Deliver us from Good!
Jasmine petals are as white as snow.
Black is my religion.1
I will say this for Serge Lutens, he continues to tempt me. And if you find elaborate but cryptic back story appealing, he is obviously your man.2 But it's been some time since I've parted with my money for a new Serge Lutens fragrance, and my piggy bank is safe from La Religieuse.
La Religieuse, if you have been paying attention, is billed as the brand's latest take on jasmine, following A La Nuit ("This jasmine has only one thought in its head: paint the town white!") and Sarrasins ("I took white jasmine and contrived to make it as black as a panther, as black as night, which is embodied in this fragrance.").3 The name has obvious religious connotations, but also calls up the pastry, shown just below in a (likewise enticing) violet version from Ladurée. Add to this the few notes mentioned in the press besides jasmine — musk, civet and incense — and yes, you could say I was interested.
But alas. The opening is jasmine, yes, but the jasmine is mingling with other floral notes — it's not by any means a soliflore, nor is the jasmine even what I'd call front and center. La Religieuse is at first sharp and citrusy, then rich and deep and heavily floral, and it's simultaneously cold and sweet (read the review at Kafkaesque for a more detailed description of the early stages: hyacinth, lily and chrysanthemum are mentioned, among others). For a time, I thought it might not be the jasmine I'd hoped for but it might be something else that I could love anyway.
Then around the 30 minute mark, La Religieuse slowly wraps itself in gauzy layers of clean musk, and the florals become muted and vague. In terms of the conceptual framework, you could perhaps say it takes on the habit and veil, and retreats from the world? Except that nothing much really happens after that. The base is sweetish woods, a bit creamy, but nothing like so delicious as pastry, and the incense, if you can find it, is as subdued as the rest. Mostly, La Religieuse is just clean, teetering dangerously in the direction of bland. It's not quite dryer sheet, but it's close (Persolaise notes "an intimation of Johnson's baby shampoo, circa 1985").
Verdict: La Religieuse is not a scrubber (Laine de Verre!), but nor did I find it enjoyable to wear. Puzzling over the relationship of the juice to the back story was an engaging exercise for a short while, but I have neither the patience nor the interest to spend long on such matters in the absence of a compelling scent, and without the back story, La Religieuse is not what I'd call compelling. I used to think that Serge Lutens' customary reticence about his fragrances grew out of a desire to let the juice to speak for itself, but lately I am not so sure — it is almost like he wants us to take his word for it that they are grand statements, even when they smell suspiciously ordinary. I will give the last word to Victoria, who notes at Bois de Jasmin that there is "No need to go all the way to Palais Royal for this experience; your local department store will do".
Serge Lutens La Religieuse is available in 50 ml Eau de Parfum, $150. It was developed by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake.
1. Via Serge Lutens at Facebook.
2. As Angie said when she reviewed L'Orpheline, "I imagine members of some future cult bowing to a huge black-and-white portrait of Serge Lutens while chanting bits from leather-bound perfume box inserts."
3. Both descriptions via the Serge Lutens website.
I am in complete accord with your review. I was really hoping for a bit more of the incense vs. street skank for this. But nope.
It has a few facets in common with L’Eau Froide, but I much prefer LEF–it is more interesting, it has incense, it has the whole icy/warm thing going on, and it lasts for several hours. LR was a nice, quiet floral with a lot of soap and shampoo, then POOF! like a soap bubble, it was just gone.
I think I’d be happier if it went poof! on me…it actually hangs around for hours.
I really enjoyed this one, enough to buy it (on sale at Parfum1). On me it is a sweet floral which I plan on wearing a lot this summer. Nothing fancy, but it made me happy smelling it.
So glad it has fans, and so glad you found a deal!
I’ve gotten the sense for a few years now that Uncle Serge is not particularly interested in perfume these days. Very curious to see how the recent sale of the Serge Lutens trademark to Shiseido will affect the perfume line.
Interested to hear why you think that? He seems to talk to the press more now, but I don’t guess that means anything either way.
I watched the short film but after a little while ignored the spoken text and just enjoyed the visuals. But none of it seemed to have much to do with perfume. So i think there may be something in what Aries says. At the very least, we do know that Serge is intested in many forms self-expression aside from perfume.
Ari, not Aries. Sorry! Blame the darned auto correct. Very annoying at times but I do enjoy my auto correct’s attempt at Baghari – Bag hair. Nice try.
Oh, I would say that is completely true, and always has been — perfume is not his only interest. But he does the films and he talks to the press, which is more than he used to do, so I am not sure why he seems less “interested” than before.
La Religieuse wasn’t too interesting to me either. I only sampled it once, but honestly haven’t even bothered with a second attempt yet. The notes sounded perfect, but I didn’t really get a strong impression of any of the ones I was expecting.
For a few seconds there on the first try, I thought he’d done a really gorgeous hyacinth, which would be VERY welcome. But that didn’t last. And yes, doubt any of the listed notes would have come to mind except the musk.
Guess you didn’t think Bas de Soie was “all that” either, huh? I liked it enough to buy a bottle, but with SL, the hits are far outnumbered by the misses for me.
I thought Bas de Soie was interesting (far more so than LR) but I did not love it, no.
Agree with review. Lutens tempts but it’s another Lutens I can do without. It’s not bad but not enough jasmine as I was hoping for. I def got lily and possibly lotv..there are several florals going on. Which isn’t bad but again, I was looking for more of a jasmine centered fragrance.
A La Nuit still reigns as ‘the Lutens jasmine’ for me. I got a sharp bouquet in LR..that reminded me of Estee Lauder some..just not so darn loud. I do like some EL..but that’s not what I was looking for in the Lutens. There was also some kind of synthetic-y note I didn’t like in LR..like the plastic-y note in Jasmin Full. Didn’t like that.
However, I liked this much more than De Profundis though..now that story had me intrigued! I was hoping for something brooding..perhaps so much so that it could make me cry, LOL. What I got was a cheery, floral musk/dryer sheet with no melancholy whatsoever. No soil..no dark smoke..no sadness. Bummer. lol.
My main Lutens love atm is Le Fille de Berlin. I am not even big on rose but Lutens won me over in that one. And just a couple of sprays last forever! I was hoping LR would win me over some..though I was concerned about the musk after the drier sheet I got in De Profundis..and yes, it’s almost dryer sheet in LR but not quite. I tested DP rather quickly..but knew it wasn’t for me.
I would wear LR..but it wouldn’t go on a wishlist.
In the end I would not mind lily, or lily of the valley. I just want beautiful, or interesting, or possibly both. This was neither.
I would have to check but I think Fille de Berlin was the last one I liked.
There is something sinister about that pastry.
Hahaha!!Agreed.Looks suspiciously delicious
It is supposed to look like a nun in a habit, but the icing on that particular one doesn’t work for that. I do think it looks like something I’d like to eat.
I enjoyed it,I like the more subdued Lutens offerings like Clair de Musc and Santal Blanc,just as much as the stink-bombs that are Borneo and MKK.But I am a HUGE “cult” fan,I suppose.I still don’t get the “crime-scene” effect from Tubereuse Criminelle either,so maybe my olfactory experience of Lutens is a bit too optimistic?Lol.I might also be anosmic to some clean musks,because this to me was a really nicely done Incense-Jasmin.And it is after all,NOT AOUD,and definitely NOT a Fruity-Floral.2 extra brownie points.Lol.
Caveat:Undecided still if it is FB-worthy though.Might rather save up for the $600 bottle….:-))
When I checked the Barneys website a few weeks back, it was no longer listed. This should not be taken as my considering a purchase, mmmmm….ok?
I adore Santal Blanc, and I’m often a fan of subdued as well — and we did not need another jasmine bomb from SL, that much is true!
Anyway, glad you like it.
Very true, we didn’t need another jasmine bomb..but I wouldn’t have minded one, lol.
I’d like to know if it’s just me or if it really is the case that Lutens’ house style is as heavy as a truckload of lead. Maybe it’s just that I’ve only smelled the ones that seemed overwrought and burdensome. I tried Eau Froide, and while it wasn’t heavy, it was soulless. I like complicated and I like good, “big” fragrances, but a Lutens in the air actually increases the surroundng barometric pressure. Is it just me?
LOL! Well, in general the house tends towards full-bodied, complex fragrances. Whether you find them heavy as a truckload of lead, I guess, is up to taste. I adore many of the earlier scents, not so many of the later scents, and don’t really care about Froide either way.
I guess it is just me.
Thank you Robin for this review for it has just about tipped the scale for me. when I first started reading NST I was living in my “vintage past”. I realized that I had zero knowledge of old niche and wondered if I should be going crazy ordering samples or even blind buying bottles of SL, L”Artisan and even Amouge which sell for almost half price at online discounters. But then after reading how many of these “niche” companies have “sold out” to massively large companies I made a decision that I would begin exploring the smaller indie companies that I am unfamiliar with (such as Dame Perfumery, Providence Perfume Co, Olympic Orchids) that I have discovered on this blog. It’s time for me to move forward and I feel better knowing that the money in my very limited perfume budget is going to individuals and not very large, lucrative corporations. Thanks for making me feel as though I am not really missing out on anything and there are other options/perfumes worthy of exploring!
Ah, if you’re interested in where your money goes, that’s perhaps the right approach.
If you’re interested in great perfumes, that’s a different question. I do like many of the indie brands too, and would never suggest anybody blow their budget or feel they must try everything (or buy bottles unsniffed!), but trying a few scents from the great niche brands like Serge Lutens & L’Artisan & Frederic Malle would not be a complete waste of your time. But no, no reason to go crazy, or to be in any huge rush.
You know, this is sort of an aside, but will also say that Serge selling his trademark to Shiseido makes sense to me. They were already his backers, and he is after all 73 years old.
Oh you are a terrible influence-LOL!!!! Ok you’re right….I shouldn’t close the door on old niche but right now I have my eye set on Dame perfumery….I am waiting until after the first quarter poll and then I may order all of their travel sprays to sample (it will be my birthday month…enough said !!).
and I think it is part of my misconception of the “snobbery” in the high end niche that has turned me away….I will try to be more openminded!
Well, I do think it’s a very good thing to get over the feeling that you must try everything, or that you must accept the prevailing wisdom about what brands are fabulous and/or “must try”. This ought to be fun, after all, and it shouldn’t bankrupt anybody. But no sense shutting out whole brands, right? That’s just a reverse snobbery.
Well put !!!!
can you say something about s.l. and the reformulations? i have just acquired decants of de profundis and iris silver mist. the first is nothing more than laundry detergent musk after 20 minutes and the latter smells of red hots, the candies, rather than iris. i cannot believe that all the lovely reviews in all my favorite blogs are totally wrong. my skin chemistry is not that far from others when trying other scents. has shisheido utterly ruined these scents? what is going on? no other review of de profundis mentions the laundry musk. no one in their right mind would think that this version of iris silver mist is even good let alone an epiphany of iris. it has less iris than a tepid drugstore violet. really discouraged by all this
Sorry, I’ll be no hope…nobody here liked (or cared about) De Profundis enough to review it, and I can’t even remember what it smelled like now. And have not smelled a new bottle of Iris Silver Mist in ages. Certainly would not surprise me if it’s been reformulated, but had not heard anything about it smelling like cinnamon now.