Thursday, November 07, 2013

Serge Lutens- Arabie

Long time readers might remember that I spent years regarding Arabie as the one Serge Lutens oriental perfume I actively dislike. It was  my biggest disagreement with my scent twin who likes and wears Arabie and I could never figure out why. After all, doesn't this thing smell like the filthiest back alley of the souk, the one just behind the fish mongers stores?

It may have taken me the better part of the decade but I finally got it. Yes, Serge Lutens and his prophet Christopher Sheldrake managed to conjure the smell of a place. The air in the Arab market that stands still between the stalls. The aromas of dried fruit, spicy pickles, and spices from all four corners of the globe in massive sacks and barrels. There are stands of honey-dripping pastries, leather goods, candied nuts and fruit, the dirt of centuries under your feet, the arid desert air, and as The Black Narcissus discovered, there's also a camel or two sharing the space with you.

What's not to love?

My rediscovery of Arabie started when I smelled it on the husband's skin. We were playing at the Serge Lutens counter and before I could stop him he applied Arabie to his wrist. No stinky souk, no camels, only a gilded oriental fantasy, a little dirty, a little dangerous, and quite appetizing in a somewhat perverted way that's hard to explain. It also helped that the husband ended up accidentally layering Arabie with Uncle Serge's cuminy Santal de Mysore. They go incredibly well together. But the key for me to understand and enjoy Arabie was when I started dabbing it. Spraying makes it take up so much space; both in the air around me and in my consciousness. I become a place instead of a person. But when I dab the perfume and only use enough to get that incredible sweetness, it transforms me into that ancient seductress whose skin is all honey and fruit. all of a sudden Arabie is irresistible with its warmth and forbidden undercurrents.

Notes:  cedar, sandalwood, candied mandarin peel, dried figs, dates, cumin, nutmeg, clove, balsamic resins, tonka bean, Siamese benzoin, myrrh.

Serge Lutens- Arabie ($130, 50ml EDP) is available from Luckyscent, Aedes, Parfum1, BeautyHabit, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, and select Neiman Marcus locations.

Art: Salome by Henri Regnault, 1870.


  1. Uncle Serge's Arabie has been in and out of my Luckyscent cart so many times, I've lost count. The notes sound so delicious, yet the description and comments made me doubt again and again. So far, I haven't seen a sample available. Maybe I'll take the plunge yet. Thanks for the "encouragement."

  2. so happy u gave this one another try......what about datura noir......?????

  3. at the risk of repeating myself, arabie has always struck me as a modern femme de rochas. not quite as dangerous and sexy, but hey, what is? still, a niece or second cousin. that said, i obviously like it very much.


    1. dear minette -- you are so right!
      this *is* related to femme!
      and yes, i love them both, too.


  4. Wow, memories! Arabie was one of the very first perfumes I bought after finding MUA and other online perfume communities. It was really the joy of discovering Serge (my beloved) and Gobin Daude that reeled me in to MUA and kept me there for many years. Arabie works like magic with my skin chemistry (doesn't hurt that I'm a cumin lover), but I agree w/ you - dabbing is the only way to go. Spraying would only work if I wanted *vast* amounts of personal space and didn't mind getting it at the expense of becoming a total pariah (not even sure our feline children would want to get near me....although they just might). Can't believe how long it's been since I've worn it. Must go dig it out today.

  5. Good to hear you found Arabie after all these years, your dislike of it has baffled me (since your taste in perfume is quite similar to mine). I've had my bottle of Arabie for ten years, and it's one of my favourite Lutenses.

  6. What an interesting painting you chose to represent Arabie.

    ~Mrs. D


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