Skip to main content

De Profundis – Get in the know…- September 16, 2013 New Fragrance Listing

Photo - Wikipedia - painting by James McNeill Whistler - Nocturne

Savvy perfumenichers know that they can always contact us here at the Niche about fragrances they want to try but don’t see available in our Decant Store. And while we don’t have all the frags we get requests for, more often than not we do.

One of the fragrances we get many requests for is De Profundis by Serge Lutens. So what is it about this frag that compels people to write in and ask for it? Perhaps it’s the description on the Lutens website: "As long as I'm alive, so is my Death." Every hero on a quest for glory is racing towards the proof of his mortality. The scent is chrysanthemums and incense."

Perhaps they read about it on another blog, like Grain de Musc: De Profundis takes its name from Oscar Wilde’s letter to Alfred Douglas written in prison as well as Baudelaire’s “De Profundis Clamavi” (“Out of the Depths Have I Cried). It is built around the funereal chrysanthemum and, fatally, incense. The potion itself takes on the emblematic colour of the Decadents -- and of ink, to drive home the literary point --, "the color violet (love restrained, mysterious and veiled; the canoness' color)", wrote Baudelaire, veering towards the ultraviolet which is the only light capable of illuminating black. Excerpt from the press text:

“What if the hearse were taking the deceased, surrounded by abundant flourish, to a final resting place in France, and leading altar boys, priest, undertaker, beadle and grave-diggers to some sort of celebration where they could indulge gleefully in vice? Now that would be divine!”

I really don’t know the reason why people are ordering it offline, but I do know why I love De Profundis and it’s time to let all the other perfumenichers know we have it.

It was the colour of De Profundis that first got my attention when I saw it at Les Salons du Palais Royal in Paris. A beautiful, otherworldly shade of violet, it compelled me to smell the juice and when I did, I was so moved by the fragrance that I asked about it.

fragrantica.com - Serge Lutens De Profundis bell jar

After a few seconds into the out-of-the-depths-life-and-death back story, my eyes glazed over. I just wanted to smell it and when I did, I realized that the abstract back story is essential to the composition of the fragrance, but not to the pleasure of it.

De Profundis is designed to be experienced so it’s difficult to pick individual notes out – which only makes it more intriguing to me. On me, De Profundis opens with a crisp green note, followed by blue flowers – bluebells, hyacinth and violet that extend to a lush bouquet of chrysanthemum and indolic white flowers – I smell lily of the valley. There’s also a bitterness here too and an animalic note that plays off the florals and reign in any sweetness. At the base, woods and incense weave through the flowers making the drydown rich and leaving you with the desire of wanting to smell this and only this for a long time.     

I’m sure a case can be made for how De Profundis interprets the big issues of life, death, hope and redemption and that can be a fun game to play but because it is so abstract, it won’t appeal to everybody, but my nose wants more of it. Often.

Now you can be a savvy perfumenicher too, and order De Profundis from our Decant Store. Decants are $7.00.