One of the challenges of travel is deciding what few frags will accompany you for the duration. I tend to regard season, occasion, duration and luggage space into the equation. This summer we headed to my best friend’s house on the Turkish Aegean coast. It would be informal. And hot. My picks were simple: Mona Di Orio Vetyver, vintage Dior Eau Fraiche, Fragonard Cologne Grand Luxe, Pekji EauMer for daytime and Serge Lutens Sarrasins for the nights. What an inspired decision that would be, because although I’ve come to know and love Sarrasins, the extreme sultry, salty heat brought out facets that were previously unknown to me. Lemme explain…..
Sarrasins is a dark, noirish masterpiece that is essentially constructed from indolic jasmine with osmanthus and vague ‘animalic notes’ in support, possibly a mild civet strain, perhaps musk. Its colour is a very striking deep deep purple (that can easily stain – beware!) There may be some gardenia in there as well, but in the end it comes down to the jasmine. But what a jasmine!
Lutens had previously released A La Nuit, which exhibited the fresh, sparkling, green-tinged aspect of jasmine. The result was a quite feminine, easier, green-tinged daytime frag with fairly mass appeal. I could never wear that. Sarrasins is the slightly feral, growling, clearly unisex Lutens jasmine that says “danger but it’s safe”, kinda like a scary ride or a bungee jump. The indoles can smell just a touch fecal to some, while the osmanthus is brilliantly rendered to affect a rather skanky leathery accord after about 30 minutes. But never at any time does Sarrasins come off as anything but extremely elegant and deeply sensual, even sexy. And man o man, does the heat of summer accentuate these aspects.
I wore Sarrasins every single evening for 10 days straight. Although a relatively linear fragrance, it never bored me, as the environment of the heat-blasted coast as it cooled in evening always seemed to perfectly support the choice of scent, like it’s meant to be. It seemed quite fortuitous to discover a huge jasmine bush near our hotel that reminded me just how realistic Christopher Sheldrake could render jasmine while deepening its appeal. I can honestly say that Sarrasins has become the olfactory totem of my wonderful summer vacation of 2015. It is remarkable how scent can not only reawaken memories but set up future reference points in advance of memory.
As I wear Sarrasins now, back in the sombre, damp Low Countries, the object experience of the scent is somehow flatter, if still gorgeous BUT! I can now close my eyes…..I am basking near the Aegean coast, with some of my favourite people over meze and raki smelling of perfect white flower rot & suedey osmanthus fruity leather. If this ain’t perfect, I don’t know what is…..