Serge Lutens’ La Fille de Berlin is a straight-up Rose with a capital R. The first hint of what you’ll smell is the color of the juice in the bottle — a deep, purply red. It is almost exactly the same color as one of the most fragrant roses I grow, the beautiful but heavily thorny “Munstead Wood”. And in fact, here is some of the copy from the Lutens website: “She’s a rose with thorns, don’t mess with her. She’s a girl who goes to extremes. When she can, she soothes; and when she wants … !”
As many reviewers noted when La Fille de Berlin was released in 2013, no list of notes was provided. Perfumer Ayala Moriel posted in her own blog that she thought the pyramid included top notes of tea rose and black pepper, heart notes of rose, crystallized violet, and safranal (an extract of saffron); and base notes of musk, Atlas cedar, raspberry, and sandalwood. She even compared La Fille to yesterday’s entrant in the “Roses de Mai Marathon”, The Perfumers Workshop Tea Rose. Fragrantica lists top notes of rose and geranium; middle note of palmarosa; base notes of patchouli, moss and honey. Palmarosa, I have learned, is an extract of “Indian geranium”, an aromatic grass whose essential oil is thought to be a rosy green scent, reminiscent of both roses and geraniums. Roses and geraniums both have a lot of geraniol and other compounds that give roses their distinctive scents.
The rose I get from La Fille de Berlin is definitely a green-tinged tea rose. It’s very smooth, and it doesn’t smell soapy at all to me. It has fruity undertones without being sweet, if that makes sense. I do smell a touch of honey as it dries down, but it’s very subtle. With due respect to Ms. Moriel, a distinguished “nose” in her own right, I do not smell violets of any kind. And although many commenters said that it lasted for hours on their skin, I’m not having that experience of longevity (although I also apply it sparingly). Nevertheless, this is a very beautiful rose-centric fragrance of high quality. It’s not as adventurous or groundbreaking as many Lutens scents, but that’s fine by me — some days, you just want a really beautiful, classic floral, and that’s what La Fille de Berlin is. It is also a “grown-up” rose — it doesn’t smell pink to me, it smells crimson. It is elegant and mature in the best sense of those words: timeless, ageless, not distracting from its wearer but enhancing her (or him, as this can definitely be worn by men).
Have you tried it? Do you prefer other fragrances by Serge Lutens?
Featured image from http://www.condenast.com