Although you are probably used to my perfumed hyperbole by now, I think I may be about to exceed my own limits of slick lusciousness when I recall and recount how I reacted to buying a bottle of Serge Lutens Cèdre.
It was strange. I had had a sample, one of those black Lutens’ mini sample sprays that perfumistas all know so well, and felt, at the time, that Cèdre was perhaps just another sweet, spiced boisé like all the rest . Which I love. I adore Féminité Du Bois, particularly in vintage parfum – it is like being lost in a dark-corridored, plum-teaked labyrinth, and I enjoy the whole ‘Bois’ series in fact – Violette, Musc, Et Fruits – Chergui, Daim Blond, Rousse; all the classic Lutensian perfumes of that style: I enjoy their stylized, urban richness.
Then, one day, though, when told by James Craven of Les Senteurs that I should try it again, that he really loved this perfume, I sat down and properly concentrated on this lesser-loved Lutens and there it was: suddenly there was something in that animalic, Abyssinian tuberose, spices, and sweet, dripping mess of Atlas cedar from Morocco that made me go a bit, suddenly go ga ga.
The combination locked.
The attractive/repulsive, almost cow-pat like richesse (glistening! too sweet! too carnal!): the ambered, cinnamon notes burring like columns of treacle beneath the masculinized African tuberoses and their flicks of clove, almost sublimated and disappeared by the sun-drenched wood sap, yet there, wide-lipped and smouldering underneath…… I knew for sure, at that moment, that I would have to go right out and buy myself a bottle.
There is something about buying a Serge Lutens in Japan. You have to go to Isetan in Shinjuku, the only place he is sold, the most prestigious department store in Tokyo, where your purchase is checked for contents and spray function; packaged up; wrapped, and where the rigorously polite sales assistant will insist on accompanying you to the door, not letting you hold on to your property until she has handed it over to you, graciously, with a stately, appreciative bow.
Somehow, therefore, you feel that you just can’t get the bottle out of the box on the street or the train for a quick sniff and peruse, though of course I have (yes, sacrilegiously, I do love Nuit De Cellphane, and Louve! My god, Louve, my baby – and then Un Bois Vanille and of course, my favourite of them all, Borneo 1834…….all of which have been whipped out on the train and inhaled, furtively and surreptiously)…..For some reason, though, Cèdre, an anti-intuitive purchase for me in some ways, remained in the box emballaged; untapped; until I got her home.
Duncan was in bed. I was in my raspberry-red hospital pyjamas that I had kept as a souvenir after my stay at the Royal Free in London for pneumonia all those years ago ( I lived ! I fully recovered! Against the doctors’ miserable, pessimistic advice (…you will never be the same again….)!!
There. In my hands. Ready. Flowing from side to ambered side against the meniscus. The plenitude of a full bottle of perfume, a plenteousness that can can tip me into a crazed, disinhibiting mania of just wanting to just pour the entire thing over my body, even as the fierce desire to preserve as much as possible of the liquid acts simultaneously as a puritanical, checking brake mechanism.
This tension: sheer, wanton avidity versus measured practicality and pragmatism, the desire to just fling the stuff about in wild abandon even though, or because you know, it is expensive and you should thus be trying to preserve every last, precious, drop to make it last and prolong the pleasure.
I love these contradictory impulses.
And over the years I have almost lost it with certain perfumes, especially sweet, vanillic orientals, and used them up in practically no time at all through my sheer unbrokered excitement. But that night with Cèdre was probably one of the most ridiculous. The initial top accord ( which the base never quite lives up to in all honesty, becoming merely a pleasant spiced amber note that could probably have done with being amped up a bit, yes but) that initial stage, on that first night, just sent me into a frenzy. Not just spraying on my arm, my neck, my hand, all over, and gnawing, inhaling myself like a prisoner gulping at fresh air on his first day of release, but also dipping the strings of my pyjama trousers right into the bottle, right down to the depths, watching the perfume rising up, absorbing up the tuberosian nectar (it’s the honey; yes the honey in the scent that binds the sweet cedar essential oil with those tenored flowers, and that ambery, lascivious feel-up that malingers underneath it all, that had me splashing the perfume all over the room with my trouser strings, sighing and flapping about consciouslessly with fierce, perfumed pleasure, overheated; lost in some strange, mannish, catnip ecstacy.
And when I came to, after however long it was ( I have no idea), I would say that at least a quarter of the bottle had gone. In one sitting.
And then: nothing. Since that single, fickle orgy I have used the scent only on a number of occasions, always enjoying that beginning, as my synapses have probably been seared with that one mad evening and my smell brain immediately thus rises to the occasion upon smelling it. But on the few times I have worn the perfume out in the daytime or evening somewhere, a few hours into its development, I start to feel almost bored of its tempered, generic amber smell, and it never feels quite right.
No, it is that initial rush I love in Cèdre. The tantalizing foreplay; the sun-drenched, dulcet liquid and its wooden, oozing possibilities.
The blind lust.
24 responses to “LIKE CAT NIP TO A TOM CAT : : : : : : CEDRE by SERGE LUTENS ( 2005 )”
Fabulous review. I have no other words …
I picked up the bottle the other day and the strings came flooding back……!
This review has me craving another dose of Neil! 😉
This review IS a pure and unadulterated dose of that ludicrous fellow ( and yesterday I did the same thing with vintage Chanel Gardenia parfum, only with the dangling hoodie strings. It smells fantastically gorgeous and potent today and will last for ages).
No but seriously I look forward to our next meeting as well.
Wow. Utterly wonderful. I envy you your perfumed frenzy. I know it’s a good one when the pyjama strings get dangled 🙂
Can’t get over what that rotten doctor said to you. It’s a wonder you didn’t burn those raspberry red pyjamas.
As for the SA carrying your purchase to the door and bowing – how cool is that?!
Sounds like fighting fish in a frenzy inside his too small glass jar home when I poked a pencil (ok, the eraser end) into the water….
What a vision! Love it!
Lol! 😀 The image of you ecstatically flinging your perfume around the room with your pajama bottom strings!!! I love that! I really do admire the way you ENJOY your fragrances.
Fantastic! Serge openings are so astonishing and yet the dry down can be quite yawn inducing. I am looking at you, Chergui! I have a sample of the Borneo, perhaps I need to have a little love fest with it like you did with the Cedre!
Oh my goodness a quarter of a bottle at one go?! I could never do that, although I think my collection is sizable enough for me to do that once a month with enough left over to last me a lifetime. But oh me oh my you must have had the craziest sillage ever!
Fabulous review. Sadly, I have yet to lose my composure over a Serge Lutens fragrance; I do enjoy them, but never too much. It tickled me to read about your abandon with Cedre though, I vicariously became swept away with you.
Sheesh! I don’t know which is more erotic experience- the perfume, your description of it- or the description of its impact on you.
BTW- if you love Credre- I’d love to know what you think of Arabie! I have a feeling you might take a fancy to the similarly intensely syrupy opening. Smells like dates weeping their sugar out of their pores like a human exudes sweat on warm day.
uh… I meant Cèdre. Not that rubbish I typed in.
I see no rubbish.
As for Arabie, I once reviewed it. It is amazing, but I could NEVER wear it!
Oh, that I had been a fly on the wall during your complete Cedre abandon! Exquisite portrayal of those moments of ecstasy. I think more than a few of us have been there, crazed, in lust with a new perfume…..
It’s a fabulous feeling, and one that not everyone can related to. Non-scent lovers are so perplexed.
Reblogged this on The Black Narcissus.
Cedre is one of the Lutens I have yet to try…now I think I may order a sample in the hopes that I can experience the sheer ecstasy you so vividly described in this review (LOL).
And isn’t it guaranteed to have been neutered in any case through reformulation?
I haven’t had this level of reaction though in ages. I suddenly remembered this post today. I felt old.
I was carried along on a cloud of Neil-inspired bliss until I actually laughed out loud when the last two sentences appeared. Marvellous, darling.
“I love these contradictory impulses.” I do too.
I wish I’d had that same catnipped ecstasy with Cèdre. Picturing you with pyjama strings flying. I think the last time something made me go crazy like that was Antilope in extrait. I wanted to drink it.
Antilope gives me more a sense of ambrosial well being and safety and Is far the superior scent. I put Cedre on last night after putting this up and again, quite enjoyed the beginning, but there was no ravaging of the pyjamas.
Indeed, that’s just the way to describe Antilope. And it wasn’t so much the catnipped feeling with it, come to think. Yeah. It wasn’t so crazed, drugged, high. It was more that I wanted to calmly pour the whole bottle into the palms of my hands and rub myself all over with it! Maybe one day I will.