It was my second visit (see the 2008 one here) to the mother ship, Serge Lutens boutique at the Palais Royal. This time the husband and I were fortunate to be received by Sandrine, the very gracious boutique manager and were shown to the upstairs conference room, a space as stunning as the store downstairs. Every last bit of decoration and furniture in the Salons was designed by Serge Lutens and it shows. Japanese and Moroccan aesthetics live side by side in Uncle Serge's vision, creating visuals both elaborate and austere. It makes sense to those who smelled his perfumes.
It was the first time I smelled the two newest perfumes, Vitriol d'oeillet from the export line and De Profundis, in the exclusive bell jar. I'll review both in the coming weeks, but let me tell you that I fell for De Profundis at first sniff.
I loved hearing Sandrine talk about her boss. Our favorite uncle is an extraordinary artist. I was always curious what it would be like to work for someone like him; what can be more inspiring (or intimidating)? Apparently, in Lutens case it's more of the former. I was curious to know if the team tells Uncle Serge if they don't enjoy any of the perfumes and they do. He actually encourages feedback and is quite aware that not everything can work for all skins.
I got to play with the makeup in a more comfortable and inviting atmosphere than the counter at Barneys. I tried a new Water Lip Color shade, Encre de Chine, which is a sheer black. I'm not a fan of the tint's formula, but those of you who are might like the way Encre de Chine transforms the color of a lipstick you wear as a base. It makes everything more purple and I'm sure can be worked in interesting ways. Me? I bought another lipstick.
This is the window display for the red Mise a Mort lipstick:
Another sort-of-new item is smaller bottle of L'Eau. It now comes as a 50 ml (69 euro) which makes a lot more sense. The entire outside of the boutique was devoted to L'Eau, and while I still don't feel moved to own it, I would sell my soul for the poster.
It's a little funny that the same day I was sitting at the Salons du Palais Royal, Octavian of 1000 Fragrances published a pretty distraught article pronouncing the line dead (or at least dead to him) and sending Serge Lutens to a retirement community in Marrakesh. I get not liking a new launch or even a direction that a line takes (Frederic Malle, I'm looking at you), but Serge Lutens perfumes have already proven to sometimes require time and perspective. I still remember the online mayhem (and, well, vitriol) at the release of Gris Clair, a perfume now considered a classic by many. I've already mentioned this on Facebook, but let me say it again here- I asked Sandrine directly what's coming next, and while she was not at liberty to give any details, she did confirm that the next Lutens realease will be in March. So, no Uncle Serge is not moving to Boca any time soon.
The Palais Royal itself is a magnificent place to visit even these days when it's under some massive renovation work. The palace, originally built for Cardinal Richelieu (yes, he of The Three Musketeers fame) and later the residence of the House of Orléans has a beautiful inner court and now houses luxury boutiques, antique stores and art galleries. This is just a glimpse of the gorgeous stuff awaiting you there:
Earlier this year Amy from Cafe Makeup has also visited the boutique. You can read her story here.