Serge Lutens De Profundis Review

 Serge Lutens  Comments Off on Serge Lutens De Profundis Review
Aug 252011
 

Serge Lutens is set to release an exclusive fragrance, De Profundis due out on September 1st (for more about Serge Lutens’ exclusive fragrances, see here).  Although U.S. buyers will have to enlist the help of a European friend or get on a plane to obtain a bottle, Cafe Makeup was able to obtain a review sample from the Serge Lutens Palais Royale Boutique/Paris from the incredible staff, for which I am extremely grateful.

Unlike the golden and amber tones of most of the Serge Lutens fragrances, De Profundis is a violet tone that echoes the walls of the Palais Royale boutique.

I understand from reading other blogs that De Profundis will be sold in two versions of limited edition bottles, both are expected to be very limited in quantity.  This bell jar is coated in a metallic silver tone:

This one with elaborate glasswork and lettering:

The name “De Profundis” (“from the depths”) evokes a letter written by Oscar Wilde while imprisoned, in which he recounts his prior life and then describes his spiritual growth.  As a fragrance, De Profundis is rich, deep and transformative.  The predominant notes are chrysanthemum and incense, although I’m detecting some violet, a persistent green scent, spice and something earthy.  My best description is that the fragrance parallels the experience of being inside a large stone cathedral–there is a cool earthiness, an unyielding stone, an inspiring height and remnants of incense from ceremonies performed over the past centuries.  It’s complicated, dark, and yet the green notes provide a strong sense of hope.

De Profundis will work beautifully for men and women.  Serge Lutens is able to use the notes of his scents as a communicative medium–De Profundis is as content-rich as a good film.  De Profundis is a combination of aspiration, spirit and deep humanity expressed through scent.  Excellent, gorgeous, and well worth seeking out.

A sample size of De Profundis was sent to Cafe Makeup free of charge for review.

 

 

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Aug 222011
 

Serge Lutens has just released Vitriol D’Oeillet in Europe, due in the U.S. in September. Although a rough translation might be “anger of a carnation,” this rather literal treatment underplays the meaning of the word “vitriol,” which refers to a caustic, damaging rage. Before I tried the scent, I suspected that I would like the rage more than the carnation.

Carnations scents are difficult, in the U.S. this is a very common funeral flower. Of course, Serge Lutens plays off dark references easily, his description of the scent is quite dark:

…Yet the carnation is an obsessive and intrepid flower.  When it doesn’t bloom on market stalls and in open fields in southern France,  the carnation – blood red, as if bitten by a dapper criminal with a fox-like smile – perishes.  North, across the English Channel, London gentlemen wear white carnations in the buttonholes of their silk lapels.  In the crimson velvet interior of a cinema, a girl in a film is being used as bait. She  stumbles in the eerie flicker of a street light. As usual, she’s poor and her hair is  dishevelled. The street corner suddenly goes dark. Unable to see, the poor thing  braces herself for the worst. And one fears (and hopes) that it will happen. And  it will, unless the projector providentially overheats and the film catches fire,  plunging the room into inky blackness. Yes, things look very bad for our heroine.  We hear her shriek – «No!» – and read the French subtitle: «Non!»

Vitriol D’Oeillet mixes spice with cream. Serge Lutens’ interpretation pares out many of the unpleasant notes from the flower to create a polished, creamy clear fresh note.  The spices include cayenne pepper, pink pepper and black pepper and clove.  There is a slightly woody base, but it is very subtle and very soft.

The scent was extremely strong on first application, a rush of intense flower, creamy carnation and very strong dark spice.  The scent is refined and complex, and takes over the senses.  As the scent dries down, the spice predominates although the creamy flower never recedes entirely.   I found the combination so intriguing that I missed the scent when I wasn’t wearing it.  The scent is uncompromising without being sharp or overpowering.

I have read that Vitriol D’Oeillet dries down to a gentle scent, with a sillage that remains steady and subtle hours after application.  This was my experience on my quieter days.   The scent’s lasting power was at least 24 hours, although at far lower volume than the initial hour.  In that sense, its office-appropriate (although edgy).  I find myself holding my wrist up occassionally, as its does recede quite significantly to a subtle spice.  To be clear, it did not fade gradually to nothing–rather, it dropped down after the first hour and then remained at approximately the same level of subtlety for at least a day.

However, even a dozen hours after application I found Vitriol D’Oeillet extremely responsive to my body temperature.  On days when I became very warm late into the evening, the deeper, spicier notes of the scent came back very strong– and perhaps even stronger than when I first applied it–like a secret released under very strong heat.  I’ve concluded that Vitriol D’Oeillet perhaps does not dry down, but rather it rests a bit until awakened.

Vitriol D’Oeillet works beautifully on both men and women.

Gorgeous.  Highly recommended.

U.S. buyers can look for Vitriol D’Oeillet at Aedes, Beautyhabit, Luckyscent, Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, and from some Neiman Marcus locations. Scents are also sold on Serge Lutens website. This sample-size was sent from the Serge Lutens Palais Royale Boutique/Paris without charge to Cafe Makeup for review.

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May 062011
 
Serge Lutens Eye Palette

Serge Lutens Eyeshadow Palette ($160) is part of a very select group of Beauty Essentials.  I previewed this palette, from my visit to the Serge Lutens boutique (here), but waited to a return to the U.S. to get better pictures and swatches.  As the only eyeshadows made by Serge Lutens, these are intended to work for any number of occasions and nearly all skin tones.  There is a deep black, deep brown (tinged with mauve), aubergine and light creme.   This last color is a near-matte that almost matches my NC15/Chanel Cameo skin tone.

The palette is packaged in a very sleek, discreet, slim black compact designed to fit anywhere.  It includes three sponge applicators, which I do not anticipate ever using.  The case is well-made and fuss-free.  It opens flat, which is a nice feature.  I love a compact that just does whatever I ask.

Serge Lutens got this combination right–I was hard-pressed to identify a skin tone on which this eyeshadow palette would not work.  Three of these colors are deep and strong.  The deep aubergine and cool red-brown keeps these neutrals on an edge.  Close up:

Swatches (the light creme on the far left nearly matches my skin tone, but it is there):

 

I must confess that I love this palette more than I thought that I would.  I bought it as a treat, to commemorate my tour of Les Palais Royale boutique, but find that I’m reaching for it more and more.  This is surprising to me, given that this is the Spring season when I should be focusing on the new collections.  Yet there it is.  I find that the black liner is a soft, sooty sexy black that lasts all day.  I find myself loving the softer, intense look that this very intensely-pigmented powder gives my eye over the Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner, which looks more “makeup-y” and a touch artificial by comparison.  I should note that I’ve used five Bobbi Brown gel eyeliners in Black Ink all the way to the bottom, and so I do love that product.

All colors last all day without a primer.  I use all shades dry because they do not need to be intensified.

Like the Serge Lutens perfumes, the colors are mesmerizing, gorgeous and extremely intense.  They are timeless and modern, clean but a touch bruised, and they set off the slight mauve undertone in my coloring beautifully.  True love.

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Mar 232011
 

At Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royale, I purchased a lipstick in #6, Mauve de Swann ($70).  I tried on another color, a deep red, and was very tempted, but decided to go with this neutral instead.

The bullet is encased in a deep red-brown hexagon, and refills can be purchased separately ($55).  The line has a range of ten colors:

My wonderful contacts at the boutique were kind enough to provide this sample card to me, which includes six of the shades to swatch for you:

As you can see, these six shades include three reds and three neutrals:

  • Mise a Mort:  A warm red
  • Roman Rouge:  A deep, cool red
  • Pourpre Maure:  A deep plum
  • Or Perle: A sheer gold cream that is very moisturizing
  • Rose des Glaces:  A soft cream-rose
  • Mauve de Swann:  A soft mauve-pink

To see the swatches, click “continue reading”….

Continue reading »

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Mar 232011
 

During my visit to Serge Luten’s Les Salons du Palais Royale, I was introduced to his makeup line.  The line is a highly edited collection (called “The Beauty Essentials“) that is made of products that are intended to look good on every woman, regardless of her skin tone.  The reason that one might choose one item over another is really personal preference and the look that you would like to project.

Unlike the vast counters from other lines, the depth of quality is excellent and the color selection is well-chosen and few in number.  For example, the eyeshadow range is one palette, there are two nail colors, one eyeliner (black), and ten lipsticks.

In the U.S., you can purchase these from Serge Lutens website or Barneys.  Les Salons had a display of some of the engraved compacts that are only sold in this Paris location.  There are only 15 made every year.

I was extremely tempted to try the nail polish and a few other items.  This gorgeous red nail polish (Sang Bleu/ $65) was one of the items that I wanted (but didn’t get):

 

Instead, I got the eyeshadow palette ($160), which has a warm ivory, a blue-based aubergine, a deep brown and a deep black, in a black compact:

Here is a close-up of the pans.  Because of the subtlety of these colors, I’m going to swatch this at home for you.  I would rather have color-accurate swatches done more carefully with lighting that I can control.

The compact is extremely well made, and of course the shadows are very luxurious.  I can see that these colors are universal enough to work for almost anyone.

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Mar 212011
 

While in Paris, I had the pleasure of visiting Les Salons du Palais Royale, conceived by the creative genius Serge Lutens (website here).  Lutens is one of those rare individuals who infuses everything with an extraordinary, magical and highly original touch–a film maker, makeup artist, perfume creator, photographer and fashion designer–his creations seem to affect one at an aesthetic and emotional level.  He adds to an already long history of excellence, having worked with Dior, Shiseido and photographed for Vogue.  He has a touch that is both other-worldly and intensely human.

If you are in or near Paris, go to Les Salons du Palais Royale. This is a “must.”  Go.

Lutens founded these Salons in 1992, establishing this colorful and universal space based on Féminité du Bois, a scent still available today.  As you can see from the above image, entering this space is a transformative experience–the atmosphere is warm and quiet, comfortable, foreign yet familiar, grounded in history and completely different from the real world.  Anything seems possible.  Les Salons du Palais Royale is a testament to the fact that there are some places that are magic in this world.

Sandrine, the manager, made herself available for my visit, assisted by her very pleasant and extremely knowledgeable staff.  Their multi-lingual capability is excellent, so if you are nervous about your French, let me put you at ease. It seems customary to be offered tea when one arrives for a longer visit, which was a treat.  I also went up the magnificently detailed metalwork staircase to the Morrocan-themed meeting room above.  Unlike the mauve and purple tones below, the upstairs is paneled with warm yellows and red accents, both exotic and welcoming at the same time.  There is a long, low conference table upstairs, populated with the Serge Lutens product line and surrounded by modern, diamond-backed wooden chairs.  Large windows upstairs look out onto the pleasant trees of the Palais Royale, reminding me that I had not left Paris (although I felt completely transported).

This boutique sells both Serge Lutens perfume and makeup. Because of the wide range of products, I’ll discuss perfume today and makeup tomorrow.

If you have not visited this location before, you should know that there are two series of perfumes offered here.

First, the Exclusives are sold only in this boutique and to a limited number of locations within Europe online.  Period.  There are currently 28 or so perfumes in this series, sold in this beautiful bell jar.  If your time allows, you will be able to have the jar personally engraved (if you go early during your stay, it may give you enough time to have the engraving done).  The range is deep, gorgeous and every one more life-changing than the last.

There are paper swatches of the scents out for you to review, which I suggest you use to narrow your choices.  As you become interested in a certain scents, then apply them.  I suppose if you have enough skin area you can try them all.  You can also ask to be directed to particular kinds of scent (I was interested in leather and smoke, for example).  Prepare to spend some time, the range is vast and each scent is complex and gorgeous in its own way.

A word about the beautiful bell-jar-A few years ago, I bought Fumerie turque and hand-carried it home at the time before airline liquid restrictions began.  Today, of course, the world has changed.  The boutique cannot assure you that these bell jars travel perfectly well in packed luggage because the bell jar is closed with a glass stopper only.  (you didn’t hear it from me, there are some places on the Internet which can give you a few pointers about how to get a bell jar home in packed luggage). Right now, I’m very tempted to go back for Boxeuses (referring to a female boxers), it’s gorgeous and I’m finding it difficult to put out of my mind.

The boutique also displays one of the custom bottles created every year around the holidays.  Each is thematically engraved to coordinate with an Exclusive fragrance chosen for the series, and only thirty are made each year.  As one example, the year that Fumerie turque was featured, the bottle was engraved with swirling smoke shapes.  There are several of them featured on Serge Lutens Facebook pages.

Here is the most recent bottle, for Boxeuses:

I love how it reminds me of both stars, and boxer punches at the same time.  Serge Lutens plays the edges of light and dark beautifully.

Second, are the Serge Lutens spray bottles are sold here and are also carried elsewhere in Paris and throughout the world (sometimes referred to as the “export line”).  You can buy these in the U.S. at Barney’s, and I’ve noticed them on Beauty Habit and Luckyscent as well.

I fell head over heels for Jeux de Peau (‘skin game’), a scent inspired by Serge Lutens childhood memories of visiting a bakery in his childhood.  From an interview (from the Serge Lutens Facebook page):

I was often distracted: “Don’t forget to get the bread!”

If I described the bakery as a “golden place”, it’s because that’s how I saw it. Part of its bright aura was due to the amber loaves of French bread – bâtards, ficelles and baguettes – waiting in fragrant rows.

When I got to the bakery, I woke up from my day-dreaming to enjoy the sight of the bread. “Bread opens your eyes” just as surely as it whets your appetite. The crowning touch was the whiff of freshly baked bread, still warm, coming through the basement window.

At first glance, there was nothing but good humour on the face of the lady at the bakery. Her make- up gave her face a jolly look, yet one suspected that it was a mask concealing bitterness.

What could she have been suffering from that would, at busy times of day, make her purse her lips sharply and suddenly? The fact that it was barely perceptible made it even more obvious. Obeying a suspicious mind, her mouth, like the seal affixed to a judicial document, passed judgment on all comers. The smile that she gave when returning change had infinite variations: it could be suspicious, jaded, resigned, disdainful, stiff or disillusioned….

Something about Serge Lutens fragrances are so honest and centering–the impact on me is hard to describe.  Jeux de Peau has a bready, milky sweetness, but there is also a sandalwood, as well as some deeper incense notes that Lutens seems to love.  It’s insanely beautiful, and I’m sure that my description is not doing it justice.  It’s comforting and edgy, and has an undeniable ability to affect my metabolism.

I purchased a full sized bottle (and may return to the boutique to get Daim Blonde as well).  The lovely boutique gave me a sample Jeux de Peau which I’ve been using up since the day I obtained it, together with a much lighter sample L’Eau Serge Lutens, which I haven’t yet opened (but hope to as the weather warms).

Sample Jeux de Peau

L’eau Serge Lutens:

Sample L’Eau Serge Lutens

The boutique provided me with a book of perfume samples of the Serge Lutens range:

According to Sandrine, Serge Lutens has never discontinued a fragrance, and has no current plans to do so.  Although different fragrances float in and out of the export line, they all appear to be here to stay.

I cannot imagine going to Paris without visiting this treasure.  Les Salons du Palais Royale is a one-of-kind experience that evokes history, the senses, imagination and a full range of emotion.  You. Must. Go.

Note:  One of the best ways to keep up with Serge Lutens is to “like” them on Facebook, and follow them in English on Twitter.

Tomorrow’s post:  Serge Lutens makeup at Les Salons du Palais Royale.  Non-watermarked images are from Serge Lutens.  Any typos are mine (let me know if you see any in the comments, pls!)

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A Word About Duty Free Makeup Shopping

 Chanel, Dior, Guerlain, Lancome  Comments Off on A Word About Duty Free Makeup Shopping
Jun 072010
 

Every trip to Paris must end sometime, and most U.S. residents leave the city via one of the airports.  I’ve flown in and out of Charles de Gaulle airport several times, and even stayed overnight in the Sheraton hotel located inside the terminal.  One thing I will say about this airport–my experiences have varied vastly based on the airline and the terminal.  This last time, I flew Air France out of Terminal 2E.  What an incredibly organized, pleasant experience in comparison to others that I had in the past.

So, back to makeup.  As many international travelers know, after emerging from security there are a vast number of choices and stores for alcohol, tobacco, souvenirs, perfumes and makeup that await you just before you go to the gate.  At Charles de Gaulle, the lines that are carried include Chanel, Guerlain, Lancome, Serge Lutens, Clinique, Dior and a variety of others.

Here are some pointers:

  • If you want genuine products at a discount, here’s your chance.  Bring your math skills (or at least a calculator) if you are hoping to save some money.
  • Here are some examples of the savings:
    • Chanel products were several dollars less than U.S. prices, even with the conversion of dollar-to-Euro.  For example, a Chanel Glossimer was 19 euro’s, which converts to $25. In the U.S., Glossimers sell for $27.00 plus tax.
    • L’Eau Serge Lutens fragrance was priced at 90 euros (which converts to $116.10 U.S.).  It sells for 100 Euros ($129) in Paris at Galeries Lafayette.  It is priced at $150 on Barney’s U.S. website.
    • Guerlain’s Meteorites Voyage compact sells for $170.00 in the U.S.  At the duty free store, it was priced at 100 euros ($129).  It sells for 125 euros ($161.00) in stores in Paris.

  • At the duty free store, you do not need to get involved with the paperwork and delay involved in getting a VAT tax refund, described here.  There is no minimum purchase.  You just pay the lower price, take your sealed bag and go.
  • The duty free stores have wonderful little gift sets and palettes.  For example, Guerlain had some adorable little blush, eyeshadow and eyeliner kits that fit together with sliding parts that were both clever and beautiful.  Guerlain also had a three-pack of mini-meteorites (the older style) packaged with a brush in a gift box.  There are multi-packs of mascaras, lipsticks and glosses that were money savers, as well as nice gifts.
  • You must have your boarding pass with you to purchase products.  I do not know how you ever would get through security without one, but if you are asking a family member to hold yours for you, get it back before you purchase.
  • There is no option to shop around–each terminal has one or two stores maximum.  If the store is out of stock on an item that you want, you are out of luck. I got the last Guerlain Voyage Meteorite compact, for example.
  • You will not typically find special, limited edition products at these stores.  Looking for Estee Lauder’s Tom Pencheux’s very exclusive sets?  Cutting edge products like Tom Ford’s lipsticks?  Not going to happen.  Also, the Serge Lutens display had about ten fragrances, which is fewer than compared to the twenty or so that the department stores carry.
  • Most of the core products for each line seemed to be on display. Testers for the Chanel Joues Contraste blushes (Euro version), eyeshadow quads, glossimers and lipsticks (Rouge Allure and Rouge Coco)  were all ready to go.   Whether or not they boxed products, ready to sell and in stock is a good possibility but not an absolute certainty.
  • Service is multilingual.  Obviously, these stores are built for convenience and not for make-overs or detailed beauty advice, so plan accordingly.

The amount that you save depends on the exchange rate;  a rate that changes daily.  I locked in my rate for my purchase, because the store offered to allow me to purchase in U.S. dollars.  I also saved a bit on currency exchange fees that way.

Keep in mind that several terminals have other types of boutiques.  For example, Le Printemps had a micro-store, as did Hermes. By the way, the Hermes scarves were of a limited selection, but priced at 240 euros for the standard size (compare this with the 280 euros in the Parisian boutique).

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Jun 012010
 

In the center of Paris near the Louvre Museum is a historic site, originally built in the 1600’s, that is now lined with exclusive boutiques and called the Palais Royal.  Once the home of royalty, the area is now an extraordinarily pleasant place to spend an hour or two.

The central area is covered in grass and trees, and interspersed with walkways with occasional benches.  Small, elegant restaurants fill in the corners.  This area is a sort of a “secret garden” as it is surrounded by the stone enclosure now populated with highly eclectic shops.

The Palais Royal

The trees are highly manicured:

The nearby theaters are evidenced by some windows, which house incredibly imaginative costumes from past productions. Although the area is dominated by the architecture and park, there are few quiet shops that to me seem unique enough to warrant a post.  Here is a sign that captures their names (click to enlarge):

Of interest in makeup and perfume shoppers, Serge Lutens has a quiet, dark and very beautiful location along one side.  The inside is painted a deep almost-black and illuminated with violet accents.  His exquisite perfumes are set out like jewels on little stages, in a setting that is both intimate and mysterious.  A few years ago, I bought Turque Fumiere there in a bell jar, which I did not have time to have engraved with my initials (today, the perfume is available for a limited time in a more practical spray version at department stores).

Serge Lutens Storefront

Here is one of the window displays at Serge Lutens, featuring his lipsticks and two eyeshadow compacts (the compacts were closed at this time, unfortunately, so we cannot see them):

The other store that I’ve always loved is Didier Ludot, who carries vintage fashion clothes and accessories.  The storefront alone is an incredible museum of treasures from Chanel, Hermes, Yves Saint Laurent and their contemporaries.  In fact, there are two Didier Ludot locations–one has only little black dresses, and the other is stuffed with all types of beautiful things.

Didier Ludot, Palais Royal

This is the storefront featured on last season’s Paris fashion week episode of the Rachel Zoe Project.  You can see the front window is crowded with vintage costume jewelry:

Purses and shoes, you can see the little placards for the Dior and Hermes, below—do you die?  I D-I-E die!! Inside, it is stuffed floor to ceiling with vintage fashion–classic Chanel suits, vintage evening wear, jackets and more elegant accessories.

This time through, I noticed several galleries, a store that sells antique military medals and memorabilia, a toy store, a store selling miniatures of every imaginable thing, theater offices, a gorgeous Marc Jabobs boutique and several places for an intriguing lunch.  If you want a museum break, the Palais Royal is a pleasant diversion.

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