Un Lys by Christopher Sheldrake for Serge Lutens 1997

Guest post by Madeleine
Hello fellow perfumaholics. I hope you enjoy my story today on one of my favourite scents.

Un Lys by Christopher Sheldrake for Serge Lutens (1997)

UnLys FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords on one line:
Lily, musk and vanilla
Many years ago, a long, long time before I became a perfumista and perhaps even before the advent of perfume blogging, I found an exquisite bottle of fragrance in a local boutique. It was housed in the most elegant rectangular bottle I’d ever seen and emblazoned with a peculiar name: Serge Lutens. It was called Un Lys.
I fell in love with its clear bright beauty immediately. It was simply the best thing I had ever smelled. Its price tag, however, was another matter.  (You see, back then, I thought that anything over $100 way just way, waaay too much money to spend on a bottle of perfume. How things have changed!) I winced at the price, stood there for a while, decided against it and left. And I then promptly forgot about it.
Fast forward some years later, and it was actually another lily perfume, the magnificent Lys Mediterrannee that sent me tumbling down the rabbit hole of full-blown perfume obsession. Its hold on me was so great, that for years, I did not think I needed another lily fragrance in my collection.
girlNlily mi9Photo Stolen mi9
However, earlier this year, Un Lys started calling my name again. I ordered a bottle, completely unsniffed besides that brief, but powerful encounter many years ago.
Second time around, Un Lys took her time to ensconce me with her charms. I pulled it out one steamy Sydney morning thinking it would be the perfect accompaniment to a summery Saturday. But now, compared to Lys Med’s spicy voluptuousness, Un Lys struck me as rather wan, pale and uninteresting but therein lies the rub, Un Lys’ lack of complexity is its beauty and its simplicity is its mark of exquisiteness. Whereas Lys Med emphasises the tropical, heady, vampy vibe of the lily and others, like Donna Karan Gold, emphasise its green qualities, Un Lys is aims to be no more than an olfactory portrait of the flower. It needs no adornments and no bells and whistles to amplify its serene and quiet beauty.
field-of-lily travelizationPhoto Stolen travelization
Further reading BoisDeJasmin and NowSmellThis
ThePerfumeShoppe sends 50ml to the world $140 before shipping
SurrenderToChance starts at $4/.5ml
Till next time.

16 comments on “Un Lys by Christopher Sheldrake for Serge Lutens 1997

  1. Dear Madeliene

    The more The Dandy wanders in the olfactory world, the more he feels that some kind of ESP must exist between perfumed folk.

    Only this weekend I included Le Lys on a list of fragrances of remembrance – fragrances that allow us to access memories of the people and places of the past. Then here today, this tender piece.

    How uncanny. Spooky even a certain Dame might say!.

    In every way your words…”lack of complexity is its beauty and its simplicity is its mark of exquisiteness” sum up this sublime scent sublimely.

    Thank you.

    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • Madeleine says:

      Thanks The Perfumed Dandy!

      How uncanny! Yes, maybe there is ESP among us! It is a sublime and evocative scent.



  2. smellythoughts says:

    Beautiful write up M! I’m craving a new lily desperately – Malle’s Lys is a true beauty but you’re right, the simplicity of this one is gorgeous – there are only certain florals I’m comfortable wearing in such a simple composition (rose isn’t one of them) – and this lily is pretty much a perfect example.
    Thanks for the reminder of how lovely it is 😀

    • Madeleine says:

      My pleasure smellythoughts!

      And thank you for a lovely comment. Yes, I’m like you with florals and especially rose but Un Lys is different and a reminder that simple is sometimes best.


  3. FeralJasmine says:

    So delighted to read this evocative write-up of one of my favorites. I’m increasingly interested in seeing what a good perfumer can do with a simple concept and a few simple notes. I’m curious about Margot Elena’s Library of Flowers, each of which supposedly has three notes. I haven’t tried any of them yet. Have any of you? But I think the concept is lovely, like serving perfect raspberries by themselves for dessert.

    • Madeleine says:

      Thank you FeralJasmine!
      So glad you liked it. I haven’t tried Library of Flowers but you have got me curious!
      And I love fresh raspberries: another one of life’s simple pleasures!


  4. cookie queen says:

    Madeleine! Such a nice review of a lovely perfume. I have the Bell Jar. Satisfied smirk. 🙂 You know what? I got it from my husband last May for Mother’s Day. He opened a SL account and ordered it all in secret. I was gobsmacked. He had liked the wax sample so much ……… Although it is simple, it is Lutens pure. Happy Easter!
    Love CQ xxxxxx

  5. fleurdelys says:

    Recently I smelled Un Lys for the first time. Of course, I expected lily, and what I got was…lily of the valley! Not complaining, since LOV is one of my favorite notes. Do you get the same impression? Since Diorissimo will soon be reformulated beyond recognition, I need to find a replacement, and I think Un Lys could be a contender.

    • Madeleine says:

      Hi fleurdelys,

      I find Un Lys to be pure lily but perhaps the musk and vanilla bring out an LOTV vibe on your skin. Diorissimo is gorgeous in original formulation but not now. You may also want to try Debut by DelRae or Coty Muguet de Bois for terrific LOTV frags.


      • fleurdelys says:

        Coty’s MdB was a favorite when I was a kid, but now it goes sour on my skin. I’m sure the formula has been continually cheapened over the years. Too bad, because it was THE LOV fragrance for those who couldn’t afford (or didn’t know about!) Diorissimo. Thanks for the Debut suggestion, not familiar with it but will seek it out!

  6. brie says:

    I have only smelled a few lutens and this was one of them..beautiful!
    And how I wish I were now in that meadow!!!

  7. laniersmith says:

    I am opening my nose to more lilies these days and this sounds just gorgeous to me.

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