Mandarine Mandarin is a Lutens-Sheldrake collaboration from the group of latter day bell jars (2006), and as such has never become a legend. I'm not sure why, really, because it's a terrific citrus oriental with a dash of the Lutensian syrup, lots of non-cuminy spice, a hint of smoke and an ambery dry-down.
Citrus perfumes are too often light, airy and all about freshness. I guess it's the zing and the zest that make some perfumers go exactly the same way, which let's be honest, is way too boring. But when you give Serge Lutens oranges and mandarins he makes a thick and rich juice that goes a lot darker than you'd expect. Even the opening note that are clearly citrus- rind, pulp and everything in the middle, are already spicy and have absolutely no sporty vibe. They are joined by a spiked and boozy black tea, something herbal that feels like it was cooked in the teapot and more of the sweetened fruit, though it's less candied than the average Serge Lutens oriental.
Despite all the obviously edible (and drinkable) notes I wouldn't say Mandarine Mandarin is a full-on gourmand. It doesn't give me a yummy vibe and I don't think it sends the message of "come closer and lick my neck". It's warm and snuggly, but more in a solitary way: you, your fuzzy plaid blanket, a cup of tea and a good book. I find that Mandarine Mandarin is far more expressive in heated indoor environment and gets lost outside, especially on cold days. Like most Lutens perfumes, it has no gender and would appeal equally to men and women, though I sometimes think of it as a butchy and more somber version of Theorema.
Mandarine Mandarin is part of Serge Lutens non-export line and is only available as a bell jar (115 euro, 75ml) from the Salons du Palais Royals Shiseido in Paris. Those living in Europe can also order it online or by phone (sergelutens.com). The rest of us are still considered unworthy by Uncle Serge and co.
Art: Chinese Pot With Oranges by Carol Chambers