Thursday, September 06, 2007

Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle and Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie

Sometimes I feel like a miner panning for gold. I dip the pan in the stream, I sift and I sift, and I come up with a tiny nugget here and there. Arduous work, this is. I can go weeks and weeks and find only fool's gold (the fool being me, of course). At some point after all the testing and sniffing, I start to think only one thing: I'm too optimistic for perfume, and I will make myself love something that might not really be worth it. When I start raving about the ethereal beauty of J. Lo's latest release, just go ahead and call Blogger and ask them to shut me down, will you?

But sometimes I try a perfume and I KNOW the magic is real, and in the last few months, I've struck real gold--I've found no less than FOUR perfumes I truly believe to be bottle-worthy: Miller Harris Coeur d'Ete, Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Secrete Datura, Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle, and Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie. Sadly, striking gold in this case won't make me rich, and in fact could easily result in bankruptcy instead of a new house or car. All I have to say is, thank god for decants and The Perfumed Court!

I've already told you how I feel about my title perfumes: I love them. Of course I love Tubereuse Criminelle--it's part of the non-export line. If I could buy it here, would it be half as appealing? Yes! Notes? Could I describe this with mere notes? Hm. Tuberose (naturally), jasmine, orange blossom, hyacinth, nutmeg, clove, styrax, musk, and vanilla. It seems many people have ugly moments at the top of Serge Lutens fragrances, but I have yet to suffer from bad accidents of chemistry with this line (as long as you don't count Iris Silver Mist, which makes me smell like I am made of plastic--no other way to say it). The opening is tuberose enlightened by a hint of menthol, menthol that is neither overpowering nor medicinal, but cooling, bracing, like the sharp cold of a winter morning. It's a flower preserved in ice, and after thirty minutes or so the ice begins to melt and...oh, watch out. This is the softest tuberose, a silky fine powder. I caught whiffs now and again of the orange blossom, warmed by gentle spice, but the star of the show is most definitely tuberose. It's not creamy and tropical, nor does it sparkle. It glows.

I ordered a decant.

Time and again on this blog, I've professed my love for all things Frederic Malle (except for THE ONE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED). I was having a bit of a crisis of conscience about this, because sure, I claim that Frederic Malle is my favorite, but when I count bottles I own, L'Artisan is the clear winner, coming in at four, all of which I love and wear: Orchidee Blanche, Safran Troublant, La Chasse aux Papillons, and Dzing! The count for Frederic Malle? Um, well, I have (had) a decant of Iris Poudre, a recharge bottle of Iris Poudre given to me by Chaya, and a decant of Lys Mediterranee. How measly is that?

And then...I don't want to be hasty here, because frankly more testing is in order (and that probably means I'll have to order a decant, just for the sake of fairness), but it's possible--not saying it IS but it's POSSIBLE--that...that...oh, here goes:


There! I said it! But only a possibility. Clearly, I'll have to wear both and then try to make a clear-headed decision. In the meantime, the notes in Une Fleur de Cassie are mimosa absolute, jasmine absolute, cassie absolute, rose absolute, carnation, vanilla, and sandalwood. This appeals to me in the same way Iris Poudre does because it has the quality of a scent from another era. Slowly I'm learning that I cannot resist a certain type of powdery scent, something close to a chypre with less of an edge but with no less character for that fact. Caron's Parfum Sacre also falls into this category for me. While I hate to quote directly from Web site marketing, the Frederic Malle site says it perfectly: "its fragrance is from another era: the Thirties, when women dared to wear voluptuous, disturbing scents." Voluptuous? Yes. Disturbing? I find it more melancholy than disturbing. The light touch of mimosa at the top masks the darker heart underneath, made full by the cassie, rose, and jasmine, and finally grounded by the spice and powder of carnation at the end. Strange to say, but it's a lifetime in a bottle, a movement from light-hearted youth to womanhood and then on into personhood, coming in to one's full being.

No, no, I don't think I really like it better than Iris Poudre. They are too different in mood, but they are equal in stature. I see a decant in my future...but when will I break down and buy a bottle? And of what? Oy.

*image from Barney's