Sometimes it is convenient for a piece of art to be bad. In my perfume collection, there are a number of ‘holy grail’ fragrances that I consider to be the best in their style; my appreciation for these fragrances grows every time I smell similar perfumes that just don’t have the same spark. But every once in a while, I stumble upon a perfume that unseats a previous favorite. Such an experience is simultaneously thrilling and depressing. It’s delightful to find a new masterpiece, and discouraging to find yourself relegating a once-loved bottle to the back of the collection.
As a massive fan of coniferous fragrances, I found myself sampling dozens of such perfumes early in my fragrance journey. The first to blow my mind was Profumum Roma’s Arso, a gorgeous autumn campfire scent that is both bold and accessible. Every time I show off my fragrances to curious friends, Arso gains a few new passionate fans. Its texture, atmosphere, and nostalgic ties to campground nights under the stars make it essential for nature-loving perfume nerds. It’s still shocking to say that Serge Lutens’ Fille en Aigulles manages to take Arso’s perfection and add a beautiful new dimension to its overall structure.
Fille en Aiguilles Notes
Pine, Incense, Dried Fruits, Balsam Fir, Spices, Bay Leaf, Vetiver
Fille en Aiguilles’ opening is stunning. Imagine walking through a market in a mountain town, snow gently falling as wisps of woodsmoke weave through bundles of dried spices and pinewood carvings. It’s almost like a winter version of L’Air du Desert Marocain’s breathtaking desert atmosphere. Whereas Arso is huddled in the woods, Fille en Aigulles lives in town, surrounded by warm hearts and pleasant memories of holidays gone by. Its spicy elements place it somewhere between Arso and the gothic forest festival of Slumberhouse’s Norne, but it manages to be prettier than the former and far more nuanced than the latter.
It’s not as if either Norne or Arso – or other sweet resinous woody fragrances like Woodcut and Cape Heartache – are made irrelevant by Fille en Aigulles. It’s just that Fille seems to accomplish more than any of the aforementioned fragrances, managing to bring together photorealistic smoky notes and a gorgeous array of winter spices. It also manages to dodge impressions of heaviness or sweetness, allowing it to appeal to a vaster array of noses and wearers than its closest competitors.
The first of a few notable weaknesses Fille has is its performance. Its soft elegance makes for a lovely wear, but a relatively short one; don’t expect for this to go strong much longer than four hours. Fille en Aiguilles is also not accessible when it comes to price. Unlike many Serge Lutens fragrances which can be found on the grey market, Fille en Aiguilles is difficult to find at a discount, and decants are hard to come by. This is a pretty big deal given that the fragrance retails at $375 for a 100mL bottle. Both of these factors could easily make this fragrance a pass for wearers looking for higher value or significant longevity in their perfume.
Fille en Aiguilles is ultimately a masterpiece within its genre that will be essential for some and unviable for others. If you’re looking for a top-notch woods perfume with great performance, Arso and Woodcut could very well fit the bill, while fans of syrupy, heavy fragrances will likely prefer Norne. But if you want it all – the smoke, the spices, the warmth – and are willing to pay the price of admission, it’s hard to imagine a higher peak than Fille en Aiguilles. But hey, that’s what I said about Arso just a year ago. Here’s to reaching even great heights in the future.
The Fandomentals “Fragdomentals” team base our reviews off of fragrances that we have personally, independently sourced. Any reviews based off of house-provided materials will be explicitly stated.
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