“And deep down, as itchy as a hair shirt on the skin. In fact, a sublime torture!” --Serge Lutens, from the marketing blurb of La Vierge de Fer
I can save you reading the whole thing and just say that I don't like La Vierge de Fer very much. I tried. I really really tried. Started with a small sample, then bought a larger decant so I could spray and live with it for a while, which wasn't the most pleasurable experience ever. But I had to. It's a Serge Lutens perfume. A Serge Lutens perfume in a bell jar (formerly non-export). It must be good. It must be special. Right? Right? RIGHT?
The husband had two things to say about La Vierge de Fer: 1) he'd never have guessed this was a Serge Lutens perfume, and 2) it seems to belong in the Hermessence line. That's the whole story in a nutshell.
La Vierge de Fer is a pretty perfume. It's a faithful and lifelike representation of the most luminous white lily. It's so straightforward and 3D that I immediately smelled my wedding bouquet and could almost touch the creamy petals after all these years. But there's nothing else there, which is not what I'd expect from an exclusive Lutens. The perfume is airy and cold because of that metallic infusion-- the Fer part of the perfume, but that's it, and I have to say that for minimlaistic interpretations, space between the notes or whatever we have Jean-Claude Ellena.
Speaking of which. I'm not a fan of Ellena's Hermessence Vanille Galante, mostly because it's a lily perfume and not a vanilla. Ellena's lily note becomes increasingly fruity on my skin every time I wear it. Similarly, La Vierge de Fer turns into a banana-melon smoothie, especially when my skin gets warm: in the car, when working out, under a heavy comforter. The result is the same, and that's the part I find difficult. Yes, basically, I end up with a light but incredibly long-lasting fruity-floral perfume that doesn't suit me at all. And frankly, I don't think it suits Serge Lutens, either.
Serge Lutens- La Vierge de Fer ($310, 75ml bell jar) is available from Barneys and sergelutens.com.
Image: Leo Yiu, Stackable Vase, 2012, via Trendland.