The conifer note is such a tricky bitch to fold into a wearability and even more difficult to incorporate into a sophisticated composition, a hitch rooted in the distance between its material reality (harsh and often inorganic) and emotive northern expectation (holidays, jingle bells), to say nothing of its degradation in the bowels of toilet spray and cleaning products.
FeA wipes all this baggage off the table and presents us with xmas pine’s much hotter southern cousin, deeply tanned and slyly feral, embodied in the aged grove of Monterey Pines that lean out over the sunbaked bay across the road from my house.
While I wouldn't call it a difficult wear a la infamous stablemates Muscs Kublai Khan or Miel de Bois, like many things Lutensian this fume kicks hard in the wrong hands. A hot wrist can ballon it into glorious simplification- just smoky honey rubbed hard into spiced green wood- but the wrong kind of sweat can turn it rank, sending the sweetness nasty and homolactic. I'd caution against the Fille under damp cuffs or on an oily skin in summer. It's also potent and rather tenacious, one spray lasting all day and three turning it into a throat-wringing, Poison-level thug- please don't be tempted.
FeA shows another face when autumn lapses into winter, offering meaningful consolation to those who might despair of their ability to do it justice in warmer weather. I love how it speaks for the neighbouring grove when the trees themselves fall silent, becoming dry to the point of austerity, substituting all that expansive vernal sucre for weathered, ghosting cedar that somehow swings wide of incense, attenuate vanilla and a suggestion of wild thyme and iodine- in short, the smoke of summer’s brighter fire. While there's no real change to the skin scent, colder days tamp that potentially monstrous sillage in an effect like smelling just the sleeping coat of some furred animal rather than the full suite of notes in its active presence. I can’t decide which face I prefer, but am grateful for both.
Fille en Aiguilles-
HOUSE Serge Lutens/ Christopher Sheldrake
STYLE/FLAVOUR Wood/Oriental. Unisex.
DATE OF ISSUE 2009
LISTED NOTES pine needles, vetiver, bay leaf, spices, fruit and incense
ENVIRONMENTAL STATEMENT none.