Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau ~ fragrance review

Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau

Ah, bread! Oh, bakeries! Unless a doctor tells me I’ll start to disintegrate — quickly — if I don’t stop eating white flour, I shall munch my way through many more loaves, rolls, cakes, and cookies in my lifetime. When I was a little boy I had strange ideas about bread. Though my live-in grandmother made fresh breads once, or sometimes twice, a day, I felt “homemade” bread was no better than a homemade belt (Jethro Bodine, anyone?) or a homemade pair of shoes (the horror!) I was a clueless little snob. As the rest of my family (and neighbors and friends) devoured my grandmother’s biscuits, I insisted on store-bought bread for my meals: a soft/doughy, sweet mess/mass called Sunbeam.

Serge Lutens’ new Jeux de Peau (“skin games”) was supposedly inspired by childhood scent-memories of warm, crusty breads at little Serge's local boulangerie. Though I’m a bit tired of food-y scents at the moment, and associate most of them with winter (please, no more cocoa or tonka bean for awhile, perfumers), my nose was “open” to the possibilities of a bread fragrance.

Depending on what you read, Jeux de Peau contains (perhaps): a wheat note, a “toasted” note, coconut (or is it cocoa?), licorice, apricot, immortelle, sandalwood, incense, and amber. Jeux de Peau starts off smelling sweet (think caramelized sugar) and toasty; in its first minutes on skin, Jeux de Peau smells like sticky buns glazed with maple syrup. There’s also a rich and dense aroma that pops up briefly, bringing to mind coconut macaroons. A toasted bread note intensifies and “dries” the fragrance in mid-development, evaporating some of that “moist” sugar. Jeux de Peau’s base notes smell of “fresh,” nutty sandalwood (very pleasant, and tinged with what smells like osmanthus) and a breezy/sheer amber accord — not at all heavy.

I would categorize Jeux de Peau as “cute” and “fun” but too good (and complex) to be simply a “novelty” fragrance; it’s a “freshly baked” idea put successfully into perfume form. Since I have nothing quite like this perfume in my collection, I'm thinking of adding it to my to-buy list for autumn (which isn’t to say Jeux de Peau is too heavy for summer, but my warm-weather fragrance diet usually consists more of citrus-y and light floral sorbets than “breads” and pastries). For a full tea house experience layer Jeux de Peau with Five O’Clock au Gingembre.

Thankfully, my palate matured, and I eventually learned the worth of real bread, to the extent that no matter where I travel in the world, I always visit a bakery or two as soon as I arrive in a new city — even before searching out perfume shops. Imagine!

Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau Eau de Parfum (definitely unisex, decent sillage, long lasting on skin) is $120 for 50 ml; for buying information, see the listing for Serge Lutens under Perfume Houses.

Note: top bread images (pain au levain, brioche, and boule, all altered) via Wikimedia Commons.

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75 Comments

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  1. Andreea says:

    This one is really crazy! I smelled it some days ago and was… puzzled. Never smelled something similar like this before.

    • Kevin says:

      Andreea: yes, it was a happy surprise for me…

  2. Merlin says:

    Sigh, just after I confessed on the damage-poll-page, and back in temptation already…

    • Kevin says:

      Merlin…well, we’re in the second quarter now.

      • Merlin says:

        You are all evil, evil, evil, evil. Daisy let me know about the split!

        • Daisy says:

          I’m definitely splitting –do I have your email stashed somewhere? not sure….drop me a note at Daisyloo82 at gmail.com for details. :-)

    • nozknoz says:

      Merlin, I liked the argument someone made that bottles purchased at the very beginning of the quarter don’t count! ;-)

    • Daisy says:

      and by the time another damages poll rolls around….you’ll be long past the guilt!!! I’m thinking maybe I should host a split….

      • nozknoz says:

        YYEESSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Joe says:

    Hi Kevin: I’m with you on the love of bread… but Jeux didn’t really “add anything to the perfume conversation” for me.

    I get a bit of toastiness in the beginning, and then just a lot of nice, but not complex, syrupy (not cloying) immortelle and soft woods.

    Some seem to rave about the delicious apricot scent. Nope. Maybe it performs differently when sprayed rather than dabbed. In any case, I’d rather get my immortelle fix from ELdO Like This, in which it starts with a deliciously zingy fresh grated ginger note.

    And my go-to pastry-dough scent is Bois Farine.

    • Kevin says:

      Joe: a good reminder: I need a brand new bottle of Bois Farine! the osmanthus note in Jeux de peau lasted forever and a day when it touched fabric…on skin, it came and went in a reasonable way.

    • dee says:

      Joe, I too love Bois Farine!

      I’ve been thinking about getting a bottle of JdP, but the thing holding me back is that I promised myself a bottle of BF… which I have not yet acquired. To me, BF seems (despite its oddness) much more universally wearable, weather and mood-wise.

    • Daisy says:

      …apricots, apricots, apricots….. ;-)

  4. Dilana says:

    Any comments on how it compares to the other supposed fresh bakery note in En Passent?

    • Kevin says:

      Dilana: I know Robin here at NST reviewed En Passant and also just smelled Jeux de peau…maybe she’ll comment.

    • Daisy says:

      there’s a bakery note in En Passant? *now must go check*

    • Robin says:

      The wheat note in En Passant is very subtle…you might not even notice it. So nothing like Jeux de Peau.

  5. Janice says:

    Kevin, great review, and I’ve been looking forward to learning what others think of this one. The first time I tried it I got something like a “burning toast” note and maybe some bitter licorice. No caramelized sugar, no maple syrup/immortelle, nothing very sweet at all. It was fascinating but I’m not quite sure what to make of it. I will be trying it again.

    • KRL says:

      This one really does play around alot. I tested it several times before I bought it and it’s always changing…

      • Kevin says:

        KRL: I like that about it…even the extreme dry down was variable, but always nice.

      • Daisy says:

        Agreed. this did require a number of tests and it does seem to play around a lot on skin. I’ve become quite enamored of it! And for all I love gourmands–I didn’t have anything like JdP in my collection.
        Bought it unsniffed….didn’t regret it.

    • Kevin says:

      Janice…goodness, your experience was pretty bland! When I test scents I apply lavishly for the full effect…don’t know if you dabbed or sprayed?

  6. Abyss says:

    I got a sample of this from SL a few weeks ago and was surprised by how likeable I found it. I agree that it’s not just a novelty smell – it’s toasty, buttery and comforting and yet it smells like a wearable fragrance. I hardly ever feel like this about SL offerings but I wouldn’t rule out a possibility of a FB in the future.

    • Abyss says:

      Also, you reminded me of once hearing an English girl who studied in France complain that she couldn’t get “proper sliced bread” there. Talk about a contradiction of terms :D

      • Kevin says:

        Abyss: HA! Who wants to take a knife and do al that WORK?

  7. Rosagreen says:

    Thanks for the review! I had no idea about the bread in this, I got something like spicy, warm tea-flavored milk. But the baguettes in the shop window at Serge Lutens should have given me a hint :)
    I like it, I can’t “identify” with it, but I think I can reach for it when I need a comfort scent.

    • Kevin says:

      Rosagreen: it is a great comfort aroma

  8. Jill says:

    I loved this review, Kevin, and I’ve been dying to try Jeux de Peau, so I’m glad you liked it! I’m glad to read that you came to appreciate “real” bread too. :)

    • Kevin says:

      Jill: I was shocked to read Sunbeam bread is still going strong!

      • Daisy says:

        my hubby grew up eating white, white, Wonderbread…..I’ve been forcing whole, multi-grain bread on him for years now….last summer he asked me to go get him some Wonder bread (he was having one of those childhood reminiscing moments) ate two slices and the rest got put out for the birds and raccoons…guess it wasn’t nearly as tasty as he remembered. ;-) hasn’t asked for it again…..I felt kinda bad for the raccoons!

  9. Poucette says:

    What does a “Skin Game” have to do with bread?

    • sevenpercent says:

      Ok good, I’m not the only person confused by the relevance of the name to baked goods. Maybe it’s some idiomatic French thing that is lost in translation?

      • Bela says:

        I can confirm that It isn’t an ‘idiomatic French thing that is lost in translation’. I have no more idea why the scent is called Jeux de Peau than anyone else. LOL!

    • Kevin says:

      Poucette…maybe after you spray on Jeux de peau you smell good enough to eat? WHen I let people smell this on my arm they licked their lips and pantomimed licking my arm!

    • Daisy says:

      my vote goes for : just an odd name.
      and off-putting too….I don’t want to tell people what the name of it is because it sounds vaguely …dirty…I just say it’s the “new Serge Lutens out of Paris” and that shuts people up.

  10. Lucy says:

    Thank you for the very nice review, unfortunately (?) it’s money saved for me. This sounds more pastry than bread. If anyone can truly capture that warm, moist, dense, yeasty scent of a fresh loaf being cut into for the first time, I will be the one knocking you over to get in line.

    • JeninDC says:

      Me too. I get too much iris from Bois Farine for it to be the one and all I got from Jeux de Peau was maple syrup.

      • Poucette says:

        I get peanut butter from Bois Farine. Yuck.

        • Meg says:

          I agree with all of you! I want a *real* bread scent. Yet to sample en passant, but Bois Farine is not doing it for me. What other people describe as “peanut butter” just registers as “high pitched posion” to me, and later on it’s just an unremarkable skin scent. Boo!

          • Daisy says:

            well, now you WILL be sampling En Passant….and I don’t get a bakery note from it….but maybe you will.

          • Meg says:

            WOOOOO!!!!

    • Kevin says:

      Lucy: there are a lot of sweets mixing with the plain toast.

  11. Absolute Scentualist says:

    My mother did the friendship bread thing starting in my early teens, and I still crave that wonderful bread even now and am contemplating the idea of getting some going as well. Between the home made bread and growing up on (and subsequently raising the kids on) home made strawberry freezer jam made each early summer, it is hard to adjust to store-bought unless that store is a bakery or farmer’s market. :)

    I just sampled this not too long ago and there’s something irresistable about it. It smells sweet, warm, crunchy and somewhat spicy all at once and is an absolutely perfect comfort scent for me. It’s going on my fbs for autumn list as well, and I can’t wait to try it sprayed to track all the fun changes and developments more easily.

    • Kevin says:

      AbScent: I grew up in the middle of nowhere so store-bought goods were particularly limited and BAD…and yet I wanted my Sunbeam. HA!

    • mals86 says:

      Ah, homemade freezer jam… (and homemade applesauce, and frozen fruit salad…)

      • Marjorie Rose says:

        Mals, I’ve spent the past 3-4 years teaching myself the “old skills” of canning, dehydrating, freezing, and other food preservation methods (mmm, homemade kimchi and sauerkraut!). Now that I have a cupboard- and freezer- full, I really can’t imagine going back! It is such joy to eat peaches I canned myself next to toast slathered in my own berry jam! (sometimes on homemade bread, for that matter!) I feel very spoiled when I eat a meal like that!

    • Daisy says:

      I second (or third?) the yummmms.

  12. Winifrieda says:

    This one is driving me crazy…the instant I sprayed it, it made me think “Mandarine Mandarin”, yet wearing them together I realise that apart from the lovely oriental theme that I adore SL so much for, they are not that similar. However, I still think “M M”!
    I have come to really love the ‘bread’ note, having decants of lann Ael and Like This, a bottle of Bois Farine on the way, and probably my best unsniffed buy ever, the wonderful Mugler ‘Mirior des Envies’. They can inspire foody thoughts for sure, but how close are taste and smell anyway?
    And I still haven’t mentally pinned down the smell of immortelle, but it seems that it is responsible for the caramelly bready feel that these have in common.
    This is a definite FB for me tho’, after striking out on many of his latest…Serge Noire, looking at you!

    • Winifrieda says:

      Oh *LOL*….next on the blog patrol ‘Perfume Shrine’…a fantastic explanation of the caramel bread note and the aromachems used!!
      And PS, I forgot one of my desert island scents, Aomassi.

      • Kevin says:

        W: Aomassi is very nice too…I keep forgetting about many of those early PG scents.

    • Kevin says:

      Winifrieda: immortelle has a ‘maple” vibe…seems many love Bois Farine, one of my favorites too.

  13. PekeFan says:

    Thank you for the great review Kevin. I haven’t had much luck with Lutens although, goodness knows I keep trying. Then again, I’m not a cumin fan. JdP may just be the one I end up buying. However, all I get is a basically linear toasted hazelnut scent from start to finish without any of the pastry. The thing I like about it is that it doesn’t smell syrupy. This one is, just as you say, breezy/sheer, and I haven’t found that to be the case with any other Lutens fragrance including the lighter ones such as Nuit de Cellophane. What I think is hilarious is that everyone seems to be smelling something completely different. Perhaps that is the “Skin Game”?

    • KRL says:

      I think you’re exactly right about the name! I don’t get break at all from this one. I’m loving it more and more every day, though. By the way, I did a side-by-side with Like This, which many people seem to like. For those reading and wondering, if you took the ginger out of Like This, you’d get something of an idea of what JdP smells like…just an idea mind you.

      • PekeFan says:

        I’ve got to try that with Like This too!

      • Marjorie Rose says:

        KRL, I think you’ve just convinced me that I need to add Like This to my sniff list ASAP! I *almost* like Jeux de Peau, but I think it’s missing the spices that I love in my fragrances! Of course, I might buy JdP anyway some day and just try layering it with my various spicy tea scents. :)

        • KRL says:

          Marjorie – By all means, Like This might work for you!

      • Joe says:

        KRL: I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one sensing the similarity of Jeux to Like This. Maybe if I didn’t already own Like This, I’d find the SL more interesting.

        • KRL says:

          Joe – I’m surprised others are not comparing the two scents! I compared them arm to arm :)

    • Kevin says:

      PekeFan: everyone’s scent vocabulary is so different…let alone the zillions of “references” we use to describe a perfume. It’s always interesting to hear how others talk about a scent…whether I agree with them or not.

  14. dee says:

    Hot toast with warm, melting butter. That’s what I got (okay, okay, and some sandalwood in the drydown) from JdP, but I really, really like it!

    I’ve only worn it two or three times so far, so I need to spend some more time with it, but I do feel like my expectations were met. I had a lot of anticipation waiting for this scent— and I am quite pleased, even if I didn’t immediately pull out my debit card for it (that’s a rare occurrence these days!).

    Another great review Kevin, thank you!! :)

    • Kevin says:

      Dee, you’re welcome!

  15. Tama says:

    This is the first review of this that hasn’t made me queasy. Daisy is sending me a sample to see how brave I am, and I’ll try it, but I’m more scared of this than I was of Secretions. Too much talk about butter, buttered toast, buttered popcorn, and the worst, Buttered Popcorn Jelly Bellies. Gack.

    • Kevin says:

      Tama: goodness, this is NOTHING to be scared of and I didn’t detect a hint of “popcorn!” or any cheap candy.

  16. lilydale aka Natalie says:

    I, too, was a victim of fabulous homemade baked goods as a kid, so of course Wonderbread was the tantalizing forbidden fruit!

    I had really high hopes for Jeux de Peau, but it’s 100% pancakes with maple syrup on me — the really malt-y, diner-style pancakes. I’m enjoying it nonetheless, but I find Like This more wearable and interesting.

    • Kevin says:

      Lilydale: and it was the opposite for me: I liked Like This but can’t enjoy wearng it as much as JdP

  17. fragranovice says:

    Kevin great review now I have a hankering for some fresh baked bread and Jeux de Peau

    • Kevin says:

      Fragranovice: I always have a handering for bread unfortunately.

  18. megank4 says:

    Yes, this one is nice, but it def. has that “serge lutens perfume” undertone. I’ll consider a bottle but it will never replace Datura Noir for me.

  19. donanicola says:

    Nice review, Kevin, thanks. I’ve tried this twice now and it is growing on me to the extent that I would love at least a decant stashed away for cool weather. Whist it is not that sweet it is foody in a manner which could irritate me in warm weather. I love the licorice and immortelle notes and yesterday when I tried it I kept thinking of Bois des Iles (it is of course not similar at all) but you have reminded me there is sandalwood in Jeux (and of course there is the famous gingerbread accord in BdI!). I also thought of 5 o’clock au Gingembre and also (the caramelised notes) of Fourreau Noir. It’s interesting.

  20. prism says:

    for me, it started ‘moist’ too, which i guess is my favorite about it.

    towards the end, it smelled a LOT like self tanner tho… :/

  21. springpansy says:

    I’ll try it once more, but the first time was a very long day of non-stop immortelle…

  22. Karin says:

    I couldn’t deal with this one. Reminded me too much of Like This and Ralph Lauren’s HOT, both of which read buttered popcorn, butterscotch, and French toast with maple syrup. Yes, I love to eat all of these things, but I don’t want to wear them! Must be the immortelle note that’s bugging me. I have L de Lolita Lempicka, though, which I like. And oddly, I’m testing out Histoires de Parfums Tubereuse 3 today, and it’s also giving me that immortelle vibe…but it’s not as off-putting to me as the others. Kevin or anyone else – have you tried the HdP Tubereuse 3? Curious to hear what you think!

  23. Lammy says:

    I bought this at the first sniff on my arm.
    fell inlove with the warm toasted notes – so original and delicious!
    i really like how it turns into ‘nutty sandalwood’ (spot on description)
    i dont like the drydown of anise tho.. but its development until the drydown is really nice. :)

  24. olenska says:

    Looking forward to trying this one. I actually received an email from SergeLutens.com inviting me to receive a free sample, but when I followed the link & started filling out the webform, I was crushed to discover that “United States” was most definitely NOT included on the menu of possible addresses to which samples could be sent. Ah, me. Stupid American.

  25. dominika says:

    On paper, this smelled like a more buttery version of Santal Blanc after the first audacious top notes faded. So interesting! I’ll have to investigate further on skin.

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