Serge Lutens La Religieuse

“Snow” is a word that comes up quite a bit in Serge Lutens‘ descriptions for La Religieuse, his latest release that debuted in Paris at the start of February and one that is officially characterized as a jasmine fragrance. I think the word “snow” is absolutely accurate in describing the opening of the scent with its icy and “crystalline” aesthetic, but La Religieuse was hardly the jasmine soliflore that I expected. It was nothing like A La Nuit, Sarrasins, or any other jasmine soliflore that I’ve tried for that matter. Frankly, if I smelt it blindly, the word “jasmine” would be at the very end of my list of descriptors. Instead, the name “De Profundis” would come up within minutes, which might make some of you very happy indeed.

Source:  wallpapers at hdw.eweb4.com

Source: wallpapers at hdw.eweb4.com

Source: Fragrantica.

Source: Fragrantica.

La Religieuse was created by Serge Lutens and his usual collaborator, Christopher Sheldrake. In French, “La Religieuse” has two meanings: either “the nun,” or a French pastry (a round, eclair-like, custard-filled, chocolate-covered choux pastry in two tiers). The perfume version is one of the black-labeled Haute Concentration eau de parfums, like L’OrphelineFille en Aiguilles and Santal Majuscule, and thus priced slightly higher than the regular export line.

On the Lutens website, La Religieuse is described in a very generalized, cursory fashion:

Deliver us from Good! Jasmine petals are as white as snow.
Black is my religion.

There is also a video set in a snow-covered convent or monastery in which Serge Lutens recounts an allegorical tale (with English subtitles), but it adds almost nothing to the description of the scent except to re-emphasize the metaphoric “snow,” placed within quotes. For those of you who are huge fans of Oncle Serge, though, here’s the video:

However, in an interview with the Madame Figaro section of France’s Le Figaro, Serge Lutens briefly talks about La Religieuse, essentially saying (in translation):

It is a pure and crystalline jasmine with a civet background, more animal, say the experts. For me, it embodies the purity and sensual of femininity. One that haunts me forever. An icy woman who burns her fingers. Good and evil at the same time. White like the snow.

In terms of notes, it’s a guessing game as always, as Oncle Serge never gives out specifics, but numerous sites and several retailers state the note list is:

jasmine, incense, civet and musk.

Chrysanthemum. Source: wpapers.ru

Chrysanthemum. Source: wpapers.ru

That list clearly gives the impression that La Religieuse is a jasmine fragrance first and foremost, but I smell very different things with notes that far overshadow the jasmine a good portion of the time. Based on what appears on my skin, my guess list would be something like this:

Chrysanthemum, Casablanca lily, something citrusy, civet, green notes, possibly violet, clean musk, possibly hyacinth, Cashmeran wood, and jasmine.

Source: kitchendaily.com

Source: kitchendaily.com

Part of the problem in trying to pull out the notes — and, indeed, in describing most of La  Religieuse as a whole — is that the vast majority of notes are essentially blurred past all recognition on my skin. Furthermore, the few which are very clear end up varying in their strength and prominence from one of my arms to the other. Basically, there were two notes were extremely distinct on one arm and in two tests, because they almost screamed from the rooftops at a high-pitch decibel. They were: a bergamot-like note that verged on a very acidic lemon encased in ice, and an extremely synthetic, sharp civet that was so scratchy at times that I actually did think of a nun’s severe habit. On my other arm, however, they were better behaved and more balanced.

Casablanca lily via fanfiction.net

Casablanca lily via fanfiction.net

On both arms, however, they were easier to detect than the specific florals used in the scent. For the most part, La Religieuse smelt of De Profundis-like chrysanthemums and Casablanca lilies on my skin. Sometimes, one flower was more prominent than the other; most of the time they were fully fused together; and all of the time, they overwhelmed the purported jasmine. The latter was barely noticeable, and most certainly not for the first 90 minutes. Instead, on one arm (the same one with the acidic bergamot), there were definite streaks of an amorphous violet ionone that smelled lemony, very green, and somewhat metallic. On occasion, there were also whiffs of something green that continuously made me think of hyacinths, though it was also abstract in smell and never like real hyacinth blooms with their strong sweetness, rich depth, or floral liquidity.

Source: srcrefrigeration.com

A florist’s fridge. Source: srcrefrigeration.com

Quite frequently, however, all the flowers were blurred into a singular mass, and felt faceless, nameless, and shapeless on my skin, especially once the first 90 minutes had passed. Identification became even harder because the floral accords are covered by a thick blanket of “snow.” In a clever perfumer’s sleight of hand by Christopher Sheldrake, he’s somehow brought out an icy quality to all the flowers — that “crystalline” profile referenced by Monsieur Lutens in his Figaro interview — and the end result feels as though you’ve been blasted by the cold depths of a florist’s freezer or fridge. In short, La Religieuse feels like a mixed floral bouquet whose predominant trait in the first hour is iciness and whiteness, more than any one particular flower. But it is certainly not a jasmine soliflore laced with smoky incense on my skin.

I’ve managed to test La Religieuse a few times since I got my sample (it doesn’t last for a huge amount of time on my skin), and the general parameters are always the same. This is not a complex scent that twists and morphs with great frequency, like some of the revolutionary Serge Lutens masterpieces in the Paris Bell Jar line. It is largely a simple, linear scent without great clarity of notes or distinctive stages. The main thing that separates one test from the other is in the prominence and volume of certain notes. Sometimes, amidst the perpetual fog that is La Religieuse — and I mean fog in almost every possible metaphoric, symbolic sense possible — sometimes, a few of the notes shrieked at me. It depended solely on how much of the fragrance I applied and on which arm. That is a question of degree, but the general parameters remained largely consistent. Part I: an icy fog of amorphous floralcy dominated mostly by white lilies and chrysanthemum that are infused with varying degrees of a lemony citrus, civet, white-green notes, and clean white musk. Part II: blurry, generally white, abstract florals with a creamy, Cashmerean undertone and a touch of sweetness.

"Ice Flower" by Julia Bruch on Deviant Art. Direct website link embedded within.)

“Ice Flower” by Julia Bruch on Deviant Art. Direct website link embedded within.)

It is a fragrance with some kinship to Serge Lutens’ De Profundis, a scent that I never found to be melancholy despite its official description but, rather, an uplifting, delicate, haunting, utterly evocative beauty that always calls to mind a cool Spring morning in a floral meadow. However, I don’t think La Religieuse is as beautiful, complex, evocative, and masterful as De Profundis. It’s definitely not as nuanced, and is sometimes not as well-balanced or harmonious, either. In truth, I only like La Religieuse during those brief moments when it reminds me of De Profundis and, even then, my feelings are strongly tempered by the issue of the acidic citrus and the synthetic, angular civet. In one of my tests, both notes stuck out at a sharp 90-degree angle from everything else, and to such a degree and with such abrasive harshness that I kept thinking about a nun’s scratchy, severe habit (the old-style clothing).

Photo: Juergen Roth. Source: apogeephoto.com

Photo: Juergen Roth. Source: apogeephoto.com

It helps you to have specifics about La Religieuse’s development, I’ll share the details of one of my tests. The perfume opens on my skin with a sour citrus note infused with white lilies and chrysanthemums, green notes, and possibly violets, all shot through with very synthetic civet that feels sharp and with similarly sharp white musk. The last two elements are very distinct, and as abrasively scratchy as steel wool. (A continuation of the theme in Laine de Verre?) In contrast to the citrus/civet, the florals feel blurred and out of focus, resulting in a scent that feels primarily like the amorphous bouquet you get when you open a florist’s fridge.

Source: fastatforty.blogspot.com

Source: fastatforty.blogspot.com

During the first hour, La Religieuse gets icier with every passing minute, blocking out the shape of the individual flowers. The mental image changes from a florist’s fridge to Spring flowers buried under snow, which is rather apt for large parts of the United States right now. The difference is that this large pile of snow is sprayed with sour notes whose acidity sometimes, on one arm, actually verges on ammoniac pee. The civet is never properly animalic or skanky, but something about its interaction with that awful, sour lemon is simply deadly on my skin in the first 60-90 minutes. Thankfully, its ammonia-like aroma isn’t major and it also doesn’t show up in every test, but I’m not enthused on the acidic citrus/lemon that is common to all my tests. I’m also not keen on the violet-like note which also has a lemon-like nuance under all the greenness. And, as always, the clean, white musk is my nemesis — a note I loathe in generally but particularly when it is as sharp and pointed as it is here.

White Peony. Photo: Will Borden on Fineartamerica.  (Website link embedded within photo.)

Photo: Will Borden on Fine Art America. (Website link embedded within photo.)

I think one of the problems is that La Religieuse’s opening lacks sufficient sweetness to counteract and dilute some of the sharper notes. Flowers like jasmine and white lilies have an obvious streak of sweetness that can be amped up or weakened in a scent, depending on a perfumer’s vision. In Serge Lutens’ Un Lys, the namesake lily was almost syrupy; in A La Nuit, the jasmine was concentrated to its brightest, deepest, and, yes, sweetest essence; in the mixed-bag Nuit de Cellophane, the peony, osmanthus, and other flowers were bipolar in how they manifested themselves on my skin, but excessively sweet fruitiness was definitely one extreme. Even De Profundis and La Fille de Berlin — two scents whose floralcy bears varying degrees of coolness — even their flowers had a certain degree of innate sweetness. But it feels very different in La Religieuse, because the flowers are more severe, perhaps because of the “snow” has rendered them so icy, or perhaps because the lemon/civet combination is so strong.

Source: background-pictures.picphotos.net

Source: background-pictures.picphotos.net

Time and distance help La Religieuse. Distance helps make the scent feel less sharp, minimizing the awful lemon and cheap civet, though the white musk continues to blare away. Time leads to a softening of the notes. It’s the first hour which is truly the worst, and improvement begins slowly at the start of the second hour when the fragrance turns warmer and the first glimmer of something creamy stirs in the base. Like almost everything else to do with La Religieuse, it is hard to distinguish at first but, eventually, by the 3rd hour, you can make out the shape of Cashmerean. It lends a softness to the scent that isn’t exactly like the Shea butter which it sometimes wafts and isn’t exactly like beige woods, but something in-between. It is the thinnest of layers in the base, but it helps.

Photo "Dancing Light" by Mark Engelbrecht on Flickr. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Photo “Dancing Light” by Mark Engelbrecht on Flickr. (Direct website link embedded within.)

The end of the first hour brings about other changes as well. Whatever minimal shape the chrysanthemum or lilies occasionally demonstrated, whatever clarity there was in the floral notes, it completely fades away as all the flowers blur into one. In one test, one arm suddenly started to waft away the tiniest tendrils of jasmine. Finally! Green, barely sweet, fresh, generally cool, but clearly jasmine nonetheless, even if it was merely the tiniest dash that quickly melted into the rest of the bouquet. Unfortunately, in the majority of my tests, the jasmine was barely distinguishable as a clear, individual, and separate note. All that really happens is that the bouquet takes on a white-hued sweetness that, once in a blue moon, smells like it has a touch of jasmine but generally smells mostly of white lilies.

Other developments are more consistent, regardless of arm and in all my tests. 90 minutes in, the hideous citrus and synthetic civet finally retreat to the sidelines, the clean musk becomes quieter, and La Religieuse turns into a creamy floral that hovers just an inch or less above the skin. It no longer has any whiffs of something resembling violets, no longer feels icy cold, and is better balanced. Over the next hour, the white musk slowly recedes to the sidelines to join the awful lemon and civet, and a vague suggestion of something possibly woody takes its place. It’s hard to tell because everything is so shapeless. For the most part, La Religieuse is merely a hazy floral with white-ish hues, some sweetness, and an undertone of creaminess. It occasionally wafts out lilies, and a touch of chrysanthemum, but the jasmine has gone into the witness protection program.

Source: galleryhip.com

Source: galleryhip.com

And that’s truly it for the scent. From the 2.5 hour mark until its very end, La Religieuse is merely a blurry, amorphous floral. Nothing else happens except an increased softness in the notes, as well as the perfume’s body and its overall projection. Regardless, it is a pretty scent whose creamy softness is lovely, and I thoroughly enjoyed the drydown. I can’t say that I find it interesting or beautiful; I’m not gushing over it; I didn’t find it compulsively sniffable; but it was very nice. The best word to describe it is “pretty.”

As a whole, La Religieuse is consistently a very airy, delicate, demure scent on my skin with very little projection and absolutely no scent trails, even when I applied quite a bit. I find it rather confusing and bewildering that Serge Lutens classifies this as an “Haute Concentration” fragrance because I’m not sure how it could get softer, thinner, or weaker. Certainly, a good number of his regular, non-concentrated scents are stronger and more robust on my skin. So is De Profundis, though that is hardly an intense powerhouse with nuclear force.

Still, La Religieuse seems extra-soft in terms of projection, and the longevity is merely average. My skin often has problems with longevity, particularly for pure floral soliflores which it eats with frustrating speed, but projection and sillage are rarely an issue. Using 3 massive smears that essentially rendered a patch of my forearm completely wet, and that was roughly equal to 3 big sprays from an actual bottle, La Religieuse initially opened with 3 inches. The perfume felt very thin in body, almost translucent at times. After 90 minutes, La Religieuse lay roughly 0.5 inches above the skin, and became a skin scent just under 3.25 hours. All in all, it lasted just a hair above 7.5 hours. When I used a more normal quantity (2 good smears equal to 2 spritzes from a bottle), La Religieuse opened with 2-3 inches of projection, dropped to 1 inch after 30 minutes, and then roughly 0.5 inches before the first hour was over. It became a skin scent 2.5 hours into its development, and I had to bring my nose right to my arm to detect it. It lasted 6.5 hours in total. Using an amount equal to 1 spray from a bottle, the scent was incredibly weak on me and only lasted 4.75 hours.

I have very mixed feelings about La Religieuse. On the one hand, I’m relieved that Oncle Serge is no longer giving us fiber-glass florals with synthetic shards of glass, steely metallics, and/or laundry-detergent soapiness. (No, I still haven’t gotten over Laine de Verre and La Vierge de Fer. I doubt I will for a while.) La Religieuse almost gives me hope that Oncle Serge might be returning to the style that made De Profundis so wonderful, only some of the notes here aren’t my personal cup of tea, thereby rendering the scent more an issue of tastes.

De Profundis. Source: Fragrantica.

De Profundis. Source: Fragrantica.

On the other hand, though, I really don’t think La Religieuse is a brilliant scent, not by Serge Lutens standards. It’s not a bad fragrance at all and, at times during its drydown from the 4th hour onwards, it’s almost quite pretty. After its icy start, it’s a nice white-green, cold floral with a creamy undertone and a quiet elegance. Really, as basic, uncomplicated, amorphous, faceless florals go, it’s quite pleasant. Unfortunately, I expect more from Oncle Serge, especially at $150 for a 50 ml bottle of fragrance that is generally quite discreet on me with iffy longevity. Frankly, the faint, fleeting whispers of De Profundis are the only thing that make La Religieuse interesting or appealing to me but, the rest of the time, it lacks real personality and distinctiveness (except for the iciness of the start). Does it even feel like a Serge Lutens fragrance when taken as a whole? Sometimes. If I focus hard and if I think back on his catalogue of florals, then, yes, sometimes. Maybe. Well, parts of it do, I suppose. Could I have picked this out as a Lutens fragrance if I had smelled it blindly in a row of floral scents from other houses? I’m honestly not sure. A good part of me doesn’t think so.

Jasmine (sambac). Source: flowerhomes.blogspot.com

Jasmine (sambac). Source: flowerhomes.blogspot.com

On Fragrantica, there are a few reviews already for La Religieuse, and many are quite positive. For one person, the perfume resembled the choux/puff pastry by the same name mixed with jasmine but, for the vast majority, it was a non-foodie scent with jasmine, some other flowers, and civet. Several people talk about an incense note that they seem to have detected. One poster called La Religieuse unisex in nature because it was “a kind of modern interpretation of a soapy floral.. Don’t expect the lush creamy jasmin, no it is the more fresh, crispy, grassy jasmin interpretation with good sillage and average longevity.” Someone else shared the view of “green freshness,” though she found La Religieuse to have a “sweet/sharp accord” as well.

One commentator found “a whisper of De Profundis,” along with “other whispers … of jasmine, incence, musk (and as one reviewer noted) mimosa, honeysuckle and narcissus.” She added: “La Religieuse transported me to a little church in the French countryside, then to a flower market full of white flowers, then I ended up window shopping for cashmere on a very expensive street in Paris.”

There is very lukewarm, disappointed reaction, however, from one person, “Meama,” who writes:

I don’t know exactly what to think about this one. A very simple jasmine soliflore, freshly cut, supported by incense and musk. It’s so simple that it’s disappointing but it’s good also in it’s own restraint way..

I seem to be the only person to experience lilies, though the De Profundis mention by one poster suggests she detected chrysanthemums, too. For Persolaise, there were other flowers entirely: “honeysuckle, narcissus and mimosa.”

His review is mostly about the Lutensian narrative thread between earlier scents, La Religieuse, and L’Orpheline with discussions of innocence, gardens, sin, and some other allegorical stuff. In terms of how La Religieuse actually smells, though, he writes:

"Romantic Jasmine Bouquet" by Digifuture on redbubble.com

“Romantic Jasmine Bouquet” by Digifuture on redbubble.com

On an objective level, the scent is a soapy floral. The pre-release material has suggested that its main note is jasmine – and white petals are definitely present – but it’s years away from the grandiloquent voice of A La Nuit and Sarrasins. In fact, the animalic aspect of the jasmine seems to have been eradicated completely, to be replaced by much more quietly-spoken blooms, namely honeysuckle, narcissus and mimosa. The wispy bouquet is tied with a translucent ribbon of grass and wrapped in a familiar-smelling embrace of velvety musks. It doesn’t sound hard-hitting and indeed, it isn’t. […][It has] breath-on-the-wind elusiveness.  […][¶]

… for all its verdant innocence, the perfume isn’t always easy to read. Its minimalist aesthetic brings with it a reluctance to reveal all its secrets. Yes, the floral line running through its centre is lucid, but it’s punctuated by several perplexing, decidedly synthetic accents. These range from almost-unnoticeable incense notes, to a barely-there ghost of blackcurrants, and even, brace yourselves, an intimation of Johnson’s baby shampoo, circa 1985.

We obviously had very different experiences, because the civet was quite noticeable on me, though I completely agree that it was never actually, properly animalic in nature and that it was one of the perfume’s many synthetic notes. I would have preferred it if the civet had been animalic, instead of mere sourness with an occasional ammonia-like vibe. As for the incense, it was even less evident on me than it was on him — to the point of nonexistence, actually. And I’m relieved I never detected any soap whatsoever, though the clean white musk undoubtedly contributed to the “snowy” coldness that I’ve talked about so much.

Where I completely agree with Persolaise is on the “decidedly synthetic accents,” the whiteness of the scent, its wispy quality, its minimalism, and just how hard the perfume is to dissect beyond the obvious “floral line running through it.” I see the difficulty as stemming, in part, from the perfume’s out-of-focus blurriness and from its overly basic simplicity but, unlike Persolaise, I’m unwilling to take a broad, theoretical, or narrative view of the scent in order to find it “more interesting.” I prefer to look at it here and now, in its specifics, so I’m afraid I don’t find La Religieuse to be very interesting at all.

It is, however, a pleasant scent at times, and one whose drydown is both pretty and enjoyable. On a unreservedly positive note, I love the purple-grey colour of the liquid.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: La Religieuse is an “Haute Concentration” Eau de Parfum that comes in a 50 ml bottle that costs €105 or $150. In the U.S.: You can buy La Religieuse from Twisted Lily, Luckyscent, the U.S. Lutens website, Barney’s, Aedes, or Parfum1. Luckyscent does not yet have the fragrance but should soon, since they carry the entire Lutens export line. I’ll update the link when they get it in stock. Outside the U.S.: In Canada, The Perfume Shoppe has a few Lutens export fragrances, but they don’t have La Religieuse yet. In fact, most Lutens retailers have not yet received the perfume, but I’ve provided general links that you can use if you read this review later. In Europe, you can buy La Religieuse from Serge Lutens’ International website. In the U.K., Serge Lutens export fragrances are available at Harrods, Liberty London, House of Fraser, and Les Senteurs. None of them show La Religieuse at the moment. For the rest of Europe, Premiere Avenue already has La Religieuse, and they ship worldwide. In Germany, First in Fragrance doesn’t carry Serge Lutens, but Essenza Nobile will have La Religieuse after February 26th. In France, Serge Lutens export fragrances are sold at Sephora. In Italy, the line is carried at Alla Violetta, amongst others places. In the Netherlands, you can find Lutens at Parfuma. In Australia, Serge Lutens is carried at Mecca Cosmetica. For all other retailers or locations, you can use the Serge Lutens Store Locator to find a vendor near you. Samples: A number of the sites linked above may offer samples when the perfume arrives. Surrender to Chance already has La Religieuse and sells it starting at $4.49 for a 1/2 ml vial. Twisted Lily also sells a sample. Both sites ship worldwide.

36 thoughts on “Serge Lutens La Religieuse

  1. If I’m being honest, I don’t really like the name. I find it gimmicky, in an irritating way.
    So I wasn’t compelled to try it until I read a few magic words: jasmine, incense, and De Profundis. I did try De profundis just last week, and I loved every bit of it. I found it incredibly elegant, gorgeous in a serene way. Loved, loved it. Your review did temper my enthusiasm a bit (I don’t mean it in a bad way!), Kafka, but I think I’ll still try it. I went perfume testing today (wearing L’Instant de Guerlain pour Homme and its Eau extrême version on each wrist – I especially like the latter), and didn’t see La religieuse. It should arrive soon.
    Is Lutens’ Sarrasins centered on jasmine? If so, I’ll put it on my to-try list. 🙂 I think I tested A la nuit, but I don’t remember much of it. I believe it left me unimpressed: it was thin, wispy, and disappeared quickly. I don’t remember its treatment of jasmine. I might have to try it again.

    (and while we’re at it, I’ve tried Fourreau Noir. I rather liked it, but not as much as De Profundis. I really, really enjoyed the opening of Fourreau Noir, its dark, smoky quality. And of course, my beloved incense! In the latter stage though, I got mostly grilled tonka beans laced with creamy lavender. Now, it was rather pleasant in itself, in a comforting way. Except I don’t expect a comfort scent out of a fragrance named Fourreau Noir! I expected more va-va-voom, like the opening, but I warrant it deserves an other test.
    And, finally, I managed to lay my hands on a bottle of Mitzah! I placed a few phone calls, and I’ve been lovingly hugging it these past few weeks. That is all. 🙂 )

    • Congratulations on the Mitzah! I am so glad you found a bottle. Did you have to call around to a lot of Dior shops before they unearthed a bottle in the back?

      As for Sarrasins, yes, it is centered on jasmine. A La Nuit had an incredibly brief longevity on my skin, too, and was very thin after its glorious beginning. Perhaps you can see if you have better luck with a really big application but, if you don’t, you’re not alone. For Fourreau Noir, apply more too, and see if you get more notes in the drydown. That said, even on me, the later hours are generally centered on tonka notes, but there is also patchouli and amber as well.

      I’m glad to hear you gave Guerlain’s LIDG and LIDGE (the Eau Extreme version) a try. I think more women should, as it would be a very popular scent with them if it had a unisex label as so many niche fragrances do. I think they’re both unisex, but I prefer the LIDGE Eau Extreme version myself. So do most people who like proper orientals.

      With regard to La Religieuse, I’m not surprised the name turned you off but I think you should give it a sniff since you love jasmine. The thing is, do NOT expect a substantial De Profundis-like bouquet or for the whispers to last. And don’t expect a scent that is as beautiful as De Profundis. Hopefully, though, you’ll get the jasmine soliflore that you would like and that others have described. Let me know how it appears on you, ma belle, d’accord? 🙂

      • No, it was fairly quick actually. Fun story: the lovely sale assistant sprayed the shopping bag with Mitzah. When I came back home, I couldn’t stop sniffing it. I buried my nose in it all evening long. Eh.

        I’ll keep Sarrasins in mind. Thanks for the advice regarding Fourreau Noir! I find having to dab it on frustrating. I much prefer spraying. Well, I’ll try to dab some more.

        I really really liked LIDGE. LIDG is nice, but far less suited to my personal taste. I think I’m very much inclined toward orientals.
        I make a point of also trying famous or interesting-sounding male fragrances. To the hell with arbitrary gender classifications!

        Oh, I’ll definitely try Religieuse when I find it, and I’ll make sure to get back to you!

        • I prefer spraying, too, and I didn’t really mean that you should dab Fourreau Noir rather than spraying it, just that you should increase your quantity to see if that helps with the notes and depth. 🙂

          Gosh, I’m *SOOOOOO* happy that you found Mitzah! Really, utterly thrilled for you. Now we just have to get you a sample of Anubis and see what you think of that one. Hugs to you and *your* reunited furry one!

          • I’m reporting back as promised! I did some testing today.
            I tried Fourreau Noir again (sprayed it), and it’s even less dark than what I remember (though I think I tried it on my other wrist last time). I got even less incense and smokiness in the beginning, unfortunately.Though I think I could smell traces of it in the background a bit later on. It felt also a wee bit woodier than the first time, but that was also faint. I would have LOVED more incense. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed Fourreau Noir, maybe because I knew what to expect. The dry-down really is lovely. I might do further testing.

            I also tried La religieuse, and enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. The first few seconds, I yelled JASMINE, then it was quickly and unfortunately completely drowned by the chill citrusy bergamot. Thankfully, it wasn’t as unpleasant as I though it would be (even if it still isn’t my cup of tea) and it disappeared as quickly – it didn’t even reach the five minutes mark. Then I got De Profundis. 🙂
            And then jasmine! 🙂 It was pretty defined, on me. And definitely less thin than in A la nuit, which is a good thing.
            And then De Profundis (I think it’s the chrysanthemum?) poped up again, under the jasmine! 🙂 Yay!!
            After the first, say, 30 minutes, it’s much more linear than that kaleidoscopic beginning (which had me a bit confused at time. How fast can it change?!). It’s mostly jasmine, with De Profundis underneath (and perhaps some very muted notes I don’t recognize yet)
            I think I can detect whiffs of violet, too. I really like violet.
            I find the projection to be rather weak, though. And it really is no match to the sheer beauty that is De profundis. That one is just so skillfully constructed. La Religieuse feels less polished and inspired. Still, it’s nice, and I really like it.
            It’s a lot less stern than I thought it would be. And it definetely wasn’t snowy. A bit chilly? Hmm, perhaps, especially the bergamot at the beginning (blasted citrus). But apart from that…
            I detected no civet, and no clean musc either. And, much to my chagrin, I think no incense either (or maybe very very very faint traces I probably have just imagined). This was an incenseless day. And thankfully, no synthetic feel.

            Concerning Anubis: don’t worry, this one is firmly set on top of my list! If I don’t have any unexpected expenses, I should order a sample at the end of the month. After all, my bottle of Mitzah has been receiving some well-deserved love these days. 🙂

            Now, I shall reluctantly go shower. I currently have Fourreau Noir on my left wrist and La religieuse on my right, and it pains me to wash them away.

          • What a wonderful comment with all those details. I so enjoyed reading about how each perfume manifested itself on you, and I’m happy that La Religieuse turned out better than expected. Great to hear that there actually was a distinct jasmine note on you, that there was no civet or clean musk, and no synthetic feel. I’m also glad you got so much De Profundis! I wish Fourreau Noir fared better on your skin but, you know, if you enjoy the scent that appears (even if it’s barely smoky, without much darkness or incense) and if you “love” the drydown, then perhaps you should just forget what it’s supposed to be and keep on enjoying what it is. Then again, as a Bell Jar, it’s not the cheapest scent in the Lutens line, so it’s money saved if you give up on it. lol You’ll have to let me know if you succumb to a full bottle of any of the Lutens. Oh, I almost forget, did you get to try La Myrrhe? I grin every time I think of your reaction to the Pastis comment. 😀

        • You know, I caught myself sniffing at my cardigan quite a bit today, trying to catch the lingering scent of Fourreau Noir. I think that’s quite telling. 🙂 Although if I commit to a bottle, it won’t be without further testing.
          I will try La Myrrhe. I promise I will, and sooner than later. But I’m so torn, Kafka. So, so torn. My beloved myrrh (and beloved Lutens!) AND that blasted Pastis! I shall mentally prepare myself before I dive into this Great Unknown.

          • I continue to laugh and laugh at your horror. 😀 I think your skin is quite different from mine so, hopefully, there will be NO anise or Pastis at all on you. In fact, given how differently the other 2 Lutens manifested itself on you, I will bet you won’t have any problems at all. 🙂

      • By the way, I’ve come back home to my family for the holidays, so I have reunited with my furry friend, who’s blissfully sleeping next to me. She sends you and your Teutonic Highness her regards. 🙂

  2. It’s due for release in the UK in early-mid March, according to the lovely lady at House of Frasers (I think the 12th, but didn’t write it down and may be wrong.) I’ll wander in around then and see if they have some, because I do want to test it. Despite the sound of the “awful lemon” and Persolaise’s mention of the baby shampoo note. Cold is fine, soap and shampoo, less so.

    My hopes are not particularly high for this, though your mention of lily did pique my interest (I am such a pushover for lillies). We shall see.

    But really, I’m going to have to get myself to Paris at some point to sniff some of those more tempting-sounding things…

    • As long as your hopes are tempered, you might be pleasantly surprised. 🙂 Let me know how it turns out on your skin, Katie.

      PS — I’m a pushover for lilies, too.

      • Tried it today, and I’m thoroughly underwhelmed.

        It’s so… bland. There was one brief, hopeful whiff of lily, and a whisper of hyacinth that promptly got squashed by the generic white noise of boredom. The lemon is very quiet on my skin (louder on the testing strip) and there’s not even any interesting chill. It reminds me of a leave-in hair conditioner I used to use. The best I can say is that it’s fairly pleasant.

        I do, however, have sinusitis at the moment so it’s probably insane to even *think* about trying a new scent. Perhaps I’ll give it a second bash when it doesn’t feel like someone is shoving heated pipe-cleaners through my face…

        (Though I’ve got a wee dab of Death & Decay on my other hand, and that’s a lot more promising. Even with the aforementioned face-stabbing.)

        • “Underwhelmed” is a pretty accurate term, I think. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who detected the lemon, though thankfully you had less of it on your skin and more on the testing strip. It might be worth trying again when you’re not suffering from sinusitis, just to be sure in your own mind, but I doubt your opinion of it will change enormously. “Generic white noise of boredom”…. ROFL!! 😀

          • I tried again, now I can breath without swearing at people. Decided to be brave: hollow of throat, sternum, and back of hand. WHAT a bad mistake that turned out to be. I was haunted all day by the vague smell of a sweetshop next to a laundrette. And couldn’t get away from it. Specifically boiled sweets. Like lemon sherberts that never give the satisfactory sharp fizz when you get to the middle. Not a hint of incense. Any jasmine was so blurry it felt like it was coming from somebody else.

            Oh well, back to my trusty Lutens trio of L’orpheline, Chergui, and Fille de Berlin (with a spot of hankering after Fourreau Noir, which I keep failing to buy.)

            I’d be curious as to what you make of Death & Decay if you can find some though… i’m not over keen on on the opening, but there’s pretty good lily on that. I dropped a couple of drops onto a handkerchief, and every time I went into the room I got curling hints of fairly narcotic lily–just after their peak. For three days. (Less longevity on the skin, obviously, and more powder.)

          • Oh dear. It sounds terrible on you. Another poster wrote just above you that, on her, it turned into “a lemon-flavoured sweet powdery musk.” That sounds similar to what you experienced, only with the additional of laundry cleanness. She didn’t think it smelled particularly of jasmine, either. You two must have very similar skin. lol. At least my icy opening had some distinctiveness and the drydown was relatively pleasant. Your lemon “sweetshop next to a laundrette” sounds so much worse. As for “Death & Decay,” I’ll see if Surrender to Chance carries it and will look into it. 🙂

  3. I had high hopes for this one because I love jasmine and incense, but I don’t like sharp and screechy and cold! I was hoping this would have a kinship to Oriza Legrand Relique D’ Amour, a fragrance that I love, but wish was more potent and lasted longer. I like the etherial, otherworldly almost spooky quality it has. It sounded so interesting to take a sensual and carnal flower like jasmine and combine it with an etherial,austere incense. Oh well, money saved !! Although I do really like chilly De Profundis, I personally would like a wee bit more warmth in the base.

    • I have the same issues with Relique d’Amour as you do! In fact, Relique d’Amour has such a massive Lutens feel to me that, if I had smelled that next to La Religieuse blindly, I would have thought Serge Lutens had done the Oriza fragrance. And to think that it came out 70-something years before!

      Still, if you love jasmine, incense, and also De Profundis, I do think it’s worth your time to give La Religieuse a test sniff. You never know, your skin may do wonders to it, and you may not experience any of the difficult, troublesome aspects that I encountered.

  4. Hmm, I was hoping for a large civet fart, as Luca Turin says… hahaha. 🙂 But really, this sounds like a crashing bore. Will sniff when I happen to be in a boutique that stocks it but probably won’t pay for a sample.

    • “Large civet fart”… heh. No, not imo. Honestly, I can’t see you wearing this one at all, Tara. Not one bit. So, I’ll be curious to see what you think of it if you get to try it. Let me know when you do.

  5. I was going to write that I’ve been disappointed in the line for years now, but I am a fan of La Fille de Berlin, which came out in 2013! Not that it’s any groundbreaking frag; you know I’m a rose fan, and this one has a “sourness” that appeals to me.

    I forgot that Lutens came out with anything but the L`Eau Collection in recent years! Those really rocked my faith in the house, which I pretty much uniformly admire.

    • The L’Eau Collection… *shudder* In terms of La Religieuse, I can’t see it suiting you, especially if your skin makes it the jasmine soliflore that it is meant to be. I know jasmine is one of your hated notes.

      In terms of recent Lutens fragrance, have you tried L’Orpheline? That has notes which are more up your alley, and I think you’d really enjoy the drydown. However, the one that you would probably love is L’Incendiaire. Unfortunately, the price tag is….

  6. Thank you for this honest, thorough review. I’ve been curious about this one since I first heard of it, and the notes sound lovely, but your review makes me think it may not be the slam dunk I thought it might be. I look forward to trying this one. Even if it isn’t great, I’ll settle for a departure from Vierge de Fer.

    • Definitely not a slam dunk. It’s basically a scent that could have been named “Floral Frostbite.” I’ll be curious to see what you think, Kevin, so let me know when you try it.

  7. I actually quite like the contrast of mineral aldehyde and tart citrus in Laine de Verre. (Sorry about the headache the name might cause you… :P) I also enjoy De Profundis a lot, especially the lively chrysanthemum which is very rare in perfumes. The reference to ‘snow’ also seems quite interesting but its vague nature does worry me. I’d still be very interested in trying it, but your honest and detailed review does help to cool me down a bit. 😀

    • If you keep your expectations very low, you may enjoy it. Honestly, I think you’ll be underwhelmed but, if you liked Laine de Verre, maybe you’ll enjoy this one. 🙂

      • I managed to try it today. It’s indolic at the beginning, along with a cold, grey feeling. It then morphs into a lemon-flavoured sweet powdery musk, albeit very vague and light. Like you said, unlike A La Nuit and Sarrasins, I don’t particularly feel ‘jasmine’ when wearing La Religieuse. I find it pleasant for this first test, but probably not among the most impressive SL offerings. 😀

        • At least you didn’t get an icy scent! Another blogger found it even icier than I did, but your version without it doesn’t sound all that great as a whole. Actually, it sounds terribly bland. Oh well, money saved!

  8. Just an update on a misunderstanding regarding SL perfumes. The bell jars are available in the UK to order online directly from SL in Paris. I’ve just ordered my first – de Profoundis which I absolutely love and it will come with three 5 ml and four 1ml samples. Oh Yeah!!! Joy!

    • Congratulations on your bell jar! What a great one to be your first. As for the misunderstanding, you told me that you’d buy a “bottle of De Profundis – cheaper here in the UK than the US” and implied that it would be widely available in the UK, as if it were sold in a shop there with the other Lutens. That is what I was responding to in my comment to you about how De Profundis was a Paris Bell Jar exclusive, not sold “here in the UK,” and not one that was ever sold as part of the Lutens export line. I’m glad that you’re able to order it online from Paris. And I know the bottle will give you great joy in the years to come. Enjoy!

  9. I really love this fragrance. The name is subversive of course, as an atheist, I feel only Serge Lutens could sell me something with such a name.
    I also love the video shot at the Fontevraud Abbey, with its aesthetically creepy eery atmosphere, the snow…

    I agree, this is the commercial version of Serge Lutens De Profundis. The latter is a beautiful perfume, but hard to wear, more high Art. I have a bottle and rarely reach for it, whereas I’ve been using my new Religieuse bottle quite a lot since I bought it at Barneys two weeks ago. I love that it’s easy yet it still has something strange about it which appeals to me. The pretty jasmine as opposed to incense and something odd for lack of words, I think what you described as cool notes but I don’t really get that, it’s mineral too and artificial, in a good way.
    La Religieuse strikes a perfect balance, mysterious and original yet pretty and wearable.

    • How great that La Religieuse appeals to you on so many levels, has an easy versatility, and strikes the perfect balance for you. Enjoy!

  10. Just another random comment. My Lutens samples arrived in the mail today. Boxeuses; Serge Noire; Cuir Mauresque; Cedre; Fourreau Noir; Chene; & MKK! I own Chergui, full bottle. You’re right about Cuir Mauresque being sexy and I love Serge Noir
    I have to keep an eye on our weather tonight since we have a tornado warning. 🙂 .

  11. Pingback: Roja Dove Risqué Pour Femme (Creation-R) - Kafkaesque

  12. Pingback: La Religieuse – Serge Lutens | Infragranti

  13. Pingback: 2015 in Review: Best New Releases & Personal Favourites - Kafkaesque

Leave a reply. Discussion and respectful debate are encouraged. Polite disagreement is fine, but personal attacks will be subject to deletion.