In an effort to identify and spotlight excellence in perfumery, WWD’s world-class panel of experts reviews promising new fragrances as they come onto the market. This week La Religieuse by Serge Lutens is being examined.
This is a blind test: Panelists are given vials of unidentified scent to judge impartially. Each of them gives a score ranging from 1 (forgettable) to 10 (unforgettable) and the numbers are computed into a final grade. The judges, led by chairman Michael Edwards, also make critiques which are unattributed. Just as the identity of the product is kept secret from the judges to guard against bias, the panelists’ personal opinions are not revealed to encourage candor. The most promising scents are picked for judging and WWD buys the products at retail, like any other consumer.
The Verdict: This is a big floral that knows how to make an entrance, but lacks staying power and ability to grip the imagination.
“Rich, sexy, alluring.”
“Strong flowers with a green note all together. For me it is a kind of déjà vu.”
“A pretty little fragrance. It is very single-noted. Not very long lasting; it is more like a body spray than a perfume.”
“Light and shade, white flowers and dark notes: an interesting duet but its execution needs a frisson of excitement to make it dance on the skin.”
“This fragrance is extremely déjà vu, with no special twist on its own.”
“Pleasant — apart from a few sharp edges — but there is not much to grab the imagination.”
“Good top notes, bare drydown. For as long as it lasts, it’s a skillful but ultimately directionless medley.”
“A classic modernized, elegant and niche. It reveals its true nature on-skin.”
“Strong and intoxicating floralcy, falling into an old lady soapy American fragrance. Not modern at all.”
“The image this creates in my mind is of backstage at the theatre, before the show: actresses wielding powder puffs applying their makeup, polishing their nails to a sleek crimson veneer — while a wilting bouquet of jasmine left over from last night’s accolades droops in the corner.”
“Like a diva a few years beyond her prime, this big, spicy floral still knows how to steal a scene. Its rich, heady and familiar quality thumbs its nose at modernity or trends.”
ABOUT THE TEST AND JUDGES: This is a blind test, panelists are given vials of unidentified scent to judge impartially. Each of them gives a score ranging from 1 (forgettable) to 10 (unforgettable) and the numbers are computed into a final grade. The judges, led by chairman Michael Edwards, also make critiques, which are unattributed to encourage candor. The most promising scents are picked for judging in an effort to find and showcase excellence. WWD buys the products at retail, like any other consumer. The esteemed judges are: Michael Edwards, author of “Fragrances of the World” and “Perfume Legends”; Paul Austin, chief executive officer of sensory storytelling agency Austin Advisory Group; Jean-Claude Delville, senior perfumer at Drom; Karen Dubin, founder and ceo of Sniffapalooza; Victoria Frolova, fragrance industry analyst and Bois de Jasmin editor; Christophe Laudamiel, master perfumer at DreamAir; Nathalie Pichard, owner of training and evaluation agency Topnotes; Chantal Roos, cocreator of Roos & Roos Co.; Luca Turin, biophysicist and perfume critic for arabia.style.com, and Kevin Verspoor, founder of PerfumeKev LLC.