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De Profundis

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Launched in 2011, De Profundis by Serge Lutens is part of the Paris exclusives line and is available only at Les Salons du Palais Royal in Paris.

De Profundis translates from Latin as "from the depths" and the perfume is named for the letter Oscar Wilde wrote to Alfred Douglas while he was in prison and was also inspired by Baudelaire’s poem “De Profundis Clamavi” (“Out of the Depths Have I Cried).

It is an abstract interpretation of some pretty big issues: life, death, hope and redemption. As Lutens says of De Profundis on his 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 of chrysanthemums and incense.

The story is intriguing, but what first drew me to  De Profundis when I saw it at Les Salons du Palais Royal in Paris was the colour of it. It is a beautiful, otherworldly shade of violet that it compelled me to smell the juice and when I did, I was so moved by the fragrance that I asked about it. 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.

Notes: green note, bluebells, hyacinth, violet, chrysanthemum, lily of the valley, chamomile, dried fruits, woods and incense

Type: EdP

Parfumeur: Christopher Sheldrake

Price: $7.00