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


There are some perfumes you want to bury your nose into, and some that are better when you just catch a whiff. Sarrasins, to me, is the latter. Sarrasins opens with an achingly pretty fresh jasmine, heady and potent, with a subtle hint of rot behind it. That overall effect is not unpleasant, nor is it unexpected: jasmine is known for its indolic properties. There is something in it that reminds me of Tubéreuse Criminelle. Googling the two names together, it seems I'm not the only one: some suggest that they share an opening element of camphor and, thinking about it, I am inclined to agree. (Could that also be indole?)

The camphor lasts only a second, and the headiness fades quickly, too. After a quarter of an hour the jasmine sweetens and becomes less potent, making it more tolerable to sniff up close, and after an hour I'm left with a pleasant floral focusing on jasmine. I also definitely catch the carnation element (but, unfortunately, carnation has never been my favorite floral fragrance). It's been a while since I smelled Estée Lauder's Beyond Paradise, but I remember it as being a big jungley floral, and the heart of Sarrasins reminds me of it. In the dry-down, the fragrance gets even sweeter, with a creamy vanilla overlaying the jasmine.

The whole Sarrasins experience isn't really right for me, but I recognize that it's right for someone. Catching a little olfactory glimpse of it from time to time is pleasant, like walking through a rainforest and getting the scent of some potent flower nearby.

Sarrasins, Serge Lutens, 2007 Notes: jasmine, carnations, woods, musk, coumarin

Gin Fizz