There is almost no Serge Lutens fragrance with which I have an easy relationship. I am not sure whether it is me or whether it is him, but Maitre Serge and I have had our difficulties. I am not sure whether the man ever made or will make something that is a “grab and go” perfume, and most probably, if he did, I wouldn’t want that either (case in point: L’Eau, which is probably the closest to “grab and go” Lutens will ever get and I hate it, so there.)
But in general it is safe to say after a period of grappling and a mutual scuffle to get comfortable many of Serge’s creations have found a place in my heart and perfume cabinet.
Fille En Aiguilles may be the one I grappled with the longest. I bought it unsniffed back in 2009 when it came out, (yeah, I did such stupid things then, haven’t we all?) and we went through periods of intense love and equally intense hate together.
Why? Well, the darn perfume does whatever it wants! Never, not once, does it smell like the time before. Always a subtle (or glaring at times) difference, always a shift in perception, always a different facet presents itself, always a different angle, a different light, a different smell.
Fille En Aiguilles is hell-bent on driving me crazy and making me doubt my nose and sanity.
Fille en Aiguilles (“Girl in Needles”) is an Eau de Parfum Haute Concentré and includes notes of pine needles, vetiver, sugary sap, laurel, fir balsam, frankincense, candied fruit and spice. It was created by Christopher Sheldrake in 2009.
There is a spectrum along which Fille en Aiguilles morphs and I will describe the two extreme opposites of that spectrum for you.
At one end, there is what I call “Heidi’s Perfume”. Heidi, as in the girl from the Swiss Alps, the protagonist of Johanna Spyri‘s children’s book, Heidi the star of my childhood. When on this end of the spectrum, Fille en Aiguilles smells like Ricola, like a walk in the woods with Heidi and her little rucksack full of herbal candy. Sweet, pine-y, yes, but a fruity pine, herbal and spicy like a fruit compote or a chutney, or a cough drop…
On the other end of the spectrum Fille en Aiguilles is the most sober and dignified dark pine resin-y, woody, incense-y perfume ever, I call it the “Scent of Doom”. When I get this aspect, Fille en Aiguilles smells of turpentine, of camphor, harsh, medicinal, rough before mellowing, softening and becoming like a deep, deep forest where no light has ever penetrated the deepest reaches of the age-old trees, where mold and mildew, oakmoss and lichen, pine, laurel and fir reign supreme and no human should dare to venture.
Thankfully most of the time Fille en Aiguilles is somewhere in the middle of these two scenarios, never the same place twice though, mind you!
So do I like Fille en Aiguilles? No. But I adore what it does. I admire its chameleon-like facets, that ever so subtly betray the accusation that this is one of Lutens’s simpler creations. Ha, this is how Lutens does simple and straightforward and laughs at our feeble attempts to make head or tail of it.
If I want something to marvel at, something to shake my head at, something to keep me occupied to the point of irritation, this is what I go for. Why do I ever want to be irritated by a perfume you ask? Because it can. It can do it without ever going too far, too far being the point where I say, it is awful, get it away from me. And that is an achievement, I have to applaud.
Looking for something interesting? Look no further.
P.S. A word of warning, that is maybe obvious but I’ll say it anyway: Fille en Aiguille stains like mad, so keep it away from fabric.
Giveaway: Do you want to try Fille en Aiguilles? I am giving away five 1ml samples from my own bottle. To win, please leave a comment stating what keeps your interest or what drives you mad in a perfume. I’ll let random.org decide who wins.
The Giveaway is open for everyone who leaves a comment answering my question, everywhere in the world. The draw closes on Sunday August 14 midnight GMT. The winners will be announced on August 15 here on the blog. Good luck (with both the draw and the perfume 😉 )!