Like the name states, Serge Lutens Chêne is an oak fragrance. Years ago when I tried Chêne, I liked it but I dismissed it as a simple fragrance. Trying it now, it’s simple in the way that a soliflore could be called simple (which I’d argue because I don’t find soliflores “simple”). The fragrance emphasizes a single note but there’s nothing simple about that.
Chêne opens as cedar shavings and an astringent raspberry-infused drinking vinegars. My grandmother used to make us drink her homemade concoctions of drinking vinegar for “health”¹. Over the past few years, shrubs have became popular at overpriced bars mixed with spirits (because nothing in this world is sacred). I still drink vinegar teas daily. My grandmother has said this is why I always had nice skin. I drink it out of habit and because I love the flavor.
Back to Chêne…As the scent wears, it starts to remind me of stewed fruits and rum aging in oak barrels. It’s like that classic Serge Lutens-ish “stewed fruits” with molasses, Cabernet Sauvignon and oak. The dry-down further showcases the oak. But, there’s an addition of a dry, sweet immortelle and beeswax with dried fennel seed. And the cedar shavings come back for an encore. The dry down is dry woods.
Chêne is tannic oak. It’s aged barrels. And even though it’s a fragrance built on one theme (oak), it’s as complex as aged wine.
Notes listed include cedar crystals, wood sap, black thyme, oak, immortelle, beeswax, silver birch, rum absolute and tonka bean. Launched in 2004. PERFUMER: Christopher Sheldrake
You need to try Chêne if you are looking for an oak fragrance or woodsy scent. Or if you like perfumes like Fueguia Beagle, Ginestet Le Boise, Raw Spirit Winter Oak, MiN Scent Stories Barrel and/or Naomi Goodsir Cuir Velours.
Projection and longevity are average.
The 2.5 oz bell jar retails for $300 at Serge Lutens. It’s a “Palais Royal Exclusive”.
Victoria’s Final EauPINION – Oak wine barrels. I haven’t worn an oak-centric fragrance better than this.
¹I am not 500 years old or raised during Prohibition. Neither was my grandmother. She was a fan of the old school recipes. It’s like she had a cultural memory of every recipe her ancestors made before her.
Want more reviews? Try…
Eiderdown Press – Scenting Peter O’Toole
*Sample purchased by me. Product pic from the brand. Jean Peters pic from www.fanpix.net.