Thursday, June 9, 2011
Serge Lutens: La Myrrhe
Is it just me, or does this Serge Lutens non-export smell foody?
I smell the myrrh in there, but it feels as if it's cushioned in some kind of vaguely fruity, slightly chocolatey something or other. Maybe it's the honey. Might be it's the almonds. Could be the "spices" listed in the notes. For me, La Myrrhe is a totally irreverent take on the idea of a myrrh fragrance, paying very little lip service to what I tend to think an incense fragrance is supposed to be. If you were to describe it to me, I think I might dismiss it as something I couldn't possibly be interested in. Fruity, foody, fuzzy - sweet and savory both: on paper, it sounds like you just had to be there.
But oh this thing is a wonder. Silly me, I thought it came out fairly recently. It seems so modern. I was surprised to learn it was released over fifteen years ago, in 1995, long before I'd bought my first fragrance. I often poke fun at Serge Lutens, not just because he's been around so long he can probably take it, but because, though the house is trying new things lately, its reputation seems to have calcified around a rather tried and true (make that trite, at times) template of stewed fruits, honey, and woods. At times, the Lutens line up can strike one as a little like that lovely society lady who, finding the hair style that "works", proceeds to work it to death, twenty years on and counting.
La Myrrhe is nothing to laugh about. It shows how ahead of their time so many of the Lutens fragrances have been - how simultaneously adventurous and serene. Hard to snicker at a house which produced, in the course of several years, Myrrhe, Iris Silver Mist, and Bois de Violette. All are masterpieces, I think, whether or not you find them wearable. La Myrrhe is soft and mysterious but emphatic, too, almost rubbery - and thoroughly androgynous to me. It's a linear scent. All of its components seem to circle around in the air, working together to maintain the same dreamy fuzziness from start to finish. Something about the fragrance reminds me of another fuzzy scent, Cinnabar, which, though different in every other respect, wraps you in a sort of blanket of scent. Like Cinnabar, which is also strangely foody, La Myrrhe feels comforting. It isn't austere, like Iris Silver Mist, but calming.
I smell citrus, anise, amber, subtle jasmine notes with indolic undertones, spices, honey, and almond.
Instinct told me La Myrrhe might not be so widely loved, so I wasn't too surprised to see it has an average of three and a half lippies on makeupalley. The first three reviews call it medicinal, bitter, and harsh. I get neither bitter nor medicinal. Harsh is hard for me to understand in something so abundantly soft. One of the reviewers compares it to a dimestore perfume. That might explain why I like it so much. La Myrrhe's unusual combination of aldehydes and resins has a curious effect, and perhaps one reviewer summed it up best when saying, "much easier to enjoy than to analyze." It lasts moderately well on me.