In time for Valentine’s Day, Serge Lutens is releasing the first of two new fragrances for 2013. It is La Fille de Berlin (“The Girl from Berlin”), a unisex rose perfume that tries khổng lồ pay homage to a woman’s strength, resilience và beauty in the face of destruction.
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Lutens is a very intellectual perfumer who seeks lớn render concrete the most abstract of theories và images. That is never more evident than in his press materials for La Fille de Berlin — such as his explanatory đoạn clip which you can watch below and which has been translated in full on YouTube.
A shorter, barely less oblique explanation of the scent is available in the press release posted on Fragrantica where Mr. Lutens describes the perfume as follows:
A flower grown under our ruins, cut off from the world, appears before your eyes to all of us to mở cửa our eyes. I took courage in both hands in her flowing Rheingold hair. On the lips, I tasted blood. My girl from Berlin showed combative, more beautiful than ever–and so I broke my contempt & yet my shame, hiding under the guise of my pride. Through the power nguồn of criticism, of love and hate, God & the devil, death & life, I drew a furrow in which she disappeared. & while the maelstrom together beats on me, I pay homage to her beauty enraged.
She’s a rose with thorns, don’t mess with her. She’s a girl who goes lớn extremes.When she can, she soothes; and when she wants … !Her fragrance lifts you higher, she rocks and shocks.
That’s all well and good, but I’m afraid I find nothing shocking or extreme about La Fille de Berlin. It’s a lovely rose scent which starts with peony-like roses before taking a fruity (and almost fruity-patchouli) turn, then becoming rather austere and, by the end, quite nondescript. I found it pretty average as a whole, and far preferred Lutens‘ Sa Majesté La Rose for a rose scent — và any number of other Lutens fragrances in general. If truth be told, La Fille de Berlin was actually a bit of a disappointment. I’m not alone in feeling that way. One of the handful of đánh giá already out is from Cosmetopica (who also couldn’t make head nor tails out of Lutens’ lyricism). She, too, found the perfume far less distinctive & exciting than many of Lutens’ other creations.
There is also an unexpectedly woody element, lượt thích that of a rose’s own stem, và elements of rich, wet soil. It’s an odd phối — greenness with earthy, loamy soil và the faintly woody aspect of a rose stem — & it makes me wonder if Christopher Sheldrake sought to disassemble every part of a rose before putting them back together again. He’s done that deconstruction trick for Lutens before; it was handled brilliantly with the tuberose flower in Tubereuse Criminelle.
Ten minutes in, La Fille de Berlin begins lớn take on a fruity aspect. At first, it’s the unexpected scent of cherries. Then, it’s just a general fruity smell under the veneer of sweetness and it strongly resembles some purple patchouli fragrances I smelled last year. Specifically, it calls lớn mind Marc Jacobs‘ Lola and, to lớn a much lesser extent, Chanel‘s Coco Noir. Both are scents with rose, a fruity patchouli element, notes of pear, pink peppercorn, and geranium, over a base of musk. As the Fragrantica notes demonstrate, Lola, in particular, is a primarily rose & peppercorn perfume with fruity-patchouli overtones. I own Lola và Coco Noir, so I sprayed on a little bit of each on my legs khổng lồ see if I was just imagining things.
Purple rose at Warwick Castle, England. Photo provided with permission by CC from “Slightly Out of Sync” blog.
I was not imagining things. Though Lola opens with heavy fruit notes, it soon develops into something extremely similar to the jammy, peppercorn rose in La Fille de Berlin. Coco Noir is completely different in its opening, but it too has that jammy, purple, fruity patchouli element in its middle stages. (I reviewed it here, if you’re interested.) It should be noted that Christopher Sheldrake (who undoubtedly created La Fille de Berlin) was also responsible for Coco Noir, along with Chanel’s in-house perfumer, Jacques Polge. But it is really khổng lồ Lola that La Fille de Berlin seems most similar at the start. The main differences is that the latter is slightly less fruity, much more subtle and fresh, & of infinitely better quality. There is nary a screeching synthetic in sight — which is much more than I can say for Mr. Jacobs’ creation.
Two hours in, La Fille de Berlin changes. The sillage drops even further, và the perfume takes on a cold, austere, almost metallic bent. It loses what warmth it had and becomes a linear progression that is predominantly rose with trắng musk & light sandalwood. It is far from exciting. Victoria from Bois de Jasmin had a far sexier time with the scent, experiencing amber, musk & faintly “naughty” bits:
A couple of hours later, my skin smells of amber & musk. La Fille de Berlin has an intriguing animalic chú ý that would be untoward & raunchy if the rest of the composition were not so refined & polished. The reference here seems khổng lồ be Serge Lutens’s own Muscs Koublaï Khan <…> a rose wrapped into so much musk and civet that it becomes something else altogether. La Fille de Berlin, on the other hand, is much less musk and more rose, & it’s well-behaved enough to be worn khổng lồ the office without raising anyone’s alarm. But when you press your wrist to your nose, you notice the naughty and smoldering bits. The impressive tenacity will ensure that you will be aware of La Fille de Berlin for the entire day.
I only wish I had her experience; it sounds infinitely more interesting! Having just tested extreme animalic musk & naughtiness in Parfum d’Empire’s Musc Tonkin, I’d be quite alert to the presence of any skanky notes or civet in La Fille de Berlin, no matter how minute & refined. But, alas, I simply don’t smell it here. No amber, either. There is some earthiness which was there from the start, though faint, but I attribute it lớn the undertones of what seemed more like patchouli than animalic elements. And, even so, on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being extreme earthiness), I’d place the lưu ý at a 3.5 at the start & at a mere 1 towards the end. Instead, something else is much more evident. I swear, even in the dry-down, there is a fruity note! It is much, much more subtle than it was at the start, but it is still there. I find it excessively sweet, và I blame it on the pepper which has khổng lồ be closer khổng lồ the fruitier type of pink peppercorn berries than to lớn anything black and biting.
As a whole, my experience with the final hours was much closer, again, lớn that of Cosmetopica. She owns và loves Muscs Koublai Khan, so she would have noticed any animalic similarities had she encountered them. Instead, she detected milky sandalwood in the dry-down. I agree; I found a definite creamy, soft, milky aspect to lớn things, though lớn my nose it didn’t smell like strong or, even, genuine sandalwood. More lượt thích an ersatz cousin, if you will. For the most part, it was mild và quite overwhelmed by the white musk và by that endless fruity element.
La Fille de Berlin had average sillage và very good longevity. The perfume projected for the first twenty minutes before settling in to lớn become much more discreet. It became close khổng lồ the skin about three hours in, though it was still strongly noticeable if you brought your wrist to lớn your nose. The overall duration of the scent was a little under nine hours on me. On Cosmetopica, it was eight; on Victoria from Bois de Jasmin, “the whole day.”
All in all, La Fille de Berlin is well-behaved, refined, unisex perfume that is perfectly pleasant — with all the implications that accompany that last adjective. As Cosmetopica’s reviews noted, one buys niche perfumes with their higher price tag for something that is slightly more distinctive và interesting. Serge Lutens has perfumes that run the gamut from being intellectually brilliant masterpieces that are not versatile scents for everyday use, khổng lồ things that are simply lovely and constantly wearable, to lớn scents that are occasionally just perfectly “nice.”
This is the latter. Though the bright pink colour of the liquid is absolutely gorgeous và though I wanted to lớn love it, at the end of the day, I found La Fille de Berlin khổng lồ be quite boring. And, for reasons I can’t quite pinpoint, it wasn’t a particularly happy scent in my mind either, unlike Sa Majesté La Rose. (That conclusion doesn’t even consider Mr. Lutens’ incredibly dark & depressing backstory for the perfume which, ideally, I shall forget about as soon as possible.) However, as with every review, perfume is a wholly subjective thing — so what may not be my cup of tea may be a ravishingly sophisticated, discreet rose scent for others. As always, it’s best to try it & see for yourself.