My First Bell Jar: De Profundis – Celebrating Life


Reading adventure or historical fiction books as a child I couldn’t comprehend the significance of death. Characters being threatened with death would betray their allies or help enemies – and that was very strange to me: it wasn’t a torture or a threat towards their loved ones, it was just death, what to be scared of? It was definitely not a good enough reason for treachery.

I read a lot of books. And still remember having all those thoughts. And I remember that finally the realization of the value of life came to me. I was ten or eleven. I don’t remember what happened and what caused that change but I remember that it was an epiphany.

When I came across information about De Profundis by Serge Lutens for the first time the idea seemed appalling: I’d just experienced a couple of losses and the thought of a perfume somehow linked to death felt wrong. The only reason I wasn’t completely offended by it was Serge Lutens’ age: I told myself that it was probably fine for the man, who was statistically closer to the final destination than I or people I love, to toy with death. But, as I said in the comment on Asali’s review of De Profundis (All I am – a redhead), I didn’t plan to test it because of the connotation.

Soon after that I won a decant of another perfume on the same blog and Ines was kind enough to send me a sample of De Profundis also. I’m grateful to her because knowing how stubborn I might be I think I would have avoided trying it otherwise. I loved De Profundis from the first application. It smells so unusual. I adore the green bitterness of chrysanthemums even though I never really liked the flower itself. When I was choosing a bell jar of which perfume I wanted to add to my collection De Profundis was the only one I considered.

Rusty and Serge Lutend De Profundis

Where I grew up chrysanthemums weren’t associated exclusively with funerals though it was one of the common uses for the flower. For me a much stronger association is September 1st – the all-national first school day of the year. On that day all students would bring bouquets for their teachers. Chrysanthemums were popular flowers on that day.

September 1st

September 1st would start with students from all ten grades (there was no elementary/middle/high school separation) gathering in the school yard, in dress uniforms. After some official greeting words from the school director and other stuff members, a boy from a graduating class would pick up a tiny girl from the first grade and would carry her around the yard as she would be ringing a bell to symbolize the First Bell in a school year – the beginning of a new life, school life, for all first graders.

I didn’t get to ring that First Bell (or the Last one in the end of the year) though I secretly wished I had been chosen. But now I got my personal (and personalized!) bell [jar]. And I choose to see De Profundis as homage to life.

Rusty and Serge Lutens De Profundis

For a real (and very detailed review) see Kafka’s Perfume Review- Serge Lutens De Profundis: Purple Twilight


Images: De Profundis – my own (can you find Rusty on the first one?); September 1st – from my school’s classmates group, author is unknown.


63 thoughts on “My First Bell Jar: De Profundis – Celebrating Life

  1. I think Rusty has finally been upstaged. Treats needed. That bell jar is gorgeous — that alone might be enough to motivate me to sample the scent.


  2. I love that bell jar. De Profundis might be the prettiest colored perfume out there. I believe you sent me a sample of this a while back and it really is lovely. I can totally understand why you chose it for your bell jar. I love how Rusty is trying to be prettier than the perfume in that photo. I hope he isn’t too jealous of it.


  3. Really loved this. De Profundis is the only one of Uncle Serge’s I’m interested in right now. I can’t do those dense, headache inducing fragrances that make up a lot of the line.

    So interesting to hear about that lovely 1st Sept tradition and what a great pic. Those teachers must have been able to fill their homes with flowers that day.


    • It was a LOT of flowers on this day (and a couple of other school-related holidays).

      De Profundis is the only bell jar perfume that I want to have but there are other in the regular line that I like.


  4. I only realized this very recently – but I seem to have a bossy, stubborn streak to my character. :) (not that I haven’t been told I was stubborn before)
    But I like to think about it more in terms of I just know some things should be done in some way (and people should always broaden their horizons which usually runs into opposition).
    This was the introduction to why I probably sent the sample even though you didn’t express your interest in it.
    I am so glad you liked it so much to get a bell jar! As it turns out, it’s one of the rare SLs I personally don’t like wearing. :D
    My bell jar of choice would probably be Ambre Sultan, closely followed by Vierge de Fer even though I have no idea how it smells (I just LOVE that name).


    • Thank you once again :)

      I like Ambre Sultan and own a bottle of it but with the difference in price (in the U.S. at least) between a regular bottle and a bell jar there was no way for me to go for a bell jar of AS.


  5. I’m so jealous of your personalized bell jar – gorgeous! And great photos of Rusty, as always :-). I love your story of ringing the bell in school as well.


  6. Dearest U
    Congratulations on your new addition!
    I adore chrysantemums, the greenest of all flowers. and like them most especially when used (all too rarely) in perfumery.
    Estee Lauder’s magisterial Private Collection apart, De Profundis is the apotheosis of this notion in scent.
    You have relit, or at least drawn to my attention an ever lit flame in my heart for this work.
    Surely, eventually, I will have to own it.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy


      • Dearest U
        It generally resides (alongside some of the other great Lauder fragrances) under the counter… hidden from view for some unknown reason!!
        I’ve never understood why Estee’s people do this to some of their classics, but they do.
        Happy hunting.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy


  7. What a cute photo of the children, are you one of them? And a nice tradition with the First Bell. Congrats to your De Profundis it’s the SL I like the most, it surpasses even Rose de Nuit.


  8. My first thought was ‘hey wait- didn’t she turn 190 on this one?”, I remembered you response very well- just one question, was my post on De Profundis not a *real review*? I like that both of your subbornnesses gave a positive, and congrats on your first bell jar.
    Personally, I love De Profundis- I find there’s nothing like it.


    • Your post was a real review (and I linked to it above, so decided not to repeat it on the bottom). I was referring to my post: if you check it out, I post it in the category “Not a Review.” Sorry for the confusion :)

      And yes, I had a complete change of heart. But if it weren’t for our comments exchange and Ines’ sharing a sample it might have never become a post here: I do not write about all my new bottles – only about those with a story. So thank you.


  9. What a very splendid bottle, with the personalisation being the icing on the cake. Love the shots of Rusty – I spotted him!

    Not sure what I would make of this scent – chrysanthemum being a difficult note for me on the whole – but I am most definitely curious to try it. I also associate the flower more with autumnal events, notably harvest festival at school / in churches.


  10. Your blog needs a “love” button. :) This was a great story of how you came to own that lovely bottle of De Profundis. Did you happen to get this at the mothership flagship store?


    • Aww… You’re so sweet! Thank you.

      No, I got the bottle before my trip: a scent mule brought it for me. Vanessa and I were so taken by Jovoy that we got to Lutens shop after it closed.


  11. Dear Undina, this is a wonderful account of how you came to choose de Profundis as your first bell jar!

    Yours truly,
    Another Human in a Cat’s World

    P.S. Rusty whispered in my ear that he should get a treat just because it is a Cat’s World.


  12. I haven’t really connected with any of Serge Lutens’s perfumes. Actually, the connotations of this one are sort of appealing to me (not death exactly but hope in the face of death). Maybe I’ll get around to trying it eventually.


    • De Profundis is different from many Lutens you probably tried (though there are some, in my opinion, that I can place in the same line-up) so you should give it a try: who knows, you might like it.


  13. Great addition! How wonderful to celebrate life in this way.

    I would love to be able to write and publish a post called ‘My First Bell Jar: …..’

    I think it would be the same jar so even the same title ‘My First Bell Jar: De Profundis…’

    or maybe MKK. I have bookmarked your previous Scent Mule information.


  14. How fun- your first bell jar! It looks great. I haven’t sniffed this but Kafka and now you make me want to test this. I thought my first bell jar would be Tubereuse Criminelle, but I already own a regular bottle of it- I wonder which will be my first..:)


    • It’s almost impossible to persuade yourself to buy a bell jar of a perfume available in the regular bottle: a bell jar is nice but not that difference in price nice.
      I’ll read about your First Bell Jar one day – right? ;)


      • Yes- once TC joined the export line it was kind of a no brainer for me, especially with the 20 % off coupons the parfum1 regularly sends. But ofcourse- you will read about my first bell jar..;-) There are many exclusives which sound like ‘me’ but which I haven’t tried..


  15. Undina, this is all just so beautiful: your personalized bell jar with its exquisite and unique color of juice; the way you acknowledged the turnabout in your admittedly stubborn perceptions (which is a great reminder to me); and then the lovely story of how you fell in love with the scent and found a way to reconnect it to something in your past that was also a “first” and that represented life and new beginnings.

    Natalie is right. You should have a love button on your posts. I would have to push it once for Rusty and a couple times more for your simply elegant story.


    • Suzanne, you’re an ideal reader! Every time you confirm to me that I did manage to convey what I was trying to. Thank you.
      (and I can’t even promise to give Rusty an extra treat: he’s getting them already from our friends who feel sorry for him being alone – so it’ll be a diet time once we’re back ;) )


  16. I was away on holiday when you posted this, so I hope you will forgive my belated thanks for the link love, dear Undina. I so enjoyed the story of your change in perspective on De Profundis but, most of all, how you ended up seeing it as a homage to life. So beautifully and movingly phrased.

    I’m always glad when people re-interpret De Profundis in a positive light, instead of the original/PR backstory which can be quite depressing or morbid on some levels. I tried to do that myself in the review, but your “homage to life” does it much, much better.

    Oh, and I ended up with a bell jar of De Profundis, too, though it’s hardly as lovely as your personalized one!


      • Technically, De Profundis was not the “first” bell jar, by only about 10 minutes or so. I will save what *did* end up being my first choice for a review. After all these comments here, I’m not sure if I should entitled the post as: “_______, my first bell jar” or just leave that tidbit as a surprise at the end of the review. :D


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    • Hello Mich!

      I never sell perfumes in general, and this particular bottle was a gift (and as you can see, it has my initial engraved), so I wouldn’t want to part with it even when it’s empty.

      I know that SL doesn’t make this perfume in a Bell Jar any longer. But they still have it in their tall black bottle, if you’re interested in the current version of this perfume. Good luck with your search!


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