Roses de Mai Marathon: La Fille de Berlin

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 … !”

Rose Munstead Wood, dark crimson, fragrant.

“Munstead Wood”, a David Austin English Rose.

Bouquet of garden roses by David Austin, including Teasing Georgia, Lady of Shalott, Carding Mill, Olivia Rose Austin, Munstead Wood.

An assortment of David Austin’s English Roses, including the dark crimson “Munstead Wood.”

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 RoseFragrantica 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?

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6 thoughts on “Roses de Mai Marathon: La Fille de Berlin

  1. As the scent goes, I like this perfume, definitely much more than other Lutens’ roses. My “quarrel” with it was more of the ideological nature (I have a post on the topic, you’ll easily find it if you’re curious), so I chose not to get this perfume even though I liked it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I “liked” your comment because I sympathize with it and I agree with your post. I chose not to include more of Lutens’ text or his video in my own review; and I’ve noticed that they rarely appear any more. I also objected to its references to rape. My own family’s WWII story is that my late mother was English; she was a child during the war and her father was a naval officer who survived but suffered many dreadful experiences. When my sisters and I were children, our mother took us on a river cruise up the Rhine from Basel to Amsterdam. One stop was the German city of Cologne. On our tour of the famous cathedral, the guide described in detail the Allied bombing that had damaged but not destroyed the cathedral (no mention of the deportation and murder of Cologne’s entire Jewish population). My mother did not interrupt the tour, but said to us later that she had felt very angry because she wanted to note the complete destruction of England’s Coventry Cathedral and the surrounding neighborhood during the Nazis’ fire-bombing of that city in one of many air attacks against civilian parts of England. The fire-bombing was so intense that apparently Goebbels coined the phrase “Coventried” as a verb to describe similar destruction of civilian cities. So I respect your objection to Lutens’ references!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve not sampled La Fille de Berlin, but your description made me feel like I understand how it smells. Thank you for your rose scent journey! I am not familiar with many Serge Lutens, I have Amber Sultan, Une Bois Vanille, Chergui, and Feminite du Bois.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Roses de Mai Marathon: Geranium Bourbon – Serenity Now Scents and Sensibilities

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