Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Serge Lutens: Nuit de Cellophane (Night of Cellophane)

"Serge Lutens’ new fragrance, Nuit de Cellophane, will be launched in January 2009… Nothing is known as of yet about its composition – according to rumors, it could be based on the osmanthus blossom, whose apricot-suede facets are almost already a perfume in themselves. Is cellophane an allusion to transparence (which isn’t the predominant characteristic of lutensian compositions), or to the source of the material, wood (cellophane is manufactured with cellulose, the main constituent of wood)?" Thus muses Denyse Beaulieu who had the scoop.

What an intriguing and out there name, don't you agree? Cellophane is not exactly what one associates with fragrance, unless we're thinking of the outer packaging of course! Its allusion to the tactile is at odds with the olfactory, yet the protection of the cloak of the night being compared to a cellophane wrap that doesn't let anything out or anything in is poetic in its own terms. Cellophane was discovered by Dr Jacques Edwin Brandenberger, when the idea for a clear and protective packaging layer came to him in 1900, sourcing it via regenerated cellulose. Its low permeability to air, oils, grease, and bacteria is perhaps the reason why it evokes images of clinical austerity to our mind and why it's supremely fit for packaging food. Which poses another interesting question: Will Lutens use the concept to introduce an innovative gourmand that will juxtapose elements of woodiness to elements of culinary notes? Or will he eschew our preconceptions altogether to give a glimpse of osmanthus flowers through the diaphanous crispness of a protective -and rather fetishy- florist's crisp wrap?

Judging by his recent excellent releases, El Attarine and Serge Noire, the anticipation is high. This one looks to be an export fragrance too, judging by the time frame. We're only one month away from finding out for ourselves!

EDIT TO ADD on 12/11: Preliminary whiffs confirm it is indeed osmanthus-based, rather mainstream for a Lutens fragrance, beautiful and fresh. We will return with a full review as soon as sufficient quantity ends on our lap.

EDIT TO ADD on 2/11: Read my full review of Nuit de Cellophane clicking this link.

Thanks to my friend Denyse (Grain de musc) for the news.

Pic by Tim Walker for a Vogue shoot, courtesy of


  1. Anonymous13:12

    Well that's certainly unexpected! I can't help remembering that song from the Chicago musical:

    Cellophane, Mister Cellophane, Shoulda been my name, Mister Cellophane 'Cause you can look right through me, Walk right by me, And never know I'm there...

    And that's not usually the description of a Lutens fragrance...

  2. Hello, beloved.

    I'm in hysterics.
    Must have tapped into his inner CB , I think.
    What a great name...

    I may just have to make up my long-awaited "Croix de Merde" which I created many years ago-

    'For meritorious service above and beyond the call of doody', LOL.

    I'm in my puerile glory, here.

    Many kisses to you !

  3. Anonymous13:47

    Great name! :)Inside cellophane there often is the most delicious smelling (and tasting) things..

  4. What an odd name for a perfume! It will be interesting to hear more about this as details become available.

    I must admit, you lost me at "apricot-suede." I've already got Daim Blonde -- and El Attarine, when I sampled it, evoked Daim Blonde quite a bit for me, so I couldn't love it quite as much as I'd hoped.

    I haven't been too thrilled with SL releases of the last few years. For me, it's hard to top Fumerie Turque, Fleur d'Orange (especially layered over a light spray of Fumerie Turque -- oh god, it is yummy), Cuir Mauresque (also nice with a quick shot of Fleur d'Orange on top), and Ambre Sultan. In the summer, I love a light spray of Datura Noir, which always smells like Paris because that's where I bought it. My first Serge was a bell jar of Rahat, which I didn't love nearly as much as the creamy wax sample I fell in love with. And now it just smells too sharp and sweet to my nose, generally.

    Interesting perfume house for sure. Hard not to have an opinion (and usually a strong one at that!) about every scent in the line.

  5. Anonymous16:38

    Nuit de Cellophane? Hmmmm..... something crisply rustling, transparent, hard to get into, covering something you want very badly and can't quite get at? Yearning kept fresh? This promises to be interesting, but Serge's names aren't really much to go buy, or else why would a fragrance called "Buckwheat" smell of jasmine?

  6. Anonymous17:51

    Dear Helg,

    Just read the piece (will have to read a couple more times) so here are my thoughts:

    1. Great article as usual--lovely news+musing combo.

    2. IMHO osmanthus should've been explored a long time ago since it was one of the ingredients featured in Nombre Noir. (Daim Blond has an osmanthus suggestion if I'm not mistaken.)

    3. Hopefully SL can give osmanthus a different twist...not the usual diffusive oriental pastry-like idea which some brands are so gung ho about. (SL probably won't go down the Osmanthe Yunnan route but that's quite obvious.)

    4. Not a huge fan of the name yet, althought it does sound intriguing.


  7. Did osmanthus also make an appearance in Sarrasins? There's an apricot-suede note that Luca Turn thought might be osmanthus, according to his review in The Guide.

    I am looking forward to this Nuit de Cellophane (interesting name!), and hope that it will be available at Les Salons in February, when i am there!

  8. Sylvia,
    what's Lutens' salt worth if not being unexpected? ;-)
    Great reference, I completely missed that! Could be! (I do hope you're not referring to them being fleeting though, because they're not; just...elusive)

  9. My dearest I,

    La Croix de Merde sounds positively genius!!!! I am in stiches now!!!! LOL!!!!!!!!

    Sometimes, we say "what's in a name" and sometimes EVERYTHING is. I think you get the prize and it's not going to be the above Croix ;-)


  10. S,

    you think so, huh? It might be good, who knows. I am on the edge of my seat on what they've thought about this one. If it's a formely made batch, just out now for the annual export, then osmanthus might very well be it. After all, it's very Japan-esque and Japan-esque is at the heart of a good dose of SL. ;-)

  11. Marsi,

    I agree on you that the Lutens oeuvre is hard to make one NOT have a strong opinion. I am an ardent fan, although not all of his creations suit me (or indeed I even like).
    I agree that Rahat is not his best: somehow not very distinctive and a little too sweet for its own good. Not very keen on Daim...Apricot+heliotrope+sweet notes+no bitter leather=not me....I LOVE Fumerie Turque and Fleurs d'Oranger however; wish I could wear Ambre Sultan as well as some other people apparently do!
    El Attarine was very good in my opinion and wish that the new one follows that radiant route (although with such a can it be luminous? Hmm)

  12. Z,

    your reasoning sounds very promising! I like very much the "something you want very badly and can't quite get at" and the "Yearning kept fresh" parts!

    But help me out, honey, will you? Which one is the Buckwheat-named one that smells of jasmine??? (I am crossing off Sarrasins, A la Nuit, Cedre...*scratching my head*)

  13. A,

    oh, the news is by Debyse, pas moi! I only did the "musings" part with my usual crazy associating.

    I think it's a good practice to think what is missing in the line, therefore osmanthus sounds plausible; never mind I never strained long enough on Daim to actually think if it's apricot pit or osmanthus or what!
    OK, a carnation is missing, obviously; I can also think of a tomato-leaf-based one or something grassy along those lines...a gardenia one....

  14. J,

    don't ruin Sarrasins for me! LOL I like to think it's just some slight bitter leathery note, not sweeter things.
    If you sample before us, let us know!!

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Hm, "beautiful and fresh"? I am still cautiously intrigued... (was hoping for "voluptuous and skanky")

  17. This is the initial impression! I am counting on you and Denyse savouring it if I don't manage to get enough of it soon ;-)

  18. Anonymous13:45

    T'is Sarrasins which smells like a big bucket of jasmine on me - and nothing else. Definitely not buckwheat!!!!

  19. Aaaah, there we go now! Thank you Z for clarifying! I was wondering which one you meant and felt completely obtuse for not getting what you meant.

    Sarrasins luckily is very good to me, I say "sit" and it rolls over and lets me play with its belly ;-)

  20. Oooh, SL and Osmanthus? Be still o my heart! I can't wait - but hold on, is it an Exclusive or an Export?! Does anyone know? I expect that something so lovely will be an Exclusive, but I can dream...

  21. F,

    I believe the time frame suggests an Export (Exclusives usually roll out later on in the year). I am expecting this with anticipation as well. :-)


Type your comment in the box, choose the Profile option you prefer from the drop down menu, below text box (Anonymous is fine too!) and hit Publish.
And you're set!

This Month's Popular Posts on Perfume Shrine