Perfume forums are buzzing today with news regarding the upcoming Serge Lutens fragrance, Chypre Rouge. According to someone who had the opportunity to test it, the fragrance smells quite a bit like Arabie, except for the fact that it is sweeter. The only notes that are mentioned in the documentation received were beeswax and moss. Reportedly, the perfume smells like caramelized pecan on a base of oak. It does not really smell like a chypre, except in the base notes. Update: notes include oakmoss, oak wood, labdanum, honey, beeswax.
This perfume continues to be the product of a collaboration between Serge Lutens and Chris Sheldrake despite the fact that Sheldrake has now transferred to the house of Chanel. The perfume was created a year and a half ago, before Sheldrake's departure. Some people seem to think that the situation is a bit complex, but it has been officially confirmed that their collaboration will continue according to the French journal L'Express...
The Belgian perfume store, Senteurs d'Ailleurs, offers Lutens' poetic story line that traces back to the images and symbols that were the sources of his inspiration for Chypre Rouge, "Childhood… an intense world where we feel so small. It was late fall in the woods of Vendee. With its carpet of leaves, its trees and shrubs, the forest gave me the feeling that I was a minute cell floating in a giant organism: aortas, veins, vessels, ramified trees that gave life to a fantastic world to which I belonged. But the tournament ends. Blood has spilled on the shields and helmets. Fair ladies dressed in brocade, gold, silk and damask, have shut their eyes and regained their fortress of silence.Winter is on its way with its dagger of cold. The woods are in mourning.The tall trees rocked by the wind look like knights in rusty armors, exhausted after battle. I remember looking at the forest ground, covered with dead leaves, and found it both macabre and beautiful. Something caught my attention: a strange patch of moss at the base of a tree, it looked as if it were bleeding, purple and red.(...)"
This description is all the more poignant when one knows that Serge Lutens was an abandoned child (it is not entirely clear whether he was abandoned morally or physically). He explains himself that women who abandon their children rarely reject them, in fact they often abandon them because they love them. He evokes the day his mother got remarried and how on her wedding day she wore a black dress embroidered with jet beads.
I just wanted to cry when I read this interview where he alluded to episodes of his childhood, not so much because of what he said as because of what he didn't say. I cannot help but think that the "bleeding moss" at the foot of a tree is like his suffering child's heart. The tall trees are the adults that made him suffer by their battles and the cold of winter is the lack of love he experienced. The fair ladies who regain their fortress of silence make me think of his mother. The mythological medieval world that surrounds him are the dream world of a child that is happier in that world than in reality. Yet, he cannot escape reality completely, it catches up with him, when "the tournament ends', and shows him how his heart is bleeding.
In this sense, I understand better the inclusion of a caramelized pecan accord in the perfume, it is a child's note; it therefore belongs to that complex of emotions and symbols with which he tells the story of his childhood. As he reveals himself, perhaps unwillingly, his perfumes contain his secrets.
Chypre Rouge will be available mid-July at the Salons Shiseido and other specialized perfumeries. Senteurs d'Ailleurs will carry it starting mid-July as well. It is part of the export line, so it will be widely available in places like Sephora and Marionnaud starting in September in Europe. In an adroit marketing move from Parfums Shiseido, perfumeries located in vacation seaside resorts in France will also receive early shippings of Chypre Rouge to benefit from the tourism's high season.
Sources: Amabilia, Autour de Serge, Now Smell This, Senteurs d'Ailleurs, Article by Marie-Dominique Lelièvre in L'Express of 16 Feb 2006.
Later today, I will post a review of George Sand by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier.