What have they done to Serge Lutens’ Daim Blond? (2004)







When my sister came to stay with us in Berlin two years ago, she was clad, beautifully, in Daim Blond: a fuzzy, apricot-led nuzzle of suede that surrounded her, elegantly, like a warm, sunlit halo. Top notes of hawthorn and iris were wedded, velvetly, urbanely, and suggestively, to spiced, ambered, heliotropic effects that had a real, three dimensional dust-mote texture (the actual imagined olfactory texture of suede; blonde suede, the name of this most successful, in commercial terms, of the Lutens range).


I bought a new bottle of Daim Blond for her yesterday at Shinjuku Isetan, Tokyo, as this is a perfume she likes to go back to, and which she has been getting a lot of compliments on. But I should have trusted my nose before I reached into my wallet. Strangely, I thought the version in the tester I sprayed seemed thinner, less lush and smooth than the one I knew somehow, and I really knew that version because it filled our apartment deliciously for the entirety of those days that Deborah was staying with us; I also surreptiously sprayed a whole load of the perfume inside a CD cover as a remembrance, something I often do with perfumes that strike me as meaningful in some way and that I want to lock in place in my mind, and it was so thick and perfumed, so reeking of that time that we were hanging out in Berlin bars and clubs all night and of the brunches we were having all the days after, that the case still smells of it.


I stupidly handed over the yen anyway, I suppose, because I thought that it might have just been my imagination – anosmic from all the things I had been smelling and thus not able to properly judge – and also because I need to be getting on quite soon with the family Christmas presents. But I should have trusted my instincts. Naughtily, I have just opened this ‘Daim Blond’ just to check, to be sure, before sending it off to England, and I am quite sure that this is not the same perfume. Yes, the base is the same lovely suede, and I hope she will still get a kick from that stage of this scent. But all the ripe fullness of the perfume that I remember has gone. There is no apricot, no hawthorn: people, this perfume has been stripped.


Perhaps I am naive to be so surprised. Exactly the same thing happened to my beloved Un Bois De Vanille, which was also shaved and defluffed, all its creamy, wispy pink coconut top clouds skimmed, knived off and replaced with harder, less dreamy, woods; and also the great Ambre Sultan, which is just nowhere near as strong and extravagantly gorgeous, as ambered, basically, as it was when it was first released (when it was almost embarrassingly opulent and strong to wear out in public). Yes, I know all the crap about IFRA and all the regulations and everything, but this is embarrassing. It cost too much to not send, I can’t take it back now I have opened it, and yet I feel I am sending my sister something second rate. I can see her expression on Christmas Day when she puts it on, a quizzical look on her face as she tries to mentally compute what is wrong, why it isn’t ringing quite the same bells. No, I don’t know the reasons for this reformulation. But I do know that it seriously pisses me off.






Filed under Flowers

27 responses to “What have they done to Serge Lutens’ Daim Blond? (2004)

  1. It’s infuriating. Probably something in the beauty you remember was outlawed, lest perfume kill us all and devastate the countryside. Recently I remarked on Kafka’s blog that I thought the main reason why botanicals are so carefully (crazily) controlled and scent chemicals are not is that botanicals come from small independent producers and crafters, while scent chemicals come from large corporations with millions of lawyers and dollars. Unfortunately I have never encountered an all-natural perfume that smelled really wonderful on me, because I would love to support the backwoods producers, the moonshiners of perfume, and thumb my my nose at IFRA. I don’t recall my mother and her friends ever being harmed by their perfumes.

  2. efemmeral

    Sigh! It’s true. I have noticed lately there’s a lot more filler and less flavour in the Luten’s line 😦

    In fact I was trying DB just last Friday and didn’t recognise it. A friend who knows it well was similarly nonplussed.


  3. Roberto Duran's Gloves

    Sadly, it seems these once great perfume houses are just watering things down under the pretext of IFRA, just so that they can make bigger profits. I am a huge fan of Serge Lutens and they have also tampered with Iris Silver Mist, which used to have a cloudy coloured juice and is now clear. ISM is only interesting for the first half hour, before quickly evaporating into a very thin, soapy musk. Amouage’s Homage has also gone the same way, with the Jasmine,Rose & Oud now removed and it’s now a very pallid Neroli/Citrus.

    • This point is well taken. I attribute most bad things to IFRA, including head colds and inclement weather, but much perfume is made by corporations with every possible incentive to increase profits and, by and large, a cynical view of what their buying public wants and/or will tolerate. For them, pointing to IFRA can cover a multitude of sins. I’m glad to have found a few indie perfumes that I like, and hope that there will be more in the future. So far, my beloved Mona di Orio Vanille hasn’t been touched, as far as I know. But who knows when the corporate jackals will get hold of that one? Or, if they can’t, their lobbyists will get something in it outlawed.

      • I agree with all this entirely; it is just skinflinting stinginess. It’s easy to blame a regulatory board when you just want to make the formula cheaper. It was so sad though, because the version that my sister was wearing in Berlin had that lip-smacking brilliance that the diet-lite remix simply does not. It is but a diuretic facsimile.

  4. batkitty

    Do you have an idea when all this hollowing-out of SL perfumes really took hold? I have some older decants that I’ve really enjoyed and now I’m worried that I won’t be able to replace any of them. -Then again, every time I get sheepish about how much I’ve spent stockpiling my favorites in the last few years, I remember that I won’t be buying any more in the future because too many of them have been butchered!

    • Butchered is the perfect expression!
      I don’t know exactly when they changed, but I suspect it was when the packaging itself changed a couple of years ago or more. The old tester of Bois Vanille was in the original bottle, with a different label, but the box they gave me was different, and so was the smell….

  5. Renee Stout

    This is exactly why I continue to search out vintage scents as I want full-bodied, intelligent scents that really evoke something. I’m sorry to hear that Serge Lutens has jumped on that IRFA bandwagon and dumbed down and cheapened their scents. I used t love Serge Lutens, but the last few samples I ordered left me thinking “so what?”. I thought it was just me, but apparently the company thinks it’s now okay to just put out anything and sail along on the reputation they once had for being daring. That doesn’t work for me.

    • I feel like I have opened a can of worms with this post!

      I am not trying to be defamatory, but it does seem that I am not alone in simply using my nasal intelligence to sniff out that something is very amiss! And I agree, completely, actually – the daringness has been leached out, and that is a very sad thing.

  6. So sad! I remember reading something on Bois de Jasmin where Victoria was saying that you just have to think of reformulations as completely different fragrances. The problem is that they still evoke so much of the old scent that it’s almost impossible not to compare and be disappointed.

    • I know! Because the base of this is still definitively Daim Blond, but the overall disturbing impression is of a low calorie doppelgänger.I dread to think what they might have done to Borneo and Louve, my other favorites. Actually, to be honest, Louve DID slightly burn my skin, so there probably was something that needed to be taken out of it. But that cherry love was so gorgeous that I didn’t mind suffering…..

      Bacon, what SLs do you like?

      • I love Tubereuse Criminelle and La Fille de Berlin so much I own bottles of both. Would love to own Fille en Aiguilles, Chergui, and Jeux de Peau. If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would snatch up Iris Silver Mist, De Profundis, and El Attarine via the US site because money would be no object 🙂

      • Chergui is definitely not what it was; I have had bottles of both that and Fille En Aiguilles. I love Criminelle as well, and was mulling over Fille de Berlin the other day as well. An intriguing rose I thought. What a fascinating perfumer to have us so gripped by so many of the scents. And thus what a CRYING shame if these blends are then ruined!

  7. Most of the SL’s with the new SL logo (rather than the older Palais Royale one) seem weaker to me than their vintage counterparts. Not weaker per se- that’s the wrong word- but harder almost. Thinner. Like I would need 5~6 sprays and then wait for an hour to enjoy it- because the softness and plushness that used to accompany the monstrous intensity of these wonders is gone. I used to spray two sprays of Ambre Sultan and reel back – but I could still smell the whole thing with my nose and feel each note. Now it feels like the I need to hold back from smelling it in the first couple of minutes because the increased intensity comes with a plain-ness and hardness that almost feel surgically instrumented to replicate through pain the same intensity without the richness. Cuir Mauresque when it came out in the export line was the same. Chergui too. Don’t know what is causing this- except I imagine the SL line would have been very expensive to produce if they wanted to expand the whole line into the US market like they did. So it has to have been a cost cutting measure.

    PS. I love love love your blog. Long time reader and lurker.

    • Thankyou. Lurk no more!
      And you describe my own feelings much better than I can myself on the subject of the Lutens reformulations. yes, a hardness, a surgical brutality, a de-plushing. Depressing, but gratifying to have my suspicions confirmed.

      New label, new juice.

  8. Reblogged this on The Black Narcissus and commented:

    And Has Datura also had its gonads clipped?

  9. Katy McReynolds

    I just seriously began testing Uncle Serge’s perfumes in the past year and this may be the crux of the problem. I have an entire bottle of Chergui that I layer with other fragrances because I find it so thin and disappointing. I seriously hope my Borneo sample is a new iteration or I see heartbreak down the road. On the positive side, there is so much exciting perfume made by American independent perfumers that I would pit Kerosene R’oud, really a rich, complex amber against the new Ambre Sultan any day!

    • Katy McReynolds

      In the battle of the ambers I should have referenced the correct perfume which is Copper Skies and not R’oud, just love that name…..

  10. I am so glad I have an extra bottle of Chergui (bought a couple of years ago) along with a few others. I am also happy to have discovered Indie perfumers and have been delighted with each one I have purchased.

  11. I love my Rousse and my Arabie, both of which are older formulations. I just search eBay and try to find what I need; hubby bought me a new/old Rousse for Christmas on eBay and it is lovely. Sad, these stupid IFRA restrictions, put in place I feel just for the chemical companies to profit.

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