I love it when I discover a new ‘me’ fragrance. Oh, for sure, there are loads I love and some I value higher than others, but it takes something special for a perfume to click with the wearer…as if it’s been especially created for her.
Just when I was feeling as if I needed to get back to me, to feel on top form again, enter Serge Lutens’ ‘Renard Constrictor’ by way of a very kindly PR. Part of the new Gold Collection, launched exclusively in Harrods from August and at premiere selected retailers from September, this is top of the range Serge Lutens in his dreamlike world betwixt moon and shadows, love and hate, passion and betrayal. Lutens is a master at encapsulating his themes in a bottle and his perfumes tell stories not quite like any other. He’s the opera diva of the perfume world, weaving dreams in his contemporary Deco vials. It is what has made the brand synonymous with niche difference. Like minds and hearts seek them out. To wear your heart on your sleeve.
The Gold Collection takes this a stage further with the addition of five new fragrances to join the L’Incendiarie (launched 2014). These are Sidi Bel-Abbes, L’Haleine des Dieux, Cracheuse de Flammes, Cannibale and Renard Constrictor. All with highly evocative names and romantic Bohemian influences and ingredients.
L’incendiarie, with its rounded, sensual and insanely elegant opulence of resin, incense and burnt woods, sets the bar high. The operatic troop with big arias follow forth – Cracheuse de Flammes (Flame Thrower) sounds deeply hedonistic. A velvety rose perfume with notes of amber and leather – the clashing of deep floral with deep texture, it represents the spirit and identity of the Gold Collection. L’Haleine des Dieux (or Gods’ Breathe) has downy soft cashmeran as a key ingredient, mixed with amber to relay a powdery velvet luxuriousness while Cannibale is composed wholly of burnt elements (saps & flowers) and is the extreme of L’Incendiarie. Sidi Bel-Abbes encapsulates a forbidden love affair so its make-up of beeswax, tobacco and vanilla gives a hint to the cad in the Foreign Legion to jilted his aristocratic lover before heading to Sidi Bel-Abbes to enlist. (Side Bel-Abbes is the Algerian town where the French Foreign Legion was based). But it is Renard Constrictor that I felt most drawn to. And like choosing expensive jewellery, when choosing expensive perfumery, you go with your first instinct.
The name gives a clue: a foxy, furry, sly, warm slick of perfume that wraps itself around the heart of the wearer, with touches of the forbidden. This is Serge Lutens in extremis. Opulent and flamboyant, it is the enigmatic scene-stealer with her mysterious air. It’s influence is an extravagant red fox fur collar and this comes through in the scent. If anything, this perfume is made to be sunk deep into fur. To throw on a fur and have the subtle richness and powderiness of Renard Constrictor surround you would only be a delight. Like being transported back to good times, sophisticated bars, entertaining artistic types, good alcohol and well dressed handsome men.
This fragrance has all the appeal of the Belle Epoque in modern form. A wholly Cosmopolitan urban scenario feel with a smattering of influences of the Middle and Far East – a very modern and unusual, original, Opium-like offer , if you so wished to compare.
Vintage kimonos, Saint Laurent Paris, vibrant auburn fox fur and deeply coloured satin shoes come to mind as does late night jazz and indie rock, film-noir and indulgent fripperies. The late Isabella Blow would have loved it. This is a meeting of opposites. Of orris powder and leather and sweet styrax balm that leaves a hazy trail of wonder that captures the addict…again and again. So compelling, there should be a law against it. Instead, it costs. And dear. £500 for 50ml. And worth the outlay for the effect.
Serge Lutens Gold Collection is available exclusively from Harrods priced at £500 (Renard Constrictor), £380 (L’Incendiarie), £480 (Sidi Bel-Abbes), £480 (L’Haleine des Dieux), £525 (Cracheuse de Flammes) and £425 (Cannibale). All 50ml Parfum. The Serge Lutens Gold Collection will be available in selected retailers from September 2015.