Serge Luten’s L’orpheline (2014)

Serge Lutens L'orpheline © Victor Wong
Serge Lutens L’orpheline © Victor Wong

I don’t know why this tidbit of news that I read from a newspaper gets stuck in my head for almost 30 years: an art teacher takes his class to the museum that is showing an all-red minimalist painting to “protest”; he asks his students to paint their own all-red painting at the museum to mock the museum curator, why he would consider such a simple single-colour painting worthy of exhibition. I knew what the teacher was thinking – the artist pushed his luck with a piece of “art” that probably didn’t take him much effort to create and he succeeded, while all the excellent artwork that took “better” artists years to create didn’t get the admiration they deserved.

I think my first reaction when I smelled Serge Luten’s L’orpheline was probably the same as that art teacher’s – “What? Uncle Serge, you think you can get away with a simple two-note perfume? (Incense and ISO E Super)” However, after wearing and smelling it for a while, I start to get it… it is quite beautiful, elegant and poignant, and there are subtleties in its simplicity. Maybe that’s why it’s called “The Orphan?” – you are born unprivileged, and you have to work very hard with the very little that you have to impress and achieve, and the admiration from others all goes to the perseverance and the struggling, not the work the orphan has accomplished?

Well, a red painting is still a red painting, I can only give the artist credit for designing a mood and an awe, but the appreciation of the artwork, to me at least, is limited, and cannot be compared to, say, The Coronation of Napoleon.

I wonder, if it was not Serge Lutens who released this perfume but a new start up perfume company, would it get the same reception?

Author: Victor Wong

A perfume lover - niche, designer, modern, vintage, I love them all. I am also the owner of Zoologist Perfumes, a small Canadian perfume house. Please visit or for more info!

2 thoughts on “Serge Luten’s L’orpheline (2014)”

  1. I have yet to try this new Lutens. It has not garnered much praise, that I have read about. And I agree with you about paintings….the painting that stopped me dead in my tracks at the Louvre, was The Coronation of Napoleon. The sheer size alone blew my mind. And the detail!! I like my perfumes to be like that, too. Love your succinct review. You don’t mince words, or go on and on, I appreciate that in this busy world. And I still have a very good feeling for what you are describing.


  2. If I am not a perfume hoarder, I probably will just leave it alone at the shop after sniffing it the first time. I got nothing out of it… but I am a sucker. I trust Serge Lutens would not put crap in the market that easily. It’s not a bad scent at all, in fact quite lovely, but one needs to understand that it is a minimalist perfume.

    And oh yes, he Coronation of Napoleon is the bomb!!


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