Angel Belsey is a Londoner. She owns too much perfume and too many books.

Rahät Loukoum

You are a child, and you much admire your mother's cherry-vanilla kitchen candle. "That's what I want to smell like!" you think. Despite being told many times not to play with candle wax, you can't resist blowing out the candle, scraping off a bit of half-melted wax from the side, and smearing it on your skin. Now, you do indeed smell like your mother's cherry-vanilla kitchen candle. That's pretty much precisely my experience of applying a wax sample of Rahät Loukoum. Whether or not I can really smell wax is debatable; I am possibly influenced by the wax texture in combination with the synthetic cherry-vanilla smell. But that Yankee Candle impression is so unmistakable that for the next hour I am completely convinced that this is going to be my first wholly negative Serge Lutens review.

I am fooled, though. An hour later, the fragrance has shifted--after flirting briefly with becoming strawberry incense, it settles to a soft, pretty, honeyed cherry that snuggles right down into my skin. It does nothing more complicated than that. Some reviewers say they get the almonds and the musk. I don't; for me it is what it is what it is.

Rahät Loukoum isn't really my personal cup of tea, but if you're looking for something soft and fruity, then it would be a great place to start. It is sweet without being screamingly sweet like so many department store fragrances for women (hi, Miss Dior Cherie). And, really, there's nothing wrong with revisiting your childhood for that first hour.

Rahät Loukoum, Serge Lutens, 1998 Notes: white almond, cherry kernel, white honey, musk, vanilla

Vétiver Oriental

Bois de Violette