Serge Lutens la Fille de Berlin, 2012

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(image, Conrad Schumann’s escape from East Berlin as The Berlin Wall was being constructed)

Perfumer Christopher Sheldrake

The Serge Lutens line is known for the heavy and the heady.  Apart from the nouvelle orientals, Féminité du Bois, Bois de Violette, and the others in the Bois series, there are two styles that capture a large portion of the line. Perfumes like Ambre Sultan, Cuir Mauresque, and Chergui fall into a range of amber, wood and resins that makes them dense and dark. They are blanketing and unavoidable.

The other side of the Lutens coin is the heady, expansive perfumes.  This category has two parts. First, the ultrasonics. These are like angels, mostly above our range of perception, but with their feet dangling just enough that we can sense them.  La Myrrh, Iris Silver Mist, and Sa Majesté la Rose are three ultrasonics.  Three stylistically different perfumes, one shared acoustical range.  Part two are the ferocious florals. Tubereuse Criminelle,  A la Nuit, Sarrasins: the flower as sociopath. They’d just as soon kill you as go fishing. I’m a sucker for these.

La Fille de Berlin skips all of the above and winds up more of a feel-good, cozy rose floriental. The sort of perfume you could happily wear every day. The top and heart notes, all rose and spice, reminds me of the succulence of fresh strawberries with a bit of balsamic vinegar.  Two tastes, both complex but instantly recognizable; one fresh, one aged.  Each is the perfect enhancements to the other.

These complementary pairings suggest impossibly perfect combinations like youth and wisdom.  The paragon every-day perfume will not spring from focus group and should not be a checklist of least common denominators.  It should be the best of both worlds, and la Fille de Berlin is.

Many perfumes in the Lutens line smack of the special occasion.  Going to a show, looking to get laid, attending a wedding/funeral/bris.  Berlin stands apart from these one-off perfumes, but isn’t without precedent.  Gris Clair, Bas de Soie, Daim Blond. These are stylish beauties that could be worn every day. Noticeable and exceptionally composed, but more likely to accentuate the attractiveness of the wearer than to stand out as a Gorgeous Perfume.

La Fille de Berlin is a stellar example of an everyday fragrance.  It is flattering, indicates confidence and intelligence, and satisfies an appreciation of classical beauty.

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