Wednesday, August 06, 2014

L'Orpheline by Serge Lutens

The beginning is the archetype scent of fathers* shaving cream, aftershave, skin, with hints of spice from a cologne most prominently a hint of cinnamon. It is the scent your father might have as he left to go to work in the morning and kisses you on the head as he leaves. The fougere dominates the beginning but underneath are hints of musk and incense. Pretty soon the lavender and cade of the fougere withdraw slightly enough for cinnamon to come in supported by cedar. Here it has a bit of a wood shop quality but it remains a very cool scent, the cinnamon and cedar are not warm. Then they abate what comes forward is the musk, a musk that reminds me the most of Annick Goutal's Musc Nomade, a dry earthy musk with soft patchouli notes, also at this point the lavender steps into the picture again. What I am reminded of the most at this state is Guerlain's Jicky, if Jicky were drier, sadder, and had lost its vanilla notes. As the scent progresses forward the note of a soft dry cocoa patchouli comes into focus with a pinch of iris, they emphasize the cold aspect of this scent. The incense also begins to take a more prominent role, it is the cold civet-y incense found in Commes des Garcon's Avignon. The fougere steps back again and now the scent is musk and incense. All of this is encompassed in a haze of ambergris.

L'Orpheline is finding yourself in suburbia with the desire for something mystic. It really does feel a bit like being an outsider observing. The juxtaposition of the classic paternal scent of fougeres with cold incense and musk feels a bit like the state puberty, the emergence of an independent self from your parents. Whatever Lutens' intention is with this he has created a scent that captures otherness in comparison to others. An independence from the familiar. By the end though there is an equilibrium in the scent the ambergris offering shelter for the opposite notes to relax together.

Try if you like Jicky, Avignon, or Pour un Homme de Caron.


*I say archetype, because my father has never smelled like this. The scent of my father is woodsmoke, clean sweat from working outside, and freshly chopped wood he has never worn a cologne or perfume in his life.

image: Alessio Albi

4 comments:

Mlle Ghoul said...

Oh, I so truly wanted to love this scent. I was convinced I would - it had all the elements that, on paper, would appear to add up to something I would enjoy.

Sadly, it quickly becomes a strange, powdery musk on me. And normally, I like "strange"..but this is strange in an unsettling and uncomfortable way. I don't like to smell it on myself, I feel as if it is not me I am smelling, not at all. As if someone else is inhabiting my body. It's very disconcerting!

P.S. A wee package is on it's way to you!

Jennifer Koth said...

I don't think L'orpheline is me either but I can respect it. "Disconcerting" is a very good word to describe it, I think I have a less rocky relationship with it than you but wearing it for my own pleasure I think is out of the question. I feel like this one is a really good art piece that you see in a museum and causes and a lot of discussion but you don't actually want it in your house everyday. Getting my package together for you :-).

Perfumeshrine said...

It's funny that you got so much "fougere" and lavender out of it, because you made me view it anew and ask myself about that. Enjoyed your take!
I do "get" it's unisex but it doesn't bother me as "too much reminiscent of shaving cream", thankfully, to the point of thinking of getting a bottle since I almost emptied my decant…So not just an art piece, I hope, at least for some of us. (Art pieces alays scare me they can come across as either pretentious or as short-time novelty that is soon axed).

Then again it helps that it's so musky (for me it does), thanks to that modern abstract "cool-hot cement" type of musk that plays so intelligently with the theme of incense. Great thinking recommending it to lovers of Avignon or Jicky as it does share things, come to think of it.

Jennifer Koth said...

I feel like this scent is probably going to be very yes or no in whether or not it works for you.

I respect it like I respect Cindy Sherman's modern art which is genius and at times quite beautiful but do I want it my living when I am trying to relax, nope.

I really like the final ambergris stage of it but that takes awhile. I am glad that there are those that get to enjoy it on a more pleasurable level. Definitely one of the most interesting perfumes I have smelt in a long time.

I am currently adoring SL's La Fille de Berlin* and Gris Clair.

*Even with the creepy ad copy.