Serge Lutens Bapteme du feu ~ fragrance review

Serge Lutens Baptême du feu

For me these days, smelling a Serge Lutens scent for the first time is a loaded experience. When I first began to explore perfume ardently, the Serge Lutens line yielded some of my favorites — Chergui, Chêne, Douce Amere, Bois de Violette, and more — and others that expanded my appreciation for perfume in general, such as Borneo 1834, Serge Noire and Muscs Koublaï Khan.

But the line kept growing. And growing. And I wasn’t finding much new to appreciate. Was it me?

Last week I visited the Palais du Shiseido with the intention of smelling Baptême du feu…

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Grandiflora Queen of the Night ~ fragrance review

Grandiflora Queen of the Night brand visual

Hello, favorite lusty floral of the moment! That’s me talking to Grandiflora Queen of the Night. (Hey, some people talk to plants. I talk to perfume, all right?) Another floral fragrance might come along to take its place, but for me, right now, the rich floral, black fruit, and pollen-powder notes of Queen of the Night are what I crave.

Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour developed Queen of the Night…

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Paris Smell Diary: Day Five

Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, still from Charade

Many of us have a fantasy place where the world is a cut above our everyday lives. Maybe we’ve only read about this place or seen it in movies. Maybe it doesn’t even exist anymore. It’s as if we need somewhere to dream about when life turns out not to be what we’d hoped. For a lot of people, that place is Paris.

My niece, who until recently had never been east of Billings, Montana, used to be obsessed with Paris. She’d even considered getting a tattoo of a bluebird pulling a banner reading “la vie est belle” around the Eiffel Tower.1 In Paris — the dream Paris, that is — every café serves homemade cassoulet, women are chic (and thin) and buy their groceries at a farmers market, windows have pink geraniums and views of the Eiffel Tower (or of roofs and chimney pots), and romance lurks on every metro ride…

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Paris Smell Diary: Day Four


Here is an assortment of smells, with a few other senses tossed in:

To me, the waft from a fromagerie is heaven, but some people might label its moist, pungent mold and aged milk smell as hell. Keeping cheese is an art the French call “affinage,” and a good cheese store has a basement with each cheese inspected regularly to see if it needs turned or painted or moved to a drier or wetter shelf. Fostering cheese is a real art, and a smelly one that no amount of Glade plug-ins could overcome. Not that you’d want them to.

Where I’m staying, church bells sound the quarter hour from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a brisk one-two clang for every fifteen minutes past the hour. I love these bells…

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Paris Smell Diary: Day Three

staircase, Paris

Buildings have their own smell. Have you ever noticed it? With the change of weather, buildings exhale their age, materials, and history.

First, homes definitely hold their owners’ scents. You could lead me blindfolded into a home, and I’d tell you in a second if the occupant was a vegetarian or had pets. (Honestly, vegetarians smell a little mustier than meat eaters.) I have a housesitter, a terrific guy, and when I handed over my keys, I wondered if he’d feel comfortable in my home surrounded by my odor: two cats, flowers on the mantel, old furniture, a ripe cantaloupe in the refrigerator. I changed the sheets and gave the mattress a few spritzes of Santa Maria Novella cologne…

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