a toothpick. And the purported olfactory gender fluidity or “ambiguity” that they’re trumpeting so proudly and hyperbolically is nothing new under the sun. I can give you examples going back to the early 1920s where gender-bending was the specific goal of fragrances. Moreover, the unisex approach has been around for decades in the niche sector. Sometimes, I would really love to throw a bucket of ice water over Guerlain’s marketing department or suggest that they take a Valium.
Moving onto something less ridiculous, LUI’s name is an anagram of and nod to Liu, Guerlain’s floral-aldehydic jasmine fragrance that was released in 1929 as an alternative to Chanel No. 5, and the two Guerlains share the same black bottle design. The blogger and Guerlain expert, Monsieur Guerlain has a detailed post on Guerlain’s marketing of the new LUI, how they’ve sought to connect the two fragrances together, the alleged “gender liberation” theories behind each, and then his review of the new LUI. I’ll let you read his article on your own if you’re interested, and I’ll stick to borrowing two of his wonderful photos in the meantime, although I’ll bring up his review again at the end because he seems underwhelmed by LUI, in part due to its simplicity and in part due to its olfactory familiarity, both of which are very legitimate, accurate points.
Guerlain doesn’t offer a detailed note list or scent pyramid for LUI. They specify only three notes — carnation, benzoin, and leather — then reference broader tonalities in the scent that are powdery, spicy, woody, and resinous. However, a Fragrantica article on LUI’s launch provides more detailed information:
Top notes: pear, clove
Heart: benzoin, carnation
Base: leather, vanilla, musk, smoke
LUI opens on my skin with a cloud of vanilla, ambered sweetness, abstract florals, and floral spiciness, all of it emanating out of a quietly woody, faintly smoky base. The primary opening note is a caramel-scented benzoin that is infused with a delicate fruitiness and a bright, diffuse floralcy, but neither one of last two elements translates clearly in a distinct, concrete way on my skin. For example, the fruit note is sweet, watery, and skews vaguely green-ish, but it doesn’t read as actual pear, per se, on my skin, not in any clear, instantly recognizable way.
The floral component is equally abstract. It starts out being watery, lightly spiced, faintly lemony, and sweet. It doesn’t smell clearly and unquestionably like carnation but, rather, like an impressionistic floralcy that fuses a chilly florist shop’s abstraction of carnation with the lemony, bright, fizzy jasmine qualities of hedione. In fact, the first time I tested LUI, I applied only a small quantity of fragrance and the main flower that appeared on my skin and to my nose was hedione-style jasmine. With a larger fragrance application, a vaguely carnation-ish, eugenol-driven aura lurks about the sidelines during the first 10 minutes before it turns into a rather indeterminate floral spiciness. I’ve read LUI reviews where some people seem to have experienced a lot of clove or eugenol on their skin during the fragrance’s opening; I would have been delighted if the same thing occurred to me but it never has, and I’ve tested the fragrance three times now. What happens instead is that, after 10 minutes, the “jasmine” is followed by a custardy, spicy, faintly clove-ish, vanillic floral sweetness that closely replicates the olfactory characteristics of ylang-ylang. Guerlain’s 1929 Liu was heavily driven by jasmine, so I suspect that parallel in the new LUI is not accidental, while the “ylang-ylang” resemblance is probably the cumulative effect of the abstract florals combining with the clove, vanilla, and benzoin.
Other elements meander about in varying degrees of solidity, strength, and prominence. On my skin, the vanilla is as central as the benzoin, and both infuse everything they touch. Layered within are thin, quiet streaks of a soft, clean, faintly smoky woodiness that nods at sandalwood. It’s accompanied by a darker woodiness that smells like a combination of birch’s singed campfire woods and guaiac’s bonfire of autumnal dry leaves. None of them smell like leather, though, and certainly nothing like the musky, tarry birch leather note in really old vintage Shalimar. What appears in LUI is merely a soft tendril of smokiness that smells predominantly of guaiac’s burning leaves layered with clean, barely smoky, white sandalwood. It’s a gentle, diffuse note that weaves around the edges of the main benzoin-amber, spicy floral, vanilla bouquet, smudging its edges but never detracting or distracting from LUI’s central vibe: a comforting, cozy, inviting, and approachable cloud of golden sweetness lightly infused with soft, bright floralcy and spiciness. The wood and smoke merely serve as a counterbalance that keeps the driving benzoin-vanilla accord in check, ensuring that LUI remains a semi-gourmand, semi-floriental instead of barreling headlong into full gourmand territory.
LUI’s central focus and main elements remain unchanged during the first 2.5 hours, and the fragrance shifts only in its nuances. Roughly 30 minutes in, the floral component becomes even hazier, a broadly painted impressionistic swathe that alternates between suggesting spicy jasmine, spicy ylang-ylang, spicy carnations, or some combination thereof. At the same time, the benzoin begins to waft a strong cinnamon note (which is one of its olfactory characteristics in essential oil form), and it works beautifully with the vanilla.
Speaking of the latter, it’s lovely because it isn’t redolent of white sugar and it’s not screechy or musk-filled either. Actually, to me, it smells like a really good Peru Balsam essential oil with its inviting, smooth, rounded aromas of cinnamon-woody vanilla as opposed to the saccharine-sweet, granular, white sugar in “vanilla” synthetics used in most gourmands, including many of those from Guerlain like last year’s Mon Exclusif (renamed as Mon Guerlain after some minor tweaks).
The note or material used here is of a different caliber, but so is the fragrance as a whole in my opinion, and that’s a big reason why I enjoyed it. All the notes feel nicely calibrated, both individually and in relation to each other. For example, there is enough benzoin to make it a central note and to give a spicy, caramel-and-cinnamon-scented goldenness but not so much as to feel cloying, unbalanced, and nauseating like the praline in L’Homme Ideal. The vanilla is silky, woody, and rounded, rather than being a high-pitched banshee wail of diabetes-inducing saccharine or cotton candy (like Mon Exclusif or some mainstream Guerlains). The florals aren’t goopy with syrup and are also thankfully devoid of the usual fruitchouli gunk or cloying, jammy molasses (like all the La Petite Robe Noire fragrances). Whatever “pear” note there may be is a delicate, muted touch that lasts 75-90 minutes at best, is confined to the background, and, even then, it is more of a watery, faintly green, fruited freshness instead than Guerlain’s usual berries. The smoke, wood, and supposed “leather” are similarly delicate, restrained elements in the background. Even when they eventually become central elements, they don’t smell of the harsh, excessively smoky, overly desiccated boisé sec/woody-amber aromachemicals that I find in so many masculine Guerlains, like the aforementioned L’Homme Ideal, Ambre Eternel, or the ridiculously synthetic, incredibly abrasive Santal Royal. (If you want authentic, high-grade, and genuinely beautiful oud or sandalwood orientals, I can give you a list of names, but nothing from Guerlain would ever be on the list.) And, finally, to my relief, none of these elements is accompanied by a deluge of clean white musk that evokes my laundry room, Bounce dryer sheets, or a mainstream, inexpensive fragrance in Sephora. In fact, I didn’t detect any major musk at all. LUI is not, thank God, Mon Exclusif. In Lui, no one single note dominates like a bulldozer. The main or central elements flow seamlessly and harmoniously one into the next. The tertiary background flickers exist merely to prevent LUI from being either excessively sweet, excessively impressionistic, or excessively simplistic.
It is, however, a matter of degree because LUI is, by and large, a simple and largely impressionistic scent, and it grows even more so as it develops. In its initial phase, the first 2.5 hours, the central elements — the benzoin, vanilla, spice, and floralcy — move in large swathes, rendered primarily in broad brushstrokes to create a hazy cloud of sweet, spicy, vanillic goldenness. In its second phase, as I’ll describe further down below, LUI is a broadly woody scent; the woods become a central element that replaces the floralcy and temporarily overshadows even the vanilla-benzoin accord. In its extremely long drydown, LUI is simply a woody-vanilla-amber blur.
The end result during each stage is both familiar and simple, in addition to the broad brush stroke approach making the scent feeling quite linear when taken as a whole. Some people have compared LUI to Guerlain’s Bois d’Armenie. I haven’t tried the latter to be able to comment, but LUI’s first phase reminded me specifically of La Via del Profumo‘s Tasneem, as well as floral-vanilla gourmand orientals more generally and tangentially. (One of AJ Arabia/WIDIAN‘s fragrances comes to mind, but there are so many fragrances in this genre which focus on amber, vanilla, abstract florals, and soft woods, including Lubin‘s new Epidor which LUI resembles at one point later on.) LUI’s second stage brought to mind the later portions of Serge Lutens‘ Un Bois Vanillé (in its original version) and a richer, heavier version of Aftelier‘s Vanilla Smoke, while its generic drydown felt like that of so many woody-amber fragrances, I couldn’t single out a specific one.
As I’ve often said in the past, there is nothing wrong with linearity and simplicity if one likes the notes in question and if the fragrance has the quality and/or smoothness to back it up. LUI does, in my opinion, but my point is that there is nothing novel, striking, revolutionary, or gender-bending about this fragrance. (In fact, I would call its first phase quite feminine on balance.) On the other hand, what it does, it does well. It’s a simple, basic, but nicely balanced, smooth, inviting, and easy-to-wear fragrance in one of my favourite genres of perfumery, what I call the “cozy comfort” genre. It’s the sort of thing that I could see people (or perhaps just myself) throwing on as a happy, warm, sweet, informal scent to snuggle up with on a Friday night after a long, stressful week while they watch Netflix in comfortable sweatpants or pyjamas. There is nothing wrong with that at all.
As mentioned earlier, LUI changes primarily in the prominence or nuances of some of its notes. Roughly 90 minutes in, LUI turns woodier as the quietly smoky, sandalwood-guaiac style notes cease to lurk in the shadows and arrive on center stage. The floral accord retreats, sometimes hovering on the sidelines, sometimes acting as a soft, wholly amorphous aura in the background. The “pear” dies away. The benzoin and vanilla grow stronger, turning LUI much sweeter. The result is a little too sweet for me personally, just like Lubin‘s similar half-floriental, half-gourmand, benzoin-vanilla-floral-woody Epidor which LUI is beginning to approximate in feel, even if some of its notes are different. Still, there is something delectable about LUI’s cinnamon-scented, vanilla-caramel amber with its soft curlicues of lightly smoked, sometimes incense-y woodiness and soft, lightly spiced floral sweetness.
LUI changes its focus during its second stage which begins roughly 2.25 to 2.5 hours into the fragrance’s evolution. Essentially, the woods come to the forefront and push everything else to the sidelines or the background. More than ever, they smell of guaiac and its autumn bonfire of dry leaves, although there is a small whiff of campfire birch subsumed within. The vanilla-benzoin hides behind the singed woods and is no longer the centrifugal force. There is almost nothing floral on my skin. LUI isn’t even strongly sweet any more. It’s primarily a dry-sweet, smoky, woody fragrance with muted wisps of vanilla and cinnamon-ish benzoin goldenness peeking out from the sides. It inhabits the same general universe as Aftelier‘s Vanilla Smoke during its later stages, even if the type of smoke and amber in LUI are very different. And, for the first time, LUI actually feels unisex in style rather than skewing towards the feminine side.
LUI’s long drydown begins roughly in the middle to late portions of the 5th hour and essentially involves a sweeter, warmer, more ambered version of the woody second stage. In reductionist terms, the benzoin joins the smoky woods, encasing them in a soft and softly spiced cloud of goldenness. The vanilla continues to be a quiet layer subsumed deep within, although it fluctuates in strength over the next 12 hours, waxing and waning, occasionally feeling quite distinct but usually just operating as a soft, hushed breath. There is no longer any floralcy; there is also no longer even a generalized resemblance to Epidor or to any semi-gourmand, vanillic floriental. LUI is simply a dry-sweet woody-benzoin scent. The most charitably detailed description would entail guaiac’s autumn leaves, smoky fires aroma enveloped within a warm, ambered, minimally spiced, and occasionally vanillic haze, but that might be pushing it. The notes here aren’t that specific, let alone clearly delineated. There are really just alternating waves of dry-sweetness, vaguely caramel-vanilla sweetness, and minimally smoked woodiness.
I enjoy it, but I’ll be the first to tell you that the bouquet has a largely generic character. It’s also incredibly linear because the drydown lasts for ages and ages on my skin, more than 12 hours in fact, before the fragrance finally dies away. How you feel about this phase (and probably every phase of LUI) will largely depend on just how much you like the particular handful of notes on display at any given time. How you feel about the fragrance as a whole will depend not only on those personal note or taste preferences but also on whether you’ve already got a fragrance like LUI in your wardrobe. I don’t, because my exceedingly low threshold for woody-amber synthetics, sugary sweetness, gourmandise, or white musk rules out a number of comparable fragrances for me, but some of you probably own something similar to LUI already.
LUI had low projection, good sillage, and excellent longevity on me. My sample was an atomizer decant that I purchased on eBay and its spray aperture was the size of that on full bottles, so all my tests involved 2 sprays in the amount you’d apply if actually owned LUI. With that amount, the fragrance always opened with 2-3 inches of projection. The opening sillage was around 4 inches but blossomed after 30 minutes into a diffuse, airy, but strong, unmistakable cloud that extended about 7-8 inches. The numbers dropped fractionally after 90 minutes, then even more so at the 3.25-hour mark in when LUI turned into a softer, quieter cloud that trailed only about 3-4 inches, at most, although the actual scent was strong up close. LUI turned discreet at the end of the 6th hour but, to my surprise, didn’t turn into a true skin scent until late in the 9th hour. Even then, it wasn’t difficult to detect if I put my nose on my arm until the 13th hour. LUI clung on tenaciously and lasted just shy of 17 hours in total.
Reviews for LUI are mixed. My friend, Monsieur Guerlain, appeared to be wholly unimpressed, even a little disdainful, acidly writing in his review that “[m]aybe Lui would be better suited as one of Guerlain’s scented candles.” Ouch. That is quite a statement coming from someone as diplomatic, tactful, or admiring of Guerlain as he, but it’s quite understandable given the scent experience he describes. Mine was infinitely better, while his sounds like bland minimalism to the max:
It shares the quandary of most niche fragrances, being so minimalistic and linear that you get the impression of an unfinished project. There’s a wonderful herbaceous, licorice-like myrrh note up top, a mineral-metallic note of electric model trains and drilling machines further down, and a comfortable suede note at the base, but the whole thing is so light, subtle and close-to-the skin that it’s difficult to ascertain the perfumer’s intent. Sometimes, less is not more, but simply less, especially compared to the price of 160 € for 50 ml. In fact, Lui smells like a diluted version of L’Homme Idéal EdP, minus the boisé sec cedarwood, or maybe a softer Bois d’Arménie mixed with Jacques Guerlain’s long gone Cachet Jaune (1937), all of which boils down to Band-aid and empty-chocolate-box vanillin. Maybe Lui would be better suited as one of Guerlain’s scented candles. [Bolded emphasis to perfume names added by me.]
On Fragrantica, some people love LUI, but reviews are mixed as a whole. For some of its detractors, LUI is a weaker, “less finished” version of a better Guerlain benzoin fragrance, the $260 Bois d’Armenie. Some people also thought LUI bore similarities to L’Homme Ideal. Two people said they experienced a “fleeting” scent or one that engaged in a ghostly act. A few thought the fragrance was “too expensive” for its flaws.
For its fans, LUI is familiar but great. “Originaldeftom” resorted to all-caps at several points in his review to convey his love, then ended by calling the fragrance “(almost) MODERN MASTERPIECE!” For “IndigoEye,” LUI was “a great mainstream release by Guerlain (something I wondered whether I would ever say again).” For “ScentEye,” a single heart emoji wasn’t enough to express her feelings; although only one appears on the Fragrantica page, the full series showed up when I copied and pasted her comment here:
This feels familiar but oh so special. Warm with the peppery carnation note, lovely vanilla/Tonka vibe, smoky with a birch tar note. This is new to my collection and I’m in love. This is not the generic fruity/floral/oud fodder that is like a tsunami of fragrance. This is a delectable treat, a combination of sexy, familiar, delicate and demure. Divine. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Interestingly, both fans and detractors found the scent to be quite discreet on their skin, but if you look at the actual votes for LUI’s sillage, there are just as many votes at this time for the strongest category, “Enormous” (13), as there are for the second category, “Moderate” (13). 6 people opted for the third, “Heavy,” but only 4 people chose the weakest category, “Soft.” On a related matter, the most longevity votes are for “Very Long Lasting” and “Long Lasting,” with 7 votes each, and the fewest are for “Weak” or “Poor.” In short, the votes suggest a different picture than the fleeting, weak, discreet, demure scent that is described in some reviews. You might want to keep that in mind.
On Basenotes, there are also several reviews for LUI in a Guerlain discussion thread, starting at post 54. The Bois d’Armenie comparisons come up again, but what I found interesting was the clove issue. Two people experienced a heavy amount of eugenol and/or cloves, too much so for their personal tastes, and one of them had to scrub the scent. On the other hand, one person experienced no cloves at all. And then there is the fascinating account by “MrCologneGuy” who blind-bought LUI and whose his initial first impression was summed up as “pear dipped in dark chocolate, carnation, some incense.” That sounds delightful to me; I would have loved something reminiscent of dark chocolate. Later, after subsequent testing, he added:
Pear note is a bit more prominent than anticipated. It melds well with clove and cinnamon. Smoky notes at the base add to the dark chocolate effect. [¶] You’d think it’s a gourmand with all those foodie notes, but it all comes together in a spiced floral cloud. Yes, carnation forward.
Two wears so far. I liked it better the second time. It will wear well in cool autumn weather.
Packaged in Guerlain’s nice, leather-look box, which almost helps to justify the high price. I predict that Lui will have its fans, but it won’t be a blockbuster hit. A bit too quirky for mass appeal, and a tad too floral for most men. Still, glad it’s in my collection.
I’ve deliberately quoted all these varied accounts to show you how much impressions of LUI’s nuances vary, whether it is Monsieur Guerlain’s licorice-myrrh and mineral-metallic “drilling machines” parts, MrCologneGuy’s pear-chocolate-incense, spiced floral cloud, or the no cloves/strong cloves split. The only consistency in the reports relates to the benzoin, smoke, and, to a lesser extent, the vanilla.
LUI is not cheap for a simple composition that revolves around three elements for most of its lifespan, even if it is good quality. It is $180 or €160 for a small 50 mls. Given the price and the variations in description, this is a fragrance best sampled and tested first, in my opinion, not blindly bought unless each one of these varied descriptions makes you sit up.
For me, LUI was an unexpected, happy surprise, particularly in its quality. It is the first modern Guerlain in a long time that I’ve really wanted and I am seriously considering buying a bottle for myself. (L’Instant de Guerlain Eau Extreme (or “LIDGE”) was the last one I enjoyed this much, and that was almost five years ago.) Is it worth the price? Honestly, no, not really. $180 is far too high for something so basic and familiar (that isn’t even 100 ml in size), and that is the only reason I’ve hesitated thus far. Yet, despite its issues, something about LUI keeps tugging at me with the memory of its delectable, warm, non-gourmand, non-cloying, spicy-smoky, dry-sweet amber-vanilla goldenness. I suppose it comes down to the extent to which one loves “cozy comfort” fragrances and whether one already has something similar.
If you love either benzoin fragrances, vanillic florientals, semi-gourmand orientals, or amber-woody fragrances, then I strongly recommend giving LUI a test sniff. I can think of at least 14 readers who would fall absolutely head over heels for this fragrance. For the majority, however, how you feel about LUI after testing will depend on the various factors I’ve discussed here.
I think cozy comfort scents are an underrated category. Today my partner asked me to choose one for her from my collection. Something that would make her feel wrappedand calm. She ended up with Vaniglia de Madagascar by Farmacia ss Annunziata. She des have a sweet tooth. But Still. Rodkin’s Gothic I also comes to mind as a comfort Scent as well s Ambre 114 andAmbre Précieux
I liked Aftelier vanilla smoke but something about the smoke part turned funny on me. I’m tempted to try LUI just to see (or smell)
Any chance of a Best Of list of your cozy comfort scents? Perfect for Fall!
“Cozy Comfort” should be a recognized, semi-official fragrance family as far as I’m concerned, although I’m admittedly biased because it’s one of my top 3 favourite styles of perfumery. 😀 😛
I’ll see what I can do about a list, not so much a “Best of” list as perhaps “10 Good Cozy Comfort Scents to Consider.” The whole thing is so subjective and personalized, you know, especially given my issues with gourmands. I had previously contemplated doing something for Patchouli. The main difficulty for either sort of post is my schedule and how terribly behind I am in reviewing new releases that are not from tiny, somewhat obscure brands.
I’d love to see your list of cozy comfort scents, Kafka! My top comfort scent is Guerlain’a Vétiver!
Then I will certainly have to see what I can do. 🙂 However, I warn you that my definitional framework will be highly subjective, probably will be quite different than yours in its primary focus on orientals and that there will be, alas, I’m sorry to say, not a vetiver in sight. I hope you’ll be able to forgive me. Vetiver has always been outside my comfort zone, in large part because of the way my skin turns it heavily minty in so many cases.
Of course, as you said, perfume is a very subjective matter, but that’s the fun!
A top 10 cozies from your experience would be a valuable thing. I’m not a gourmand either – that Farmacia Vaniglia is the sweetest I’ll go. And I’m sure it would spark some chats about others comfort scents (I will give a nod to vétiver orientale by Lutens. Note. Orientale is in the name! And it reminds me of my grandfather so. I assume your other top genres are orientals and ambers. Some of which for me also fall into the cozy genres. ESP ambers (I’ve come such a long way!)
I’m team Monsieur Guerlain. I find this to be a bland, uninspiring fragrance, something like a diluted L’Homme idéal (which I absolutely hate along with those Petites Robes). The dry down smells like a generic niche scent which is nothing special. And the longevity and projection are terrible on me. And something like this at that price? No thank you very much Guerlain.
There are no teams. There is only individual taste preferences and individual skin chemistry. There is no absolute answer in perfumery, no absolute single solitary truth. There is merely subjective opinion influenced heavily by personal skin chemistry.
Yeah I know. I’m just saying I have similar opinions on this one as Monsieur Guerlain.
That is not the implication of how you phrased things, particularly given the use of the word “team” which is a word with very competitive nuances and meaning. Having said that, thank you for sharing your opinion of your personal, individual scent experience. I’m sorry the fragrance didn’t work out for you.
Sorry for my unfortunate choice of wording! I’m gonna take that English is not my native tongue as an excuse for that!
No problem. Online communications can be fraught with misunderstandings even in one’s native language. I’m not giving it a second thought. And I thank you for explaining.
Your scent experience sounds bland and uninspiring, not to mention having longevity problems. I’m not surprised you were unenthused. Monsieur Guerlain’s experience sounds equally banal. Skin chemistry really matters, along with individual taste preferences of what ends up being manifested. It’s why I rarely, rarely think it’s a good idea to blind buy a fragrance, no matter what *anyone* may say about it.
Have a lovely week ahead, Bill.
I think my experience with LUI is relatively similar to yours: a slightly smoky, sweet and sheer benzoin. Very nice, but I’m underwhelmed considering its exclusive status. I would have wanted it in their mainstream range instead of L’Homme Idéal, for exemple.
LUI also reminds me of my experience with Diptyque Benjoin Bohème. Not that they smell that similar, but I find both nice yet underwhelming for their price. I’m starting to think that amber “cozy scents” are probably not my type of “cozy scents”.
I agree that it’s way too expensive for such a simple scent. That said, the mainstream scents skew heavily synthetic in profile, in my opinion, and their quality smells exceedingly cheap to me. LUI, however, smells as though they spent a bit of money on better quality materials, so I doubt they’d make any money selling it at L’Homme Idéal prices.
Plus, it’s not as though their Exclusifs are complex fragrances across the board. Their Myrrhe et Délire, the Charnel thing, that gooey mainstream wispy “Chypre Fatal” (neither a chypre or fatal, if you ask me), their wispy Tokyo and, in fact, most of the old Voyages… they’re all largely simple fragrances with mainstream character. So, for me, it’s not as if the “Exclusive” label guarantees either complexity, richness, depth, or originality. At best, it just promises better ingredients and smoothness.
I suspect one issue for you is what you noted: the amber or benzoin genre isn’t a powerful love for you, so fragrances with such a central focus isn’t your ideal “cozy” scent.
Plus, by my definition, “cozy comfort” fragrances are inherently a little simple, uncomplicated, cozy, but most definitely never challenging or thought provoking. If they were complex or va-va-va masterpieces, I’d put them in an entirely different category, whether “Oriental,” “Chypre,” “Floral Oriental,” or perhaps the “Green” scents that you love so much.
So, our tastes differ, but a difference in contextual framework and definitions is probably also at play. But that’s what makes perfume cool or fun. We’re all different, we all love different things, and there is something for each of us out there. 🙂
I very much agree what you said here. The affinity towards certain category or notes is probably at play. I have a few iris fragrances that are like the equivalent of LUI for amber perfumes, which I use more or less as my “cozy scents”.
Regarding my lament of LUI being an exclusive, I should have clarified that I wish that some of their exclusives with mainstream style but better quality materials were their mainstream range, and that their exclusives were something majestic like their heritage. This is of course, considering the current tide, a wishful thinking of my part.
Wishful thinking on my part as well, my dear. The LVMH era and its endless crap actually make my heart hurt.
I’ll have to remember that Iris is your cuddly comfort note. I’d associated you more with green fragrances, but that’s the chic genre. Good to know what your olfactory weakness is. 😉 😀
Terrific review I grabbed a bottle as soon as it arrived and have spent a few weeks with it. I see it as a ‘one, two’ punch. The first hour+ has a wonderful ‘dusky, dusty’ quality that, I guess, is ‘carnation’. I can understand the clovey interpretation but it’s quite that. If you have ever nibbled on a nasturtium flower – it’s more along those lines. The second part strikes me as a relaxed benzoinish ‘mellowed out’ mood that keeps on keeping on. Nothing dissonant in here – from top to bassline it’s quality, IMO, and strangely original. I don’t see the Bois d’Armenie connection at all – this one is its own thing Probably not for everyone but it strikes me as a ‘new voice’ from Guerlain, for all the reasons you mention – the last few years of multiple variations on the almond / praline accord are, hopefully, a thing of the past. And, yes, the Santal thing of a couple of years ago is a stinker – embarrasing.
What a relief to hear from a LUI fan, even if we’re a tiny minority. Heh 😀 😀
How interesting that the floral components resembled nasturtiums on you! I can see where you’re coming from. I’m also glad to hear that the carnation was equally impressionistic on someone else because I was starting to feel like quite a weirdo. (Btw, did you know that nasturtiums were a symbol of conquest and victory in the 1500s, or that Victorian women put it in little scent bags to ward off bad odors?)(Sorry, sleep deprivation makes me ramble.)
The biggest hurrah comes from hearing that someone else is equally fed up with Guerlain’s multiple variations on almond/praline/red fruits, AND that you thought Santal Royal was a royal stinker. I feel as though I’ve met a Soul Twin! We may be a tiny minority and we may even be weird, but we’re a happily defiant, weird minority. 😉 😛
LUI sounds very nice. I might like it, and perhaps I’ll sample it later, but I’ve been waiting for fall to arrive get a bottle of Ambre Loup! Sort of fall-ish anyway, come on cold fronts! For now I’ll just pretend it’s cooler.
Since you like chocolate, I hope you don’t mind my mentioning the good experience I’ve had with “Chocolate Man” from Dame Perfumery. On me it smells like good dark chocolate, and keeps me company nicely as I go about my day. Sometimes I’ll layer it lightly with the “Pear, Waterlily and Amber” for a pear with chocolate effect.
I’d love to see your list of favorite cozy scents too!
Absolutely go for the Ambre Loup first!! Hands down and without a doubt! But if you’re ever near Neimans, pop in and give the LUI tester a go.
Thank you for the Chocolate Man tip, my dear. Much appreciated.
Sounds interesting! Even though I have had lots of bad experiences with vanilla (especially when its that screechy, probably synthetic, type of vanilla, my skin chemistry decides to amp it up a notch to 11, and then I am left with a scrubber – looking at you, Aura by Mugler)
…. this, this might work for me.
But availability…I havent spotted it in a store nearby (and not online) so far, so trying it or obtaining a sample is not that easy.
Then again, there are lots other ‘cozy comfort’ scents in my ever growing sample stash. So I dont feel the urgency to hunt it down very soon.
On a side note, I am not easily tempted by bottles, but that bottle looks quite nice. 🙂
Hmm. Perhaps I shall sample. I do love benzoin, and clove too. (And, embarrassing but true, pear as well. I will also admit to a completely unjustified* fondness for Charnel Elixir Floral Romantique, though I thought the others were… stupid? pointless?)
* maybe not COMPLETELY unjustified, since it’s a fragrance that without fail induces my husband to track me down from the far end of the house and say, “Mmm, that smells like your skin but better.”
…that was probably TMI. Sorry.
Interested to read your list of Cozy Comforts, and am now mentally compiling my own list, which I suspect might overlap yours by one scent at the most. 🙂
I got a huge myrrh opening with this one, including the unpleasant mushroom note I normally get from heavy myrrh fragrances. Fortunately that burns off within 20 minutes and then I’m left with an enjoyable benzoin clove scent. I loved Bois d’Arménie when it was first released but it’s been so watered-down I would never repurchase. Same with Spiritueuse Double Vanille. So sad to see these beautiful perfumes ruined.
Anyway, I give Lui a moderate thumbs up rating. I would wear it but it’s not a big love.
Has no one noticed that this is the same scent as “Voile d’Eté” from 1999?
Just another Guerlain re-edition under a new name.
An, yes, the colour is different today. Clear instead of ambery.