Sarrasins was the latest fragrance to join the exclusive (i.e., not exported) collection at Serge Lutens. It launched last year, and was described as a velvety floral, built around "a stunningly beautiful jasmine, gloved in jet-black ink". The notes include jasmine, carnation, woods, musk and coumarin.
I read quite a few reviews of Sarrasins* before I smelled it, but as sometimes happens, I had already developed an idea of the scent in my head shortly after seeing the bottle and reading the ad copy (the "gloved in jet-black ink" and also "a sumptuous jasmin which smoothes its fur... A sigh of time"). So despite all evidence to the contrary, I was expecting — and looking forward to — a big huge skanky jasmine, dark and possibly rather scary.
Sarrasins, as many of you already know, isn't exactly that. It is not, first off, a jasmine soliflore in the manner of Serge Lutens' A La Nuit. It is a stylised portrait at most, with the jasmine most evident in the opening, after that, it is blended with other floral notes. The top notes are lush and big (it almost seems to exist in 3-D), but the jasmine doesn't have the same bite that it does in A La Nuit, and as it dries down, it gets softer and quieter.
I should note that Sarrasins is often described as heavily indolic. Perhaps my indol-o-meter is off, or has simply worn away from years of overuse, but I don't find it so at all, in fact, Sarrasins struck me as surprisingly clean. After it has been on skin for about an hour, it smells almost fresh and springlike. The adjectives that come to mind are not things I generally expect from Serge Lutens: Romantic. Pretty. Feminine. Wearable.
I couldn't decide what I thought of Sarrasins when I first smelled it, so I set it aside for a couple months. Now, trying it again, I'm still not sure. Sarrasins is lovely, and does not, like Louve (the 2007 export release from Serge Lutens), leave me entirely cold. I'd wear it if somebody gave it to me, that is for sure, and perhaps it will sneak up on me yet, but so far, I'm in like, not love.
If what you're looking for a big huge skanky jasmine, dark and possibly rather scary, you might try Norma Kamali's Jazmin. I described A La Nuit's top notes as "as close to being buried alive in flower petals as anything else I can think of", to which WinterWheat quite accurately commented in reply that Jazmin was possibly even more so — "...like having the petals crammed up your nostrils". It rivals Bruno Acampora's Jasmin for a jasmine that might be best left to the true jasmine fanatic. I found it overwhelming the first time I tried it several years back, now it seems just about right.
Serge Lutens Sarrasins is an Eau de Parfum, and was developed by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake. The juice is a rather alarming dark purple. The bottle shown is the limited edition bell jar; only 30 were to be produced, at 850€ a pop. The regular 75 ml bell jar is 105€. For buying information, see the listing for Serge Lutens under Perfume Houses.
Norma Kamali Jazmin is $80 for 100 ml Perfume. For buying information, see the listing for Norma Kamali under Perfume Houses.