Three things I wish I had known before trying La Myrrhe for the very first time:
1. It should not be sprayed. Never ever. Under no circumstances.
2. Aldehydes can be more than just floral or green. They can be spicy.
3. Husbands who don't like aldehydes will not appreciate them even in a Serge Lutens perfume. Especially not in a moving vehicle.
Other than that? La Myrrhe is gorgeous and even the husband doesn't complain after the first 30 minutes or so, when the root-beer and spiced honey soda take over and do their thing on my skin.
The first thing I smell if I spritz La Myrrhe is a harsh chemical you could mistake for cheap vintage hairspray (best case) or a pesticide. It really surprised me, since my first couple of La Myrrhe samples were little dab-on vials, so I never experienced this aspect until I got a larger decant. Even when it becomes more perfume-like, this 1995 Serge Lutens perfume is so carbonated and aldehydic it takes up all the air in the room. Luca Turin compares it favorably to White Linen in his five star review of La Myrrhe. I only argue with the fact Dr. Turin sees the similarity as a positive thing. I used to wear White Linen a lot in the very early 1990s, but today I find it stomach-turning.
However, dabbing La Myrrhe, even very generously as I like to do, saves me from the unpleasant toxins and instead smells foody, gently spiced and moderately sweet. This isn't Uncle Serge's famous dry fruit and cedar stew. Instead, it's a grownup's orange soda with a cinnamon stick that shifts between feeling chilled and airy to creamy. The entire existence of La Myrrhe is a play on this icy and fuzzy themes, making it much more sophisticated than one might expect from a perfume that came out in the middle of the horrible smelly 90s, when it seemed that people either marinated in Angel or tried to pretend CK One and L'Eau d'Issey were things found in nature. But, of course, this is an Uncle Serge vision executed by Christopher Sheldrake, so why be so surprised?
La Myrrhe dries down into a soft but determined oriental perfume, laced with honey and amaretto. There's a little incense there that smells as though it was kept in a wooden box together with precious and rare spices. It has magic and mystery, a little danger of the unknown and a whole lot more sex-appeal than one would expect if they started their relationship with La Myrrhe by spraying it.
Notes (via Fragrantica): mandarin, myrrh, lotus, bitter almond, sandalwood, honey, jasmine, amber, musk, various spices and pimento.
Selected reviews of La Myrrhe:
I Smell Therefore I Am
Bois de Jasmin
La Myrrhe by Serge Lutens (125 eauros, 75 ml EDP) is part of Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido exclusive line, only available from the Paris boutique or online for EU residents. The Posh Peasant and the Perfumed Court sell samples and decants.
Art: Snake Charmer by Deborah Klein