Thursday, September 8, 2011

De Profundis

By Asali

I can’t remember anticipating a Serge Lutens release as much as this for a long while. The name of De Profundis had captured my imagination well before the beautiful bell jar with the purple juice arrived in its black box. Describing De Profundis, M. Lutens once again reached Sfinxish heights, referencing certain periods of French and English literature and its flirtatious fascination with death.
I find it is a fragrance full of quiet surprises on every corner you turn with it, from the very first green notes of the funeral march, to the last sweet whispers from beyond. Much has been written about the resemblance to funeral wreaths, church yards and mourning veils, but to me it’s not gothic and dark, if any connection to these, it’s more like a remembrance, a peaceful celebration, a sanctuary. But having said that, I don’t feel that the fragrance has limitations as such, I could certainly wear it often. Perhaps because it’s a quiet, all be it persistent, Serge. De Profundis Clamavi might translate as I shouted from the depths, but there is never any shouting from De Profundis EdP.

I like the opening of the green yet friendly, chrysanthemums followed by the cool violet and rest of the bouquet, which together with the aldehydes are all together more extrovert and less melancholic than I would have expected. The flowers have a bit of own spiciness and it feels like some musk works its way into the bouquet as the violet softly withers from the perfume. I get the decided feeling that the fragrance itself yearns and beseeches you to think of the violet, once gone, like an echo. There is incense but I find it only detectable as a feeling of calm and quiet, it isn’t a dominant note, and yet it almost feels like it is a main player of the fragrance because of the serenity it emits. Is it perhaps some chamomile which reinforces that sensation of peacefulness as the perfume slowly descends into the base? This is richer than one would have expected of the opening and the aldehydic flowers, yes, it turns out to surprise by its Lutenesque familiarity. Like a last caress, it whispers of spices and warmth.

I imagined many different poems and poets, before receiving De Profundis, but the one I’d like to share with you that I find to be the closest poetic soundtrack is by Rainer Maria Rilke and called Traumgekrönt.


Das war der Tag der weißen Chrysanthemen,
Mir bangte fast vor seiner Pracht...
Und dann, dann kamst du mir die Seele nehmen
Tief in der Nacht.

Mir war so bang, und du kamst lieb und leise,
Ich hatte grad im Traum an dich gedacht.
Du kamst, und leis’ wie eine Märchenweise
Erklang die Nacht.

Crowned with dreams
That was the day of the white chrysanthemums,
Its splendor almost frightened me,
And then, then you came to take my soul
At the dead of night.

I was so frightened, and you came sweetly and gently
I had been thinking of you in my dreams.
You came, and soft as a fairy tune
The night resounded.


  1. Wow, De Profundis sounds enchanting! I can't wait to try it. :)

  2. nažalost ne znam ovaj parfem, ali volim Rainer Maria Rilke, i samo da te pozdravim! :)

  3. Carrie, I think it sounds enchanting too! :) Can't wait to try it.

    P.S. Asali was very kind and organized a split. Yeey! :)

  4. Wineandfood4u, nažalost, ni ja ga još ne poznajem, ali slijedeći tjedan vjerojatno budem jer mi stiže dekantić. Jedva čekam!
    Serge Lutens mi je jedna od najdražih linija (šteta kaj se najbolji parfemi iz linije mogu kupiti samo u Parizu)...

    P.S. Vidla sam da je na Siciliji bilo ukusno. :)

  5. Thanks a lot Carrie, I do hope you will :-)

  6. Wonderful review Asali, I can't say I was eager for a chrysanthemum perfume but you make it sound intriguing! Plus you've inspired me to learn more about Rilke's poetry, which is something I've been meaning to do for ages, so thank-you.


  7. Hi Tara, Thank you and about Rilke, you're most welcome. I hope you'll enjoy both:-) I understand what you're saying about the chrysanthemum, and in deed a floral bouquet without all the usual suspects might take some time to get use to? Although I love almost all fragrances from SL, it doesn't mean that some of them aren't very challenging, and that some took longer to love than others :-)

  8. I feel so peaceful after reading your tender review of this, Asali. There aren't too many chrysanthemum perfumes are there? It's sort of an odd smelling flower, but one that makes sense for the theme of this fragrance.

  9. This is one of those perfumes that I do not want to try/wear because of the name and the theme. I do not think that death, sorrow, grief is something that should be exploited by the commercial perfume creation (I would be fine with perfume as an art form, something that won't be sold in a store).
    I wish SL would have chosen a different name for his creation: I like the color of the juice and I'm curious about those notes. Well, there will be other perfumes for me.

    ~ Undina ~

  10. Suzanne, that is very sweet of you to say, I appreciate it very much. I can't think of another perfume that makes use of chrysanthemum like De Profundis, that is; which doesn't add rose fx. I think in particular the 'green' of the flower is well used here.I really do like the floral bouquet in this, as you say, it sort of fits.

  11. Hi Undina, I get your point, but personally I don't feel manipulated, and to me it's not about an exploitation of sorrow and death. I gather the inspiration came from certain literature's fascination with death, which to me is completely different. I believe that SL often looks for inspiration in poetry and prose, and I find many works of great beauty concerning this theme. I also happen to like the name. But of course you're right, there are many other perfumes out there, so as I think you feel strongly about this, you should probably skip this one. The colour is truly great!

  12. I love Rilke, thanks for this review, must try the perfume if it reminded you of the German Bard....

  13. Hi Marla, thanks for stopping by and sharing the love for Rilke. Yes, I think you should definitely sniff DP, and do let me know if the comparison works for you.