Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle and Sarrasins: Who Said White Florals Suck?

Tubereuse Criminelle

As much as I love challenging fragrances, it took me several tests to completely get Tubereuse Criminelle. The first time I tried it (on paper) I immediately dismissed it as it was too camphoraceous, too thick and even a tad too loud. I decided it was not for me but, while visiting a major department store a few monthes later, I got a mouillette from an SA and, again, it immediately striked as too mentholated to my taste. The third and final time I got in contact with Tbereuse Criminelle was during a visit at Palais Royal in Paris where, after a purchase, I got a bunch of assorted Lutens samples including this one. When I got back home, I decided to give TC a test on skin and, with my suprise, something finally clicked.

Yes, the fragrance is still pretty thick and loud but there's something perversely fascinating in it. The opening mentholated accord is paired to a rubbery note and an overall vibe of turned flowers. There's something extremely wrong with Tubereuse Criminelle. So wrong to cross the border of mere ugliness and go far beyond towards something completely compelling. The fragrance slowly takes form and morphes into a magnificent floral concoction where tuberose is surely the main star but it's very well blended with other florals to create an extremely elegant composition. Surely not for everybody and still one of those fragrances that need to be properly tested before coming with a final virdict but, with some passion and patience, you will discover one of the closest thing to a masterpiece.

If we could compare fragrances to music, Tubereuse Criminelle would definitely be the most distant thing from pop-music.

Together with ISM and MKK, at the top of my favorite Lutens.

Rating: 9/10


I'm usually not a big fan of white florals but some Lutens, Malle and JAR make extraordinary exceptions. Sarrasins is surely among these.

A word of caution: In my opinion Sarrasins is one of those fragrances that should be approached at a certain point of one's personal journey into fragrances. It's not one of those compositions that are easy to fully appreciate by everyone, expecially by those who haven't never related to white florals' indolic facet.

In fact, Sarrasins opens with a breathtaking accord of indolic jasmine that brings to mind of Tubereuse Criminelle. The similarity here is not to be found in the smell itself but in the challenging power that both fragrances deliver expecially during their initial phases. TC is about tuberose, Sarrasins is all about Jasmine but they're definitely both wowers.

After the initial assault, a fruity osmanthus note joins the party and together with a suedey presence turns the fragrance into an extremely elegant floral leather that continuely remarks its presence with its decadent beauty. Thick but not too loud, slightly gothic and a tad grotesque. Just beatiful. Agrees with purple velvet and a wan face.

Rating: 8.5/10


  1. These are two of my favourite Serge Lutens fragrances and Sarrasins is simply the ultimate floral and comfort scent for me. The first time I smelt TC I said to myself "You little devil...!" thinking of Serge Lutens. It is simply a very intelligent perfume. The first time I smelt Sarrasins was the closest thing to feeling like crying in the presence of beauty.

  2. I agree Christos. That's exactly why why I'm very severe towards some other Lutens. After such huge fragrances, is not easy... :)

  3. There's something about those exceptional standouts...I 'm definitely a fan of Big White Floral (the man-eating variety in particular), but I wasn't especially fond of either tuberose or jasmine until fairly recently. What I adore about these two is yes, they are so loud and so unusual in their very loudness. TC made me gag the first ten tries. Gasoline! Burnt rubber! mentholated mothball! And then. And then, it somehow bloomed into the very definition of flower and the epitome of beauty, and I've been hooked ever since. Say what you will about Fracas - much as I love that too, TC is to me the apotheosis of tuberose. Sarrasins was different. There was no hesitation, no hindsight, no multiple tries, only the definite and instant conviction that this is what jasmine is all about! Thank you so much for a truly great review! :)

  4. Thanks Tarleisio, thanks for your kind words. TC is just like anti-pop music. It takes a while to get it but once you're hooked, it delivers immense pleasure and satisfaction.

  5. I had the same experience with Tubereuse Criminelle. I sprayed it on my wrist and my stomach suddenly growled. Haha.. But I knew that it's going to such into something beautiful and it did. 10 minutes later I couldn't stop smelling my wrist. ?This is art! And your review gives this perfume justice.
    Hamed Al Mehairi