Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Serge Lutens - Santal Majuscule & Fleurs d'Oranger (perfume review)

Santal Majuscule

The opening seconds of Santal Majuscule on my skin is an exceptionally lovely, lightly floral scent. But after just a few seconds, it morphs into a combination of bitterness and burnt butter. A mild element of creaminess sneaks in, moderating the bitterness and Santal Majuscule almost sweetens up to a creme brulee, but then the sharp wood note takes over.

In a short time, the wood note loses the creaminess and begins to feel drier. About 10 minutes in I get something slightly medicinal, and I'm not really sure what it is. This fades slightly, but Santal Majuscule never really progresses beyond this for me.  It stays slightly medicinal, dry and woody, and has a dark brown aura.

On my skin, Santal Majuscule feel a bit raw and unfinished, where I would hope for a slightly rounder and creamier feel. I'm really confused by the notes, because I get no rose or chocolate. It must be a chemistry thing.

Family: Wood

Top Notes: Rose
Middle Notes: Tonka bean, Rosewood
Base Notes: Sandalwood, Cocoa

Perfumer: Christopher Sheldrake

* * * * * * * * *

Fleurs d'Oranger

Upon first application, Fleurs d'Oranger presents as a soft and slightly powdery orange blossom. To me, the opening feels like a delicate cloud - beautifully feminine and lovely. Within a couple of minutes, the scent becomes a little spicy and peppery which is pleasantly reminiscent of the spicy and sweet orange blossom of L'Artisan Parfumeur's Seville a l'Aube. 

Unfortunately, just after the pepper the familiar tang of cumin makes it's entrance. To be fair, this is no Bigarade Concentree. On the whole, the cumin isn't *terribly* strong but it does register as body odor on my skin, and regrettably it detracts from the whole experience for me. 

My son Walden, clearly confused and upset that cumin is used in perfumery...
After 15 minutes or so, Fleurs d'Oranger introduces a combination of creamy white florals. They lend a plushness to the scent and their weight works well to balance the sweetness of the orange blossom and the spice of the cumin. 

Fleurs d'Oranger doesn't strike me as a particularly complex scent, with few evolutions before the drydown. Nonetheless, it is a pleasant, easy to wear, happy perfume. I think I'd like it a lot if it didn't possess the pervasive undercurrent of BO from the cumin. 

Of note, I've read that older versions of Fleurs d'Oranger contain more cumin than the more recent formulations.  I received my sample in a swap, so I'm not sure if the sample I tested from was of the older or newer variety.

Family: Floral

Top Notes: Orange Blossom, Neroli
Middle Notes: Tuberose, Jasmine
Base Notes: Hibiscus, Cumin, Musk

Perfumer: Christopher Sheldrake

* * * * * * * * *

My rating of Santal Majuscule and Fleurs d'Oranger: 2 

1  -  - -  -  2  -  -  -  -  3  -  -  -  -  4  -  -  -  -  5
   Nausea/Gagging         Meh        Decent       Great         Olfactory Elation    


So far I have only tried a few Serge Lutens fragrances, but none have really dazzled me. I'm not sure if it's a body chemistry thing, my unsophisticated perfume tastes or if I'm just not trying the right ones. 

What are your thoughts on Santal Majuscule and/or Fleurs d'Oranger? And, if you're a Serge Lutens fan, what are some of your favorites? I'd love some recommendations for others to try!


  1. Sigh... I really struggle with SL fragrances. They just aren't for me. The only bottle I have is Ambre Sultan and I haven't worn it in almost 2 years. But on a good note, Walden is as cute as a bug!!!

    1. Well I'm glad it's not just me! They're so highly regarded (and there's so many of them) that I do hope to find something that works, but we'll see. I just got a sample of De Profundis and I think I have a few more headed my way - so the search shall continue. Maybe someday I'll try Ambre Sultan, but so far amber has not been my friend either... (Whenever I read about amber fragrances they sound amazing and then whenever I put them on ... *sigh* that search continues as well).

      Hehe, thanks for the compliment to Walden! I definitely think he's cuter when he's smiling, but this was such a unique face for him and really embodied my thoughts on cumin in perfume. :)

  2. Sun Mi, cutest baby ever!! ;)

    A lot of Serge Lutens haven't worked for me either, and all of his Santal scents have been rather disappointing for me -- I wanted to love Santal de Mysore, but it was nothing like what I expected. But there are a few perfumes of his I like very much - his rose perfumes, and Un Bois Vanille -- and some I find fascinating, even if I can't wear them - like De Profundis, and Iris Silver Mist. I know what you mean about the cumin thing, though. Lutens uses it in spades!

    1. Hi Mallory!

      Thanks for your comment and the compliment to Walden. :) I like De Profundis, though it skews a bit masculine for me, and I'm very curious about Iris Silver Mist, if only because everyone else seems to love them. I think sandalwood is a note that I may really like, but I'm still looking for the right one. I suppose I will take that search away from SL!

  3. Why would you subject such a cute baby to all that cumin? ;)

    I didn't expect it but I really liked Santal Majuscule - not even close to think of a FB but I enjoy wearing it from time to time from the decant. Fleurs d'Oranger was just nasty on my skin. But then cumin is one of those notes that are extremely difficult for me - so I'm not surprised.

    Serge Lutens perfumes are hits or misses for me. Perfumes I love: Boxeuses, De Profundis, Ambre Sultan, Fille en Aiguilles, Jeux de Peau and Chergui; strongly like: Vétiver Oriental, Vitriol d'oeillet, Santal Majuscule, La Fille de Berlin, Iris Silver Mist, Gris Clair and La Myrrhe. The rest - I either feel indifferent or really dislike and wouldn't be wearing if those were the last perfumes on the planet.

    1. Hi Undina :)

      I know, I know - he hates me for it! :) Cumin is pretty awful on my skin too - I just got a small decant of Rubj and I sniffed the atomizer. All I could smell was stank cumin-y BO and I'm afraid to even try it on skin. The only scent that I've been okay with that contains cumin is Amouage Epic Woman - for some reason it doesn't stand out on that one.

      From the little I've tried De Profundis, I really liked the smell, but it wasn't quite as feminine as I tend to enjoy. I really want to try Fille en Aiguilles, Jeux de Peau and Iris Silver Mist. I actually just got a sample of Iris Silver Mist in solid form, so I'll have to check it out. I've heard a lot of good things about the Ambre Sultan, but I'm still iffy on the amber thing. :) I don't think I've tried *any* true vetiver scents yet, so I should probably get on that too! I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one out there struggles with some of the SLs though!


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