Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles ~ fragrance review

Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles and Madame de Pompadour

The needles of the pine punctured her behind on the floor of the forest. The girl makes ready for revenge! Into the fire of the mountain, she sends the lances that offended her rosy cheeks; their resinous aroma rises to skies overhead. To celebrate her victory victorious, the girl burns frankincense to the goddesses of the woods and prepares a fortifying compote of fruits and spices and strong wine; the orange coals glow intensely by her determination and by the fists of roots, completely dried, she adds, bunch by bunch. At last, satisfied, on pillows of grass, one for her head, one for her ass, the girl reclines and dreams of submissive needles of the pines: “Leaves of hell! Smoke of the sky! Perfume of I!”

No, I’m not celebrating Christmas with a fistful of Oxycodone and a bottle of Champagne…I’m simply having some fun — in the style of Serge Lutens advertising copy. Take no offense, Serge fans; if you fume and fulminate against my frivolous attitude towards le maître, you’ll spoil the happy mood of the season and appear overly serious! I, too, am a Lutens fan, but it’s been a looooong time since a new Lutens perfume has thrilled me. (The last two Lutens’ fragrances I bought the moment they were released were 2003's Fumerie Turque and 2005's Miel de Bois.) I had high hopes for Fille en Aiguilles, because I love pine and incense notes in fragrance.

The name “Fille en Aiguilles” has something to do with a girl and needles; interpretations vary: “a girl in high heels,” a girl cavorting in pine needles, a reference to the saying ‘de fil en aiguille’ (meaning ‘little by little’). I don’t really give a hoot what the name means and will concentrate on how the fragrance smells.

Fille en Aiguilles opens with the scent of warm apple pie cooking in a wood-burning oven. Quickly, the fruit note darkens and is joined by strong frankincense and silky pine/fir notes. Fille en Aiguilles’ spicing is ‘cautious’, with a pinch of cumin (barely there) and, perhaps, coriander seed and cardamom. As Fille en Aiguilles reaches its final phase, it smells of (frank)incense ashes with a hint of savory chutney. Fille en Aiguilles is a pleasant perfume, and it fits into the Lutens’ “mold” perfectly with its notes of warm, spiced fruit and resins.

Madame du BarryFille en Aiguilles has a lot in common with another 2009 perfume release: Parfum d’Empire Wazamba. To personify these perfumes, I’ll go back in time* and reference two French ladies who spent a lot of time in high heels: Fille en Aiguilles is the Marquise de Pompadour (cool, cerebral, urbane) to Wazamba’s Madame du Barry (emotional, buxom, provincial). Which do I prefer? The floozy. Some may say Wazamba is crude compared to Fille en Aiguilles, but I’ve had it with restrained perfumes this year. I love Wazamba’s lusty character and its generosity with ingredients (more of everything, please!)  Bow to Fille en Aiguilles if you will; I’ll grope Wazamba instead.

Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles was developed by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake, and has good staying power but close-to-the-body sillage. It’s available in Eau de Parfum, Haute Concentration, 50 ml for $140; for buying information, see the listing for Serge Lutens under Perfume Houses.

* Yes, I’ve been reading about Louis V XV recently.

Note: top left image of Madame de Pompadour and bottom right image of Madame du Barry via Wikimedia Commons.

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86 Comments

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  1. Erin says:

    My fave line is “The girl makes ready for revenge!”

  2. mals86 says:

    “I’ll grope Wazamba”!

    I haven’t tested either – the notes have spooked me a bit, and since I have to either order samples or swap for them, I haven’t sought out FeA or W. But what a great review here!

  3. Haunani says:

    I haven’t had my coffee yet, but after that read I am fully alert. Bravo, Kevin! :-)

  4. Suzanne941 says:

    LOL at my desk!!! Thanks for the Christmas goodie, Kevin.

    • Kevin says:

      Suzanne: you’re welcome

  5. Absolute Scentualist says:

    Lol Kevin! What a fun review. Oh, and the fragrance sounds good, too. I’ve got a Wazamba sample on my wish list, but haven’t ordered it yet. I likely should soon while the weather still favors scents like it, though I don’t think I could ever wear it now without smiling just a bit at the thought of this review. :)

    • Kevin says:

      AbScent: hope you enjoy it.

  6. rickbr says:

    I was waiting a review of one of my favorite lutens at this moment. And you did brilliant one Kevin! On my skin, i detect first the fresh pine, that doesn`t remind me at all of pinesol or clean products, but instead is something green, leafy, barely minty and dry. And then the fruits start to appear to get together with the lovely pine smell, and these fruits have a “liqueurish” touch that i love on some lutens fragrances. And the base what a perfect dry, but smooth, incense woody base, that blends flawlessly with the pine, and fruits. What could be a difficult to wear, too intense, too much fragrance is, instead, a balanced, green, light but present fragrance, that i dared to use on hot weather and turn out to be a perfect incense green fruity scent for summer. I just love it!

    • Daisy says:

      Rough day for me on the blog—Kevin’s review makes me want to re-test Wazamba (but it was really NOT good the first couple of tests) and now after reading your comment I REALLY NEED to try Fille en Aiguilles—TPC here I come!!

      • rickbr says:

        I hope that you like FeA Daisy!
        Wazamba sounds very interesting too. It`s one that i want to try. Incense fragrances and I are great friends :)

        • Daisy says:

          all I got from Wazamba was a huge (read: almost killed me) dose of a guy’s last week’s work out shirt….. ack, super-sweaty. I sent my sample to someone else who got all the pine and incensey goodness that I wanted !! Not fair! However, in the true spirit of perfumista enthusiasm, I am eager to test the next pine/incense goody that comes along!

          • miss kitty v. says:

            Daisy, I got the same thing. There was some incense at first, and then a smell that made me shout out something I won’t repeat here, lest sensitive ears be offended.

          • Daisy says:

            shouted it out? that IS bad….I mostly made rude noises and headed for the Tide….which didn’t quite solve the problem.

          • Rappleyea says:

            I can’t even begin to imagine what you two are smelling. I got nothing but resin-y Christmas tree. I wish it worked for you both as it would be fun to do a split.

          • Daisy says:

            imagine a big hairy guy named Bart, who’s been wearing the same shirt to Gold’s gym every day for two weeks….you walk into the gym and he hasn’t seen you in ages….and immediately wraps you in a big sweaty bear hug….you’re short so you’re getting a lot of armpit action……now inhale ……..that’s Wazamba….oh, there might be a tiny pine tree out by the parking lot somewhere…..

      • Kevin says:

        Daisy: TPC should BOW TO YOU for great business!

        • Daisy says:

          nah, they’re too busy rubbing their hands together in glee to have time to bow down. I’m sure I’m helping put their children through school. (see, I’m a humanitarian involved in educating our nation’s youth)

    • Kevin says:

      Thanks, R…glad you are enjoying Fille.

    • skalolazka says:

      I’m envious! Those fruits that come across as “liqueurish” to you, to me come across as ever-so-slightly rotten — just enough spoilage to put me off. Too bad, because I loved FeA at first sniff, but a few go-rounds with my sample convinced me that I could not, would not, “unsmell” the rot. And then my partner went and ruined Chergui for me, by commenting on its powderiness. He’s right — that lovely yummy tobacco just goes sweet and powdery on me, fast. Fortunately, I still love Five o’clock (which I bought), and Gris Clair (sample, but quickly becoming an addiction), though of course neither of those is part of today’s piney topic.

      • Kevin says:

        Skalolazka: ah, never let others ruin things! I love “powdery” myself given the right ingredients in a scent.

  7. Rick says:

    “Yes, I’ve been reading about Louis V recently.”

    Do you mean Louis the Sluggard, who married the 33-year-old Adelaide of Anjou at the age of 13 (his first, her third), divorced a few months later after she ran away to Arles, became king at the age 20, then died a year later (poisoned by his mother), thereby ending the Carolingian dynasty?

    Great fragrance for Christmas, by the way.

    • Suzanne941 says:

      Louis the Sluggard! What a life! I think perhaps here’s talking about Le Roi Soleil, Louis XIV?

      • Kevin says:

        Suzanne: almost…meant Louis “Apres moi, le deluge!” XV.

    • Kevin says:

      Thank you! HAHA! My faulty Roman Numeral escaped me thru a hundred proofsl!…I MEANT Louis XV!!!!!!!! (Louis V is certainly worth exploring though I prefer the 18th century!)

      • Suzanne941 says:

        Well, I had to go to Wikipedia and check out Louis V (the Sluggard). Quite a tale.

        • miss kitty v. says:

          Yeah, if no one was interested in that particular Louis, we all are now!

          • Rick says:

            Yes, when leadership positions used to be inherited you got all sorts\s of weird characters who managed to bring thriving kindoms and empires to an abrupt end. Thank goodness such things don’t happen anymore.

  8. Aparatchick says:

    Here’s to celebrating victories victorious! May we all have many of them in the new year.

    Thank you for a very vivid and amusing review Kevin. Wazamba has been on my To Sample list; “high heels” not so much. But having read this, I find myself eager to sample them side-by-side.

    • Kevin says:

      Aparatchick: hope you smell them both

  9. Lizzie Love says:

    Oh wow! I sniffed this for the first time over the weekend and tumbled down a rabbit hole of memories, associations, and impressions — utterly seduced. To me it smelled bookish, fir-forested, cozy-kitchen-y and a bit like the inside of a cathedral. I loved it!

    Well, I for one was thrilled. Am really looking forward to having this as a signature scent for the winter. Lovely review, Kevin, thanks!

    • Kevin says:

      Lizzie: thanks, K

  10. Jill says:

    Thanks for a very amusing review! I needed that this morning. Even though it sounds like you’re not thrilled with it, your review has me really curious to try it. (I’m really loving pine right now.)

    • Kevin says:

      Jil: Oh, I like it fine…I just found Wazamba first…and it’s more “me”

  11. rubaiyat says:

    I am celebrating Christmas with a fistful of Oxycodone and a bottle of Champagne…but I have a broken wrist for an excuse! I enjoy your reviews so much, Kevin. I really want to sample the gropable Wazamba!

    • Kevin says:

      Rubaiyat: feel better!

  12. Joe says:

    Kevin! Are you moonlighting for a perfume PR firm, or would you like to join as a partner in the startup Daisy and I are launching?

    I thought I did not love pine, but — maybe it’s the season — I am in LOVE with Wazamba (decant courtesy my generous pal, commenter Datura). It’s lovely, and perfect for the icy weather and recent blanket of New Jersey holiday snow I’m enjoying. I do want to try FeA though (and I’m a fan of Mme de Pompadour’s infamous, brazen quote, “Après moi, le déluge.”)

    Happy Holidays / Merry Christmas to you. To you and the entire NST “family,” I’ll raise a glass of Champagne (or maybe just Asti)… hold the Oxycodone.

    • Kevin says:

      Joe: enjoy the snow for me.

  13. crowflower says:

    I got a sample of Smell Bent’s Pere Noel Coward and like it.
    It’s incensy pine or piney incense……

  14. fleurdelys says:

    You had me going there for a few minutes, Kevin. I was hyperventilating, ready to scream, “I must have it! Hand me my credit card!”. Then I realized I was reading a Kevin special – bravo! I’m currently loving Histoires de Parfums 1740 Marquis de Sade, which I describe as a stewed fruit compote with dark spices and brandy. Your description of Fille en Aiguilles sounds similar, with the addition of evergreen, another favorite note. OK, I gotta find me a Serge Lutens counter…

    • Kevin says:

      fleur: AH! I’ll have to try the Sade immediately.

  15. dissed says:

    **applause**

    I need to grope some Wazamba.

    • Kevin says:

      Dissed: you can be a bit rough…don’t worry.

  16. Jared says:

    I am just not on the Lutens train. So many I’ve tried just don’t work on me, and it makes me sad (but my wallet relieved). I’ve tried this one a few times but it turns out like the others: super super sugary and sweet. Piney, yes, but I have cavities and/or diabetes now. Thank God MKK works on me, my holy grail of musks!

    • Kevin says:

      Jared: MKK is a fave of mine too…just got a new bottle.

      • Jared says:

        I sprayed this on someone else today just to try and get a different opinion, and while it’s still pretty sweet in that oriental style, it did remind me of Goutal’s Encens Flamboyant, which I happen to have a bottle of. Not wild about either, but on a cold winter night outside, they’re pretty nice!

        • Kevin says:

          Jared: yes, they’re similar for sure. I remember EF being a tad stronger.

  17. lovethescents says:

    Oh how excellently written, thank you! I had way more fun reading than I did sampling. FeA would make a very festive and elegant closet freshener. Happy holidays!

    • Kevin says:

      LovetheScents: happy holidays to you too!

  18. miss kitty v. says:

    Awesome review. Always go for the floozy! (Of course, I say this after yesterday, when I was pretty sure I was mistaken for a hooker.)

    • Daisy says:

      you wearin that cat-suit out in public again??

    • Tama says:

      Kitty! You wearing your winter hotpants and boots again?

    • Joe says:

      Kitty/Daisy/Tama: I really LOVE the word “floozy.” My grandmother is the only person I’ve ever heard utter it with a completely straight face.

  19. Dzingnut says:

    Fantastic review Kevin! Louis the Sluggard .. I love how they gave Kings nicknames back in the medieval day. There’s Ethelred the Unready (always late for meals) and Richard Yea-and-Nay (otherwise known as the Lionheart), who apparently had trouble making up his mind. FeA sounds like the perfect fragrance for the heroine of my as-yet-unwritten bodice-ripper: Tessa Tunbridge-Wells, who lives in the late 18th century and has a cascade of jetty curls, an alabaster bosom (frequently heaving with emotion) and saucy ankles. Yes, and her adventures are similarly cliched. Happy Holidays to all, and may Santa leave you the bottle(s) of your dreams under the tree!

    • Kevin says:

      Dzingnut: I’m sure many of us are chewing our nails…knowing that “Santa” sometimes makes mistakes! HA!

    • mals86 says:

      So write her into being already…. I’ll read it!

  20. Filomena says:

    Kevin,
    Great review! I have samples of both Wazamba and Fille en Aiguilles and as much as I usually like SL fragrances, I’d take Wazamba over the Lutens.
    Happy Holidays!

  21. Fernando says:

    Curiously, my wife likes Fille en Aiguilles but hates Wazamba. The pepper notes in the latter remind her of a roast or some other food item. She actually threw out the sample I had bought.

    • Kevin says:

      Fernando: tsk tsk…a waste of good juice!

    • Daisy says:

      now that’s a woman you don’t want to mess with!!!

  22. ScentScelf says:

    Ha! Most excellent fun; thank you very much. I love the FeA/Wazamba divide; it manages to resort at least a few perfumistas who usually clump together. Me, I’m a Wazamba fan; even after the PineSol debacle, the best thing I get from the Lutens is the drydown, which as I just was telling someone else, I’d much rather travel to through Chergui.

    • Kevin says:

      ScentScelf: glad to find another Wazamba fan.

  23. lilydale aka Natalie says:

    Having smelled both of these, I’ve got to say that you totally hit the nail on the head with the urbane sophisticate vs. slutty bumpkin dichotomy. Neither FenA nor Wazamba spoke to me at all, but at least the former didn’t make me want to saw off and incinerate my arm… Wazam-bah humbug, I say!

    • Kevin says:

      Damn, Lilydale, I’ll tell all slutty bumpkins to stay out of YOUR way! ouch!!!!

  24. Rappleyea says:

    This was better than a stiff drink after my extremely hard day at work! Thank you Kevin. I haven’t tried this one, but like a few others have already mentioned, I just don’t particularly get along with the SL’s. Usually find that they’re “not all that”. However, I love Wazamba. It will probably be my Christmas scent. I hope someone doesn’t hang an ornament on me! :-D

    • Kevin says:

      Rappleyea: well, if it’s a DIAMOND ornament? Hmmm

      • Rappleyea says:

        Good point! LOL!

  25. annunziata says:

    You took me in completely…excellent parody! I love the smell of pine, it brings back memories of long-ago childhood summers in Maine, and walking in the woods where you get a tantalizing whiff of the resin warming in the sun — never quite enough. I guess Lutens could help with that ‘not quite enough’ issue — he usually does! The only time I’ve ever gotten ‘enough’ pine was when I lived in Central America, and we covered the floors with pine needles at Christmas time. Will have to try…thanks, Kevin.

    • Kevin says:

      Annunziata: where I grew up in coastal Virginia there were pine forests galore…love the smell and the scent of pine in the woods smells NOTHING like Pine-sol! Dried pine needles are great in the garden…keep slugs at bay!

      • They do, but I have such awful scent memories of Southern Pines that I can’t even stand to look at them!

  26. pyramus says:

    By a wonderful coincidence, I just today got a sample of Fille en Aiguilles (by another coincidence, it was sent to me with the bottle of the delicious Miel de Bois that I FINALLY bought, a couple of years after someone–possibly you–sent me a decant). I haven’t had a chance to try it yet (because obviously the first thing I did was drench myself in MdB), but now you have made me very very interested in trying the Aiguilles. The last thing I need is another Lutens to decide I can’t live without, because my next purchase has to be Un Bois Vanille, but you know how Lutens is….

    • Kevin says:

      R: yes, I sent you MdB and was thrilled that you loved it. Wonder what you’ll think of Fille…and if you’ve tried Wazamba!

  27. hongkongmom says:

    love your article..i am a big fan o serge, but lately i have not been loving anything
    filles in my head was good, but in my heart..i gave it a miss
    and then mkk finally arrived and all of a sudden…i found the musc part too much(i found it to sickly sweet) and although i love the skank/musc contrast..i kind of felt like it was another versionof clair de musc or even gris clair and if i din’t already have these…i would have gone for it..lucky for a US$9.99 bottle of vintage emeraude…i am happily wearing it, feeling like i am close to shalimar!

    • Kevin says:

      hongkongmom: glad you found your Emeraude.

  28. asuperlongusername says:

    I really am anxious to try this but my SA at the local perfume store said she might not pick it up! “It smells like if you sprayed Sere Noir and Nuit de Cellophane together,” she told me. However, she said she’d try to get me another sample.

    I really love the smell of pine, so I was excited at first to smell this. But I don’t like fruit, and it’s starting to worry me. I mean, I don’t like any kind of fruit: stewed, boiled, macerated, pickled, fried…. Oh well. Next year.

    • Kevin says:

      asuperlongusername: aye…I think your SA is dead wrong on his/her comparisons, but you’ll decide yourself at some point!

  29. Thanks for your take on the Wazumba vs FeA. I’m still sticking with FeA. Happiest Holiday to you Kevin! :-)

    • Kevin says:

      C: Happy holidays to you and Mr J!

  30. LaMaroc says:

    Another slutty bumpkin Wazamba supporter here! I don’t get any over-ripe guy BO at all! But then again I hear everyone talk about how skanky L’Air de Rien is and on me it was nothing but linear Nag Champa. And you nailed it with the de Pompador/du Barry comparison. I am (over)emotional, buxom and provincial, even though I’ve lived the city life. Except for Chergui and Daim Blond, anytime I wear a Lutens fragrance, I feel like such an imposter. lol
    Happy Holidays, everyone. I hope Santa or Hanukkah Harry have been generous!

  31. RusticDove says:

    I chuckled and smiled through that entire review Kevin. Thank you for that. I would like to sample this sometime to see how it works on me as I love pine needles and incense – mmm.

    • Kevin says:

      Rustic Dove: Thanks…and if you love pine and incense there’s a good chance you’ll at least like FeA.

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