Photo: PR Serge Lutens
L'orpheline is the latest fragrance from Serge Lutens and it's a part of the square (spary) bottles line, sometimes also called the exportline. As the black label indicates, its a stronger concentration, and more expensive than the whitelabeled bottles. Perfumer is Christopher Sheldrake, the former inhouseperfumer of Serge Lutens, now also with Chanel. As with most of Lutens latest creations, there is a backstory to L'orpheline which has it's background in Lutens childhood, the relation to his mother and his analyze of his feelings of the time.
L'orpheline starts with an almost refreshing combination of aldehydes, a cold, woody,almost green incensenote similar to pine. After a while it becomes warmer and light woody, herbaceous and as the fragrance further dries down, a peppery twist of the incensenote similar to the one in Parfumerie Gènèrale L'Eau Guerrière, appears but only with a fraction of the strength of the latter. As the drydown goes furhter on, a comforting, slight soapy note appers, soften the incense without any sweetness. There is also traces of the chilly, fresh pinelike incensenote from the initial blast of L'orpheline, a note which is also present, but stronger, in Robert Piguet Oud and in Oriza L.Legrand Relique D'Amour. The dominating accord in the middle of the fragrance is this simple but beautiful combination of fresh incense and soapy aldehydes.
Reaching the base the special pleasant slight wet, powdery, putty and musky note appears which I like in creations as Chanel 1932 and several other good contemporary fragrances, here is the link to a special post about this basenote. In L'orpheline that special note is combined with incense and creates an alternately chilly and tepid impression. Overall, L'orpheline in its latest stage reminds me very much of Chanel 1932, without jasmine and with more incense. And probably is that not a coincidence taken Sheldrakes role in both houses into account.
L'orpheline is a subtle, lowkey skinscent with low silage. Longevity for a day but a bit weak in the latest stage. Office-appropriate but also casual mostly for intellectual leisures as visiting an art exhibition or a classic concert. L'orpheline is a fragrance for contemplating and situations that require some sort of tranquility. First it not seems very original as there are traces of other fragrances, but when worn and properly evaluated, this is in my opinion a new way to treat incense, in a low key, comforting way. Anyway L'orpheline is intriguing (triggering the imagination) and pleasant to wear.
Update December 2014: Cold weather makes the best of L'orpheline, it's a awesome fragrance, easy to wear, intriguing, which means that you get compliments. One of the best releases of 2014.
Notes: Aldehydes, coumarin (fougere accord), woods, ambergris, patchouli, incense, chasmerean
(notelist from Perfumeshrine as Serge Lutens doesn't reveal the notes on the site)