Spring Surprise – Review: Serge Lutens Bas De Soie

I never would have thought I would like Bas de Soie. But I do, I love it.

Maybe I just don’t know what I want.

Maybe what I want changes all the time.

Maybe I am just really flexible.

Maybe I like extremes.

Maybe I am full of surprises.

Maybe Serge Lutens is too…

Bas de Soie is Lutens latest, but that does not mean it is new, it came out early this year and was created by Christopher Sheldrake. I just never felt the need to smell it, since I had dismissed it before I ever got near it. The notes, the reviews, everything seemed to say, not for you, not worth the time seeking it out.

Well, I got a sample the other day, while treating myself to a bottle of Un Bois Vanille (no surprises here, I just could not keep going on without it) and was curious enough to try it, before fully expecting to toss it into the reject pile. But noooo,…

It bears repeating: I love it.

Bas de Soie starts out cool and icy almost, an iris fit for the Snow Queen of Narnia. That is the image in my mind for the first few moments, the perfect Tilda Swinton in that wonderful costume in the Narnia movie.

But soon, after a tiny, little screechy, metallic phase that goes by in a blink on my skin, a much warmer fragrance develops, softly sweet, a blooming blue hyacinth of exquisite loveliness. It is as if the flowers fight their way through the snow up in to the sunlight – early spring in a bottle. Did I mention that I love it?

Bas de Soie is reminiscent of Chanel Cristalle of course, but I find it softer, not so MUCH.  I like Cristalle in the early stages but it soon turns unwearable on me, because it gets so sweet and opens up enormously on my skin. (It doesn’t do that on a friend whose signature scent it is, but on me I cannot stand it, sadly.)

The other obvious comparison, in-house iris predecessor Iris Silver Mist, which I own and love too, is something else entirely in my opinion. A whole different take on iris, it depicts the flower from earthy root on up, realistically painting a beautiful and convincing iris in all its green and rooty glory.

Bas de Soie on the other hand, is refined, elegant and first and foremost artificial. I don’t mean that in a bad way, just that it is clear that this fragrance is a perfume, in the sense of being composed, constructed, art-ificially made, a piece of abstract art following an idea rather than a replication of something natural.

Bas de Soie got a lot of bad rap for being to hard, cold, metallic, screechy or sharp. That is also why I had no interest in it. Funnily enough, I end up with a warm, comforting and almost cozy scent, that still keeps its innate elegance and sophisticated refinement, with a hazy memory of its former iciness remaining.

Something like this…

Photograph: Murdo Macleod

I am really happy I took a chance on Bas de Soie. This once more teaches me, what you don’t smell for yourself, you can’t judge. Reviews are wonderful, inspiring and helpful, but they cannot do the smelling for you, they can never replace the sensory experience.

And in a side note for my friend Dee, who writes her own insightful reviews here: this is definitely a blonde fragrance 🙂

Picture sources: sergelutens.com, movie still from The Chronicles of Narnia, Photograph of T. Swinton by Murdo MacLeod via guardian.co.uk

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15 Responses to Spring Surprise – Review: Serge Lutens Bas De Soie

  1. deeHowe says:

    Haha… you know, when I began to read, I thought “this sounds like a blonde”! So of course, now I have to track down a sample, just to be perverse.

    Today I’m wearing and talking about a Serge Lutens too! Must be something in the atmosphere…


  2. JoanElaine says:

    Wonderful review. Sometimes the love of something new, if it’s very different from our usual preferences, can cause one to sink into self-analysis, so I understand your “maybes”. I think flexibility (I could use more) is key when it comes to enjoying the amazing variety of fragrances out there.

    I never thought the day would come where I would be spraying myself with icy, chalky galbanum-rich fragrances, as I thought of myself as a “spice queen”. I don’t know why I limited myself like that, but I say that in retrospect.

    You chose the perfect Muse for Bas de Soie. Tilda Swinton is a great beauty in my eyes. I can’t comprehend people saying she’s unattractive.
    I know, I know…”different strokes for different folks”, but just look at her!!! Ooops, gotta work on the flexibility!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you!
      That is a wonderful thing about perfume-you will love things you never thought possible and thus keep on learning.
      I am totally with you about Tilda Swinton, she is stunningly beautyful.

  3. Victoria says:

    I enjoyed your review, even though I do not care for Bas de Soie, because of its cold, artificial form. Yet, I can see that it can also be its appealing characteristic. Plus, I find that these notes are skin specific, and on some skins they can smell amazing. All in all, it is a lovely fragrance, and I can imagine that on you, it is just ravishing! 🙂

  4. I haven’t tried this one, so I can’t comment. But, I do get what you are saying. In the past I’ve sampled what was described as “cold and metallic” scents but I found that they dry-downed on me very warm, most iris scents do this on me. I guess I don’t see metallic as cold? I predict that with my history that this SL would wear similar on me.
    You say it smells like “perfume”. I don’t think that is a bad thing, just like what you explained. I tend to be very literal and like for scents to smell like “jasmine”, “sandalwood”, etc. but sometimes I just want something that smells like “perfume”, something man-made/artificial and more beautiful than nature, something that it isn’t so “normal”. Perfume is a compliment!

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  11. Hannah says:

    I’ve been working on revisiting Serge Lutens fragrances that I either disliked or felt indifferent about, since my tastes have changed quite a bit in the last year. My opinions of the particular SL perfumes never changed significantly, until I got the last on my list–Bas de Soie. I was in love. I never read much about it, so I looked up reviews when I got home and was surprised to see the opinions seem to mostly be on a negative side! I tried it 3 times in the past 2 weeks and I think I will buy it tomorrow (the shop I usually buy SL at just happens to be open tomorrow so I don’t even need to wait until Monday).
    It is definitely cool to me, but I don’t get metallic or sharp at any point. I likely wouldn’t make the association without its name, but I do think the name is pretty apt. I find it very smooth and soft like silk stockings are (but not plush like a cashmere sweater, it’s way too thin/transparent for that).
    I also re-tried N. 19 after reading reviews and I don’t find them very similar, other than being similar in style/tone. N. 19 is nice but I’m not sure it will join my collection like Bas de Soie will.
    The orientals got me into SL, but at this point I prefer the cold Serge Lutens–Tubereuse Criminelle, La Myrrhe, Sarrasins, De Profundis, A La Nuit. I even like Vitriol d’Oelliet over some fragrances that are more “signature SL”. I don’t think I will ever like the L’Eau line, though.

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