I`ve always admired and praised the enigmatic aesthetic of Serge Lutens`s line because his creations are so well executed, creative, precious and memorable.
Therefore, as a huge rose fan as I am, I found myself immediately seduced by his last year`s launch called La Fille de Berlin developed by his long time collaborator Christopher Sheldrake.
Takeing his own description as a guide, telling that “She`s a rose with thorns, don`t mess with her. She`s a girl who goes to extremes. When she can, she soothes, she rocks and she shocks“, I tried first to imagine how it might smell like and to my surprise my intuition worked good this time – it is indeed a fierce and poetic perfume which meets all my expectations of a natural, big, distinctive and dramatic rose so well that it could have been my bespoke rose.
But before I start describing it, allow me to go back in the past and say a few words about a previous rose centered fragrance from Lutens created by the same perfumer Christopher Sheldrake, namely Sa Majesté la Rose (2000), because somehow I see a strong connection between these two scents. I`ve tested Sa Majesté la Rose many times and sadly this rose refused to bloom on my skin as I hoped it would. Three types of roses have been combined in order to create a sumptuous structure (Maroccan, Turkish and Bulgarian rose absolutes), along with a mixture of honey and musky shades which infuses the scent with an animalic tone, but as promising as it may sounds, their effect is actually very austere and somehow too gloomy for me.
Try to imagine a castle ruin in the middle of the woods. An empty ballroom, silent as a grave. There you see a throne of iron, solid and cold. Wiry stems of roses have broken the marble floor tiles and wrapped around the throne. Up at the top there is a single giant red rose. It is Her Majesty the Rose guarded by fierce thorns. It smells centuries old and dusty like dense powder. Dominant and indomitable. If you don`t obey her charms you`ll be enveloped in freezing cold aldehydes. She is the MOTHER. Her daughter, La Fille de Berlin inherited her rough side, but she`s warm blooded, curvy and voluptuous. And much more human.
The official notes of La Fille de Berlin are just rose and pepper, but my nose gets actually less pepper and more a great dose of blackcurrant. By the way, if you are looking for a nice example of rose mixed with pepper, real pepper, try Rose Poivrée from The Different Company – there the pepper IS indeed very present and sprinkled all over the rose petals. Caron Parfum Sacré is another great example of a peppery rose presented in a very classic way, with many layers of oriental condiments underneath in which I often lose myself with great pleasure.
Back to my Berlin daughter, this shows a perfect, shiny, crimson red rose picked from a sunny garden as a leading character. The first part seems very moist, tangy and a bit astringent from that ghostly note of blackcurrant which gives the rose a winey aspect. It`s good as a great aged red wine. Having that in mind and looking at the iridescent beautiful color of the juice I have to say the connection between the color and smell couldn`t be more perfect. It starts crisp, uncensored and promising, presenting a youthful rose of a magical beauty, having a clear wild side from those syrupy and kind of sweet undertones, but it never steps in the gourmand field. I must say that I adore her bad mannered, insolent opening. The scent continues to maintain it`s sparkling appeareance over time, even when the tart juicy note of forest fruits reduces it`s volume leaving just a vague tangy trail behind. Now the rose leads you to believe she`s tender and soft, but still keeps some fierce thorns intact underneath the velvety crown. It seems the rose had reached a mature phase and tries to hide her savage nature. But even if the flower is so elegant towards the base having classic noble features, I still see fire in the eyes of this beauty.
I picture a young woman on a cliff in a silky white long dress. The wind blows gently her long shiny black hair and now I can see her face. She has a wild beauty, very uncommon and is looking down at the abyss that opens beneath her feet. Of course she has no intention to jump, she`s serene and meditates. How I love her! This kind of rose scents I adore above all, untamed, unpredictable, free of common rules. I don`t consider La Fille de Berlin to be modern or classic, it is atemporal. A chiacorsuro contrast between light and dark of symmetrical proportions, reminding of the wild side and the peaceful side of the human nature.