Serge Lutens Bas de Soie ~ perfume review

Blue Moon silk stockings

...I’d rather say that it is a perfume at the center of doubt; that the beam balance never settles between iris and hyacinth in the main accord, which is what makes the composition interesting. — Serge Lutens

It is rare that Serge Lutens says anything about his own fragrances that I find helpful, but in this case — he was doing an interview with Grain de Musc — he has so neatly summed up the experience of wearing his new Bas de Soie (silk stockings) that only a few more details need to be added.

First, the iris is that cosmetics-powder sort of iris, far from the turnips and dirt-caked roots of Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist. The whole fragrance is cold and spiky early on, and very peppery, and the hyacinth is green and slightly bitter; later, Bas de Soie is warmer, softer and sweeter, and as advertised, the two notes seem to weave in and out (or struggle for control, depending on your outlook) for hours without ceasing until it rather suddenly fades away. The base is musky and slightly woody, and clean, maybe even very clean.

Despite the clean finish, Bas de Soie has something of the retro feel you'd expect from the name, although perhaps not in the way you might expect: it does not feel like a perfume from the classic age of perfumery so much as a functional product from the classic age of perfumery, and although I enjoyed wearing it, I cannot disagree with the folks at MakeupAlley who have compared the smell to old-fashioned hairspray.

Serge Lutens Bas de Soie Eau de Parfum

Do I like Bas de Soie? I don't know. It is not boring — far from it — and I did not by any means find it unpleasant. Still, at the moment I have no desire to wear it again. Into the purgatory basket it goes; it can keep Nuit de Cellophane company.

Serge Lutens Bas de Soie was developed by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake; it is available in 50 ml Eau de Parfum. For buying information, see the listing for Serge Lutens under Perfume Houses.

Note: image is Blue Moon (advertisement for silk stockings) uploaded by Muffet at flickr; some rights reserved.

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103 Comments

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  1. Erin says:

    I’m still interested in trying this: it doesn’t seem my style at all, but all the blog reviews make it seem interesting, at least. The mention of Nuit De Cellophane terrifies me, however. You were divided on that one? I found it like Louve, and when I first tried that one, I remember actually stepping back from the bottle in Sephora, it was so syrupy and sweet and concentrated.

    • Robin says:

      Erin, everything about it seems like it ought to be my style, but so far I just don’t love it. I found it hard to get interested in Nuit de Cellophane at all — could not even think of anything to say about it other than “pretty”.

  2. Joe says:

    Oh! The ignominy of purgatory!

    I confess, I love this perfume. I would definitely buy a bottle (which doesn’t mean I will). It’s actually on the sweet side to me from the very beginning; I’m not sure I get the peppery or bitter feel you get from it, though there’s definitely a “spiky” green feeling that I would say is a distant cousin to the galbanum opening of Chamade (with added hyacinth similarity).

    The closest comparison I immediately made was to AG Grand Amour, which has the green and the hyacinth, but not the iris of Bas de Soie. I really enjoy both perfumes quite a lot. I almost wish I had worn BdS today instead of Byredo Pulp! Sorry to hear you have no desire to wear it again! (Note: I like Cellophane also, but that one can definitely remain in purgatory; it’s pretty, but not as interesting to me as BdS.)

    Thanks for the review; I really enjoyed reading it.

    • Robin says:

      Agree on Cellophane, it was just a non-starter for me, although I’ll give it another shot eventually. And I’m sure I’ll give Bas de Soie another try too. Interesting about Grand Amour, which I did not think of — I do not like Grand Amour.

    • AnnS says:

      Joe: very interesting you mention both Chamade and Grand Amour b/c I was thinking of both of them while reading Robin’s review- green, spikey and hyacinth just about solidifies those associations for me too. I was also wondering about they very dry and powdery iris that AG uses in Heure Exquise…?? Would that be similar as well.

      The comment about hairspray kind of gives me a lukewarm feeling about wanting to test BdS, but Joe, your comments about Chamade and Grand Amour make me want to. GA especially has that bitter, vegetal thing going on that Goutal does so well. I like retro, so I suppose I’ll have to get around to testing this eventually…. ;-)

      • Joe says:

        Ann: I have a sample (from you!) of HE, but I don’t know it well enough to comment on that. To me, BdS feels more similar to Grand Amour than Chamade.

  3. megank4 says:

    I can’t wait to try this one! Keep waiting for it to arrive at Sephora, but it hasn’t yet. I don’t want to buy a bottle unsniffed, because I already have a Serge Lutens favorite (Datura Noir) that is quickly becoming my signature scent.

    • Robin says:

      Wish my local Sephora carried Serge Lutens!

      • miss kitty v. says:

        I was thinking the same thing! I’ve never seen Lutens there!

      • boojum says:

        I wish mine carried much of anything at all! Over the past 18 months or so, they’ve really scaled back their fragrance selection to the point it’s not worth stopping by at all.

      • RusticDove says:

        Ditto!!!

  4. Abyss says:

    I couldn’t make my mind up about it either. It started off quite chalky and rough and iris-y and then got progressively greener and more floral. The words that kept springing to mind were “waxy” and “slippery”. Made me think of the texture/feel of hyacinths leaves rather than the smell of the flowers.

    • Robin says:

      For the flowers, still don’t think anyone has beat L’Artisan’s Jacinthe des Bois, which most unfortunately (for me) got axed. It’s spiky too, and I think lots of people hated it.

      • promiseevans says:

        Please no one throw tomatoes…but upon first trying this, I got a salty, metallic vibe that reminded me of a VERY, distant cousin to Secretions Magnifique. Is it just me, or can anyone else see the similarity? Of course, after the initial 5 minutes of Bas…the resemblence is gone and I find this one much, much more tolerable. Almost will say I quite like it…but will give it a few more tries yet. Still haven’t found anything from Uncle Serge that has warranted a full bottle for me.

        • Robin says:

          Interesting, no, I don’t think I got that. Will have to look for it next time!

    • HemlockSillage says:

      I’m interested in your chalky thought. . .I got strange, synthetic hairspray in the top notes, which was likely partially the iris. . .then the sweet florals and musk.

      SL’s power of suggestion worked on me. I thought about a woman’s boudoir, silk stockings, powder, hairspray, perfume and musk. Very like FM’s Iris Poudre strikes me, but much more softly. I’m on the fence about this one, but fascinated. Serge never bores us.

      • miss kitty v. says:

        I wouldn’t want to say that Serge ever bores, but… L’eau Serge! (I can, of course, forgive that little indiscretion.)

        • Robin says:

          I am more easily bored than you guys…I can name several.

          • boojum says:

            And my skin seems to eat everything interesting of his within minutes, so nearly all of them bore me. I get 5-10 minutes of something interesting, followed by a syrupy sweet mess that just won’t quit.

        • mals86 says:

          Of course he can bore: Clair du Musc. And Louve, which is both boring AND hideous, IMO.

          • pyramus says:

            I find Louve too ghastly to be boring–easily the worst of his scents, but not boring, in the way that a horrible accident is not boring, just because it’s so dreadful.

            I would have thought that he wasn’t capable of boring, but L’Eau proved me wrong. I practically fell asleep with my nose on the blotter.

            And now this! It’s not as if he’s done everything that can be done within his relatively small compass: if he has to return to heady, stewed-fruit orientals, well, let him.

            I hope Boxeuses proves he hasn’t lost his touch.

        • Zazie says:

          I know that nobody will ever believe me, but I find tuberose criminelle boring! When a few weeks ago I I finally got the opportunity to test the SL exclusives, I rushed towards TC and… no hideous mothballs, nor white flower ecstasy… Just few battered petals. Not bad. Not good…
          I kept wishing I had tested something more exciting.
          I was so surprised, knowing that TC is such a polarizing scent!

          • Robin says:

            Battered petals, LOL…excellent!

          • miss kitty v. says:

            My initial interpretation of “battered petals” was petals deep-fried in beer batter. :) I figured out my mistake before making any REALLY stupid comments.

        • miss kitty v. says:

          This is probably my fault, as I have a tendency to do wacky, stupid things, but there is actually a whole chunk of what I wrote missing from this. I, of course, do not remember what exactly it was now, but I can assure you it was hilarious.

        • HemlockSillage says:

          Ouch! I stand corrected. L’eau was not a keeper for me, either. Clair de Musc is quietly pretty to me, but I’m a musk fan in general.

          Guess I was thinking about the excitement a new SL release touches off here in the blogosphere. I will refrain from making statements for NST readers, and lurk once more. Be well.

          • boojum says:

            No no, look what a good discussion you set off!

          • Robin says:

            People disagreed with you, but nobody was unkind — not sure why that would send you back to lurking?

          • miss kitty v. says:

            I hope my comment wasn’t offensive. I seriously did write more than that, and I don’t know if I deleted something by accident before I sent it or what. So what I wrote may have sounded rude, and if so I apologize.

          • HemlockSillage says:

            You are all so very kind. Thanks for your reassurance.

            No one was mean spirited in any way. It’s one of the things I love about this site. Ladies and gentlemen, all. Even when we disagree with spirit, it is in the spirit of fun. I think it was just my first time to touch off a flurry of dissenting comments. I think Boojum said it best, and I should look at it as setting off a good discussion. Thanks all! Be well.

    • Abyss says:

      Lol, uncle Serge rarely excites me. I think many are nice, can appreciate some of the quirkier ones but rarely find them truly compelling. I still keep trying them, though.

      • dee says:

        Abyss, I’m glad you said that. On my maiden voyage to The Perfume House, I tried many Lutens, and while I found them ALL rather pretty, I didn’t smell anything to inspire my inner lemming.
        … which in itself kind of blew me away, since my inner lemming is reaching Daisy-esque stature ;)

        • Abyss says:

          More money to spend on other things, right?

          So far, Bois de Violette is the only one that I managed to awaken that lemming (saving for a bottle). I haven’t tried most of the Paris exclusives, though, so who knows what might be lurking there. Many of them sound perfect on paper but you quickly discover that that often counts for nothing.

          • dee says:

            Very true! And I’m going to meet ISM tomorrow (I think?), so I could be eating my words in a matter of hours…

        • pyramus says:

          I think the thing about Lutens, though, and probably about a lot of other scents, is that you have to wear them on your skin to get them at all. When I first smelled a clutch of Lutens scents, I was also underwhelmed, but when I finally bought a pile of samples and got to wear them, I was addicted: I bought eight in less than a year. (And that’s where I’m stopping, I hasten to add. They’re the eight I couldn’t live without.)

          • dee says:

            Really? Well, alright then… I think I can fit 4 on each arm if I’m careful today ;)

            What you’re saying makes sense Pyramus; I remember thinking, how could such delicately pretty fare inspire such a dedicated following among so many? I’m really excited to try this new one and Iris Silver Mist on skin today. Those earth encrusted iris roots have me just about salivating at the thought!

            :)

  5. FOandW_oh_my says:

    I like this one. I am still in tester mode on this and have to try a couple more times before I decide, but I think I know which direction it is going in. FB!

    • Robin says:

      I’m sure lots of people are going to love this one!

  6. Oh you smell so good…what are you wearing? Silk Stockings! HA! So just curious, is this more on the femme side? Doesn’t matter, I am still going to seek a sniff of this and Cellophane. :)

    • Robin says:

      Interested to hear what others say, but I’d say definitely on the femme side but not so feminine a man couldn’t wear it. Would you wear Chanel 19?

      • Can’t honostly answer that Robin. Can you believe I’ve never sniffed Chanel 19?

        • Robin says:

          It is another fragrance that I ought to love but don’t really. Well, I’d be surprised if you found this too feminine but I’ve been surprised before ;-)

        • mals86 says:

          I’m shocked… shocked, I tell you. Email me on MUA, same username, and I’ll send you a bit of vintage edt if you like.

      • RusticDove says:

        Robin – are you saying that this fragrance is in the same vein as No 19?! If so, I want to try it more than ever now.

        • Robin says:

          Lots of blogs compared it to 19, but to me the mood is totally different even if they both start as cold iris. 19, to me, stays cool & elegant, BdS doesn’t, in fact, would not really call it “elegant” at all. But of course they have similar notes — green, iris, hyacinth, and would put them about the same place on the Female / Male spectrum.

          • RusticDove says:

            A less elegant No. 19 sounds fine, for when I’m in a more casual & funky frame of mind. :-) I really do look forward to sampling this Bas de Soie.

          • Joe says:

            For what it’s worth, if anything, for me 19 is definitely more unisex. I don’t get hyacinth in it 19 either. BdS is more overtly floral somehow, and doesn’t have the vetiver/chypre feel of 19. I’m not sure it would have occurred to me to compare the two except for the obvious iris.

          • Robin says:

            Certainly way more hyacinth in BdS — 19 does have a hyacinth note but I don’t find it that noticeable. The bigger similarity, to me, is in the opening.

          • AnnS says:

            Similarity to 19 in the opening – well, then I’ve got to test BdS now! That’s my fav part of No 19 – the opening. Wowzers.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Is this one available anywhere in the US yet? I have been oh-so-patiently waiting since June for at least one tester to show up somwehere!

    • Robin says:

      The Perfume Shoppe has it (and they have a store in Arizona now).

  8. Kitty says:

    I still love this fragrance after finishing my second sample. Definitely on my FB list (but I also own Nuit de Cellophane…)

  9. miss kitty v. says:

    Oh, how my anosmia to iris makes me suffer. I won’t even bother to try this, which is a shame, because I love the whole silk stockings thing. (And I love that Blue Moon image, btw.)

    • Robin says:

      Sorry! It really is a great name.

    • RusticDove says:

      I was going to make a similar comment about liking the name and the image posted, so now I won’t.

  10. boojum says:

    Spiky, peppery, green and bitter all sound wonderful to me! Alas, Serge almost never works on my skin, so I’m not likely to seek this one out (and even less likely to stumble across it accidentally). “Sweeter” doesn’t bode well for me anyway.

    • Robin says:

      I think I would like it better if it was drier and spikier.

  11. mals86 says:

    Well, I’d been on the fence about getting a sample of BdS – I do love hyacinth, but iris is iffy for me. (I was surprised to find ISM rather pleasant.) I tend to like “old-fashioned” scents, too. But thanks to your review, and the comments, I’m off the fence now, and BdS is off my test-list. Which, to be honest, is long enough that it really won’t be missed. I was so sure I’d love Grand Amour that I bought a small 1oz edt bottle without sniffing first, and that was a mistake – it’s so quiet I can barely smell it, even if I overspray.

    In other news, SCHOOL STARTED TODAY!! Thank God. Now I won’t have to tie my children up in the basement to get a little peace. (I kid. Actually, I tie them up to their individual beds… no, really, I’m just kidding.)

    • Joe says:

      Oh… we should chat. :)

    • Robin says:

      We don’t start until Monday. Meanwhile son is rotting what was left of his brain working through Lego Harry Potter on the Wii, among other things.

      • boojum says:

        I need to do that. I bought it, and haven’t opened it yet. But my kids don’t go back until after Labor Day. Thank goodness, since I have more than enough to do already w/o supervising homework…

    • AnnS says:

      I didn’t like Grand Amour until I tried it in edp formula – much richer florals. But if you do get the BdS sample, you need to tell me how it compares to Heure Exquise… or I may just have to break down and get a sample myself. I wish I could just go out and sniff it!

  12. Rappleyea says:

    Your final comment about vintage hairspray, which I took to be disparaging, has made me want to try this! I used to love the smell of L’Oreal hairspray waaaay back in the ’60′s, early 70′s when it came in the slender, brushed gold can. I’d wear this happily if it smelled like that!

    Interesting review, Robin. Thanks! :-)

    • Robin says:

      I really don’t mean it in a disparaging way as much as in a descriptive way, that’s why I included the point that I enjoyed wearing it — I mean, I can see wanting to smell like Bas de Soie. I just don’t happen to want to. Ack, not sure I’m making that better.

      • Rappleyea says:

        LOL! I understand.

        • Robin says:

          Good! Maybe another way to put it is that I don’t always demand “pretty” — I don’t mind (apparently) smelling like burning wood + turpentine, for instance, or violets hit by meteorites, or tiger balm, or ginger ale, or ink, all other sorts of weird things. If somebody told me a perfume smelled like old-fashioned hairspray, I would not necessarily think of that as a reason not to want to smell it.

  13. lovethescents says:

    This was such a disappointment for me. I really enjoyed the opening and would definitely call it soft and silky. Powdery iris, hints of hycacinth, etc, etc. Then these loud chemicals emerged from my wrist and started shouting at me! I concur with the vintage hairspray feel. Thankfully it was easy to swap that decant awaaaaaaaayyyyy

  14. Nina says:

    I bought Bas de Soie within half an hour of first sniff, which is unusual for me. I think it’s fascinating! But it’s not a Comfort Love, there’s something more prickly and unapproachable going on. Only…I never even thought of hairspray, but now you’ve mentioned it…

    • miss kitty v. says:

      Ok, what is wrong with me?? I can’t read anything right. I read “Comfort Love” as “Courtney Love.” Although it’s interesting how the rest of the words still fit: “There’s something more prickly and unapproachable going on…”

    • Robin says:

      N, I would not have thought of it either. But it really does fit!

    • ami says:

      Nina, same here with Iris Silver Mist, and someone mentioning the carrot note… but I still love it : D

  15. dee says:

    I haven’t been seduced by SL, with the exception of of Sa Majeste la Rose (which is apparently an exception in the line), but I’m developing a real hankering for iris these days, and will try it tomorrow at Perfume House if they have it!

    I wonder how it will smell alongside Habanita?

    • Robin says:

      Did you try the Iris Silver Mist yet? Although that one is probably love-it-or-hate-it.

      • dee says:

        Tomorrow! I’ve been wanting to try it ever since I discovered that I like iris. So far I’ve got Infusion d’Iris and Mythique–I love both, and hoping that ISM will further scratch my iris itch :)

  16. parfumliefhebber says:

    Will defnitely give it a try. So far I only like Bois Vanille. I smelled Louve and Rousse, but I don’t know what to think of. I don’t like Gris Clair. What me wondered is, that as I tried Bois Vanille and Louve, the sales manager opened the bottle, and dabbed with the end of the spray somewhat on my skin. Don’t know but I would not do that with one of my perfumes. I would be afraid the perfume would turn.

    • Robin says:

      I don’t see how that would make the scent turn, but still doesn’t seem like a good idea.

      • AnnS says:

        I actually do that all the time, esp. when I have a decant of something that is too big for a squirt, and the practice has never ruined anything. I am a very light applier anyway. But like Amouage Gold for instance – much better with a discreet dab – a regular spray is just waaay too much. I unscrew the sprayer from my decant and then use the stem as a kind of dabbing stick. Sometimes I am able to use regular “pour” cap bottles/decanters for frags I like to dab, but when I can’t I’ll just use the spray stem. BUT…that being said, I’d probably have heart failure if I unscrewed the top of something as expensive as a SL fragrance – the fear of knocking it over would be too much, lol. I’d just as likely decant a little into a smaller dab bottle.

  17. parfumliefhebber says:

    I thought (but I have no experience with it), that the scent would turn earlier when there is a direct contact with the skin and the “stopper” of the bottle, as the skin has an acid content (I hope I have the wright description….),

    • parfumliefhebber says:

      Yeah, well it is almost weekend, “wright” must be “right” and it had to be posted as an answer to Robin’s. Sorry….

    • Robin says:

      I don’t really know…wouldn’t have thought anything could actually get in the bottle, but maybe. A bad idea at any rate because any fragrance hanging around at the opening has already been exposed to air, so you wouldn’t be getting a “true” picture of the fragrance if you didn’t spray.

  18. Dzingnut says:

    This sounds nice … I had my first Serge Lutens experience in Barney’s, where I walked off with Chene and Chergui on two test strips, only to forget which one was which within 30 mins. Fortunately, now that SL has shown up at the online discounters, I snagged FB’s of both, then went for FdeBois and A La Nuit.

    I also had another first with Serge: a literal recoil from a bottle, in this case Borneo 1834. And then I sprayed MKK and thought “where is the camel driver’s armpit? Where is the stench of the Golden Horde?”. To me it smelled like soap … fast forward to a little sample from luckyscent and finally …. “this stinks!”

    I wish they would export ISM …

    • Robin says:

      I didn’t love Borneo either. Been wearing Chene more lately though…what a great scent that one is.

  19. I was glad not to spot any “turnips or dirt-caked roots” in Bas de Soie, and it reminded me very much of a silken La Pausa. Serge and I don’t really hit it off (Chergui and Un Lys aside), so I was pleasantly surprised by this one and wouldn’t mind more than a sample.

    • Robin says:

      Serge & I often hit it off, so I’m always glad to find another I don’t need!

  20. megank4 says:

    Such a disappointment. Tried it today. Reminds me of cucumbers for some reason. Glad I didn’t buy a bottle unsniffed.

  21. Filomena says:

    I get no cucumbers at all… not even a smidgeon. I have been wearing my sample for a couple of days and ordered an FB. I love it. Okay, it does not have that weirdness that we all love in Serge’s fragrances (in the past), however, I find it beautiful and somehow it really makes me feel happy, so how can I find fault with it? It has that certain quality that makes me want to keep spraying and smelling–somewhat addictive at least to me.

  22. ol rait says:

    Though thank God I didn’t have to choose at the time, I’d have a hard time picking between Bas de Soie and ISM. Yes they’re different but they essentially do the same thing: inject a bit of “freon” in a hot day. And yes, they have the same melancholy feel, ISM tends to “loosen up” on my skin (i. e. get warmer, “powdery-er,” and sweeter), Bas de Soie barely cracks a smile as it descends into a diaphanous rosy musk (and WAY far down, maybe the smallest dab of skanky honey). And frankly, I want my bottle now. I wish I could get my hands on a spray-sample or tester so I could see how it does that way; ISM definitely holds up longer.

    Actually, the way I saw it earlier, as I was pouring half of my sample in the crook of my elbow, I looked in my car’s coin tray and saw my sample of En Passant and instantly connected them; Bas de Soie is like En Passant without the sunshine!

    I do sometimes wonder where you test, though. I got widely differing scents between my wrists and the crook of my elbow. On my wrist, it’s sweet powder but in the inside of my arm, it’s just lovely.

    • Robin says:

      I test on the outside of my forearms, usually…easier access :-)

      • ol rait says:

        That does make sense. I get strange looks when sniffing my the inside of my elbow.

  23. Ysbrand says:

    My two cents:
    Truly it is a “biflore” Which is far from a bad thing. You look for the hyacinth and you get the iris, and the opposite.
    I smell the hairspray, the nail polish, and i wish the hyacinth were fresher (it does have the bitterness of the blue blooms when they start to fade away… in this bouquet you have hyacinths at all stages, though) But i love the metallic feeling, the detached beauty of Bas de Soie…

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