Serge Lutens’ Gris Clair perfume breaks all of my fragrance rules, but I can’t get enough of it.
I am, by all accounts, a girl who likes to follow the rules. I’m OK with the rules. I’d even go as far as to say that I like them. Growing up, I was by no means a perfect kid, but I understood that no meant no, it’s time for bed meant that it was time for bed, and “no, you can’t paint the dog’s toenails,” meant that I’d better put away that bottle of nail polish, pronto.
As an adult who makes her own money and pays her own bills, I’ve reached a point in my life where I get to make my own rules. Some of those include no eating crackers in bed, no watching more than four episodes of Orange Is the New Black in a row, and no falling in love with gay, married, or otherwise emotionally unavailable men. (That last one I’m still working on, to be honest.)
When it comes to buying perfume, I’m a stickler for following a relatively lengthy list of self-mandated rules. I don’t buy scents that have a heavy vanilla note, for example. Gourmand scents are off the table, as is anything too sweet or fruity unless the fruit scent is apple or peach, which are both fair game. I don’t wear incense or spicy scents, or anything that could possibly be misconstrued as cologne (not that I think women shouldn’t wear scents that are traditionally marketed toward men, because that’s bullshit, obviously, but I just prefer a very feminine scent for myself). I also like a salty, oceanic fragrance–think Bobbi Brown’s Beach or Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino–or anything floral. Rose notes are a particular favorite, but not lavender. Never lavender.
So imagine my surprise when, during a recent trip to Sephora, I fell in love with a bottle of lavender-heavy, incense-laced, super-masculine perfume. I was just going about my business, casually smelling every single scent I could get my hands on when one stopped me dead in my tracks. It was, no word of a lie, unlike any perfume I had ever smelled before.
The scent is called Gris Clair, and it’s made by French photographer, filmmaker, designer, and perfumer Serge Lutens. Directly out of the sample bottle, Gris Clair smelled like… Smoke. Not cigarette smoke, thank God, but like… What I’d imagine Chuck Bass’s super upscale gentlemen’s club would smell like. (Don’t pretend you don’t know exactly what I’m talking about!) When I sprayed the scent on my wrist, it opened with a super-strong lavender note, which would normally send me running for the hills, but in this case, was absolutely lovely. The lavender slowly faded to Chuck Bass’s gentlemen’s club smokiness, tinged with a soft spice and the faintest hint of citrus at the end.
I could not, for the life of me, stop smelling my wrist. I smelled like a sexy, spicy lady of the night who had just lit something enormous on fire and stuck around long enough to watch it burn. For a girl who normally smells like she just took a bath in sunscreen, this was uncharted territory–but I loved it.
Even though I was drunk in love with Gris Clair, I decided not to buy a bottle that afternoon. At $120 a pop, they don’t come cheap, and I needed to make sure what I was experiencing was real, true, I wanna wear you everyday kind of love, and not just a fleeting infatuation. Now, this next part I’m not proud of, but the fact of the matter is that I asked three different Sephora employees for samples of Gris Clair. In my defense, one sample simply would not have cut it. I needed to bathe in this stuff for a solid week to know my love was real.
And bathe, I did! And still, I love it. I’ve worn Gris Clair for the past seven days and haven’t once gotten sick of it. I also haven’t gotten many compliments, to be perfectly honest–my sister said it smelled “straight up like cologne,” and a friend said it was “way too smoky” for her taste, but guess what? Wearing perfume to please other people has never been one of my rules. I’m still in love with Gris Clair, and I’m planning on picking up a full-sized bottle later today.
So, here’s my question for you: do you have any “rules” when it comes to buying and wearing perfume? Have you ever fallen in love with a scent that breaks all of those rules? Or have you ever bought a perfume that you thought you’d love, only to discover that you hated it? Tell me all about the fragrances that surprised you in the comments below.