Bourreau des Fleurs is the newest addition to Serge Lutens‘ Section d’Or. The name means “executioner of flowers” and the fragrance is devoid of any floralcy. Instead, it is a delicious, rather addictive, semi-gourmand oriental that traverses the light spectrum from golden immortelle to a darkness created out of salty black licorice, balsamic amber resins, and incense-y wood smoke. It’s my favourite new Lutens release in a long time, but it comes with some baggage.
Close your eyes and imagine yourself spending a day in an old souk, perhaps in Marrakesh or Tripoli. The air is thick with heat, so you buy a refreshing drink of blood oranges infused with Angostura aromatic bitters, decorated with candied orange peels and sprigs of fresh herbs. One vendor catches your eye, his tables piled high with leathery black figs, the fattest, stickiest Medjool dates, syrup-laden Middle Eastern sweets, and honeyed desserts. Large sacks of colourful spices lie on the ground, next to ones filled with bitter Bay Leaf, oregano, and other green herbs. Nearby, bottles of rich labdanum amber and leathery Tolu balsam resins surround gleaming silver trays filled with cinnamon-scented, hard, dark benzoin resinoids.
An enterprising chap, the seller even offers you cooked food in case you missed your lunch, large bowls filled with curries or banana-leaf savory dishes straight from his Indian wife’s kitchen. You stand before his wares, sipping your drink of herbal Angostura bitters and orange, nibbling on a dried date as you contemplate ordering either a main meal or dessert. Suddenly, a vendor on a bike comes out of nowhere and crashes into you. The barrel of immortelle in the back goes flying into the air, crashing into the tables, throwing everything to the ground, and releasing a flood of sticky syrup over them all. Apologizing profusely, the vendor offers to cook you dinner in his kitchen. Hours later, he replaces your ruined clothing with an outfit made of soft Tuareg leather, but the resins from the accident still coat your skin, encasing you in a cloud of amber infused with spices, sweet myrrh, and sweetness.
Sometimes, things don’t work no matter how much you try. That was the case for me with the fragrance that Stephane Humbert Lucas as a Harrods’ exclusive. It is simply called “Harrods,” and it was the second release last year in his new Snake Collection.
This review will be slightly different from my usual ones because I fear I have to start with more explanations than concrete, official details about the scent. One reason is because the background to the fragrance is a bit confusing in the context of names. Another is because there isn’t much information about the scent out there. And, lastly, there is the issue of friendship. I’ll get to that in a minute, but first a brief explanation is needed about how the Harrods exclusive fits into the wider context of Monsieur Lucas’ brand.
A shape-shifting, smoky floral leather with resinous darkness and honeyed sweetness lies at the heart of Tubereuse 3 Animale, a most unusual, unconventional take on the flower from Histoires de Parfums. Instead of icy floralcy, the flowers are restrained and blanketed by a dense haze of honeyed immortelle which slowly turns them into a shimmering mirage before swallowing them up entirely in sweet smokiness that verges on the sulfurous at times. The whole thing lies on a thick river of resinous leather, dark tobacco, dry hay, and prunes with an almost molasses-like richness and flecks of chocolate. This is not your regular tuberose, and it’s certainly not your mother’s Fracas. No, this is a different beast entirely — a dark, wholly unisex, sometimes challenging, often sexy fragrance that some consider to be one of the great gems in the Histoires de Parfums line and many love with great abandon. I think it bears a definite kinship to 1740 (Marquis de Sade), its sibling in the Histoires de Parfums’ line, and is a “tuberose” that might surprise you.