Bourreau des Fleurs is the newest addition to Serge Lutens‘ Section d’Or. The name means “executioner of flowers” and the fragrance is devoid of any floralcy. Instead, it is a delicious, rather addictive, semi-gourmand oriental that traverses the light spectrum from golden immortelle to a darkness created out of salty black licorice, balsamic amber resins, and incense-y wood smoke. It’s my favourite new Lutens release in a long time, but it comes with some baggage.
So, I guess luxury “Choco-Florals” have now become a thing. This year alone, there have been three luxury-priced Roja Dove chocolate floral orientals ($500+) and a luxury-priced Amouage ($300+) one. And, at first glance, Serge Lutens‘ new Veilleur de Nuit (“The Night Watchman” or “Watcher of the Night”) would appear to be joining their ranks.
The reality feels different, though. To me, Veilleur de Nuit is quietly and only tangentially floral, and the fragrance is primarily an animalic chocolate with leathery, musky, and smoky facets. When wearing it, I never thought of something like a chocolate version of Tubereuse Criminelle. Not even once. I thought of a chocolate twist on Boxeuses instead, albeit only briefly.
Smoky leather corseted by frankincense, then enveloped in resinous amber, spicy patchouli, and fiery cloves lies at the heart of Cannibale, one of Serge Lutens‘ new parfums in his Section d’Or Collection. It’s a fragrance that took me all over the place. Images of wild tribal dances around smoky fires competed with flashbacks to France’s Madame Pompadour and the powdered aristocrats of the ancien regime wearing old-fashioned rice powder and acidic floral vinegars at Versailles. Those flashbacks were later replaced by flashforwards in time to modern niche hits like Mona di Orio‘s Cuir, Annick Goutal‘s Ambre Fetiche, and Tom Ford‘s Amber Absolute (or its tweaked parallel version, Sahara Noir).
And, throughout it all, there were loud reverberations of several past Lutens‘ creations, first and foremost Serge Noire, then Ambre Sultan and L’Incendiaire. At times, parts of Cannibale drew me in appreciatively before another element repelled me, sometimes making me recoil quite literally. There were also glimmers of the old Luten’ innovative whimsy and originality, but they occurred early on, before being drowned out entirely by a bouquet that made me feel I was wearing fragrances from other brands. When you spend a small chunk of time mentally cataloguing all the possible amber, leather, and Serge Noire combinations that could create the same scent — one bearing a far higher price tag than those individual parts — then I think there is a problem.
Like the others in the line, Cracheuse de Flammes is an extrait de parfum. The name is an unfortunate one, in my opinion, when translated. “Cracher” is the French verb for spitting, so the name essentially means “Female Spitter of Flames.” Spitting is not exactly what I like to think about when wearing an incredibly expensive perfume.
For once, Serge Lutens’ official description actually does mention a note and something specific about the scent, namely the fact that it includes roses:
Seduction is a weapon, the flames a language. I breathe the fire which ignites her passion! And in this war of fire, all that remains of the woman, the rose in this instance, is a burning passion.