After last year’s Bourreau des Fleurs, Serge Lutens seems to continue his olfactory exploration of immortelle with this year’s L’Innommable.
The fragrance opens with delicious dried stone fruits. Apricots, plums and peaches are carefully dried under the sun, then spiced up by cumin, piquant but not necessarily sweaty. A few drops of honey and caramel drip from the immortelle and benzoin onto the dried fruits, just enough to complement their sweet flavour without thickening the texture. Finally, a pinch of salt rounds everything up, amping up the gourmand sensation without leveling up the sweetness.
This kind of spicy dried fruits appearing rather frequently in Lutens’ compositions, it’s now widely regarded as one of his olfactory signatures. As a result, L’Innommable instantly pops a few names into my head: Arabie, El Attarine and the aforementioned Bourreau des Fleurs. I didn’t compare them side by side, but from my memory, I’d say the spices, especially the cumin, play a much stronger role and are overall sharper in Arabie than in L’Innommable, while Bourreau des Fleurs feels more caramel-y. El Attarine has the least fruity elements out of these four, but its emphasis on honeyed caramel-cumin duality of immortelle combined with a certain dense animalic muskiness makes it closer to L’Innommable in the dry down.
To be clear, L’Innommable doesn’t have the same muskiness as El Attarine, but it achieves a similar effect via the intermediate of something reminiscent of tuberose and sandalwood. The tuberose is not at all camphorated or diffusively sweet or creamy, but somehow is bent inward and rendered densely nutty by the sandalwood-like nuance. These two emerge from underneath about 1 hour in, lending the dried fruits a surprisingly leathery touch. The combined effect is not dissimilar to the leathery immortelle-tuberose of Histoires de Parfums Tubéreuse 3 Animale.
L’Innommable then stays more or less the same until the end, with occasion woody smokes sizzle through the musky tuberose and leathery dried fruits. The sillage is relatively close with an 8-hour longevity on a hot day.
Overall, I quite enjoy L’Innommable, especially its leathery and musky tuberose twist on the immortelle and his signature spicy dried fruits. However, the fact that it reminds me of several other fragrances does make me pause. Granted, its price, while high-end, is not the most outrageous in that category. But it doesn’t seem as efficient as other more reasonably priced immortelle or immortelle-tuberose fragrances, either. Personally, I’d be more excited if it was released in the regular range, but if you happen to be exploring immortelle in perfumery, it would be interesting to sample too.