Serge Lutens Mandarine Mandarin ~ fragrance review

Serge Lutens Mandarine Mandarin perfume

Mandarine Mandarin was launched by Serge Lutens last year; like most of the line, it was created in collaboration with perfumer Christopher Sheldrake. The notes include Chinese orange, nutmeg, clove, candied mandarin, orange peel, smoky tea, rock rose, labdanum, tonka bean, musk and ambergris.

Out of the last handful of releases from Serge Lutens, there has only been one I've been really dying to own, and that is the much maligned Miel de Bois. The rest (Borneo 1834, Cedre, Gris Clair, Chypre Rouge), well, it isn't that I didn't like them (ok, I didn't like Borneo at all) so much as that I didn't adore them enough to want a bottle. They have all been interesting, mind you, I just don't adore any of them.

Mandarine Mandarin, happily or not (my wallet is certainly pleased) falls into that category: nicely done, very much enjoyed trying it, don't need a bottle. It opens on citrus, and for a few minutes it is exuberant and juicy and summery. Then, the citrus thickens into something richer, more honeyed (think orange candy or crystallized peel, not fresh juice) and we move into a rich ambery heart of spiced florals with a wisp of smoky tea running through the center. It is more murky than bright, more dry than sweet, and while it is more of a fall/winter fragrance than the opening might suggest, it is not at all heavy or hard to wear.

It is a lovely scent that simply doesn't speak to me at all. I had so little interest in it either way when I first tried it that I set my sample aside; this is now my fourth or fifth try and still: nothing. So that is that. Do comment if you love it, I am sure I have not done it any kind of justice.

Mandarine Mandarin is in the exclusive line; the bottle shown was a limited edition version of the classic bell jar, and I've no idea if it is still available. I want one very much, just please fill it with Iris Silver Mist.

For buying information, see the listing for Serge Lutens under Perfume Houses.

Tomorrow: Serge Lutens Rousse.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I'd love to switch places with you :-) There were only a couple of SL scents I didn't adore. I even came to like Rousse now, and that after much grumbling about how unoriginal and blah it was. Oh well…:-)

  2. Anonymous says:

    This one veered dangerously toward the dreaded Arabie, so it is only marginally wearable for me. My decant will suffice, no need to purchase a bottle. I do love most of his other scents, with the notable exception of Miel de Bois and Arabie. :-)

  3. Anonymous says:

    Anjali first mentioned that on her this was very similar to FdO. At first I didn't think so. On me it seemed much richer, spicier and that smoky tea note definitely distinguished it from FdO. But before I could get a bottle from ebay, something happened – it started to be all too similar to FdO on my skin. I swear something happened w/ my skin chemistry. I need to try it again and see if I get the same rich, unique scent I did originally. And I would *love* to have that amazing LE bottle – no matter what it smells like.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I found this one lovely but not FBW for me. There must be predecessors for it because I know of at least one that smells very similar: d/c'd Avon Clementine. And probably a group of other orange scents.

    As for my SL faves, I cherish my 50 ml bottle of Chergui. Least favorites as of the last time I tested them, many month ago, would be Fumerie (I camped all the time in my youth and I don't like the woodsmoke accord in perfume for some reason) and MKK, which has too many unpleasant associations with BO, to my nose.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I had the boredom factor on this one. Didn't hate it, didn't love it, jkust didn'e do “it” for me, whatever “it” is.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Based on the name and the notes, I was expecting orange and not orange blossom, but I find this very similar to FdO as well.

  7. Anonymous says:

    well, I am crazy about anybody who loves Miel de Bois (even if you don't like Borneo) soooooo..

    I think I liked this one a bit more than you did, but not enough to go through the hoops I'd have to jump to get a bell jar. If it was sitting at Barneys? Sure.

    Having typed that I do have to say that I have gotten compliments on it- one of which was the best kind: my best friend (and perfume consirator) made an all-too-obvious mental note about it. I'm sure a bell jar will end up on her dresser at some point

  8. Anonymous says:

    I'll take the blah Rousse over MM :-)

  9. Anonymous says:

    Do you know, I have tried all of the SLs except 1 or 2, and one of those is Arabie. I could tell from the description that there was no possible way :-)

  10. Anonymous says:

    You don't get orange as well? I get both.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Avon Clementine! I wish there was some easy way to get Avon samples, I never get to try any of their scents.

    Chergui is lovely :-)

  12. Anonymous says:

    I read somewhere or another that someone who visited the Salons in Paris was told MdB was going to be discontinued, and I was rather shocked. I didn't think SL discontinued things. Hope it was only a rumor.

  13. Anonymous says:

    maybe they will just pullit back into the exclusives.

    God no, please don't kill it Mssr. Lutens!

  14. Anonymous says:

    In Paris, they have all the limited edition bottles behind the counter. The SA said they were only available at Christmas and there were only 35 made of each. Somehow I am skeptical about both of these statements – don't know why? But there were certainly more of the LE bottles than I knew about, and most of them were beautiful. There was a gorgeous one of Chene, actually, somewhat similar to the MM one pictured above, but I still bought a normal bottle!

  15. Anonymous says:

    What?! Oh, I'm praying that's just a rumor. Adore that scent. Despite loving it, I know I'll never actually finish the bottle I have, but suddenly I'm feeling like I need to go purchase a back up bottle or two. Am seriously upset that I didn't do that w/ Barbara Bui. I may have to start consulting psychics about potential perfume discontinuations.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Seriously, I don't know of anything they've ever discontinued, do you? It can't be their first perfume that didn't immediately find an audience, I wouldn't think.

  17. Anonymous says:

    LOL — let me know what the psychics have to say! It really is a shame about the Barbara Bui.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I still am yearning after that Snowflake bottle, and I don't even remember which scent was in it. It was just so pretty! It wasn't a bell jar, just the regular export bottle with a snowflake etched on the front.

  19. Anonymous says:

    This one sounds like it might be a more wearable version of FdO on me. FdO was waaay too heavy & overpowering on me, but this is happily cumin-less so it might work. What a beautiful bell jar!

    Alas I do not seem to have the skin type or sophistication to appreciate Serge Lutens, the closest I got to something wearable on me was Fleurs de Citronnier.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Agree with you completely. Except that I did feel compelled to own Gris Clair (but I have a secret lavender habit).

  21. Anonymous says:

    I was hoping for the same thing, but it isn't a cumin-less FdO, at least to me. It is less focused on the orange blossom (has other floral notes, probably immortelle, or else something that has that same syrup-y feel) and less feminine. Nowhere near as bright as FdC.

  22. Anonymous says:

    And I have a bit of a not-so-secret lavender aversion — still, I liked Gris Clair much more than I thought I would. Nicely done.

  23. air says:

    Today I tried M-M from a poor wax sample. I got so impressed again, at the beginning I thought there was parsley in there!!!!! but then I realised that it was the nutmeg and the candied mandarine and the orange zest that probably gave me that impression, (I had too much marocan orange salad I am afraid….) The similarity with Fleur d’Orange is obvious but I could wear M-M it stays Ok on my skin, I regret that this did not happen with FdO, cause my skin reacts like a sponge with fleur d’ orange essence… I got a friend of mine to wear FdO and she makes always a stunning impression to the people around.

    • Robin says:

      I love that they make the wax samples available — they’re better than nothing and do give the general impression — but I have found them somewhat misleading. I don’t think I’d ever buy anything I hadn’t tried in the liquid form on skin.

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