L’Incendiaire is a walk through an olfactory hall of mirrors, echoing the scents of Serge Lutens‘ greatest hits from amongst his darkest orientals. Fille en Aiguilles leads the charge, followed by the notorious Serge Noire, while Feminité du Bois brings up the rear. It’s a smoldering pastiche of all of the signature Lutens notes: plummy, stewed fruits that are dusted with spices, lashed with incense, patchouli, and sticky balsamic resins, then nestled in a dark forest where cedar trees drip a brown sugar sap. A little fly made out of oud buzzes around them, though it is inconsequential in the larger scheme of things. As time passes, the Lutens classics change their order in the troop formation, but the bottom line remains the same: L’Incendiaire feels like a mixed tape compilation of scents I’ve encountered before, only refined to a polished core. It’s very enjoyable, but I feel rather conflicted for reasons that I’ll get to later.
L’Incendiaire (“The Arsonist”) was created by Christopher Sheldrake and debuted about two weeks ago. It is notable as both the first pure parfum from Serge Lutens, as well as The Maestro’s first foray in oud. The extrait is part of a new prestige line called the Gold Label or Section d’Or Collection. (The regular export line has a cream label, while the Haute Concentration eau de parfums come with a black label.)
Earlier this year, Fragrantica posted the Lutens press release that explains why this collection is supposedly different from anything previously put out by the brand, as well as why it’s significantly more expensive than anything else in the line, including its bell-jars:
The launch of L’incendiaire marks the emergence of a new Serge Lutens collection, Section d’or, the brand’s most prestigious range yet. With bottles inspired by the original rectangular design and featuring the sharp angular lines so revered by Mr. Lutens, this exclusive collection is the brand’s ultimate creation. And when it comes to choosing ingredients, only the finest quality is used, no expense spared. Even the black and gold hues symbolize a breakaway from the classic collections. This is Serge Lutens at the culmination of his art.