Early fall in the Northeast is magical. The still green trees have a dark and somber hue, here and there you see little bursts of fiery orange and red, and all that is contrasted against the riches cerulean blue sky. Most summer blooms are gone and replaced with the season's mums in various hues but mostly orange and purple. The colors and light transform even the most boring suburb into a magical place.
I'm pretty sure Serge Lutens doesn't hang out in New Jersey and doesn't care about our decorated yards. We all heard that De Profundis, his newest Palais Royal exclusive perfume, was inspired by death. There's supposed to be some symbolism, profound observations about the ceremonies of mourning and maybe Serge Lutens has an insight on the great beyond. Whatever. I don't do macabre and have very little goth left in me from loving the Smiths and the Cure in the 80s. To me, De Profundis is alive and brimming with the excitement of early fall.
Yes, fall means the death of summer vegetation and is that last hurrah before our world goes into snowy hibernation. Still, it's a reminder that there's more to enjoy and that everything changes but life goes on (are you humming the Circle Of Life now?).
The lush leaves are all but gone, but the sturdy mums are alive and well. These flowers have a slight bitterness, not unlike tagetes (marigold). You can smell the thick and dense petals as well as the herbal stems. As De Profundis spreads and reacts with the skin there's a slight sweetness and warmth. It's not exactly musky or earthy- I find the post-floral dimension very abstract and hard to pinpoint. It's beautiful, though, and not melancholy. What's sad about orange and purple flowers?
De Profundis has almost no sillage. It's very unlike Uncle Serge to stay so intimate and hover just above skin level. I don't have longevity issues, but I do apply very liberally, making sure every turn and movement release some of the magic. I haven't tried spraying yet, mostly because I really enjoy the feeling I get from dabbing De Profundis all over my neck and shoulders. The way it smells on me is very restrained: not too much of any of the floral-green-earthy elements, but the impression of the chrysanthemum flower is very vivid to me. It's beautiful and natural without being overly pretty or perfumy, more like taking a walk on a crisp autumn afternoon and perhaps rolling on a pile of flowers. If I were the rolling type.
Notes: chrysanthemum flower, with additional notes of violets, green and earthy notes
De Profundis by Serge Lutens (120 euro, 75 ml of a very deep purple juice) is exclusive to the Paris boutique at the Palais Royal, but if you're in Europe you can actually order online or by phone. The Perfumed Court carries samples.
Flower Arrangement, Mums by Franz Bischoff
Fashion photo by Hans Feurer for Vogue Italia, June 1976