Encens et Lavande by Serge Lutens, 75 ml Palais Royal Bell Jar
Notes: Lavender, Incense or Smoke
“Under flower-blue heavens, the grey stones of a chapel called out to me. The limpid name of this fragrance came to me unbidden; I dared not change it. Incense and lavender; it was nearly fifty-fifty, until audacity got involved.”
Encens et Lavande was created in 1996 by Christopher Sheldrake and Serge Lutens, making this one of the perfume house’s earlier offerings. Encens et Lavande translates to Incense and Lavender, and while I believe the name to be an apt description in the most basic sense, somehow these 2 simple notes evoke so much more.
I had ordered a decant of this on a whim, and given my previous experiences with lavender fragrances being very masculine leaning, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.
I can be a little gun-shy when I’m first testing out a fragrance, so I initially started with a very light application (a few dabs) which yielded something that smelled alot like Gris Clair and regret. For a second, I panicked and questioned my resolve to try on Encens et Lavande, given I truly need to be “in the right mood” to wear the masculine Gris Clair. Within seconds, and using a heavier application, I realized that Encens et Lavande is *not* another Gris Clair. Instead, the fragrance opens up to smell more like pure and sharp lavender, which evolves into what I can only describe as a “fruity” lavender. There is a slight citrus that I believe draws out the “fruitiness” and it comes and goes within the first 5-10 minutes, floating between aforementioned fruity, sweet, and even peppery.
The lavender smells very true, although amplified, whereas Gris Clair feels icy yet wild. Don’t misunderstand, there is a chill here too…but it feels different. Still no sunshiney Provence and Madeleines for me (well, maybe some chouquettes). Truly, this lavender, makes me think of my grandparents. Much more specifically, my grandfather. Of him in “his” chair, reading through one of his many historical hardcover books. Of neckties and vividly colored lightweight sweaters, ranging from Eau de Nil to Candy Apple Red.
About 30 minutes in the incense starts to surface and I’m full transported back to France. To small villages in the Loire Valley – old storefronts and reminded of a couple of unseasonably grey and cold Junes spent with them in the French countryside. The incense is not as musty as the one in La Myrrhe, more velvety and a bit of smoke. The sweetness of the lavender is still present. I know that the list of notes here is small, but there is definitely something pronouncing this – I almost detect cinnamon.
There is not a ton of evolution in Evens et Lavande – just a beautiful, not to sweet lavender that is balanced by incense smoke. It is most definitely unisex, and would be versatile and east to wear for anyone. It is long lasting – I could still smell it after 9.5 hours, with a nice projection so that I don’t need to keep my wrist pressed to my nose. But it is in no way overwhelming or in any way offensive.
Is Encens et Lavande Full Bottle worthy? Yes, yes, 1000x yes! I am potentially biased, as I am outright wondering if my grandfather (who was very dear to me) wore this fragrance. Still, it is a masterfully balanced composition that is not necessarily the lavender I was seeking, but a lavender I so desperately needed.
Encens et Lavande is available in the U.S. exclusively from sergelutens.com. It is a part of the Palais Royal collection and is priced $290 for 75ml.