Serge Lutens Un Lys fragrance review


Earlier this year I cited Sa Majesté la Rose as evidence that Serge Lutens can do conventionally pretty when he wants to. Un Lys, a 1997 release and another soliflore fragrance, might be the only other scent in the line that could be used to back up the same claim. It was created by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake, and includes notes of lily, leaves, musk and vanilla.

Un Lys is rather at the other end of the spectrum from yesterday's Donna Karan Gold: you certainly wouldn't use the words crisp or sheer, and it smells nothing like a modern department store fragrance. What it smells like, in a nutshell, is lilies. Masses of them, to be more exact, and whether you find that intoxicating or a slow death by suffocation is, of course, dependent on your personal taste.

There is the tiniest hint of fresh greenery and a little whiff of lilac, and you will find the vanilla and musk, as expected, in the dry down. The vanilla in particular is quite pronounced; still, I never think of anything but lilies when wearing Un Lys. It is creamy and lush, but not at all heady after the first few minutes, and I wouldn't call it cloying so long as you don't try to bathe in it in mid-August. And while it is undeniably sexy (way more sexy, to my nose, than the Donna Karan), Un Lys never takes over; it never, like say, Fracas, feels like it is wearing me. If I could only have one lily fragrance, it would be Un Lys.

Un Lys is in the exclusive line, which means normally you can't buy it on my side of the pond, but as it happens theperfumeshoppe in Canada has limited quantities in stock at the moment (phone or email orders only, and they have a few other hard-to-find Serge Lutens scents as well, including Vetiver Oriental). When that runs out, see the listing for Serge Lutens under Perfume Houses for buying information.

Note: top image is In Loving Memory [cropped] by Sean McGrath at flickr; some rights reserved.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is absolutely the only one lily scent I love and can wear. The rest of them do to me what Gold did, they slowly kill me. My god, the horror of Lys Mediterranee on my skin! :-)

    This is actually one of my favorite Lutens scents, exquiste!

    Oh and, like you, I never think of anything but lilies in regards to Un Lys. It came to me as a shock to find out that some people get predominant lilac from it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    M, I can never make up my mind about LM…it isn't at all a horror on me, but sometimes I love it, sometimes I don't.

    I wouldn't personally call the lilac prominent at all, but you're right that some do!

  3. Anonymous says:

    One of these days, I am going to test this again. It reminds me of Easter, with its smell of lilies on the altar and ham roasting in the oven.

    Another very pretty, yet indolic, fragrance from SL is A La Nuit. I love it!


  4. Anonymous says:

    I'm one of those lilac-detectors when it comes to Un Lys, but I really don't care what flower I'm smelling – it's simply divine, whatever it is. Un Lys has the most amazing lasting power, too – one dab is enough to fill a cloud around me for a full day. It never develops that artificial note that so many florals have on my skin, but stays 'real' from beginning to end. Thanks for covering this one, R – it's one of my favourites (which, for a non-floral lover, is quite something).

  5. Anonymous says:

    An exquisite fragrance. So feminine without being overly sweet and perfect for any ocassion. I usually think of a beautiful garden picnic party when I'm wearing it. Just perfect!

  6. Anonymous says:

    A La Nuit I wanted to love but didn't. This one is so stunning, although I have to be careful not to over-apply. It's also one of the few (the only?) SLs without some weird note buried in there…
    PS You're all over my blog today; my apologies for bloglifting, but I did do a direct link — your review of Theorema was both perfect and an inspiration, and I wanted to give you due credit.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I love A La Nuit too, R, and need to review that soon. Not sure if it qualifies as “conventionally pretty” with all those indoles, LOL…but it is surely pretty.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I find it incredibly long last too, N, and love it at this time of year — feels like a breath of spring.

  9. Anonymous says:

    A “beautiful garden picnic party” is a perfect description! And you're right, the sweetness is not at all overdone. Actually the vanilla seems to cut the sweetness rather than add to it, not sure why…

  10. Anonymous says:

    So glad you love Theorema, M!

  11. Anonymous says:

    A wax sample of Un Lys (with another 6) came included in the purchase of my beloved Fumerie. While I wouldn't wear it myself as I find it quintessentially feminine, I must say I am impressed. To me Un Lys is comforting and almost edible (maybe it's the wax sample?). On the other hand, I'd gladly and proudly wear Rose de Nuit, which I adore. How do you like it, R? And also how do you feel about La Myrrhe? I am absolutely in love with (and awe of) it.

  12. Anonymous says:

    What side of the pond are you on? I was certain that this is in the export line, but of course I could be wrong. This is one that a friend of mine picked up for herself in Paris after I blackmailed her into picking me up a bottle of MKK because she forgot my birthday.

    She's usually into light fragrances like l'Eau d'Issey (like my boss, to whom I introduced Fracas). I knaw Serge would turn her head!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Oh, how I love this one. Most lilies are just too tough to wear without smelling like a funeral, but this one is perfection.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “Almost edible” might be right because it does have lots of vanilla, but it doesn't have a “foody” feel on the skin.

    Rose de Nuit is gorgeous, La Myrrhe, actually, I've never tried. Not a huge fan of myrrh so haven't tried to get a sample, but I suppose I should?

  15. Anonymous says:

    I'm in the US. It was in the export line as a limited edition and there are still a few bottles floating around but after they are gone, it is back to exclusive status so far as I know — hope someone will correct me if I'm wrong!.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Happily for me, I guess, I don't associate any particular smell with funerals. Lilies just remind me of spring. And agree it is perfection :-)

  17. Anonymous says:

    So glad you love Rose de Nuit! :)

    I love myrrhe as a note, but wouldn't say La Myrrhe is your usual heavy, resinous scent. It strikes a perfect balance between chilly (aldehydes) and warm (white honey, bitter almond) and is never cloying. I can safely say I adore it, although my experience is based solely on the wax sample. Victoria of BdJ did a beautiful review of LM. And yes, you should definitely order a sample, LOL!

  18. Anonymous says:

    It is in the exclusive range so I can't order a sample, unfortunately, but will see if I can get my hands on one by other means :-)

  19. Anonymous says:

    The moron meant “order a decant”, not a sample, duh, I know it's in the exclusive range, LOL!

    OR – you can wait until I buy it (most likely in January or February) and then send you some. :)

  20. Anonymous says:

    D — LOL — didn't mean to imply you knew or didn't know anything, although actually I always assume nobody outside of the Americas much cares what is exclusive or not, since they can buy what they like when they like.

    But *this* moron is too miserly to buy decants unsniffed unless it is an absolute emergency, and nothing with myrrh in its name can possibly be an emergency.

  21. Anonymous says:

    R — LOL — I didn't think you were implying anything, I was just laughing at myself for typing “sample” instead of “decant” :-)

    Well, since it's not an emergency, you may as well wait until February… ;-)

  22. Anonymous says:

    I'm a newbie to fragrance connoisseurship, and I've just discovered the Serge Lutens line. Is it true that one cannot buy the exclusive scents directly from any perfume house within the U.S.? I've seen postings on Ebay, but, call me selfish and naive, I want the original bottle and label and the guarantee of freshness without paying two to three times the original price. I saw something on this site that suggested that some are released to the export line as limited editions…I've looked and have in fact found some that are supposed to be exclusive on the websites of U.S.-delivering retailers, but the one I want is nowhere to be found. Fumerie Turque. Does ANYONE know where I can get this, living in NYC (tried Aedes…no go)?

  23. Anonymous says:

    You are in luck, Fumerie Turque was the 2006 LE entry into the export line. You can buy it now from (in Canada). You could also check with Barneys in NY to see if they still have it.

    For other Serge info, go to the bottom of this page and click on Perfume Houses S, and look for the Serge Lutens entry.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I did actually try…they're sold out. I also tried Barney's, and there's no sign of it. I guess it's possible that the LE shipments sold out…any reason to expect them to get more in, or do you think I missed my window? Have to have it, though, so I might just cave and go on Ebay…must smell like tobacco and leather…perfume OCD taking over.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Just posted a query on MakeupAlley. FT isn't one of my favorites so haven't been paying attention…will post back if I find anything out.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Ok, Ina from Aromascope says to try the Chicago Barneys.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Thanks so much! Ina was right, Barney's in Chicago has all of the LE export perfumes…including Lys, if anyone's looking (the perfume shoppe in Vancouver is now sold out of that one, too).

  28. Anonymous says:

    Hi there. If you don't mind the shipping, you can get it on They have all the limited edition export range. Also, I have found a webiste for a lady called Susan who is a personal shopper who goes to France once a month. She will pick up any rare or niche fragrance that you require and ship it to you on return. If you are in America it is quite reasonable but postage can add up if you are overseas like I am! The site is Enjoy!

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