Strength In Beauty: Review – Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin

By Tara

When it was released in 2013, there were conflicting stories as to the inspiration behind La Fille de Berlin. I prefer to think its muse is German movie icon, Marlene Dietrich. She exuded a unique kind of feminine glamour through her often masculine style – an unexpected kind of beauty.

fille de berlin

What I was expecting to encounter when I first got a sample of Le Fille de Berlin was something typically Lutenesque and challenging. I was totally unprepared for just how incredibly pretty it is. It was a happy discovery to find that “The Girl from Berlin” is a stunner of a violet-tinged rose.

As usual, the composition is by Lutens’ long-time collaborator Christopher Sheldrake and notes include rose, violet, pink pepper, black pepper and musk.

La Fille de Berlin introduces herself with a swift punch of pepper. The rose underneath is truly beautiful; an elegant bright red bloom, oozing its sweet, liqueur-like scent.

The high quality of the materials is obvious. I feel like I’m inhaling rose essential oil that’s heady and a touch green. Violet-scented cosmetic powder seems to dust the edges of the petals. The gauzy effect contrasts perfectly with the silken rose and imparts a vintage feel. Being a fan of retro cosmetic fragrances, I find this very appealing. Thankfully, I don’t get the metallic twang that some others report.

I experience La Fille de Berlin as sheer with moderate to low projection. It’s largely linear and mostly feels cool to me, with a warm sexy musk only rising up through the rosiness in the final hours. I find it fantastically tenacious, as if it’s staining my skin with its vivid red juice.

La Fille de Berlin may bore those Serge Lutens aficionados who are fans of his more usual, bold concoctions. However, I have trouble tolerating those even though I admire many. Call me a wimp, but I just end up feeling overwhelmed.

La Fille de Berlin on the other hand, helps me feel comfortable in my own skin. It possesses an inner strength and an outward delicacy. I enjoy how it manages to portray both these qualities in such an effortless way.

The aroma is gloriously female. For me, it represents a woman who knows her own worth. She is unapologetic about her femininity and has enough confidence in it to play a more masculine role when the mood takes her.


Like Dietrich, La Fille de Berlin embodies beauty that is not weak or lacking in intelligence – it can hold its own.

While it may not be as striking as some modern roses, these days I go for fragrances which are easy to wear as well as beguiling. It’s hard to find those that fit into both categories, but La Fille de Berlin does exactly that.

Do you like violet-rose fragrances? Have you tried La Fille de Berlin?


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27 Responses to Strength In Beauty: Review – Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin

  1. Lavanya says:

    I didn’t enjoy this perfume as much as i expected. There is that slight metallic tinge to it, that sets my teeth on edge when I think of it..I’m going to have to dig out my decant to sniff while rereading your review. Theoretically I should love this, but it just misses hitting the spot for me. I will revisit it to see if my feelings have changed..:)

  2. rickyrebarco says:

    I like this one very much, but the sillage was huge on my skin so I ultimately swapped it. It was oveiwhelming for me. Bummer because I liked that peppery rose goodness.

    • Tara says:

      That’s really interesting, rickyrebarco. Birgit also found the sillage huge but for some reason on me it really is fairly subdued. It’s one of the few SLs that doesn’t overwhelm me. I love the peppery rose goodness too!

  3. poodle says:

    I have trouble with roses but not this one. I liked it so much I bought a bottle. I don’t get a strong metallic note but it is a cold smelling rose to me. It does warm up after a while but I can see how some people might not like it.

  4. Karen says:

    My bottle is almost gone and I will definitely be buying another. It’s one of my most complimented fragrances (from people of all ages). No metallic twang, just beauty and lots of it. I love it and apparently it loves me, too!

    • Tara says:

      Karen, aren’t we lucky that it likes our skin?!
      Lovely to hear it gets you lots of compliments. That’s always a joy.
      I will definitely re-purchase too.

  5. Vanessa says:

    I am a big fan of pepper/rose/violet combos, as exemplified by Kenzo Flower Oriental. I like cosmetic and retro roses too. I wasn’t wowed by Fille de Berlin first time round but have meant to give it another go to see if I was just distracted or whether there was genuinely a certain je ne sais quoi missing. Some of my favourite perfumes took a while to get under my radar so I would definitely resniff it. My pal Jessica tried this on her rose quest, and I think found it ‘insufficiently rosy’, as she did with quite a lot of things I suggested. 😉 I do think a retrial is indicated now a couple of years have elapsed since I saw it first.

    • Tara says:

      See what you think, V. It should suit you in theory unless you get the super sillage or metallic facet some others do. I love it.
      Wasn’t it funny how Jessica found so many rose perfumes “insufficiently rosy”?!

  6. I’m not a fan of too rosy scents and I found La Fille de Berlin has just about right amount of rose for me. As Poodle said, it’s a cold rose and I really like it. I’m surprised that some people are getting generous sillage from this one, it never has been big on me for some reasons. I only have a mini but I’m thinking about a full bottle. 😉

    • Tara says:

      I am fascinated by the fact it’s so huge on some people and quiet on others. Really odd.
      Happy to hear it’s a rose that works for you. I’ve found it sheer enough to wear during the summer – not that it’s been exactly scorching 🙂

  7. Sabine says:

    It’s certainly a rose I like, but it wasn’t love when I smelled it. Like Vanessa, I might give it another go., as I still have a sample around.
    But because you mentioned Marlene Dietrich – who, I think, wasn’t the inspiration for LFdB – today I was wearing a fragrance that claims to be based on what she actually wore: Frau Tonis Berlin Veilchen (violets). It’s a spicy but cold violet, both old school and modern. I don’t care much about the claim, but the perfume is lovely.

    • Tara says:

      Ooh, well that cold spicy violet does sound very fitting for Dietrich whatever. I really like perfumes that smell old school but modern at the same time. Retro rather than old-fashioned.

  8. Hey there Tara,
    Sorry I’m late, BUSY!!
    LOVE this. Most of the friendly Serge offerings I really enjoy wearing for the pleasure of their fragrance. I don’t need to be challenged at every sniff most days.
    Portia xx

    • Tara says:

      Portia, I’m honoured you made time to comment at all on your birthday!

      Amen to not needing to be challenged the whole time and just wearing perfume for pure pleasure.

  9. Preska says:

    Actually my favorite rose perfume. I had in my collection at least seven different rose scents but soled them all and kept only La Fille. Very elegant and wearable. Strangely but I smell some mint in it?!

    • Tara says:

      That’s nice to hear, Preska. I totally agree about it being very elegant and wearable. It’s such an easy yet beautiful perfume to reach for in the morning.

  10. Asali says:

    Unfortunately most roses go sour on me, and Serge’s ones are no exception. It sounds great how it wears on you though; easy and beguiling is wonderful, and a bit of La Dietrich is never a bad thing either. Witness for the prosecution must be one of my favourite films ever, mainly because of her.

    • Tara says:

      Yes, I know most roses don’t play nice with you. Although this one seems to be tricky for a lot of people. I’m lucky it likes me.
      I must look out for that film.

  11. Sandra says:

    Hi Tara! Love your review. This one was a surprise love for me. Went through two decants this past summer. Sandra xo

  12. Suzanne says:

    Lovely review, Tara. I’ve only ever tried this via the wax sample that the company puts out, and I remember finding it very pretty in a surprisingly sheer way. I’m not sure how accurate those wax samples are, but yeah, what I smelled I really liked!

    • Tara says:

      Suzanne, I’m not sure how helpful those wax samples are either but I do find this to be sheer and pretty so perhaps in this instance, it was accurate!
      I reach for my bottle all the time.

  13. Farouche says:

    La Fille de Berlin is one of my favorite roses, along with Lyric Woman, Mohur Extrait, and all of the Frederic Malle rose fragrances. Chanel Misia, though…not so much. :-/. Great article, Tara!

    • Tara says:

      Hey Farouche,
      You are a fan of some high quality rose fragrances there. Lyric Woman is gorgeous, if too much for me. I don’t get much rose at all from Misia. It’s more iris, violet and cold cream on me.

  14. Pingback: Rose of No Man’s Land by Byredo | A Bottled Rose

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