Serge Lutens Un Lys : About a Flower


Picture via Wikipaintings

If Serge Lutens’ Tubereuse Criminelle was special because it met my olfactory ‘vision’ of tuberose, Un Lys served an almost opposite role: telling me about a flower, before I’d ever smelled it.  But let me start from the beginning.

I have always liked Un Lys. It is unabashedly pretty. So pretty, that it took me a while to realize that it was not just pretty but beautiful.  I remember reading Tom’s review on Perfume Smellin’ Things, and in the comments section he said “.. It’s lustrous without the usual Lutens oddness. It’s like someone asked him “Can’t you just do something pretty?” and he thought “You want pretty? I’ll show you pretty!” And then he came out with drop-dead gorgeous”.

And that echoes my sentiment exactly!

Un Lys just is. There are no notes to tease apart, no ambiguous overtones or undertones. What you smell in the beginning is what you smell at the end, linear as they come: Lilies rounded off with vanilla. A vanilla that is difficult to separate from the lilies- yet it is evident that vanilla is the note that holds this beauty in place, preventing it from being screechy or soapy. It also gives it the depth that takes Un Lys from just pretty to throat clenching-ly, jaw dropping-ly beautiful (excuse the hyperbole).


Picture via Picky Wallpapers

And now I have to admit, I’d never smelled lilies when I first smelled Un Lys. Yet it conjured up visions of burying my nose in masses of lilies.

One day, I was walking back from teaching a class in a part of campus that I didn’t frequent often. I was probably engaging in some kind of conversation with imaginary people when I thought I smelled something beautiful and very familiar. Un Lys, I thought. I was sure somebody was wearing Un Lys or perhaps I had some on my clothes, remnants from a previous wearing. You all know how this is going to end, don’t you? Very close to the building that I had exited was a bush covered with lilies. And I had one of those ‘picture postcard moments‘ of real life mimicking art, rather than the other way around. “This smells exactly like Un Lys”, I exclaimed to nobody in particular. And It did. It really did.


  1. It *is* very beautiful, isn’t it? Do you wear it often, L?

    I crave it in Spring, and then ignore it most of the year. Which reminds me: I often say I don’t wear my perfumes seasonally, when in fact there are a handful of perfumes that prove me wrong, like this one. 😀

    • The first few years of perfume sniffing, I’d buy a bottle a year..One year it was Un Lys- I wore it a lot that year and even managed to drain that bottle- one of the quickest draining of a perfume bottle :-D. Now I have a decant and wear it less often. It didn’t seem to work too well on my skin a few months back (sometimes a weak spray from a decant with a ‘stuck spray’ will do that- where the scent seems to disintegrate/turn) but now it smells gorgeous again. I often wonder why I don’t wear it more often, but I crave white florals lesser now than I used to. I read your beautiful post on Un Lys- that it almost became your signature scent..:)

  2. I do not like dominant lily note in perfumes. At least that was what I remembered while putting on the last drop of Un Lys from my tiny sample… and it was much nicer than I remembered it from the first test.
    And I couldn’t help smiling at the comment quote.

    • Undina, sometimes I think we might be ‘almost evil’ scent twins, but then I remember our common likes and loves :-D.
      I’ve always associated that comment with Un Lys so I just had to find it when I was writing about it.

  3. Tara

    Lovely review and lovely to have a moment where real life mimicks art.

    I find the smell of lillies rather over-powering but maybe they are just the type thaat come in bouquets. You make Un Lys sound a delight.

    • Thanks Tara- it is a lovely surprise when that happens isn’t it?

      If you find the smell of lilies overpowering, there is a good chance that you might find Un Lys a bit overwhelming (especially with a strong spray). But gently dabbed I think you might quite enjoy it- so I hope you will try it!

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