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Serge Lutens Arabie
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A Conversation on Arabie

A Package from Christos: Greek Sandals & Oud Cuir d'Arabie

A Package from Ines

A Package from Lavanya

A More Affordable Olfactionary

A Week of Wearing What I Like

Amouage Dia (pour femme)

Amouage Dia (pour homme)

Amouage Epic Woman

Amouage Gold

Amouage Interlude Man

Amouage Jubilation 25 

Amouage Lyric Woman

Amouage Memoir Woman

Amouage Opus I

Amouage Opus III

Amouage Opus IV

Amouage Opus V

Amouage Opus VI

Amouage Tribute

Amouage Ubar

Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche

Annick Goutal Encens Flamboyant

Annick Goutal Heure Exquise

Annick Goutal Petite Cherie

Annick Goutal Sables

April Aromatics Calling All Angels

April Aromatics Bohemian Spice

April Aromatics Jasmina 

April Aromatics Nectar of Love

April Aromatics Rose L'Orange

Aroma M Geisha Green

Aroma M Geisha Rouge

Arquiste Anima Dulcis

Arquiste Boutonniere no. 7

At the Moment (Chanel 22 & Marshall Crenshaw)

At the Moment (Contemplating Change & Habit Rouge)

At the Moment (Marron Chic & Paris)

At the Moment (More Midsummer Delights/Epic/Geisha Noire)

At the Moment (Saki & Lubin Idole edt)

At the Moment (Secret de Suzanne /D'Orsay L'Intrigante)

At the Moment (Spring Pretties/Un Air de Samsara)

At the Moment (Summery Things...Love Coconut)

At the Moment (Vera Wang & Fireman's Fair novel)

Ava Luxe Café Noir

Beatnik Emptiness Incense

Best of 2009

Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory

Bond No. 9 Brooklyn

Bond No. 9 Little Italy

Bond No. 9 New Haarlem

Bottega Veneta eau de parfum

Breath of God

Byredo Green

By Kilian Amber Oud

By Kilian Forbidden Games and In the City of Sin

Calyx by Prescriptives

Canturi by Stefano Canturi

Capote, Truman & Evening in Paris

Carner Barcelona D600

Caron Aimez-Moi

Caron French Cancan

Caron Parfum Sacre

Caron Tabac Blond

Caron Tubereuse

Caron Yatagan

Cartier II L'Heure Convoitee

Cartier IV L'Heure Fougueuse

Chanel 31 Rue Cambon

Chanel Bel Respiro

Chanel Chance

Chanel Coco

Chanel Coromandel

Chanel Cuir de Russie

Chanel Egoiste

Chanel No. 5 (vintage)

Chanel No. 22

Chantecaille Petales

Chantilly Dusting Powder

Clive Christian C for Women

Comme des Garcons Daphne

Comme des Garcons LUXE Champaca

Comme des Garcons Series 7 Sweet Nomad Tea

Costes by Costes

Coty Ambre Antique

Coty Chypre

Coty Paris

Creature by Kerosene

Creed Acqua Fiorentina

Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie

Creed Virgin Island Water

DSH Perfumes Bancha Extreme

DSH Perfumes Quinacridone Violet 

DSH Perfumes Vert pour Madame

Deneuve

Devilscent Project

Dior Diorissimo (vintage)

Donna Karan Black Cashmere

EnVoyage Vents Ardents

EnVoyage Zelda

Estee Lauder Private Collection

Estee Lauder Private Collection Jasmine White Moss

Etat Libre d'Orange Rien, Rossy de Palma & Noel au Balcon

Faberge Woodhue Cologne

Favorite Fall Fragrances

Fendi Uomo

Fragrances for Sweden

Frapin 1697 Absolu Parfum

Frederic Malle Angeliques Sous La Pluie

Frederic Malle Bigarade Concentrée

Frederic Malle Carnal Flower

Frederic Malle Dans Tes Bras

Frederic Malle Geranium Pour Monsieur

Frederic Malle Iris Poudre

Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Therese

Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose

Frederic Malle Noir Epices

Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady

Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie

Frederic Malle Une Rose

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel

Ghosts of Perfumes Past, Present & Future

Gone Fishin'

Gucci Eau de Parfum

Gucci L'Arte di Gucci

Gucci Pour Homme

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia

Guerlain Aroma Allegoria Exaltant

Guerlain Attrape Coeur

Guerlain Chamade

Guerlain Encens Mythique d'Orient

Guerlain Jicky

Guerlain Mayotte

Guerlain Parure

Guerlain Samsara Parfum

Guerlain Un Air de Samsara

Guerlain Vega

Guerlain Vetiver (vintage)

Guy Laroche J'ai Ose (vintage)

Happy Solstice

Hermes 24, Faubourg

Hermes Caleche (vintage)

Hermes Eau des Merveilles

Hermes Hiris

Hermes Iris Ukiyoe

Hermes L'Ambre des Merveilles

Histoires de Parfums 1740

Histoires de Parfums 1828

Histoires de Parfums Blanc Violette

Histoires de Parfums Vert Pivoine

Hometown Portrait, State College, PA

Honore des Pres Vamp a NY

House of Matriarch Carmine

How I Store Decants

Il Profumo Cannabis

In Memory (w/mention of Lanvin Arpege)

Jacomo #02

Jacomo #09 (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles

Jean Patou Joy

Jean Patou 1000

Jo Malone Saffron Cologne Intense

Jo Malone Sweet Milk Cologne 

Juliet by Juliet Stewart

Kai Eau de Parfum

Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant

Kenzo Summer

Lancome Magie Noire (vintage) 

Lanvin Via Lanvin (vintage) 

L'Artisan Parfumeur Nuit de Tubereuse

L'Artisan Parfumeur Orchidee Blanche 

L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage d’Enfer

L'Artisan Parfumeur Seville a l'Aube

L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two

La Via del Profumo Balsamo Della Mecca

La Via del Profumo Hindu Kush

La Via del Profumo Milano Caffe

La Via del Profumo Oud Caravan Project

La Via del Profumo Sharif

La Via del Profumo Tawaf

Le Labo Gaiac 10

Le Labo Iris 39

Le Labo Patchouli 24

Le Labo Poivre 23

Little Lists

Lorenzo Villoresi Yerbamate

M. Micallef Vanille Orient

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue Pour le Soir

Maison Martin Margiela (untitled) eau de parfum

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Eau des Iles

Message In A Bottle 

Michael Storer Winter Star

Miller Harris L'Air de Rien

Miscellany

Missoni (original) by Missoni

Molinard Habanita

Mona Di Orio Nuit Noire

Mona Di Orio Oud

Mona Di Orio Vanille

Montale Black Aoud

Montale Boise Vanille

Montale Intense Tiare

Montale Patchouli Leaves

Montale Red Aoud

More Roses (rose cookie recipe)

My Heart Has Skipped a Beat (summer smells)

My Perfumes Have Theme Songs

Nasomatto China White

Neila Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling

Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps

Nez a Nez Ambre a Sade

Northern Exposure "A Dash of Chanel No. 5"

Odin 04 Petrana (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Olivier Durbano Black Tourmaline

Omar Sharif Pour Femme

Oriscent Pure Oud Oils

Ormonde Jayne Frangipani

Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman

Oscar de la Renta Oscar for Men

O Tannenbaum Joint Blog Project

Parfum d'Empire Azemour

Parfum d'Empire Cuir Ottoman

Parfum d'Empire Equistrius

Parfum d'Empire 3 Fleurs

Parfumerie Generale Bois de Copaiba

Parfumerie Generale Indochine

Parfumerie Generale Un Crime Exotique

Parfums de Nicolai Sacrebleu

Parfums DelRae Amoureuse

Parfums Karl Lagerfeld Sun Moon Stars

Parfums MDCI Chypre Palatin

Parfums Retro Grand Cuir

Paris, je t'aime

Pascal Morabito Or Black 

Perfume Quotes - The English Patient

Prada Infusion d'Iris Absolue

Pretty Perfume Bottles 

Prince Matchabelli Aviance Cologne (vintage) 

Profumum Roma Acqua Viva

Profumum Roma D'Ambrosia

Puredistance I

Puredistance Antonia

Puredistance BLACK

Puredistance M

Puredistance Opardu

Ramon Monegal Cherry Musk

Ramon Monegal Pure Mariposa

Recipe for Socca

Regina Harris Amber Vanilla Perfume Oil

Regina Harris Frankincense-Myrrh-Rose Maroc Perfume Oil

Robert Piguet Fracas

Robert Piguet Visa

Rochas Mystere 

Rome Vacation Photos

San Francisco Holiday

Sarah Horowitz Parfums' Joy Comes From Within & Beauty Comes From Within

Scented Reading

Scents of the Mediterranean

Scentuous Reading: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Serge Lutens Arabie

Serge Lutens Borneo 1834

Serge Lutens Boxeuses

Serge Lutens Chêne

Serge Lutens Chergui

Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles

Serge Lutens Five O’Clock Au Gingembre

Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque

Serge Lutens Miel de Bois

Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan

Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle

Serge Lutens Un Lys

Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental

Slumberhouse Rume

Snow Days

Sonoma Scent Studio Incense Pure

Sonoma Scent Studio Jour Ensoleille

Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette

Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods (brief mention)

SoOud Ouris Parfum Nectar

S-Perfume 100% Love {More}

Stone Harbor, NJ Vacaton pix (non-perfume related)

Strange Invisible Perfumes Lyric Rain

Sweden Is For Lovers

T is for Taxes

Tauer Perfumes: Incense Extrême, Incense Rosé, Lonestar Memories, & Reverie au Jardin

Tauer Perfumes Vetiver Dance

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

The Diary of a Nose, Book Review

The Different Company Jasmin de Nuit

The Intimacy of Scent

Thoughts of a Perfume Collector

Tightly

Tokyo Milk Ex Libris

Unlocking an Unknown: Webber Parfum 6T

Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery Bed of Roses

Venimus Vidimus Vicimus, or How 3 Perfume Bloggers and a Husband Took Rome

Vero Profumo Kiki, Onda, and Rubj

Vero Profumo Mito

Viktoria Minya Hedonist

Viktor & Rolfe Flowerbomb

What I’m Lovin’ Now

Xerjoff Mamluk

YOSH Perfumes Ginger Ciao

Yves Saint Laurent Nu

Zaftig Beauty: Serge Lutens Arabie

 

Do you remember when the television show Nigella Bites was first broadcast about six years ago?  The British cooking show hosted by the very voluptuous voluptuary, Nigella Lawson.  I remember it well because I was thunderstruck when I first saw this gorgeous creature mixing and stirring and licking spoons in the most languorous way, making bedroom eyes at the camera in her kitchen.  Even though I’m a heterosexual woman with a healthy love of men, I also love to observe beautiful women, and I will admit to having developed a bit of a girl-crush on Nigella.  She and her television show combined so many things that I loved into one very seductive package, made even more seductive because these things didn’t previously seem to fit together: cooking, eating, comfort, beauty, sensuality and sexual allure.  Or at least that’s the way it seemed to me at the time.  Perhaps these things fit together if you were living in another country or in another century (Ancient Greece, for instance); but for an American woman in 2002, they didn’t fit.  Despite the fact that the very bootylicious J.Lo and Beyoncé had arrived on the celebrity scene and were very much in the American consciousness, still, I don’t think you would have seen an American cook on television in 2002, male or female, who had the saucy daring of Nigella, who in one of her more kitschy episodes made one of Elvis Presley’s favorites: a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich.  And who had the audacity to eat it.  On camera (and on her white couch).  Licking her fingers, if I’m recalling correctly, and not even making an apology for the calories or promising to work it off in the gym later.

 

“She eats like no one is looking,” is the way one mesmerized food writer put it after viewing that very episode.  But, of course, Nigella knew we were looking, which is why she wore a lot of clingy sweaters and heaved a good bit of creamy cleavage on her show, and why the whole thing was erotic in a very exhibitionistic way.

 

Oh, how I loved to watch her—even though I was caught up in an intense dieting and exercise frenzy, so frightened of turning forty that I was doing two five-mile walks a day and an hour of pilates on top of it.  Though watching her show didn’t really change my habits at the time, what it did do for me was change my notions about beauty in a way that all of the conversations that were being bandied about on the subject of body image back then—all of the magazine and newspaper writers who nattered on about our need to realign our media towards showing women with “real” and “healthy” bodies—did not.  I had to see it for myself.  I had to fall in love with Nigella Lawson to see that beauty does, indeed, come in all sorts of packages.  Mostly, I realize now, it comes in the package labeled “attitude”: Nigella’s sexy, playful, engaging style won me over as much as her sultry raven-haired looks or her Rubenesque figure.  But seeing her is what made me realize that it is a package anyone can own, thin or thick or in-between.

 

I don’t know whether Nigella’s cooking shows are still being shown on American cable, since I decided to scrap all but the most basic cable channels of my television service last year.  Nonetheless, she is still very much a figure that has stayed on my mind, because, after spending a lot of time recently wearing Serge Lutens Arabie and thinking about how to describe the experience of wearing this scent, it is Nigella’s zaftig beauty and sensuous, sybaritic nature that springs to mind.

 

Yes, I realize I’m in the minority of perfume bloggers who love Arabie, and that most find this Serge creation to be overwrought: a beastly mélange of spices.  The few bloggers whom I recall as admiring it (and I can count them on one hand) are mainly men, and maybe that explains why this is one of the scents that my husband has, without solicitation, inquired about and complimented me on; it might be a scent that appeals more to gents.  In fact, it wasn’t love at first sniff for me, either.  I first tried it last fall when it came as a sample with a perfume order, and it reminded me of mulled wine; I felt like I should be celebrating winter solstice and drinking glogg when I wore it.  It didn’t match my expectations of what a perfume should smell like: it didn’t smell perfumey in the way of most orientals, and, aside from a bit of an armpit cumin note, there was nothing interestingly naughty or animalic about it either.  It was just overwhelmingly gourmandy.  And yet I kept creeping back to it, hankering for it after the sample was used up.  I tried to dismiss it and found myself thinking about it for months.  Finally, a few weeks ago, I ordered a decant just to satisfy my curiosity and hopefully put to rest my strange infatuation with it.

 

Cedar, sandalwood, candied mandarin peel, dried figs, dates, cumin, nutmeg, clove, balsamic resins, Tonka bean, Siamese benzoin and myrrh.  Those are the fragrance notes for Arabie as listed by the description on LuckyScent.com, though the Serge Lutens packaging literature also includes “Russian leather” in its notes.  I can’t say I smell the leather, but Arabie’s dense marriage of spices, woods, and fruits does indeed seem rather reminiscent to me of Russia.  Or more specifically, of Russian foods, like dried fruit compote or a Russian fruit cake.  It is a fairly linear scent, but one that has been made so full and round with its zaftig spices that wearing it seems a very decadent statement.  And, I like that.

 

In fact, I love it.  I don’t care that this scent smells of the spices of winter—of holiday wines and dried fruits.  It is summer, yes, I know, and I am sooo loving it.  Maybe I have the kind of skin that tames beastly perfumes, or maybe my nose isn’t as sensitive as others, or maybe the fact that I work at home in an open flowing space, instead of the cramped confines of a office, is what accounts for why I enjoy it and others don’t.  I really don’t know the reason, but to me, Arabie truly does embody what spice is all about, both in culinary and perfume terms: the dramatic transformation of something plain or mundane into something extraordinarily sumptuous.

 

It’s a lesson I learned, in part, by watching Nigella Lawson.  And it’s a lesson I’m reminded of every time I smell Arabie.

 

Serge Lutens Arabie is available at BeautyHabit.com, LuckyScent.com, and Aedes.com (as well as a number of high-end department stores), $120 for 50 ml.

Photo of Nigella Lawson is from The Syney Herald online (SMH.com).
 
Posted by Suzanne Keller, 6/16/2008.   

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