Thursday, April 2, 2015

A haiku in olfactory realm

Chêne by Serge Lutens



Once a friend of mine said Serge Lutens is David Lynch of perfume world for his extraordinary contexts of smell but after testing about more than half of the creations of the house I think if we're gonna make an example from cinema Ingmar Bergman is the right one; the ultimate portrait in entire cinema who himself is synonym of cinema just as Lutens and of course his talented nose; Christopher Sheldrake; are that for olfactory arts!
What is precious in perfumery for me is either making ultra realistic scents or ultra twisted with abstraction that houses like Serge Lutens or Frederic Malle has already done it with thick portfolio in both cases.


Chêne is a distinct case in Frederick Sheldrake's arts. It's rare and hard to find, truly exclusive and, in the context of the smell, it is unique by all means and simple at the title suggests. Yet it is also hard to explain and review. This is the common moral for most of Serge Lutens creations: one has to struggle to write maybe cause the perfumes are tightly enchained with deep emotions! I write down my feelings but believe me what I'm smelling cannot be fit in any concept and vocabulary.
The French Revolution not only cut off the king's head, but cut down the emblematic oak... by inference, the king of trees. The oak is a tree of many connotations: wooden barrels full of rum, stately homes and hardwood floors worn by the tread of aristocratic feet.
Serge Lutens

During the French Revolution of 1789 lots of aristocrats and the king Louis XVI were guillotined and because the oak was the "king of trees" used by aristocrats in their houses for making wine barrels and luxurious furniture, the revolutionaries did cut this kind of tree in France as a symbolic gesture considered as royal and aristocratic, so, like something to be banned.

La Liberté guidant le peuple (Liberty Leading People), Eugène Delacroix, 1830
It's not related to the revolution of 1789 but probably it is the most famous revolution painting inspired bu the July revolution of 1830. I could not find any illustrated source referring to cutting oaks however there seems to be some written researches and books in this filed from which "Forests in Revolutionary France: Conservation, Community, and Conflict, 1669–1848, Kieko Matteson" may be useful.

Chêne is a sepia urban woodsy fragrance, highly and proudly stays on the peak of its category; being divided from many other wood noted perfumes. It has always been admired by woodsy fans; like me!
It opens with sizzling and warm sensual aura of immense yet nocturnal oak wood brought by tannin's acrid bitterness taste and luxury aged reserved barrel rum! Rum; not necessarily for its taste but for its smell; is my most beloved beverage absolute in perfumes. Every touch if this booze make an sexy vibe out of any random smell! The opening is slightly striking for oak and rum combo that is like un-iced drink. The combination of dramatic smell of oak and optimistic "carpe diem" smell of rum conclude in an incredible aura.


What is interesting about oaks for me is that oaks do not smell the same way in the forests that they do in carpentry. In the woods you mostly get mossy and wet cold smell of their limbos beneath their mother who spread her hands all over to provide a vast cold shivering shade with swampy smell. But in carpentry, oak wood smells sensual and adorable slightly reminiscent of Catholic frankincense with their divinely omen smell full of mystery. That's oak, the king, the philosopher and the elder of woods. See! I said I can't talk about Chêne but I'm still writing!
I wonder, first because only few people try and review Chêne and then because barely one indicates the blood of Serge Lutens perfumes: caraway. Caraway is the fundamental element of buttom and the very factor behind charming oak/rum combo; also, beside Chêne, caraway is repeated in many other creations of the house with its famous shriveled sense of soft incense-like or dried leaves-like smell. With slight smoke, cured sweetness and spicy theme it opens; and walks towards end through wild immortelle, caraway, and cedar. Here, caraway delivers a sense of requiem to the oak and makes the late coming foot layer much different from the opening.
Chêne is an intellectual and smart array of few notes in the rightest possible way and that's Serge Lutens' miracle. It's simple yet elaborate and densely comprehensive like haiku poems. It's like playing chess without queen!

Carpe Odor!

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