Bas de Soie is one of the latest controversial Serge Lutens releases. They have been controversial because they mark a an incredible departure from the dark oriental style of the house. Or, according to others because they are linear and uninspired. Bas de Soie was referred to as a conventional take on iris, more conventional than Iris Silver Mist anyway. I recently bought a bottle of this from a friend so this is my take on this rather controversial release.
It opens with a powdery but not sweet iris note. Actually it is part powdery, part lipstick-y, part doughy, very close to the iris note in Chanel No19. Very quickly a sour dimension is added to iris bringing to mind Iris Bleu Gris or Infusion d’Homme. I love this sour iris note because it doesn’t feel as clean and detached as iris usually does. It is happy and a little dirty in a green way. Floral elements become apparent, a note that smells like chrysanthemums (the same ingredient used in De Profundis?) and a cheerful hyacinth note. All this happens very quickly. It takes about twenty minutes to observe the powdery iris turn into a green floral. No darkness hidden in the corners of the composition. And this is when things start to become… interesting. What is this that I smell? Is it really what I think it is? The nuclear fallout of Secretions Magnifiques? Can Serge Lutens be playing with radioactive material? Apparently he can. After the top and mid development that prepares for a floral, slightly creamy composition, a steel knife cuts through the silky woven web of feminine notes and starts to peak through. But it doesn’t stop. It slashes the comfortable flowers and powder with a disturbing force. Very quickly I am forced to forget the comfort of the opening and have to face the reality of the threatening raw egg white note that has made Secretions Magnifiques a legend. Here the volume is turned down and I never get to the point of having a gag reflex but it certainly isn’t comforting. In modern day and age I do not how many people remember what a clean laundry hanging on the line, drying under the sun light smells like. No heavy detergents, no musky fabric softeners. It smells like this. A smell that is definitely clean but is too close to egg whites for comfort. It dominates the drydown, changes the focus completely and makes me feel like an idiot because apparently I have been looking the wrong way.
Bas de Soie above all is an ironic scent. Like many of Serge Lutens fragrances it manages to tell a story. Not one of his usual stories from his trips to the Orient. This is a sex story. The story of young woman preparing for her hot date with someone she recently met. She is excited, thinking about what will happen later that night. She does her best to look her best. She puts her make up on, scented powder, lipstick. She sprays a playful but not innocent floral perfume. She chooses an elegant not-too-short black dress and she slips on a pair of magnificent silk stockings, the eponymous “bas de soie”. They are joy to touch and be touched by. The night is electrified. Everything is going according to plan and the two end up in steamy foreplay. He is particularly appreciative of her legs which makes her very happy because they are her crown jewels. He delicately takes off her stockings and then all his attention is absorbed by the black, airy ribbons of silk.
Despite the notes the composition is not feminine because it is completely devoid of any hints of sweetness (I always thank Serge Lutens for making dry florals) but it is definitely a very individual scent. People smelling it on me have mostly loved it, except the ones that have been exposed to Secretions Magnifiques and its smell has been etched forever in their minds.
Notes from Fragrantica: hyacinth, iris
Notes from my nose: lipstick, chrysanthemum, hyacinth, sun dried linen
Very fun review of a challenging perfume.
I also like it and neither am I repulsed by it.
A friend of mine likens it to ‘swamp like’ at the point when you say ‘steel knife’.
I liken this effect to a metallic note that is primarily coming from the hyacinth.
Coincidentally this perfume and Metal by Paco Rabanne taught me what hyacinth smells like.
Its a peculiar yet intriguing shell.
It has received very welcoming comments in general but the exceptions were very loud 😀
I don’t know how hyacinth extracts smell. I know how the actual flower smells and it can be kind of heady. I recognize the metallic element in it but in Bas de Soie it is a very delicate hyacinth.
Thank you for the enjoyable read! I think it’s a great review, very vivid and inspiring. Though, there a a couple of places that I question:
1. I’m not sure that in the phrase “He is particularly appreciative of his legs” all pronouns are in their places.
2. “He delicately slips of her stockings…” in the context sounds like a science fiction to me 😉
I smelled this perfume only on paper and have almost no recollection of it. I’ll try it again the next time I’m in a store but I’m not sure if I really care either for a knife or for a clean laundry (yes, I remember the smell before the “laundry detergent” scent invasion). But I’ll give it a try.
Thanks for the correction Undina 🙂
He would have to be delicate with such sheer stockings 🙂
Being such a Sergeoholic, I’m rather shamefaced to admit that I really didn’t give Bas de Soie a proper chance and considering my love of green florals/iris/Chanel no. 19, that’s just not fair – nor is it fair to discover that reading your review wants me to try it again, and now, I can’t – I passed on my tiny sample. Although I have to say it, that raw-egg white note you mention as well as the dread Secretions Magnifiques – do both give me some serious pause for thought! 😉 I sat out six hours of SM on my skin – trying to initiate myself into hardcore perfumistadom! – and it very nearly killed me! I have never before nor since been so utterly repulsed by a perfume.
But this is a Lutens. I’m so very glad you register the irony, since not many people do and that is a shame! There are not a few olfactory puns hidden there, and I suspect they tend to be overlooked for no other reason than—“It’s a Lutens! It can’t be ironic!”
Not so. But like all the best jokes and puns, you either ‘get’ them, or you don’t! 😉
I’ll make it a point to see if I can hunt down a sample – yesterday, if I can! Because…inspiration is the most sincere form of flattery! 😀
You are one dedicated fumehead! I couldn’t stand it although I made an effort myself.
I think the era of orientals is gone for Serge Lutens and in comes the era of making fun of western culture
Or more to the point, and I think, more in keeping with M. Lutens’ raison d’être, perhaps subverting our expectations of his perfumes! 😉 I think it should be interesting, to say the least! 🙂
This is probably not a perfume I’ll seek out, as it sounds like it’s too much on the cool side of things for me, but whoa … really liked the story! Great writing, as usual. 🙂
Thanks Suzanne. Hot or cool, if it can tell a story, I like it 😀
Such a review to pique interest! I have tried and liked Bas de Soie, but admit I didn’t find it all that strange. Perhaps I should try again with your review in mind, as I feel I’m missing something! I really enjoyed the imagery in this writing. Thanks!
Thanks Natalie. For some strange reason not everyone picks up the strange note, at least on the same degree.
Fascinating review. I have long dismissed this as I hardly read anything about it, this is the first time I’ve ever actually read what it smells like, I didn’t even know it was an iris!
I will definitely try it now, the metallic note has attracted me and the reference to SM also.
It’s bizarre, although Secretions Magnifique is obviously unwearable, I am fascinated by scents which take inspiration from it.
One of my favourites being Bosque by Humiecki and Graef.
The exquisitely bizarre opening of daffodils and meadow grass tumbles into a bizarre milky/metallic note, fascinating stuff.
If you like the SM vibe you should definitely try this and Montale Sandflowers, which is a perfume very different from the Montale style. It smells like skin on the beach but without the sun tan lotion and usual associations with it. Skin, salt, ozone and SM.
They both sound excellent. I’ve had nothing but failures with the Montale line so sidetracking away from their ouds would be a little adventure. Any idea where to get samples I havent seen it anywhere!
ausliebezumduft.de is my choice for samples but I do not know if they carry it regularly. I bought a sample from them years ago
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