I'm not among those who weep with despair with every new Serge Lutens release as none of them walk the same path of Iris Silver Mist or MKK. As a matter of fact, I think that the previous perfume in the export series, L'Orpheline, is just wonderful and I wear it so often that a backup might be needed before the end of the year. But with this one Uncle Serge has totally lost me. I don't get it. Or more precisely, I don't get why he even bothered. I might not wear his other jasmines, A La Nuit or Sarassins, but I definitely appreciate the story and craftsmanship behind them, as well as the quality of the jasmine used (at least in their original form. I think Sarrasins is still impressive, but I got a whiff of the recent Nuit and had an eyebrow raising moment). La Réligieuse starts with a welcoming sweet floral medley that I enjoy very much, especially with other notes lurking underneath, promising more fun. I like my jasmine sweet and thick without a hint of green, and on that front Lutens certainly delivers. But eventually the monotonous of this effect wears me down. Nothing else happens, and the sweetness becomes as sticky as a toddler's hand. I want to return this tyke to its parents and go take a nap.
I have little more to say about La Réligieuse. None of the promises come to fruition. The rather cheap smelling jasmine doesn't let anything else emerge past it on my skin, and the overall impression is boring and uninspired. I don't expect Lutens and Sheldrake to repeat themselves and do the same thing again and again and again. I don't even demand they only do stuff that I like. But tedious and monotonous are traits I never associate with these two gentlemen.
I have no idea how exactly Mr. Lutens thought this juice evokes the world of nuns or any of his mixed emotions towards them. I've found this excellent interview with him nearly impossible to process. I've always known that my favorite uncle might not be the best guest at my imaginary dinner party (you know, the one with Dorothy Parker, Oscar Wilde, Tim Gunn, Pierre Guillaume, and a selection of my closest friends). But his inner world confused me so much that when I shared the link on Facebook I also made the comment that I've never ever felt more American or more of an agnostic Jew than after reading this interview. Just as with La Réligieuse, I don't get it.
Serge Lutens- La Réligieuse ($150, 50ml EDP) is available from Twisted Lily, Luckyscent, and the rest of the old haunts.
Image: The Jasmine Fairy by Cicely Mary Barker, c.1925.