Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido Serge Lutens Un Lys

OK, I lied. No, not in the outrageous way Hillary Clinton misspoke about Bosnia, but I hadn't told the complete truth when I'd written that my favorite Serge Lutens fragrances were Fumerie Turque, Vetiver Oriental, Gris Clair, Tubereuse Criminelle (I probably couldn't tolerate this one anymore, although I still admire it) and Un Lys. The truth is, I love Un Lys like I can't imagine my life without it. I'm saddened it's so hard to get here in the US, so I downplay how much I adore it. Perfection of a Madonna lily, it's hauntingly true-to-life, majestic and heady with an intense, lilac-like nectar-filled opening--and then, like a dream sequence, vanilla comes to save it from being a mundane soliflore, making the lily beyond perfect, pushing reality into a surreal realm: a lily that couldn't possibly smell more natural than it is. This is the smell of lily on skin as it should smell, if my flesh were made of a more ideal material. Unfortunately for me, such a perfect scent only brings out the imperfections in me when I wear it.

A wise and fabulous perfumista once told me of her impressions of the Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido Serge Lutens line of fragrances from her Japanese perspective (Japanese living in Japan, unlike myself). She thought of them as simple combinations of scents made to smell like incense, made to fit the Japanese aesthetic. It makes sense; all of the scents are indeed simple combinations of elements, as three-dimensional as they are in olfactive space--they're maximalist-minimalist in a way, too--big, heavy scents created with few elements. Un Lys is to me a study of or meditation on two notes: lily and vanilla, and even though the floralcy seems overwhelming in the beginning, the delicious, heavenly vanillic dry down is worth the wait in the end. It's a slow evolution to get to that satisfying stage, and here's another truth: I didn't love it at first because of the intense floralcy, so I'd say give it a few tries before writing it off. It's not your average lily after all, so, like appreciating a piece of classical or jazz music, or an arthouse film, you'll need to exercise some patience. In my heart of hearts, I wish it had just a dollop more creamy vanilla, but I won't complain--too much.