Thursday, October 22, 2015

Neighborhood Sample Pass: The Sequel: Round One: Two Faces of Serge Lutens: Chergui and Bas de Soie

A lot of colons in that title there.

So if you're a regular reader of my blog, you may be saying, "What sequel? I've never heard of this Neighorhood Sample Pass thing." If you're a participant in the previous Neighborhood Sample Pass, you may be saying, "Blog? What's this blog thing? Are you going to try to make me click on ads and buy a vegetable chopper?"

If you're both, hopefully you'll be un-confused instead of doubly confused.

No ads. No vegetable chopper. I just figured, I write for the sample pass,  I write for the blog, why not combine them?

Clash of worlds! Aiieee!

Ahem. OK.


In 2012/2013, I organized the original Neighborhood Sample Pass. I made up ten(?) little baggies of fragrance samples and decants, each with a theme, and gave each one to a friend in my neighborhood. (My often-discussed Postal Regulation Phobia ruled out including friends not in my neighborhood.) Said friends sniffed for a couple of weeks, then passed their baggie on to the next person in the rotation, until the baggies had made it all the way around, and the first pass was ended and I announced my plans to start a new pass.

Time passed. And passed. And passed some more. And suddenly I want to do it again.

This time I'm doing it as a sort of "perfumes of the month club". (But I'm sticking to the original name anyway.) This time I'll choose two or three or four perfumes and make up sample-sized decants for all participants, so that we can all talk about the same perfumes at the same time. This involves far less bookkeeping, and is nicely flexible.

First round! Bwahaha! Only two scents, because I'm temporarily short on decant bottles.

The Perfumes: 

Serge Lutens is both a man and a Paris perfume house. In my mind, the house balances on the line between niche and mainstream. Many of the fragrances have the delightful strangeness of niche creations, and when one of them is not strange, that fact often results in criticism from the online perfume wearing community. But the line is fairly frequently sold at department stores, which makes it feel not so much niche to me.

Now Smell This classifies Serge Lutens as niche, and I don't argue with Now Smell This on matters of definition. Or much of anything else. You can read their background for the house here. They also have a page (here) on Christopher Sheldrake, the nose behind many (most? all?) of the Serge Lutens fragrances.

Marla, in Perfume-Smellin' Things, asked "So do you like the warm, North-African amberfest Serge Lutens, or do you prefer his cold, austere, Northern European perfumes?" Inspired by the question, I've offered one of each.

My first choice, Chergui, is classic Serge Lutens. To me, it's pipe smoke, honey, leather chairs, and musty house. It's complex, spicy, syrupy, very popular, and moderately strange. And Lutens is supposed to be strange.

I discussed it here, and then went into the old-house vibe that it gives me, here. It's also discussed at (links! links!) Bois de Jasmin and Perfume-Smellin' Things and Perfume-Smellin' Things again and The Non-Blonde and Parfume da Rosa Negra (scroll down for the English version) and Perfume Patter and Now Smell This and Kafkaesque Blog and Olfactoria's Travels and Australian Perfume Junkies and The Fragrant Foodie and EauMG (video!).

The second fragrance, Bas de Soie (translation from the French: "silk stockings") is far less strange. It's a floral, primarily iris root and hyacinth, and it's pretty. Normally, pretty does little for me, but this one... When I first sniffed it, I classified it as one of the house's "well, they have to produce something conventional if they want to pay the bills" scents. Meh. And then, the very same day, it dragged me back; I couldn't say why, but I had to have it. And it keeps doing that to me; sometimes I shrug, and sometimes I want to dive into my own scented skin and I wear it for days on end.

My main, enthusiastic but short, post on this fragrance is here. For more detail, try (more links!) The Scented Salamander and Grain de Musc and Bois de Jasmin and Perfume Posse and Cafleurebon and Perfume Shrine and Perfume-Smellin' Things and MakeupAlley and Now Smell This and The Fragrant Foodie (scroll down) and I Smell Therefore I Am and The Non-Blonde and Megan in Sante Maxime and Olfactoria's Travels and EauMG.

First image: Wikimedia Commons.
Second image: Wikimedia Commons.
Third image: Wikimedia Commons.


  1. You can't have too many colons; love the visual; hope the Serge shuffle goes well. I know those are semi-colons, but colons weren't indicated.

  2. I like semi-colons, too. :) One of my writing struggles is the assertion that the American reading public doesn't want them and that therefore I should eliminate them from my writing if I ever want to be published. Nooooo!

    I await sniffing opinions from the pass members. I'm concerned that they perhaps are afraid I'd be offended if they say that they don't like them. (And Chergui is, I think, very much a love or hate fragrance, so the odds of not-like seem high.)

  3. WHAT? Americans don't like semicolons? Where was I reading that [literate] Americans use them far more often than other writers-in-English? I like them, myself.

    I'm still not, and probably never will be, a big Oncle Serge fan. Just ehhh. You know me and Chergui and that other-people's-old-houses thing - and Bas de Soie is stabby, I think. (Hyacinth is kind of a Thing. Sometimes I like it; sometimes it's icepick-y.)

  4. Oh, that's interesting about the semicolons. It's what I've been told, by people that I though were informed on the question of getting-published-in-America. But I could be mistaken about their unlikelihood of being mistaken.

    I keep being surprised when I love Bas de Soie. When I'm "eh" I can't remember why I loved it. When I love it I CAN remember why I was "eh", but I still love it.