"The fire is not within the perfume but within me. I want to ignite the smoldering embers of the perfume world, to put the fire back in perfume!" — Serge Lutens, on his fragrance L'Incendiaire1, the first release in his "luxury" Section d'Or collection
Many creative directors wax rhapsodic (and incoherently) about their perfume lines and themselves. Just this week Roja Dove claimed he introduced OUD to the niche fragrance world in 2011...over a decade after he was beat to the punch by many others (niche, and non-niche). I smiled when I read this bit of hyperbole on the Serge Lutens webpage: "Section d'Or is infinite. Serge Lutens takes infinity to a new level." Only Lutens can bottle, nay, expand infinity! Read his "writings" if you don't believe me — read too much, and you'll want to head beyond infinity yourself for some brain-rest!
I'm not going to revive the topic of L'Incendiaire's price: $600 for 50 ml of parfum; and I didn't tell my best perfume-sniffer buddy what he was smelling when I applied L'Incendiaire on his person. I laughed aloud when he thoughtfully commented: "It's nice enough...a poor man's Bois d'Encens."
L'Incendiaire goes on smelling of warm, liquor-y (slightly medicinal) stone fruit mixed with a delicate benzoin-rich incense (part smoky, part ashy). Almost upon contact with skin, L'Incendiaire becomes subdued and soft. I was expecting some fiery spices but all I got was a "leather"-tinged vegetal musk aroma that reminded me of cooking (a hot-oil scent). On me, L'Incendiaire provides no crackle, sizzle or sparks; it's cozy. No particular notes stand out in L'Incendiaire after the fruity-incense opening: there's a light haze of mellow wood, some musky labdanum. L'Incendiaire is one well-blended perfume (its sillage is weak, its lasting power is average).
I like L'Incendiaire well enough, but my overall reaction was (and remains after several wearings): "Is that it?" L'Incendiaire is obtuse...and there are plenty of incense perfumes that put it to shame (Bois d'Encens being one).
Serge Lutens L'Incendiaire is available in 50 ml Parfum; for buying information, see the listing for Serge Lutens under Perfume Houses.
1. Perfumer Christopher Sheldrake.