Leather and prunes for the lady boxer.
Boxeuses (Lady Boxers) is the last of the four fragrances that Serge Lutens sent to me for review. And it is the first that I initially had a problem with.
Where L’Eau Serge Lutens, Bas de Soie and – above all – Jeux de Peau had, for me, immediate appeal, Boxeuses initially lacked this. On opening the flagon (this is a European limited edition and doesn’t come in the spray configuration) I was put off by an alcoholic odour that I found familiar but disappointing. It took a friend to identify it: like Coca-Cola, she said, and passing it between other friends resulted in mostly neutral comments. Only my friend M was entranced immediately, perceiving something in it that the rest of us had managed to miss.
It is a given among perfumistas that you shouldn’t sniff the flagon, and now I know why. But nor, the first time I tried this perfume on, did I find it did anything much on my skin. I was expecting female sweat and leather – the smell of the women’s changing room at the gym perhaps, with all those mingled perfumes – and I could smell what seemed to be musk – not as achingly artificial as my childhood favourite Jovan, but nothing more complicated – and perhaps a leather fragrance, but not as interesting as Serge Lutens Cuir Mauresque or Geo Trumper’s Spanish Leather – more feminine and flimsy.
And so I put the perfume away and went away for a think.
It is something noticed by fans of the Serge Lutens brand that sometimes you have to let his perfumes grow on you. So I didn’t try Boxeuses again for a couple of weeks. When I did, this time I poured it liberally onto a cottonwool pad, applied it to wrists and behind the ears, then tucked the cottonwool into my scarf.
And this time, bingo.
Suddenly, perhaps from using sufficient quantity, the complexity of the perfume warmed on my skin and released layer after layer of fragrance (a real relief, as I’d thought it was wasted on me and I’d have to give it away).
From out of the initial, quite light, leather accord comes a distinct smell of Agen prunes soaked in calvados and dipped in black chocolate (something of which I am a tad over-fond). And there’s vanilla, but a gentle vanilla that reminds me of white chocolate tartufi.
The middle notes have a wonderful sherbety quality (the leather scents by now quite dissipated on my skin), white musk and overtones of violets – an elusive quality in perfume, as violets anaesthetise the olfactory senses.
After some hours, it smells quite different on my wrists from the way it smells on my neck, as I tend to find with Lutens perfumes.
Having chatted with Grain de Musc, a perfume blogger based in Paris, I find that she too prefers a spray to the ‘dab’ bottles, and tends to decant her fragrances. I think I will be doing the same with this one, but once done, I will be wearing it A LOT.
Boxeuses is not exported to the US but may be available on Ebay and from other sources. In Europe, it can be ordered from Serge Lutens. 120 euros for 75ml.