De Profundis by Christopher Sheldrake for Serge Lutens 2011

Guest Post by Madeleine
Hello everyone! Hope you’ve all been well and had a lovely fragrant month.
Today’s post is part review and part confessional. The confession is that, until recently, I have somewhat overlooked the Serge Lutens line. Pre-perfumista days, I tried Fleurs D’Oranger and thought it was nice, but a little too much for me at a time when Marc Jacobs was my perfume of choice.  Once on my perfumista journey, I tried a few, but the whole stewed fruits and woods thing that Serge Lutens is famous for scared me a little. Somehow, I also got busy trying other things and the rest is history. Thankfully, I’ve now righted my transgression and have been delving into Serge’s world quite seriously of late, so much so that it now ranks as my favourite line with as many full bottle wants as the line which incited my passion – Frederic Malle.
Photo Stolen marathi.wunderground
Exploring Serge has also been a wonderfully informative journey. The perfumes I thought I would like and that get a lot of love in the blogosphere – Chergui, Ambre Sultan – simply don’t work on me. However, Serge’s weirder florals that I’ve tested with ambivalence are the ones I’ve swooned over and are ones that simply bloom on my skin. These include Datura Noir, Vitriol D’Oeillet and the magnificent Paris exclusive, De Profundis.

De Profundis by Serge Lutens

Photo Stolen zuzafun

De Profundis is a composition based on chrysanthemum, a flower traditionally associated with funerals and death. The name, translated from Latin means “out of the depths” or “a cry of appeal expressing one’s deepest feelings of sorrow or anguish”.  Indeed, literary and biblical references of the term emphasise feelings of melancholy and despair: Oscar Wilde’s letter written during his imprisonment, Christina Rossetti’s poem and Psalm 130, which starts with the line: “From the depths, I have cried out to you, O Lord”.
The copy accompanying the release also emphasises morbidity, stating: “the chrysanthemum invites Death to leave the cemetery and offer us its flower.” For me, however, this fragrance is not so much about death, but a story about the cycle of a complete flower, from the first signs of buds to petals bruising, brown and overripe.
 De Profundis Serge Lutens for women and men
Photo stolen from Fragrantica.
De Profundis’ notes are chrysanthemum flower with additional notes of violets, green and earthy notes.
The perfume’s opening is very sumptuous, green and radiant. It is the smell of a garden after a winter’s storm, a cold wind against dew on stems, bright and chilly. It is reminiscent of other green florals, but here the green notes are voluptuous and full, not austere or astringent in nature. The vivacious opening is tempered by the slight pepperiness of the chrysanthemum and powderiness of violets.
The composition is fairly linear in character, but as it warms on the skin, the wood notes become more prominent, giving the perfume a richness and earthy feel.  It becomes a portrait of flowers left in their vase too long, their blooms now pale and wan, the stems slightly fetid and decaying.
Photo Stolen paranoias
But De Profundis is not nearly as melancholy or moody as I expected. Whilst somewhat haunting, it still manages to have a fresh, sparkling quality that is joyful and bright. What I love most about it is that it full of contradictions: bright but dark, happy but sombre, elegant but vampy, restrained but voluptuous.
De Profundis is a must try for anyone who likes green scents or for those who appreciate some of the stranger Serge florals.  For me, it’s very much full bottle worthy. Mr M and I are now hatching a plan to try and secure one of those bell jars from Paris.
For other reviews, please see Bois de Jasmin, Perfume Posse, and The Non-Blonde
Samples available from Surrender to Chance starting at $4/ml
Have you tried De Profundis? What are some of the more bizarre Lutens creations that have worked for you? Is there a fragrance line that you’ve overlooked and then come to love?
With much love till next time!
Madeleine x

29 comments on “De Profundis by Christopher Sheldrake for Serge Lutens 2011

  1. Hey Madeleine,
    I love your work on this one and you have inspired me to grab a spritz when in town next,
    Portia xx

  2. Christos says:

    You are spot on on your description of this. I too didn’t find it that morbid and I also like almost everything Serge Lutens but I think his florals are sheer perfection. I love wearing Sarrasins which is supposed to be this beastly jasmine, but on me smells like a real jasmine garden. It is one of my all-time-favourite comfort smells

    • Madeleine says:

      Hi Christos,

      Many thanks. I too was rather surprised when I tried it given it is chrysanthemum and the copy surrounding it.

      Serge’s florals are perfection! I just can’t believe they have been under my radar for so long. I’m still in two minds about Sarrasins, I prefer A La Nuit for my Serge jasmine kick right now, but Sarrasins deserves more testing.


  3. Dionne says:

    I haven’t tried De Profundis yet, as I’m where you used to be: not paying a lot of attention to the SL line. It’s not so much that I mind the stewed fruits and woods thing (I love FdB), it’s more along the lines of there-are-so-many-it’s -overwhelming-and-they’re-expensive-to-sample-and-difficult-to-acquire. I have tried ISM, Bas de Soie, Rahat Loukhoum, Borneo 1834, Daim Blond and L’Eau (blearrgh!), but only FdB grabbed my heartstrings. Eventually I’ll delve into the line more.

    • Madeleine says:

      Hi Dionne,

      I hear you. Once I decided to delve in, I too felt it was overwhelming. I just started with samples of A La Nuit and Fleurs D’Oranger and slowly, slowly made my way through the rest. What made it easier is that the export ones are actually sold here, so I could go and spritz at my leisure.

      I haven’t tried the ones you have mentioned yet, but looking forward to Bas De Soie and Rahat Loukhoum.



  4. Tarleisio says:

    Of all the houses I can blame for my perilous slide into niche, Serge Lutens comes in at the very top spot. I distinctly remember (how I heard, I don’t know) asking about them in 2003, curious about perfumes that were ‘bottled emotions’. It wasn’t until 2009 (and some seriously wimpy dithering on my part) that I finally summoned up the courage to request ‘Les Petits Livres’ – the wax sample booklets of his Palais Royal exclusive line. If there were a moment I could point to when my nose, my life and absolutely everything! changed – it would be the day they arrived! 😉 Since then, I’ve been rather…rabid, maybe? 😉 Stewed fruits, wood, carnivorous, flesh-eating flowers, Moroccan spice markets – heaven help me, I’ve loved most of them, alas. In fact, my first FB niche purchase ever to celebrate the completion of my novel was – a bell jar of Fleurs d’Oranger!! So when rumors reached me about a ‘green’ Lutens – my most favorite category of all – I was…sold! Bas de Soie didn’t quite work for me alas, but De Profundis is ethereal and earthy, green and violet, haunting and haunted! It was an instant love. I have a decant coming – and can’t wait! I LOVED your review – and I’m itching to write my own – from the depths, of course!

    • Madeleine says:

      Hi Tarlesio,

      Thank you! What a great story too 🙂 Yes, once you delve, there is no turning back. I think over the past three weeks, I have ordered samples of ALL of the SLs O:.

      I adore FdO now and I am actually wearing it today. I haven’t yet tried Bas de Soie but a sample is on its way. I hope you have lots of fun with the De Profundis decant and looking forward to your review.


  5. smellythoughts says:

    Loved reading your thoughts on this, I have tried a sample of De Profundis long back but have forgotten it mostly, at the time I was too captivated by Tubereuse Criminelle and Sarrasins, the more extreme florals. Vitriol D’Oeillet didn’t work for me but I’m glad to see more love for Datura Noir – I love that.
    Will be sure to try this again properly when I visit the palais royale at the end of the year 🙂 you’ve made it sound even more appealing, although I wish it were a little more melancholy and astringent D: Ah well 😛 I’m just morbid!

    • Madeleine says:

      Hi smellythoughts,

      Yay! Another Datura Noir fan! You might find De Profundis more melancholy than I did. A lot of other people found it more deathly. It’s not really astringent though.

      I am jealous of you goinf to the Palais Royale. Can you believe I was in Paris last year and went everywhere but?? (smacks head!) Now that’s all I want to do.

      Anyway, I hope you *do* enjoy it and that you have a wonderful time there! Would be interested to know what you smell and what you buy.



      • smellythoughts says:

        I love Datura Noir – that tropical suntan lotion vibe that turns all musky and vegetal… mmMmmmMmm..
        No way! Haha, ah well, I’m sure you saw tons of other beautiful stuff.
        To be honest I’ve sampled a lot from the exclusives line and I know I’ll be coming back with La Myrrhe and Iris Silver Mist… depending on funds, I may have to pick up Sarrasins or something else that takes my fancy :’) But yeh, I’ll be sure to try De Profundis again – it seems to have become quite a trendy fragrance at the minute? A lot of people on the forums are slyly mentioning it when before it tended to be slated for being a downturn for Mr.Lutens. Interestinggggggg 😛

  6. masha7 says:

    I love the smell of chrysanthemums, and I’ve been wanting so much to try this!! One day I will. Also, it’s purple, my favorite color. I love Bas de Soie and bought a bottle in Paris exactly 5 minutes after trying it, so I do love his “cold” scents. Great review!

    • Madeleine says:

      Hi masha,

      Thank you! Funny, I didn’t think chrysanthemums had much of a smell, but after trying this, I went to a florist and sniffed some. They do smell gorgeous.

      It is a great colour isn’t it? Bas de Soie is coming my way, I hope to love that too.

      Madeleine x

  7. sinnerman01 says:

    Awesome post today ! It’s amazing the reactions and interpretations u can have with a SL ! I own 3 now and I will own more as they come into my life through reading , testing and becoming aware they even exist ! They are so pricey thou , I don’t even know what a “bell jar would cost” ? But worth every single penny. I’m interested now in this one on your recommendation , it was superbly reviewed !

    • Madeleine says:


      Thank you for the lovely comments! It is amazing isn’t it? They are quite different on different people and different at different times.

      I know that you have TC, which others do you own?

      Please do try it. Even if you don’t like it, it is a very interesting, unusual and well done.

      A bell jar costs EUR125, so around $150, which is not *too* bad.

      Madeleine x

      • sinnerman01 says:

        Wow ! I thought by the look of the bottle in the picture they were 175 ml and would cost an arm, some fingers and your left foot ! That is not bad at all ! I hope u get your as your wish . Here’s how it went ! I blind bought MKK and I’m still getting used to it ! I do like it , but love don’t live here anymore ! You know ?
        And I have Cuir mauresque , wow !!! STUNNING , in fact I wore it to a wedding on sat night and I can still smell it on the corner of my pillow ! TC was child number 3 ! I won’t gush on that one , I know you are born under the sign of tuberose ! What are your opinions on the newest and latest Lutens ?

  8. Ann-Sofie says:

    Beautifully written, a joy to read! I have not tried De Profundis, but the name, the colour of the juice and the bottle makes me want it. And yes, SL and the stewed fruits are bothersome. I have Ambre Sultan and Feminité du Bois and they are kind of erratic – some days they are supreme, other days I smell like a jar of jam after a couple of hours. I do not know why, these variations do not follow any cycle or weather changes or anything, they just change on a whim. Merde, moody french rascals! Well, love them anyway. Congrats on Datura Noir and to be one of the chosen few – I have a sample, and it turned out to be The Scrubber. I can feel the potential though, but on me sadly Datura developes wrong.

    • Madeleine says:

      Thank you Ann-Sofie!

      They are temperamental. I tried Jeux de Peau lastnight and before dinner it was one scent, after it was another completely different fragrance! The moodiness is what makes them beautiful no?

      Yes, I do have good fortune with DN. Even the sales assistant gasped when she smelt it on me. She said: “That’s never smelt good on anyone I know and people find it difficult, but on you it’s really wonderful.”

      My skin is wierd though. Wish, wish wish Ambre Sultan and Chergui worked for me. I shall persist.

      I hope you do get to try De Profundis and that you like it as much as the name, bottle and colour.


  9. Madeleine says:

    Hey Tim,

    Cost aside, how to get them to Oz?? I’m working on it!

    Wow, you blind bought MKK! That’s brave 🙂 Keep it and you might find the love comes back.

    Cuir Mauresque is one I have yet to try properly. TC, well, I am born under the sign of tuberose, but let’s just say that Mr M hates it, so it doesn’t get worn much. He says:

    “Have you got sports liniment on? Oh no, you have just got that horrible perfume on. If TC was a bit softer on the menthol and a bit louder on that gorgeous tuberose drydown, it would be better. Meanwhile, I’m trying to convert Mr M into the wierdies side of SL.

    As for the lastest SLs, patiently awaiting Une Voix Noire and Santal Majuscule. I am testing Jeux de Peau and loving the bready opening……

    Madeleine xx

    • Madeleine says:

      Whoops, that should be “weirder side of SL”. I need another coffee 🙂

      • sinnerman01 says:

        Great to hear your thoughts on these ones ! I am always in Mecca cosmetica and I’m going down the line ! One by one . The thing is the really hook me and I obsess over them till I have them in my hand .
        Im sorry your partner feels this way , I understand , I put it on my partner a few days ago and the menthol plays like trumpets , thou when I wear it is rubbery Tuberose ! Strange … But cool !
        I love having MKK and you are right I will keep it ! It’s fun to pull out and get people’s reaction , I treasure all my fragrances regardless of the love factor !
        Do u still wear Mark Jacobs ? ! I loved his first male offering and “bang” is fantastic ! Great to layer ,
        Your review today has really opened up great conversation snd what could be better than that ah ? Great job 🙂

  10. Ramona says:

    I have been looking to try some more SL fumes, but Luckyscent has only a few available in sample size, which has put a crimp in my SL explorations. I did sample and love Daim Blonde and bought a FB which I really enjoy, and so far have loved my sample of Ambre Sultan, but would like to sample more before deciding what “I just cant live without!”

    I am not a floral fan (at all!) and if there is flowery bits in a fume, it has to be in a low-key supporting actor kind of way. I thought maybe I was missing something because of all the love TC gets, being touted as THE jasmin to beat all jasmines, the pinnacle of jasmin-ness so to speak, and I took a whiff and almost died! Seriously, I’m not talkin’ dying in a tizzy of rapturous olfactory pleasure and stunned wonder- I mean I had Bronchospasms! I just cannot do BIG FLORALs. But your review of THIS sounds great and really tempts me, but then where would I be if I fell head over heels? With no way to get the coveted juice? My heart would break- so maybe its a good thing I havent sampled SL too much- I still have to pay the dang mortgage every month. **sigh**

  11. Ramona says:

    Whoops- I meant TUBEROSE! SHAME on me-told ya I dont like flowers! =P

  12. Madeleine says:

    Hi Ramona,

    Glad you liked the review!

    May I suggest you try Surrender to Chance for samples?

    Or is there a retail outlet near you that sells SL where you can go and spritz for free? 🙂

    I hope you do try De Profundis and like it 🙂


  13. Undina says:

    Hi Madeleine!

    I like your description of De Profundis. I think it’s so unusual and interesting. It’s going to be my first bell jar (as soon as it’s back in stock).

    Interesting that out of all SL perfumes you mentioned only Datura Noir doesns’t work for me. All others are among my favorites. It’s amazing how tastes vary.

    • Madeleine says:

      Hi Undina,

      Thank you! Yes it is interesting and glad you like De Profundis! I hope it’s back in stock soon so you can have your bell jar.

      Madeleine x

      • Madeleine says:


        I don’t wear Marc Jacobs anymore but i should seek it out again. I am currently in Mecca most days now spritzing the SLs like you! Haven’t tried Bang but I shall spritz this weekend.

        M x

  14. Marion says:

    Ooooh gah, I was pontificating along clicked something on my mouse and lost the lot…if you go to the Palais Royal, just buy everything, go large is my motto… but it is possible to sample and split first…, but if you are a perfume junkie there are only a few masterpiece houses to follow; SL is #1

  15. Patty White says:

    This is probably one of my favorite Serges, and I couldn’t figure out how it wasn’t getting the love it deserved for the last year. Guess it is a sleeper hit. 🙂 It just makes me deeply content every time I put it on, Great review!

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