Sarrasins – Serge Lutens

First things first: apologies for slacking with updates on the blog, and kudos to all the other bloggers out there who are keeping their readers interested throughout the Christmas/New Year holidays – it’s hugely impressive and has kept me busy reading! :D
As for me, I’ve had tons going on, and the sheer amount of samples I have yet to write about has left me overwhelmed to a point where I have gone blank and not been writing, so – my regular posts will slowly come back, bare with me! :)

I first tried Sarrasins in the Palais Royal on my holidays last year, and a kind BN’er sent me a little sample of it to live with so I could write about it back home. I have worn it on and off for the last few days now so here’s my take on this niche classic.


Sarrasins starts with a subtle medicinal aroma that brings to mind Tubereuse Criminelle, only much more subdued, overlaid with a bucket of fruit – I get a strong honeyed pear (phenyl ethyl acetate?) and a sweet berry smell, maybe raspberry? Which quickly becomes undercut and overwhelmed by a heavily indolic jasmine.

I have to admit, the indole scared me the first few times I tried this. It was too fecal, too soiled, too dense and unappetizing – and you all know I’m one for challenging fragrances. I like indole too – I love the curdled bubblegum floral of Charogne, the intense (but incredible) Sepia, and the yet to be reviewed beauty that is Une Fleur De Cassie – but here, in Sarrasins, it was all a little too blunt. But now, after exploring the top notes a little further, I find they balance out the indole perfectly, and no longer do I get overwhelmed by the fecal floral.

The jasmine is much less intense than I anticipated, in fact, it’s quite translucent and light on the skin – but intense in its indolic concentration. Sarrasins however isn’t quite a soliflore – I get a little clovey hit of carnation, the jammy apricot floral of osmanthus (thankfully much nicer than the catastrophe of Nuit De Cellophane), and also a little bit of cream-cheese gardenia (very similar to it’s use in the new Une Voix Noire).

Unfortunately this floral bouquet grinds on me a little bit after a while, and its linear nature – along with that persistent scent of “decay” spreading underneath – makes me tired of having it on my skin within an hour or two. The drydown turns a little leathery and musky, bordering on dirty/clean yet again. If I cling onto the carnation/gardenia below the jasmine, I enjoy it a little more – but it’s too much hard work.

Now, I’m making it sound like Sarrasins is really difficult. It’s not. I have much more challenging stuff in my full bottle collection that I love to wear; Sarrasins to me is neither particularly challenging or particularly easy to wear, and for that reason, I don’t get as much enjoyment as I’d hope out of it. It is however a standout jasmine (which is, along with osmanthus and carnation, my least favourite floral – it’s amazing I like this at all isn’t it!), and I definitely recommend it. Personally it’s a little too straightforward for me, which sounds silly considering how much I love Tawaf (another straight forward jasmine), but there we go :)

Let me know what you guys think of Sarrasins, and what is your favourite jasmine soliflore?

Sarrasins 75ml Bell Jar Serge Lutens – 130 Euros

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17 thoughts on “Sarrasins – Serge Lutens

  1. lucasai says:

    Lovely review Freddie. Sarrasins sounds like a quite challenging kind of scent. Actually I don’t have to mind dealing with finding a sample of it to try since it will be included in sandalwood & jasmine sample pass organized by one of BN girls.

    • It is and it isn’t… I guess it depends on what you find a challenge. At first the indole was just gross – now it’s just the supporting notes I find annoying. Still, it’s a nicely composed scent and it’s thankfully quiet and tame enough on the skin not to be overpowering. Still, I prefer Tawaf for my jasmine soliflore :P

  2. Woodgirl says:

    Actually, Sarrasins is about the only jasmine I enjoy. It reminds me of a small flowering weed that I used to love that grew in the alley beside my grandmother’s house. I’m beginning to think I just don’t smell most of the fecal notes I read about. Living in a swamp with three earthy dogs & a retired husband has probably raised the threshold for me.

    • I think with fecal notes – they’re not literal, so unless you’ve smell something concentrated – then you finally will understand what they smell like. Musk for example, like animalic musk doesn’t literally smell fecal – I didn’t detect it in Muscs Koublai Khan until I smelt Untitled No.8 (more concentrated) – and then I could detect it. Same goes for indole, I’ve tried isolated indole, and now I get it instantly in things. It’s more of a decay smell than fecal to me, but definitely “soiled”.
      Anyway, this one does seem to get a lot of love. I guess memories like yours can draw you to a scent more easily and make any challenging notes acceptable. The thought of living in a swamp is like a dream!! No joke. Thanks for reading Woodgirl :D

  3. Kafkaesque says:

    I’m so glad you reviewed this. I’ve been curious about it for quite a while, especially after reading Luca Turin’s love for it in his book. Of course, I disagree with Mr. Turin as much as I agree with him, probably more, and I suspect this may be another one where we part ways. I have to say, your comments about “fecal floral” are a bit alarming. I had soapy horse manure from Cuir de Russie which was too much to bear, and I’m not sure “fecal floral” sounds much better. I can handle the smell of decay, in part, as in fragrances like Bandit, but the fecal notes….. hm.

    My favorite jasmine soliflore, theoretically, is Lutens’ A La Nuit. But since the latter lasts all of about 30 minutes on my skin, I don’t own it or wear it. But I find the smell simply gorgeous. I shall have to look into getting a sample of Tawaf. Thanks for an intriguing and fascinating review to read, Freddie.

    • I wouldn’t be put off by my description of fecal floral – the fecal notes are simply indole (which are a little quieter in A La Nuit), it’s not from the musk or the leather here like in Cuir De Russie as you mention. Although in the Chanel I don’t get that dirtiness at all really. But then again, Bandit is super clean on my skin too.
      Heavy indole and jasmine doesn’t really push my “like” buttons, and rarely do I use fecal as a word to put people off – although it should… we’re wierd aren’t we?
      Definitely try and get a sample of Tawaf, it is gorgeous. But it doesn’t last long, I don’t mind reapplying though :)
      Also Fig and Secret Garden are brilliant jasmine heavy fragrances, both by Aftelier. Oh and of course Maroc Pour Elle by Tauer, gorgeous.

      • Kafkaesque says:

        Ah, okay. I don’t mind indoles at all (I adore Fracas, which should tell you something), so I will definitely seek this one out to try, along with Tawaf. I can’t believe that Bandit is super clean on your skin!!! *gasp* How funny. I love seeing how widely perfume can vary from person to person. It makes each one a fascinating exploration and each review have something to add to the impression. :) As for Andy Tauer scents, they are high on my list of things to explore. A friend is sending a small sample of L’Air du Desert Marocain which should arrive Monday, so that I’m extremely excited to try that. I hear nothing but the best about all his fragrances.

      • Haha! And again… I get no indole out of Fracas either – or at least nothing noticeable.
        Yep, Bandit is just a clean, bitter green floral – nothing dirty there :)
        I look forward to reading your thoughts on L’Air – it’s not at all my favourite, but it’s impossible not to like, it sums up Andy’s style completely and on further exploration you will pick up hints of L’Air in other works of his, it’s a “must try” as an introduction to the Tauer line.

  4. Hylda says:

    I bought a sample of Sarrasins last winter and it was love at first sniff! I was sad to see the bottom of my 1 ml vial, but I’ll never need a whole bell jar. A little goes a long way. I can see why you’re not a fan. It’s not for everyone. I only wore it in my art studio with the door shut! That stuff will knock people over. Love it!

    Thanks for posting. I always love your reviews.

    • I find it quite subtle on my skin, it’s crazy you find it so loud! Body chemistry plays such a huge part in perfumery I’m sure. Lovely to read your secret passion for this, wearing it only in private :P I do that with M/Mink at the minute, but I think I may brave it and splash it all over for work tomorrow! Hahaha.
      Thanks Hylda I really appreciate that :D x

  5. I have to go back to this one. Maybe try dabbing it instead just sniffing on the blotter . . .

    My favorite jasmine soliflore isn’t really a perfume per se. It’s Rodin’s Olio Lusso, their facial oil. It’s thick, but smells divine. I hear they have a fragrance too that smells exactly like the oil, but I can’t verify that.

    • Definitely on the skin, you have to! Things just don’t work on paper :(
      Ooooh that sounds gorgeous! I’m gonna look into that. I hate it when body products smell incredibly and you go on a hunt for a perfume that matches.

      • The Olio Lusso is lovely. Thick, rich. It costs a fortune, but botox costs more :-)

        I need to figure out a better way to keep track of what I have smelled and what I haven’t. Currently, I have this messy notebook and when pressed, I can only remember if I liked it or not! Isn’t that disorganized of me?

  6. Undina says:

    I love the color of this perfume. But the scent isn’t that nice on me.

    My favorite jasmine (not sure about the soliflore part) is By Kilian’s Love & Tears followed by Dior’s Grand Bal.

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