Serge Lutens A La Nuit perfume review

Jasmine on black

The weather here is perfect, at last. The days have been warm and sunny, but not too hot. The nights have been just cool enough that you need something long sleeved, and it is on spring nights such as these that I tend to reach for the headier white florals. Last night's fragrance: A La Nuit, by Serge Lutens. Like most all the line, it was developed by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake, and the notes include jasmine (Egyptian, Indian, Moroccan), green shoots, cloves, white honey, benzoin and musk.

My testing notes from the first time I tried A La Nuit say quite simply: "your basic death by jasmine", and that is entirely accurate, I think, for the top notes, which are as close to being buried alive in flower petals as anything else I can think of. If you don't like jasmine, it will seem like an awfully long wait for it to calm, assuming you bother to wait at all — I should think a true jasmine hater would find A La Nuit a scrubber. If you adore jasmine, you might find it heavenly. I do love jasmine, but the top notes are SWEET and STRONG, and I find it nearly unbearable sprayed. A little dab here and there is plenty enough heaven for me.

Serge Lutens A La Nuit fragranceA La Nuit does calm — and doesn't really take all that long — and then it is even more heavenly: a sumptuous jasmine, ripe but no longer heady. There would seem to be other floral notes, but it is a true solifore: A La Nuit is all about jasmine, nothing else. A bit of green tempers the lushness and it is only lightly honeyed and spiced. The longer it is on skin, the more the lushness fades, and eventually, it nearly qualifies as fresh, but there is fresh and then there is fresh. A La Nuit isn't at all clean, in fact, it is more than a bit indolic (several reviews mention dirty diapers, or even cat urine).

It is the prettiest jasmine I know, although it isn't girly-pretty in the least. It is jasmine with attitude, and while I don't tend to classify my fragrances as for day or evening wear, in this case the name suits. I find that it just doesn't feel right during the day.

Serge Lutens appears to have raised his export line prices while I wasn't paying attention. A 50 ml bottle of Eau de Parfum is $100; didn't they used to be around $80? Will the dollar ever recover? For buying information, see the listing for Serge Lutens under Perfume Houses.

Tomorrow: more jasmine

Note: image is Jasmine on black by serdir (at home) at flickr; some rights reserved.


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58 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I love that – “jasmine with attitude.” :-) Even iin my floral hating days, I loved jasmine. If I see jasmine listed as a note, it's like a clarion call I can't resist responding to. A la Nuit is w/out doubt one of my favorite jasmines, but it really is an intense one. Can't even imagine spraying it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “Your basic death by jasmine”. LOL. It used to be for me, but not anymore :-)

  3. Anonymous says:

    I sprayed it on once, then never again. It isn't a powerhouse in terms of lasting power (in fact, I don't think it lasts even as long as average for an EdP, on me, anyway) but honestly, in large quantities the first 15 minutes are unbearable.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Great review, R!

    I have yet to smell A La Nuit, as I am seriously working through a two-year obsession with all things odd, incensey, and weird…

    I AM looking for a good jasmine perfume, though, one that smells like real jasmine flowers just taken from the vine. A La Nuit doesn't sound like it :(

  5. Anonymous says:

    LOL — I don't necessarily mean it in a bad way. It is just darned strong in the beginning. And if you really hated jasmine, I should think the top notes would be extremely offensive.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm. It might not be far off. Relatively few jasmine scents, even those with jasmine in the name, smell like many flowers died in their making. It is certainly worth trying, at any rate!

  7. Anonymous says:

    OMGLMAOBBQ!!11!!!1! as we say on the internets.
    My old MUA review (taken down with all the others) said this:
    “This scent is jasminejasminejasminejasminejasmine. It feels exactly as though you have been locked inside a hermetically sealed warehouse packed to the roof with jasmine blossoms, jasmine blossoms, and more jasmine blossoms. I assume such an adventure could only end in Death By Jasmine, which must be this scent's secret name. “

  8. Anonymous says:

    I can't take that one: a lil' bit too much for me.

    Poor R, it's been 100 euros since Sept 2005. LOL!

  9. Anonymous says:

    oooh, one of my favorite SL! it makes me happy each time i wear it. you're absolutely right- a little goes a long way. whenever i smell it it reminds me of how someone smells when they come inside after being outdoors– all fresh and crisp. great review!

  10. Anonymous says:

    why was your MUA review taken down?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Nikki, no sinister reason! I just took them all down when I started writing the perfume guide with Luca.

  12. Anonymous says:

    oh, cool!

    you piqued my curiosity because of how MUA looks a little different these days. :)

  13. Anonymous says:

    T, was your review on MUA in late 2003/early 2004? If it was, maybe I stole the phrase from you subconsciously! If we both came up with it independently, then obviously Serge picked the wrong name — should have been Death By Jasmine.

    I wish I'd kept a copy of my own reviews, but I didn't bother when I deleted them.

  14. Anonymous says:

    No, I would SWEAR it was cheaper in the US! Admittedly, my memory is pathetically poor, almost to the point of nonexistent, but would just swear it was less here. Going to have to go rummage through old receipts.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Interesting how differently we experience it — wouldn't have thought of it as crisp at all! Do you see it as a daytime scent then?

  16. Anonymous says:

    His Death by Tuberose came out in the same year. Shame. I suppose he could have called it Jasmin Mortel. :-)

  17. Anonymous says:

    Some evidence in my favor:

    http://www.makeupalley.com/m~51418684

    Although even then, I'd swear I didn't pay even $92 for the last bottle of export Serge I bought.

    So maybe the price hasn't gone up in euros, but did in the US to make up for the weak dollar?

  18. Anonymous says:

    I love wearing A La Nuit in the warm weather. I assumed that my husband loved it, too. But the last time I wore it, we were in the car, and both he and our son complained about it. They found it suffocating!

    Ha, ha…death by jasmine indeed!

    Hugs!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Has a nice ring to it, no?

    Tubereuse Criminelle is weird, but doesn't have the same claustrophobic feel to me at all.

  20. Anonymous says:

    R, I'm talking euros not dollars. I have no idea how much it's supposed to be in dollars. Noelle announced the price increase on the SL forum on Sept 1, 2005.

  21. Anonymous says:

    A scrubber indeed. The only jasmine I've tested that's even MORE jasminey than SL's is Norma Kamali Jazmin. That's like having the petals crammed up your nostrils.

    Funny thing about jasmine is, even though I claim to hate it, all of my favorite scents have a *touch* of it tucked in there somewhere. I think jasmine is like patchouli that way. People don't realize how alluring it makes a fragrance when it's not featured prominently, and will claim to avoid it like the plague, when in fact they're wearing a trace of it on their bodies at all times.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Have a feeling that there have been a couple of incremental increases in the US, as there have been with other brands (L'Artisan, etc). Eventually, I'll only be able to afford made-in-the-US perfumes!

  23. Anonymous says:

    Oh dear, they ganged up on you, LOL! I think I like it better in cooler weather myself, although it does have that “sultry summer evening” kind of feeling about it.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I'm sure that's the reason why. Unfortunately for you lot.

  25. Anonymous says:

    It does indeed.

    I agree 100% about TC vs AlN. I think it's thanks to those strange and wonderful top notes: they stop it from being so 'lush' and suffocating. A la Nuit is not weird enough.

  26. Anonymous says:

    The whole Norma Kamali line is just amazingly strong. My testing notes for Jazmin say “strong, strong jasmine”, and literally nothing else, and I usually write at least a paragraph. Even her Zagara (which was my favorite of the line) I found too strong to wear, and I noticed the ad copy says it should be used “sparingly”. Always wondered if the line wouldn't have done better if they had done them all in a lighter concentration.

    And agree on the jasmine/patchouli, and would say the same for many other notes too.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Certainly it is jasmine to the hilt.

    I tried it couple of days ago (El Corte Ingles in Barcelona carries the export line)

    It is indolic but I think that depends heavily on the reaction with the skin.

    It is certainly a perfume “with an attitude” and would suit best strong personalities ;-)

    I have tried also Orange Flowers and the Musc one (My favourites but I do not remember the names in french) and the rest, I find the other Lutens's either too inscense-like or too old school, although I MUST say they undoubtedly smell like they are worth every penny.

  28. Anonymous says:

    January 2004 — but given the nature of this fragrance, I think it's likely we came up with it independently!

  29. Anonymous says:

    Assume those are Fleurs d'Oranger & Clair de Musc, and how nice that you got to try them all!

  30. Anonymous says:

    It is a more conventional floral than TC, certainly. And can see why you'd find it suffocating.

  31. Anonymous says:

    When I tested this from a sample sent to me…it was like wearing a necklace of jasmine flowers. I love jasmine tea and find the scent very comforting but also VERY feminine.

    Perhaps I could only wear this, if I layered it with Demeter Dirt…but then perhaps it really would smell like I'd been buried in flower petals :)

    Kidding aside – I think I judge all future jasmine scents against A La Nuit. Which says a lot. Even if I don't own a bottle.

  32. Anonymous says:

    “SWEET and STRONG” … I found it to be a little too heavy for me. A little more “green” in the composition is what I would have preferred.

    I have noticed that apart from Chanel, no other house currently uses Jasmin from Grasse in their fragrances (Chanel uses it in their parfums only). Is jasmine from Grasse really that much superior to harvests from other countries ? Or is it the case that the other fragrance houses are smarter than Chanel and have realised that the Indian and Moroccan jasmine harvest is good enought already and the difference in quality is barely perceptible to the consumer.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I drink jasmine tea every day. Do you like the L'Artisan The Pour Un Ete? It is the closest thing I know to that smell.

    When Victoria reviewed A La Nuit on Bois de Jasmin, she said she layered A La Nuit with wood scents, including Santal Blanc. I haven't tried that yet, but mean to.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Would anyone question my sanity if I said that I find A La Nuit to be a soft, romantic jasmine perfume?

    Yeah, that's what I thought. :-)

  35. Anonymous says:

    i guess i hadn't thought of it… all i know is that whenever i put it on i want to lick my arm afterwards. :)

  36. Anonymous says:

    LOL! Well, everyone experiences perfumes differently. Note that a commenter above calls it crisp, which is not a word that comes to my mind at all.

    But I can see romantic (although I would say sexy more than romantic).

  37. Anonymous says:

    I have no idea. I understand Grasse jasmine smells different, and that may be enough of a reason without comparative quality issues. Or they may want to use Grasse jasmine for PR reasons.

  38. Anonymous says:

    LOL — that is a pretty good endorsement, regardless of the time of day :-)

  39. Anonymous says:

    I had a bottle of A La Nuit but I ended up selling it. It was a love/hate relationship I had with that perfume.

    The only way I could describe it was that it was like a very moist, humid, sultry, alive kind of Jasmine. So realistic that I almost liked it better sniffing it from the bottle then on my skin.

    Dawn :)

  40. Anonymous says:

    Haven't sampled A La Nuit yet, but most Lutens fragrances do not wear well on my skin. Lutens is interesting, but not easy for everyone to wear. The closest I came to a wearable Lutens was Fleurs du Citronnier, but unfortunately that turned into a powdery mess on me.

    I fear this one might be a wee bit too heady for me. I like jasmine, but usually in concert with other flowers, or as a very sheer soliflore (ie Bulgari voile de Jasmine).

  41. Anonymous says:

    Like Elizabeth, I find A la Nuit soft, romantic fragrance. It is pure jasmine, but it doesn't suffocate me like Montale's Jasmine Full. When I visited CB, he had 3 jamine absolutes out for people to try (he was in the process of creating Cradle of Light): I thought 2 were lovely, and really hated one. It must be the scary one that is in JF, and not (or not too much) in AlaN (but I adore CoL, which must have all three).

    Following V's example, I often mix AlaN with wood scents, which makes it more interesting to me (very nice with Santal Blanc).

  42. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this review, Robin! So far I've only really liked jasmine when it's blended with other white flowers, and I found this Lutens to be “too big” for me. I recently tried, and fell in love, with the new Armani Prive Eclat De Jasmin, which is the loveliest jasmine scent I've ever smelled. I have a feeling it's going to be a huge hit.

    At the Chanel boutique in NY, I was told that Chanel keeps their own jasmine fields for their perfumes. Interesting!

  43. Anonymous says:

    Dawn, “moist, humid, sultry” is a perfect description. Not sure I'd ever manage to drain a bottle of it myself — I am perfectly happy with my decant, lovely though it is.

  44. Anonymous says:

    It isn't sheer, that is certain, and completely agree that he has a particular style (although it seems to be changing over the past couple years) that isn't universally loved.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Can't wait to try the Eclat de Jasmin, P, I keep hearing wonderful things about it!

  46. Anonymous says:

    Ah, I tried 2 of CB's jasmines, I think, and liked the deeper of the two but now can't remember what they were called. Wonder if it was the scary one, LOL? I have only tried the Montale once, and found it much fresher than A La Nuit but ought to give it another try.

  47. Anonymous says:

    I also tried a lot of the “L'Artisan” 's (love mure et musc)

    And The different Company, annick goutal AND the Etros.

    For once in my life that I am coming to europe… I'm getting the most out of it..In a perfume freak perspective ;-)

    I really cannot believe it when i see them in a store.

    I guess I come across as childish or provincial, but what the hell! :)

    Plus they are very polite, have not thrown me out of any perfume store yet ;-)

  48. Anonymous says:

    What fun — you sound like me on my first “perfume trip” to New York. I felt just the same — seeing the actual bottles in person was such a kick after only knowing the scents from little sample vials. Glad you haven't been evicted from any stores and hope you've found lots of new favorites :-)

  49. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I very much agree. I am not a jamine or patch “soliflore” lover, but enjoy them as accents. Vetiver, too, I'm afraid, and leather.

  50. Anonymous says:

    If you're crazy, then I'm crazy, too. A La Nuit is the first jasmine I was ever able to wear without getting a headache, and was my sweetie's favorite. One spritz, or maaaaybe two, but certainly no more than two is plenty, and it lasts. I have worn it to the office, and had people ask me what it was and where they could buy it. I love A La Nuit.

  51. Anonymous says:

    Have not sniffed The Pour un Ete – will try to soon…thanks.

    Jasmine and wood – not sure if my nose would like that…?

    I think the natural progression in jasmine scents will be a 'dirty jasmine'…something akin to Voleur de Roses or Rose Poivree, but with jasmine. Now THAT, I would want to sniff…Maybe I could layer A La Nuit with Dirt (Demeter)? :)

  52. Anonymous says:

    Warning: The Pour Un Ete is *light*. It doesn't last long. Still, love it for summer.

    A La Nuit and Dirt might be a great combo, if the heavier A La Nuit didn't drown out the Dirt entirely. Might have to try it!

  53. Anonymous says:

    I finally made it to half a bottle and it is heaven! It is unbelievebaly feminine and intriguing sexy. I love it very much. I feel awesome, audacious and unscalable with it.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Great description, thanks!

  55. Anonymous says:

    This seems to me to be one of Sheldrake's clumsier formulas, unlike the seamlessly smooth understated elegant Serge Lutens scents. I am familiar with fresh jasmine blossoms and jasmine absolute, which I've always found to be wearable for men and women. However the overwhelming note in this cloyingly sweet fragrance seems to me to be blended with Tuberose or a jasmine synth analog, which I loathe. I can dab on jasmine absolute and feel confident being bathed in its elegance; I would be afraid to even be caught wearing this supersonic sweet floral of Sheldrake's.

  56. Anonymous says:

    More $$ saved, then….

  57. Anonymous says:

    I'm just wondering what your opinion was for a comparison for this perfume, La Nuit and Le Jasmin by Annick Goutal? I'm looking for good jasmine perfumes, and these two stood out to me. Another question, what other jasmine perfumes would you recommend?

    Thanks again for this great website!! It's really helpful in my beginning perfume conquests!

  58. Anonymous says:

    A La Nuit is a steamy, full-on sultry jasmine, the Annick Goutal is more of a sparkling daytime sort of scent.

    Here are some more:

    http://www.nstperfume.com/blog/_archives/2007/7/12/3087873.html

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