all perfume writers are guilty of giving too many words to serge lutens.

for obvious reasons we give in to the plot, the summary the framework the bullshit the story the poetry, get sucked into the whole shebang (and very, extremely, pleasurably – i love, or really like to be more honest, so many of the perfumes from this ‘line’).

and yet yesterday, when i smelled this in shinjuku isetan (and wondered how the hell had i missed it? how did i know this hadn’t even come out yet? isn’t a new release from this man like an album from a pop star?) i felt that, aside a pleasing (because i do have my tacky side, really, seriously, and i love bubblegum) jasmine and banana, but hasn’t that idea already been done more interestingly in encens et bubblegum, that whole madonna in the church thang) like i say top note of something indiscernible and banana ish and pink (it could’ve been a tuberose, a polystyrene wrap, another nuit de cellophane, which i love incidentally and bought twice, once for me and once for helen, thinking of our berlin trip together and our helmut newton exhibition but i was wrong; she hated it, and was indignant upon leaving the helmut and rightly so; : ‘ i never want to see a pair of tits again in my life” was i think the refrain, and she was right : just so pneumatic and otherworldly, but talking of helen, i remember that in the fifth year at school, at tudor grange, i chose art for the simple reason that i wanted to sit next to her and have at least one subject that was relaxing.

‘but you are too clever for art’ i was told stupidly by my geography and history teachers (neither of which i had even the remotest interest in), and i was adamant about having one time, just one hour or two a week  where we could just sit and talk and sketch still lives or whatever, and in fact i didn’t’ regret it in the least (although i have NO SKILL WHATSOEVER when it comes to drawing and painting –  i can create ‘whimsical’ grotesqueries that can work, kind of-  i enjoyed the experience anyway. all that stress. it was nice for us to just sit down, and for me to get on with my totally rubbish ‘still life with primrose’ or whatever it was (the piece i did as my final examination). so UTTERLY dull. my finest course work piece was literally a detailed drawing of a turnip. a


replete with all the right hairs and lines, but absolute CRAP nevertheless, no holds barred.

helen was a million miles better, as was her sister. their father being an architect they had inherited some ability in at least drawing a human figure (you should have seen mine, they were probably indistinguishable from the turnip), but in any case it was lucky that julia was around because if i remember correctly, helen LOST her entire course work ( we tended to lose everything, be late for everything, forget everything, resulting in our infamous homeless episode in siena, tuscany but i digress) at least helen could just slightly bullshit around the titles of her sister’s homework and HAND IT IN AS HER OWN, even though in reality it was an (utterly predictable) tragedy that she had lost her own portfolio. she was really good, but

she got away with it (miraculously).

but what was far, far more miraculous was that i got an A. for my turnip with primroses, and my other horseshit ( i thought that if i put ‘eyes’ on everything it would make it more mysterious and ‘surreal’ (we were just discovering salvador dali).

the thing was, i was good at TALKING around my crummy, and worthless, course work. i had the gab. and i can remember quite vividly all the guff and the spiel i wrote around my course work, how i talked it up, how i managed to lend it something that it categorically DIDN’T HAVE.

and getting back to the subject, isn’t this, in a way, the situation we have now with christopher sheldrake and his muse and mastermind bullshitter, serge lutens?

‘la religieuse’ is actually much more up my street than a whole lot of other serge lutens perfumes of recent years, as i never wear woods, i never wear incense, and i love me some white flowers, some osmanthus, and even some dip shittingly urban white musks if need be. i am the serge lutens fan who loves louve, and nuit de cellophane, and even that weirdo datura noir.

but in truth this latest release, without the blurb to go with it, would probably not catch anyone’s fancy.

i did quite like it; i liked the amorphous sweetness of it; the curious bubblegum. but at the same time, it is, in a way, a weeny bit pathetic (unless you feel differently: i’m kind of looking forward to being proven wrong about this and go back), but then again ;could this not just be our brainwashed reaction to uncle serge and the ridiculous need to want to like it?

no matter what it is like?


Filed under Flowers

23 responses to “SERGE LUTENS ‘LA RELIGIEUSE’ (20I5)

  1. You are SO spot on about Serge. There’s just so much to write about and I always want to like his stuff even if I rarely get on with them.

    I’ve haven’t tried this yet because I read it was soapy and it does sound rather spineless. The idea of banana/bubblegum doesn’t fill me with joy either.

    Modern art is so much about talking it up. You and your turnip could have fitted right in with the YBAs 🙂

    • My f*&* turnip. Honestly Tara, it was crap, and I knew it. And Helen got a B (even if it was her sister’s work), and I got a ridiculously undeserved A. That root vegetable still haunts me.

  2. I have been consistently underwhelmed by Uncle Serge’s fragrances. Whatever cedar note, synthetic or natural, used in the reformulated versions flys up my nose and pierces my brain cavity like a pneumatic drill. In complete fairness, it is not just Serge Lutens fragrances that contain said troubling note. That pretty much eliminates any of the Bois for me. I have yet to sample any of the florals but I like Borneo 1834 and Encens et Lavande. Of course being able to purchase those damn bell jars reasonably or locally also can prove quite challenging.

  3. La Religieuse was panned by all the perfume blogs. I tried it anyway and kind of liked it, although it is not an in your face scent like many of the Serge Lutens. It is kind of a quiet jasmine scent. The other newer Serge Lutens right before this one, L’Orpheline, I really liked very much. Like you, I have also liked a lot of Lutens fragrances that others don’t care for such as, Datura Noir, Louve and Nuit de Cellophane.

  4. I loved your turnip story.

  5. I agree that sometimes Serges can go a bit Emperors New Clothes. I hate to say it but Clair de Musc, lovely as it, smelled exactly like Impulse Hint of Musk which costs about 99p. There! I’ve said it! I FEEL SO BRAVE!

  6. Nelleke Oepkes aka Booknose

    Where on earth did you find that picture of the Nun with the Banana? Too … for words. You changed my view on turnips, none whatsoever, into curiosity.

  7. tonkabeany

    so, so funny, you remember, as does Julia, all the stuff that simply evaporates from my memory, leaving only the faintest trace…. you bring it back for me, thank you, I think. It may not surprise you to know that I had entirely forgotten about losing my portfolio and substituting Julia’s work (really was it entirely hers!? surely not). But now you mention it I remember doing what I thought was a truly wonderful drawing of Lesley Angel, and wondering where it got to, and being very frustrated about the whole thing….but I must have found a solution – really, very resourceful.
    I also think of you, by the way, as someone who can, most definitely draw, I’m sure I am right and you are wrong.
    I haven’t forgotten Helmut and the tits though….too, too much, however pleasing aesthetically!
    As for Serge Lutens, I feel like a watery little wallflower for saying so but, as I think I have mentioned before, I admire his perfumes but feel like the central heating is up too high and they most definitely wear me rather than the other way round. I completely understand your appreciation for Nuit de Cellophane, and love having it, but the occasions for wearing it are few and far between, I can’t wear it casually (and formal partying is sadly a rarity for me these days).

  8. Love your tale of the turnip, the shining pinnacle of still-life drawing.
    As for this scent, eh, I have enjoyed many others so much more. I also adore some of the less loved Serge fragrances; Louve, Rousse, Datura Noir, MKK, and so many others. This one just could not win me over, nor could the sad little Orpheline. I guess I just enjoy Uncle Serge’s fragrances that are more quirky as opposed to him trying to be more mainstream. You are correct though, we keep buying into this BS tale that he is weaving and Sheldrake is helping come into being, but is it really worthwhile any longer. I do hope his next creation will be a tad more intriguing and less blah.

    • They do really seem to be heading in that direction I would say. I don’t mind this at all, as I said, but as it dries down it really smells quite cheap. In the beginning when his perfumes came out they smelled anything but: gloriously decadent in fact.

  9. emmawoolf

    Loving the art class reminiscences. I have no artistic talent whatseover, but also chose Art for O Level for its purported relaxing qualities. It was the last double period of the school week, and was a welcome relief after the horrors of PE (which I’d dreaded toute la semaine). Despite my lack of prowess in the drawing department, at my art teacher’s instigation my C grade was re-marked to a B. (It spoiled the nice run of other grades, you do see…). Would you recommend any Serge Lutens fragrances at all to me, do you think? My local department store sports a rather attractive selection, but I’ve never known where to look. Are they all rather cheap and nasty nowadays? (I did laugh at the Impulse Musk analogy – I remember it all too well x)

  10. I was always good at the drawing part, never the talking part. My architecture professors laughed at the deer in the headlights look I got at every crit.

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