Bas de Soie is one of the latest controversial Serge Lutens releases. They have been controversial because they mark a an incredible departure from the dark oriental style of the house. Or, according to others because they are linear and uninspired. Bas de Soie was referred to as a conventional take on iris, more conventional than Iris Silver Mist anyway. I recently bought a bottle of this from a friend so this is my take on this rather controversial release.
It opens with a powdery but not sweet iris note. Actually it is part powdery, part lipstick-y, part doughy, very close to the iris note in Chanel No19. Very quickly a sour dimension is added to iris bringing to mind Iris Bleu Gris or Infusion d’Homme. I love this sour iris note because it doesn’t feel as clean and detached as iris usually does. It is happy and a little dirty in a green way. Floral elements become apparent, a note that smells like chrysanthemums (the same ingredient used in De Profundis?) and a cheerful hyacinth note. All this happens very quickly. It takes about twenty minutes to observe the powdery iris turn into a green floral. No darkness hidden in the corners of the composition. And this is when things start to become… interesting. What is this that I smell? Is it really what I think it is? The nuclear fallout of Secretions Magnifiques? Can Serge Lutens be playing with radioactive material? Apparently he can. After the top and mid development that prepares for a floral, slightly creamy composition, a steel knife cuts through the silky woven web of feminine notes and starts to peak through. But it doesn’t stop. It slashes the comfortable flowers and powder with a disturbing force. Very quickly I am forced to forget the comfort of the opening and have to face the reality of the threatening raw egg white note that has made Secretions Magnifiques a legend. Here the volume is turned down and I never get to the point of having a gag reflex but it certainly isn’t comforting. In modern day and age I do not how many people remember what a clean laundry hanging on the line, drying under the sun light smells like. No heavy detergents, no musky fabric softeners. It smells like this. A smell that is definitely clean but is too close to egg whites for comfort. It dominates the drydown, changes the focus completely and makes me feel like an idiot because apparently I have been looking the wrong way.
Bas de Soie above all is an ironic scent. Like many of Serge Lutens fragrances it manages to tell a story. Not one of his usual stories from his trips to the Orient. This is a sex story. The story of young woman preparing for her hot date with someone she recently met. She is excited, thinking about what will happen later that night. She does her best to look her best. She puts her make up on, scented powder, lipstick. She sprays a playful but not innocent floral perfume. She chooses an elegant not-too-short black dress and she slips on a pair of magnificent silk stockings, the eponymous “bas de soie”. They are joy to touch and be touched by. The night is electrified. Everything is going according to plan and the two end up in steamy foreplay. He is particularly appreciative of her legs which makes her very happy because they are her crown jewels. He delicately takes off her stockings and then all his attention is absorbed by the black, airy ribbons of silk.
Despite the notes the composition is not feminine because it is completely devoid of any hints of sweetness (I always thank Serge Lutens for making dry florals) but it is definitely a very individual scent. People smelling it on me have mostly loved it, except the ones that have been exposed to Secretions Magnifiques and its smell has been etched forever in their minds.
Notes from Fragrantica: hyacinth, iris
Notes from my nose: lipstick, chrysanthemum, hyacinth, sun dried linen