Rahät Loukoum (Serge Lutens)

Possibly my first perfume was the McCormick Almond Extract my mother kept on a kitchen shelf. Bitter almond essence is among the most enticing odors on this planet, but also one of the shortest-lived-- and such was my enjoyment of this fleeting "fragrance" that I compulsively sneaked into the kitchen to reapply. Eventually, to my shame, I emptied the bottle. My crime was discovered at the worst possible moment: Christmastime, when dozens of cookies waited to be baked. The parental dressing-down I received that Yuletide was bitter indeed. Lump of coal, second stocking from the left!

Years later, I obtained (with my own money, this time!) a bottle of bitter almond essence direct from a Caswell-Massey outlet. Perhaps it would have been better if I'd shoplifted it, for it seemed to me that its aroma had been naturally sweeter when illicitly gained. I understood then why Edmund Pevensie so loved the White Witch's Turkish Delight in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Trickery and deception are acquired tastes, spoiling our enjoyment of honest and straightforward fare.

In Rahät Loukoum, Serge Lutens offers us the ultimate temptation: a wearable confection of a character worlds apart from the rest of the candy fragrance genre. In recent times, that territory has been noticeably lacking in subtlety; one must wade through a swampland of caramel, fudge, and candyfloss in search of anything truly appetizing. In contrast, Rahät Loukoum promises a delicacy in the truest sense of that word: something rare, refined, fragile. Looking at a piece of actual Turkish Delight -- so naked and translucent under its demure dusting of powdered sugar -- one gets a sense of the ephemerality Lutens' Rahät Loukoum is meant to convey.

Does it deliver? Yes-- if a vanishing act is what you crave. I could dump this perfume on by the bucketful all day long, and every damn time, that gorgeous initial haze of marzipan almond dissolves into a suffocating glut of cherry cough syrup. Somewhere in the background, the White Witch laughs... because she knows that however much I keep reaching for it, no amount of this Turkish Delight will ever sate me.

Scent Elements: Aldehydes, almond, cherry, hawthorn, Turkish rose, heliotrope, white honey, vanilla, tonka bean, balsam, musk