I had very few expectations from Sarrasins, the 2007 non-export Serge Lutens. I never enjoyed À la Nuit, Uncle Serge's earlier jasmine-centric perfume or most of his sort-of-soliflore creations. I also found the deep purple juice a bit disturbing. Eventually I had to start testing it, though, and my first sniffing of Sarassins at the Paris Salons confirmed that Sarrasins was hardly even related to poor À la Nuit (my skin makes this older Lutens smell cheap and flat).
The indoles in Sarrasins are there at the top but they are wilder and deeper than in À la Nuit and many heady jasmine/white florals move toe the line between perfume and bathroom air refresher. Instead, Sarrasins is wild and animalic, like a werewolf that has fallen asleep in your summer garden. There's nothing gentle or delicate about this Lutens, for better and for worse. It's constructed in such a way I find it a little different every time I dare revisit. For someone who doesn't shy from animalics in perfume, it's quite surprising that I have such difficulties wearing Sarrasins. I like it, really, I do. I appreciate the complexity, the civet-like and leather note and the obviously supreme quality of the jasmine (is there some ylang-ylang in the heart? On some days I get a round and creamy feeling from the floral part).
The thing is that Sarrasins wears so uncomfortably on me it makes me want to jump out of my skin. I can't explain why, and it's especially weird because the perfume has a beautiful skin-like salty note I absolutely adore. It's the other stuff, the larger-than-life jasmine bush, the obvious floral quality that never goes away and claims all of my attention at every moment. It's just not me and after several hours of coddling this demanding creature I find myself running to the shower and scrubbing every inch of skin to get rid of it.
It never stops me from trying again after a while, though.
Sarrasins is one of Serge Lutens non-export perfumes (125 euro, 75ml), only available from the Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido in Paris.
Art: Serge Lutens