Beauty Picks

Polite perfumes: Why we are in love with these quiet, understated scents from Serge Lutens

Good perfumes should be like good manners. That’s why French perfumer Serge Lutens has come up with a line of modest, quiet fragrances
 

In The Smelly Car, episode 21 of season four of Seinfeld, Jerry’s car was stunk up by a valet’s BBO (beyond body odour). Possessing a life of its own, it clung to everyone who rode in the car after. Despite Jerry having the inside of the car professionally cleaned, the “entity” could not be “exorcised”. Even car dealers and car thieves wouldn’t take or steal the vehicle. 

Strong perfumes are not dissimilar to BBO. Like the latter, they leave a trail, invading all spaces, assaulting everyone who crosses their path.  

No one knows this better than French perfumer Serge Lutens, whose fragrances, since their debut in 2000, have more often than not been the heady, heavy, headache-inducing type. Even his best-selling Fleurs de Citronnier (“lemon tree flowers”) has more hits of musk and iris than lemony freshness. 

The man was, of course, not creating scents to offend people. The intention – factoring in how the 2000s were a period of anti-minimalism – was to create flamboyance. 

Then it hit him: Over-scenting had reached a limit; the more-is-more era had become too saturated. Lutens needed to scale back and go back to a simpler view of what fragrances should be – scents that give us comfort, not cause annoyance. 

Simplicity set the tone for his new perfumery vision: clean, soothing, quiet, pick-me-up. Nothing sticky, nothing showy. Something that only the wearer (and someone who is hugging her) can smell up close

Called Les Eaux de Politesse, aka “waters of politeness”, the collection of six EDPs is a combination of two existing “already polite” perfumes, three fragrances reformulated as lighter versions, and one new number. The antithesis of loud, all six are light and fresh, even if a couple of them are woody and peppery. To complement their “politeness”, be a class act: one spray on each pulse point. No dousing allowed. Please.

Each Les Eaux de Politesse EDP is $215. At Escentials stores and www.escentials.com. Click through the gallery below to discover the collection.

 

This story first appeared in the June 2019 issue of Her World magazine.

ALSO READ: PERFUME 201: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SCENT LAYERING

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