First Smell: Jeux de Peau by Serge Lutens

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.

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4 Responses to First Smell: Jeux de Peau by Serge Lutens

  1. Olfactoria says:

    I love Jeux de Peau! Not too gourmand on me, it is gorgeous, it is on its way to becoming my favorite Lutens! 🙂

  2. Thanks for the comment! I’m still not sure about it. I’ll be curious to see what it’s like at the end of the day. Could be my skin. My girlfriend was planning on wearing it today too, so I’m eager to hear her verdict. I definitely see it as a unisex fragrance — not particularly masculine or feminine.

  3. dlkfox says:

    Trying Jeux de Peau for the first time today, too. Perhaps it’s a gourmand for non-gourmands? I’m mostly a lover of chypre and typically do not like gourmand fragrances but I am enamored of this one, regardless of category.

    Certainly, on application, it is distinctively nutty, buttery sourdough. On drydown, I’d say it is more reminiscent of the atmosphere of a bakery/cafe than the scent of an actual plate of toast. The final drydown on me is woody with a bit of celery seed.

    On a friend of mine, the drydown is sweeter, with an apricot note.

    It is a fascinating scent.

  4. I agree with you about the drydown. About eight hours in, it’s getting woodier and more subtle. And a little nutty on me. I like it better now than I did four hours ago. I’m still not picking up any apricot notes though, nor celery. I’m going to have to smell some celery to see if I’m missing something.

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