As I walked into a cafe this morning to get a cup of coffee, I smelled fresh-baked buttery croissants. This is not terribly far from the smell of Serge Lutens’ latest (February 2011) fragrance, Jeux de Peau. In fact, when a friend gave me a sample from her bottle last night, she invoked the smell of buttery croissants. When I asked her again this morning to describe it, she said this:
What I smelled in Jeux de Peau was a kind of creaminess shading into celery leaves — an echo of Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray, a cream soda with a celery seed twist. A bright sunlight pale green springtime smell.
Now I have to crack open a can of Cel-Ray soda to see what she means (and fortunately, I have some in my fridge). To me it’s more of a hearty buttered toast, and I do mean both the toast and the melted butter. There’s a clear amber note just below the bread and butter, and a little sandalwood. It’s not quite as food-like as I make it sound, but enough that I may hesitate to wear it often. When I smell my wrist up close, I get a rich amber vanilla. From a few inches away I get more of the bread aromas.
I’m not detecting much of the apricot and licorice that others report, although there is a subtle fruitiness. When I stop thinking about it, I realize I’m detecting a sour note. Toasted sour dough bread? Maybe. But it’s slightly more animalic than that. It’s almost urinous (which may sound horrifying to people not as accustomed to some of the terminology of fragrances and wines), in the way that some musks can be. That’s not a bad thing. Oddly, some Chardonnays can have this quality in the nose.
The official notes, as listed by Serge Lutens, are:
Bread note, spices, licorice, apricot, immortelle, sandalwood, woody notes, amber
Do I like it? I’m not sure yet. But it’s a refreshingly different take on the sandalwood/amber genre.