Review: La Fille de Berlin by Serge Lutens

Roses roses everywhere for Serge’s latest release. La Fille de Berlin

The latest fragrance release from niche house Serge Lutens is La Fille de Berlin, which should appear on shelves in March next year. 

As usual with Lutens releases, the company has stayed tight-lipped on the ingredients used, except to say that the perfume contains roses and pepper. Instead, as a journo, you receive a text, which in this case was even more impenetrable than Serge’s usual output.

"Upon her lips I tasted the blood of Siegfried. For my girl from Berlin was armed, poised for battle, and thus more beautiful than ever, slaying all contempt, also known as my shame, acting like a fur lining for my cloak of pride…" etc. 

None the wiser, I am testing the perfume by actually wearing it.

One’s first impression is a strong one, which is the colour of the juice. It’s rare for Lutens to produce coloured juices – most of the fragrances are in soft shades of brown or grey-brown, with the only real exception I can think of being the bright purple De Profundis.

La Fille de Berlin in contrast is bright berry red like a vial full of blood. Sprayed on the skin it looks like blackcurrant juice, and is probably best kept well away from light-coloured clothing.

The top notes are a green and sappy fresh rose, somewhat like Sa Majesté la Rose, which is based on Bourbon roses, but feeling pinker, redder and more complex and containing the full raspberry-jelly scent of true rose oil (it also feels oily on the skin). After 30 minutes or so, it becomes sherbety, sugary and quite fondant, like a rose-flavoured dessert of some sort, though never as artificial neon pink as Paris, before morphing slowly into a softly woody rose. 

I detect no pepper, but I do detect a creamy vanilla or sandalwood in the drydown.

Compared side by side with Sa Majesté, I would say the latter is crisper, greener, more springlike, more soapy, whereas La Fille is deeper, redder and more velvety (oddly, if I smell Sa Majesté and then La Fille, the latter has no fragrance at all, though I can smell them both if I sniff them the other way around). Persistence is about eight hours, though faint after about three, and the sillage is moderate, but the scent is very much a true rose fragrance rather than a rose-based fragrance such as Goutal’s Grand Amour. 

In the Lutens canon, La Fille, I would say, falls somewhere between the darkness of Rose de Nuit and the brightness of Sa Majesté, but my personal taste is for the more extreme fragrances and with La Fille, I would have liked to see the pepper component cranked up to the max – the kind of bravery we are used to from this label. On the other hand, I do not currently own Rose de Nuit, and it is far more expensive, so I certainly see myself wearing La Fille on days when Sa Majesté would seem too optimistic and cheery. La Fille, also, might suit my gardener friend E, who is gradually searching through the rose fragrance database in the hope of finding that elusive perfect rose. 

La Fille de Berlin is in the export line and will cost 78 euros from and selected outlets from spring 2013.  

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