Pros:True, realistic lily
Nice complementary notes
Simple and elegant
Cons:A bit pungent and heavy
Pricey compared to reasonable alternatives
The Bottom Line: Sample this one first and compare it to other white florals.
Un Lys is a unisex fragrance from Serge Lutens, a high-end fragrance house based in France. The Lutens brand is generally known for its deep, intense, unconventional niche perfumes. I’ve been in search of a lovely white floral for summer, and I have a new perfume sampling habit, so my purchase of Un Lys was dually inspired. For me, Un Lys revealed itself to be a solid average.
Un Lys has been described as a white floral/soft spicy scent. It is a “big” white floral, which means it bursts with notes from that particular fragrance family. It is heady, creamy, flower-fresh, and sharp at times. Base notes and top notes, in order of prominence, are lily, musk, and vanilla. While other reviewers have noted a hint of lilac, an aspect that makes Un Lys unique in its solitary lily base note sans the usual white floral suspects such as jasmine and gardenia. (Okay, it’s not that unique; Lily by Comme des Garcons is all lily and leaves for 80 bucks.) Unlike some Lutens perfumes that turn sickeningly sweet on my skin (e.g. Daim Blond and Fumerie Turque), the vanilla in Un Lys blends seamlessly with the musk to balance that bursting flower. It’s my kind of vanilla base because I can’t catch the vanilla as a singular note at any time during wear.
The perfume is a relatively minimalist scent compared to many Lutens fragrances. (The perfume house seems to be prized among niche fragrance lovers for its blends that are intuitively awkward but somehow work, at least for distinguished noses. For example, one of their newer releases, Boxenuses, is a woody gourmand, which essentially blends deep woods with dessert food.) Un Lys is similar to other Lutens scents in that the stuff is thick enough to leave no doubts about silliage or longevity (7-8 hours). There’s something distinctive and hard to pin down common to Lutens perfumes, and Un Lys is no exception.
When I think of white floral, I think of fresh. I want something green, white, and realistic yet somehow aquatic and transparent. Un Lys is lovely, but it is slightly too heavy for me. Some reviewers have noted a “bug spray” quality to Un Lys, and I’ll admit that I’ve caught a few of those peppery, almost acidic whiffs. I expect a white floral to be clean, but not antiseptic-clean, so it loses points for inducing those fleeting memories of migraine. While Un Lys is stark and well-balanced overall, it’s just not the light, airy floral I imagine trailing around me on a hot summer evening. I’m looking forward to receiving my next lush white floral, La Chasse aux Papillons by L’Artisan Parfumeur, for comparison.
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