Thursday 12 November 2015


Workshops are nothing new when it comes to fragrance, and having been "lucky" enough to attend a lot in my time the thought of another usually fills me with absolute terror. However, when I saw that Serge Lutens was going to be starting one at their Palais Royal boutique in Paris it was a must. Luckily I was already going to be in the city for three days so managed to book a place with their expert, Léa Murati. I admit, it was with some trepidation that I handed myself over. Would this be just another selling exercise, or would I actually come away having discovered something new about Serge Lutens?

The Palais Royal boutique has to be one of the most atmospheric environments to smell perfumes I have ever had the pleasure to visit. With a sympathetic renovation and a Moroccan inspired interior, Serge Lutens has created a home away from home for himself, and allows us to share it. Dominating the salon is the cast iron spiral staircase that takes you up to the private area, and it is here that the Olfactory Workshop takes place. Usually reserved for Serge himself to court the press, it provides the perfect space to discover the man and his creations.

The workshop can normally accommodate up to eight people comfortably, but on this occasion it was just Léa and myself. The first thing to make clear is that this journey uses the ENTIRE fragrance catalogue of Serge Lutens, from his early Shiseido days right through to his latest range, Section d'Or. You can hop on and hop off at any point if there is something which particularly interests you, and with Léa as your guide then there definitely will be.

You start by talking about Serge's early career and influences, what brought him to the world of fragrance, and what new fascinations are determining his current direction. His love of Morocco is evident from the boutique but there is so much more. Forgotten amber in cedarwood boxes, alternative versions of Féminité du Bois and an extraordinary use of spices are just some of the highlights of the session. Over chocolate coated candied orange we discovered, through his fragrances, the gentle side of Serge but also explored the darker, more dangerous aspects of this fascinating man.

What is so refreshing is that Léa asks you what you're particularly interested in exploring. A great shortcut, and for me it was straight to leather and iris. So did I go home with anything? Yes, as soon as I smelt it I knew that I had to have Cuir Mauresque. A most beautifully amber enriched leather with delicate floral notes. No iris, but a breathy musk to give some space. The hour felt both expansive and also painfully short at the same time, so I may be challenging Léa to a rematch the next time I'm in Paris. The one hour workshop is free, but you need to book it in advance by emailing at the Palais Royal boutique.


  1. Replies
    1. You'll have a wonderful time, and the candied orange is beautiful! Remember to subscribe to my newsletter for your chance to win a bottle of Je Reviews Couture. Stephan

  2. It must have been an amazing experience. I still have a small Serge Lutens' booklet, simply called Perfumes. It goes back to the days when he only had 4 or 5 scents in his non exclusive line. My first ever Lutens' scent was Arabie, that I bought in Harvey Nichols in Leeds, that's when I picked up the booklet.

    1. Hello Barry, it's a shame that they don't do this workshop anymore because it really was a wonderful experience. Best, Stephan