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Top Review 24
La Couche du Diable is Lutens' remarkable interpretation of Labdanum. One might well ask why only now, when the cistrose from which this complex fragrance comes, does it fit well into the SL prey scheme. A plant with resin-scented, sticky leaves, and long cultural and historical significance, dating back to the time of the Pharaohs; a plant that thrives in the most barren soils, defying heat, such as the lowest temperatures at night, and the heaviest rain showers. The extremely resinous, dry, slightly rubbery, as aptly mentioned in the other comments, is perhaps also reflected in the name. Couch is, despite all other puns, as often with Lutens, simply the 'paint' or 'layer'
The combination of dry resinousness, heat and fruitiness evokes vague memories of other Lutens': Arabie or Fille en Anguille. This association with older Lutens fragrances raises questions for me: for almost 30 years, Lutens has been producing a number of polarizing and still much-discussed fragrances with Sheldrake like few others. Maybe that's why discussions of newer Lutens' perfumes often mention remarks like 'Lutens from the past', 'old style Serge', etc. This is remarkable, a point of view that is rarely found in discussions about other houses. At least I have never read about Guerlain of yesteryear, or anything like that. And which 'earlier' is meant? There were always changes of direction at Lutens. Starting with the many 'Bois' variations, continuing with decent North African, ortial cultural spaces, or pronounced French themes, like oak, vetiver, lavender and thyme, etc. With newer perfumes like L'Innomnable, Le participe passé as well as La Couche du Diable, I had to think of a few serge features, despite all the caution with such nostalgia.
La Couche presents 'Labdanum' similar to 'Fille' Pine - a merciless display of all its resinous qualities that are only found in the hottest climates. Anyone who has ever experienced cistroses 'in the flesh' will quickly be reminded. For all its resinousness and the mention of 'Fille', La Couche du Diable is not a sweet scent. The opening is even downright sour and reminds me how bergamot can be used to some extent - for example in Comme des Garçons 'Tar' or in Helmut Lang's 'Cuiron'. In 'La Couche', however, this acidity, which takes some getting used to, is intensified and shifted into a more tasteful field, more vitamin C on the tongue than something citrusy in the nose. Once you get through this phase, in which I suspect a hint of something immortelle (an ingredient often used, though not officially, by Lutens lately), the fragrance develops into one of the most beautiful Labdanum drydowns I know: spices, even more resinous, the aforementioned dry fruits; a certain similarity to Comme des Garçons SKAI shimmers through, with 'La Couche' looking more distorted and deeply layered. All in all, a very great, idiosyncratic perfume that has what it takes to be just as unique and extraordinary in a few years as some of the intense 'lutens of yesteryear'...