Monday, July 13, 2009

Serge Lutens Nuit de Cellophane- Why I love It

Nuit de Cellophane, the spring 2009 release from Serge Lutens, has surprised many by seeming too pretty and simple for the house that brought us Muscs Kublai Khan, Ambre Sultan, Chergui and many others. When it comes to Lutens, the expectations are many, but a fruity-floral isn't one of them. The result was people wondering if Uncle Serge has lost it or sold out, because Nuit de Cellophane is just too...wearable.

I fell in love with it from the very first sniff. In my perfume cabinet, "pretty" scents aren't very prominent. I guess I needed a new one, and Nuit de Cellophane fit my idea of a beautiful summer fragrance. It's not that I haven't tried others. I had high hopes for several ones from Ormonde Jayne, including Osmanthus, which is sometimes compared to Nuit de Cellophane, but as is often the case when my skin meets florals, things didn't work out as expected. There's always something off- a jasmine that gets too green and screechy, a rose gone sour or a whole composition that tightens its hands around my neck (hello, Datura Noir).

Nuit de Cellophane on its osmanthus-jasmine-honey-musk structure is perfectly balanced. The fruity notes- a rounded mandarin in the opening and the apricot derivative of the osmanthus, are not too sweet and have more texture than actual taste, if that makes any sense. Wearing it feels like putting on that perfect summer dress, the one that just fits effortlessly but still looks stunning, showing just enough glowing skin without the risk of a wardrobe malfunction, or clings just the right way, making one's figure look flawless.

The honey is more of a background note here, it's nothing like Miel de Bois. It serves the purpose of helping the notes glide into the gentle wood-musk base, and stays there to keep things sweet. Nuit de Cellophane is perfect for day as it is for night. When layering, it plays amazingly well with Santal Blanc, and I've also started experimenting with Rousse. If you have more ideas, please comment (I'm still working on the ultimate Serge layering post).

I don't play the What Is Uncle Serge Trying To Tell Us? game in deciphering and making sense of the Lutens body of work. I love and wear about 75% of his perfumes, because I find them breathtaking and they work for me. Nuit de Cellophane isn't any different in that regard. It's a rich, layered fragrance that blooms beautifully on my skin, regardless of its ranking compared to MKK.

photo of Anna May Wong from
Night Magnolia by the amazing N. Robert Wagstaff

Nuit de Cellophane ($120) is available from the trifecta of luxury department stores (Barneys, Bergdorf and Neiman Marcus) and also from Aedes, Scent Bar and Beauty Habit. Most of them sell online, I bought mine from the latter.


  1. Uncle Serge gave us the last word in fruity floral. It's lovely; it's the last word. The tombstone on Fruity Forals. It ain't me, but I'm glad he did it.

  2. I'm glad you like this one; I do not. Maybe it's because I don't get any honey at all. To me, it was dull and soapy and just not worth bothering with.

  3. lady jane greyJuly 14, 2009 2:01 AM

    I didn't get it either, was just plain lemonade on me.

  4. Tom, wouldn't it be great if it's the last of the fruity florals? No more of this stuff to be released for the next couple of decades?
    No one can make a better one than this, so why bother?
    I'm not surprised NdC isn't your thing. It's like you'd try my shoes on, or something...

  5. Anon, I've heard people got soap or expensive shampoo. I had the same thing with Beige, but not here. It really came alive on me, but I do see how these notes can go wrong on someone else.

  6. Lady Jane, skin chemistry is the oddest thing. I assume it's the mandarin orange playing tricks.

  7. I don't dislike it, but I don't love it, either. For me, Lutens is more Fumerie Turque, Douce amère, Chergui,..Ahhhhhh

  8. I smelled this at Aedes in April, and now wish I had made the effort to get a sample.
    I wasn't overwhelmed with love at first sniff, but it pops up in my thoughts from time to time.
    Like a cool pair of shoes I tried but didn't buy, and later wish I did.

  9. Anon2, I fully agree that FT, Chergui and Deuce Amere are what made Lutens great (well, and also Borneo, Vetiver Oriental and others). NdC may or may not be on the same level. Time and many wearings will tell.

  10. Dea, I know the feeling. When the unbought shoes occupy one's mind more than those in the closet it's usually a sign you should have bought them. Of course, that's how I ended up with closet space issues...
    At least with perfume you can usually get it later.

  11. I fully agree with you on NdC. It's not for me, but it's perfectly lovely, and when I bought a bottle for a good friend (and a very discerning lover of fine fragrance), she went nuts over it.

    "I don't play the What Is Papa Serge Trying To Tell Us? game in deciphering and making sense of the Lutens body of work. I love and wear about 75% of his perfumes, because I find them breathtaking and they work for me."

    Amen. Discussions of artistry and intellectual intention are mere afterthoughts to the pleasure of the inhale.

  12. I found it recently on a
    window wishing fieldtrip...
    be it smelling trip to "Barneys San Francisco" Union Square.

    I was so prepared to dislike this fragrance...
    however's very "SPRING"

    first words that came to mind ..

    with a hint of Swiss Alpine Air...
    go figure

  13. Yay, finally a perfume reviewer who likes this as much as me!

  14. Yay, I'm not the only one who thinks it's absolutely divine and not ordinary or shampoo-like in the least!

    I want some of that shampoo :-)


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