The last theme I thought Serge Lutens would want to revisit is gingerbread. It seems like I'm the only one who truly loved his 2008 Five O`Clock Au Gingembre, while others have been busy lamenting the fate of latter day Serge. Yet, here we are, staring at a large plate of gingerbread piled high with homemade orange peel confiture (my mother's makes the best one). I'm of the school of thought that completely ignores the marketing blurbs and vague quotes from Uncle Serge that accompany every release. They get in the way of immersing myself in the actual perfume (however, if you want to read an actually coherent interview with your favorite Uncle visit this one on Lisa Eldridge's site). So immerse I did.
Baptême du Feu opens more gourmand than it actually is. You know that there's some drama there, because right behind the cookie plate there's a trail of smoke, slightly acrid and sooty. You sit down to devour your treat, turning your back to the scorched earth you left behind and diving right into the illicit indulgence that has been put in front of you. Who baked these cookies? Had the fruit preserve been cooked in that black cauldron that is now lying cracked on the hearth? Why is there a lone pointy black slipper in the corner of the room?
The phase of uneasiness eventually fades. It's a very Lutens thing, actually, throwing at you several elements that don't necessarily scream "French perfume" (that's what vintage Goutal is for), then tighten it around you in an opaque scent bubble that is sometimes quite surprising. in Baptême du Feu it's a chewable cage of sweetened myrrh and cashmeran an wood, much more comforting than you'd expect it to be, but also slightly claustrophobic. I'm not quite sure if I want to nibble at my arm or gnaw it off like a trapped animal. One thing is obvious: I'm not bored.
Serge Lutens- Baptême du Feu ($150, 50ml eau de parfum, is available from Aedes, Twisted Lily, Luckyscent and the other usual suspects). The sample for this review was provided by Twisted Lily at my request.
Theodor Hosemann: Ilustration for "Hänsel und Gretel", 19th century