Second Sunday Sample: Serge Lutens La Dompteuse Encagée

Let’s talk about the weather for a moment. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, what was the highest temperature in the area where you live this summer so far? (Please mention where you are – at least a country, city or area, if you feel comfortable doing so – for those who don’t know you.) How do you cope? And for my readers from Down Under, what was the coldest so far?

In the SF Bay Area where I live, we had a day or two really hot in June (I did a screenshot of the Weather app with 36C/97F on June 17), but other than that our weather was surprisingly nice all that time while I heard and read horror stories from all over the world.

But my vSO and I managed to choose the hottest days to visit a wine country this week. Given, we were limited by dates for which we planned that trip since we did it as a part of celebrating our anniversary, we had to book everything in advance, including the most important part – feeding Rusty in our absence. So, once it became clear it’ll be extremely hot in our destination spot, we discussed whether we should cancel but decided not to.

Two days that we spent in Sonoma wine country, it got to 37C/99F at the peak. Wine tasting in these circumstances was a tricky proposition. But since everything these days must be planned well in advance (and is mostly not refundable), we tried to make the best of the trip (I plan to do a separate post about it soon).

LaRue Winery

And since we were going to the almost tropical environment, I decided it was a great opportunity to test new Serge Lutens La Dompteuse Encagée, which after the initial test at home seemed like a perfect tropical scent.

Since I missed several years of Serge Lutens’ new releases, and after Barney’s demise there are no more B&M places around here where I’d be able to test the brand, recently I got some samples from the Surrender to Chance. I was going back and forth choosing perfumes and sizes (for most of my samples I go for 0.5 ml – 1 ml), and somehow I ended up with two 1 ml samples of La Dompteuse Encagee. I was surprised but then thought that since it’s a new 2021 release, I’d test and review one sample and pass onto somebody else the second one. Nope. Somebody won’t be getting it: for testing on the road, I decided to pour both into a spray vial.

Serge Lutens La Dompteuse Encagee

Serge Lutens’ ad copy is cryptic, as always, so I don’t want to spend time even trying to make any sense of it. When it comes to providing any specific information on the composition, they are also not being too generous. But I find it entertaining how being given just three notes – frangipani, Ylang Ylang and almond – most reviewers dance around them not daring to speculate on other notes. Too bad Kafka isn’t reviewing perfumes any longer: this is one of the cases where I’d be extremely curious to know what she smells here. Me? I’m sure that this perfume contains more ingredients than the mentioned three. But since I rarely recognize notes even when they are listed, I’ll do what I always do – impressions and comparisons.

As a rule, I don’t like the almond note in perfumery, so I’m very pleased that I do not smell it in La Dompteuse Encagee. When I applied it for the first time, not expecting to like or be interested, it immediately reminded me of something else – not an identical aroma but rather the mood… After searching my mental perfume library, I realized that it reminded me of Annick Goutal Songes. Interestingly, Songes’ notes include frangipani and Ylang Ylang as well (also jasmine, tiare and vanilla). I tried La Dompteuse Encagee and Songes side by side, and I think I was right: they don’t smell similar, but for me, they evoke the same summer vibe. I rarely think of perfumes in colors, but both these are yellow in my palette (even though they both are predominantly white flowers). Speaking of white flowers, both in Songes and La Dompteuse Encagee I imagine smelling tuberose (which isn’t listed in either) and jasmine (not given for the latter perfume’s pyramid).

La Dompteuse Encagee is one of the florals in the Serge Lutens’ line (so, no stewed fruits), but unlike most other florals that I like – De Profundis, Vitriol d’oeillet or Iris Silver MistLa Dompteuse Encagee is not solemn and austere but very bright and radiant. I liked it much more than I expected. I don’t even mind the name, whatever Mr. Lutens meant (online consensus has it translated as a “Caged Tamer” with the noun being feminine). My only complaint is that in hot weather it is more fleeting than I’d like it to be. But I still want a bottle (if/when I can get at least 20% off): I need to give it proper wear in a real tropical environment. I still hope to get there eventually.


Images: my own


24 thoughts on “Second Sunday Sample: Serge Lutens La Dompteuse Encagée

  1. I have a sample I sniffed once. It didn’t immediately make me want to wear it more, unlike Fils de Joie which was instant love. I need to give it another go. I think you’re on the right track though with the Songes comparison.


    • I have a sample of Fils de Joie. So I will be testing it next. And, I think, a couple more, though I’m not sure which. (Can you imagine anything like that 8-10 years ago?!)


  2. I’ve totally lost track of the newer SL’s the last few years. I know all the old stalwarts, though. This sounds like it could be my cup of tea–I love frangipani and usually ylang ylang. I’ll keep my eye out but like you, I’ll have to order if I want to test.

    As for weather, here in North Texas it has been strange but wonderful summer so far. We have yet to hit 100, which a couple of years ago happened in May! We had a very rainy and cool June, and I was able to enjoy happy hour on my front porch, a ritual I love, and so far most days still can. We hit 94 last week and I’m sure 100 will be here soon, but in June we enjoyed 70s and 80s as high, reminded me of living in Singapore again. We do seem to experience these rainy and cool Junes about once every five years in North Texas. Have a nice Sunday!


    • I think Nature repays you for the last winter. I hope it stays pleasant for the rest of the summer (or at least as long as possible).
      I got 3 or 4 that I haven’t tested before, so I’ll be going through them and wait for a discount on this one.


  3. I’m in Nova Scotia, and we’ve had a dark and cold year so far. The weather is about ten degrees C colder than normal, and so many days have been super overcast. People are still a bit cheerful, though, because lots of people have had their second shot for Covid. I hope this means we’re working our way back to normal-I have a feeling it’s going to take a long time to get anywhere close to normal.

    But perfume keeps me cheerful, and I’ve tried this scent. I really like it, and will probably pick one up at the discounters when it arrives there. i agree: the notes are similar to Songes, and they don’t smell alike, but concur the same sort of feeling in me. I still have the Songes body cream, and I will wear it with the Tubereuse scent on top. God I wish Annick Goutal still made their superb body creams and shower gels. I know they have the universal cream but the matching creams were of different quality-they were very very good for my skin, and I liked the elegance of having my body products match. Songes body cream and shower gel were to die for.

    I can’t wait to read about your wine tasting adventures, and I hope you had a Happy Anniversary.


    • Thank you, Carole, it was a very enjoyable trip.

      I’m glad that you validated my impressions of this perfume: while I’m fine with having things “all in my head,” it’s nice when others share your opinion :)

      I used to have AG Petite Cherie body lotion and 3 different shower gels (from the oriental collection): they all were wonderful.


  4. Ever since Serge Lutens came out with the super “exclusive” expensive black bottles, I have not kept up with the brand other than when Kafka mentioned them and that was quite a while back. This one sounds interesting and here I am trying to think where I’m NY I can smell them. Aedes maybe 🤷🏻‍♀️. It sounds promising based on your description although close to Songes is not really attractive to me. I seem to recall Songes having a prominent coconut smell but I could be misremembering.


    • I don’t get coconut from Songes (and it’s not among the listed notes), but for me it has a strong tropical vibe, so I can see why you got that association. I think you might like this SL, so try if you get a chance (or wait until I get a bottle :) ).


  5. OOH! Love to read about new Lutens. I still have about 1/3 of a bottle of Songes and it comes out irregularly for a wear. It should get a lot more wear because every time I do spritz it’s love.
    Excited to try the new thing.
    Portia xx


  6. Happy Anniversary! In the Boston area it got up to the low 90s and muggy. A tropical bouquet sounds perfect for the summer. Hot weather is supposed to make everything smell stronger but I suppose dry heat would make it evaporate quickly.


  7. I haven’t tried any SL in forever, not having any place to sample and having been off buying samples for a long time. I have a small bottle of Songes which I enjoy, so I expect I might like this one too. I don’t think we have been above 95F here yet, although humidity takes the “feels like” higher. June was pretty pleasant. Just came back from a week at Hilton Head where it was humid and hot but not unbearably so (and Elsa blew over at night which cut the heat a little). I’m already starting to feel like the summer is getting away from me – a lot of projects and events coming up and the fall is super busy (especially this year as my son is a high school senior).


    • Was water warm? Did you swim?

      I don’t like hot weather but tolerable it in Hawaii because I can swim in warm water :)

      In the recent years SL has lost its cult status: the older releases are still being loved and discusses from time to time, but new perfumes just go by unnoticed.


  8. Happy Anniversary.
    We’ve had some days of 98 degrees.
    I love almond in perfume because I love marzipan. But since you can’t smell it and it’s similar to Songes I can pass.


  9. Wow, this may be the perfume that has made me sit up and take notice the most since Hiram Green’s Lustre! I love Songes as you know, and frangipani and ylang-ylang are two of my absolute favourite notes. Like you, almond not so much. Will keep this one firmly on my radar, not least because of the sublime name.

    Hottest day lately? I am not sure, as we Brits don’t monitor temperatures as much as people in the US do, but I’d guess about 25C or so in The Midlands. That is more of a guess though.

    If I could send you more Songes without it getting intercepted I would, but as you know I got my fingers burnt by the authorities, and we are “in between mules”. ;)


    • I’m almost positive this one will be to your liking. Let’s hope you’ll get to try it one way or the other ;)

      As to Songes, I feel confident that what I have in the decant that you shared with me will sustain me until we meet next time :)


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