Friday, June 09, 2006

Today's Sample: Serge Lutens Gris Clair

I thought Gris Clair might be a nice break from the white and green florals I’ve been wearing all week. I have nothing against floral, mind you, but my nose was ready for something fresh. Gris Clair is definitely a break. In fact, I’ve been green and white all week, and now I’m all lavender smoke from a chimney against a dark winter morning sky.

According to Aedes, the notes in Gris Clair are lavender, iris petals, vanilla, and tonka beans.

Funny, but this morning when I came downstairs, I asked Bob what he thought (I expected him to love it), and he said, “Eh, it’s okay. It just smells like perfume. There’s nothing special about it.”

Nothing special? I touched on this yesterday, how everyone has an idea of Perfume, of what that smell means in a general, as opposed to discussions around a particular fragrance. Somehow, we all have some idea against which we test everything we smell, something that goes beyond the fragrances out mothers or grandmothers (or even fathers or grandfathers) wore, or something that’s been a past favorite.

But then there’s also the idea of “perfume,” with the lowercase “p,” that really just means “scented.” Bob isn’t a particular fan of lavender. I have some lavender sachets I love, but to him they are just “perfumey.” I think the lavender must be why this smells to him like generic perfume: it’s just a sachet smell, a potpourri smell, nothing special.

To me, though, Gris Clair is special. I love the smell of lavender to begin with, and this fragrance takes it so much farther. This is the scent of cold, cold winter, but not an icy cold—a dark cold, the sort of darkness that takes you deep into yourself. (Sorry for sounding like a dime-store philosopher, but I’m in a bit of a dark mood…just bear with me.) If you have ever had a dark period in your life and emerged from it a better, stronger person, then you know that darkness can be a wonderful thing, in its own strange way. Darkness is close, but not warm, and deep and penetrating. That’s how I feel about this scent. Darkly beautiful, which is ironic because the name is Gris Clair, and nothing about darkness implies clarity…although I think it can lead that way. The hint of vanilla brings a little sweet promise to the dry down.

When you think of “Perfume” versus “perfume,” what scents come to mind for you?

Read a review of Gris Clair at

* photo from Aedes