Serge Lutens Dent de Lait (Milk Teeth) is a unique fragrance created by Christopher Sheldrake in conjunction with Serge Lutens. This unisex fragrance launched in 2017 and is part of the Collection Noire/Mohair. The story behind the scent is the loss of your first tooth - the end of your childhood and the start of the age of reason. The fragrance captures all that with an innocent, sweet, nostalgic scent touched with a metallic note meant to replicate the taste of blood when your tooth falls out. It's definitely an unusual scent, perhaps a bit uncomfortable with the memory of the taste of blood. But that's the great thing about Lutens' fragrances. They are so emotional that they make you feel something when you put them on.
From the Serge Lutens' website:
"Now weary of the tongue’s games which have for weeks on end been loosening its tooth, a young wolf is anxious to move from milk to blood."
"I have loved you for so long I will never forget you." Serge Lutens (quoting a popular French folk song A La Claire Fontaine).
Dent de Lait is a floral woody musk scent that features notes of almond milk, coconut, cashmeran, heliotrope and Somalian incense. From reviews, it appears that there may also be notes of blood accord, metallics and aldehydes. It is an eau de parfum, edp.
The following is an excerpt from an interview with Serge Lutens in AnOtherMag.com:
"My history in fragrance was driven by a defined personal journey; it wasn’t a choice or a wish. Let’s just say I couldn’t escape it,” says master perfumer Serge Lutens, his turn of phrase characteristically poetic and mysterious.
Unique compositions and stirring narratives lie at the heart of all of Lutens’ fragrances. Dent de Lait (“milk teeth”), the latest addition to Lutens’ Collection Noire, is also rooted in childhood experience, a recurrent theme in the perfumer’s recent output. “As time passes, fragrance has mainly become, for me, a bridge between images and words,” he explains. “The creation of Dent de Lait was above all guided by the principle that at the age of seven – termed ‘the age of reason’, and the age at which we first start to lose our teeth – the individual choices are made. The personality is decided, and the new teeth, the blood teeth, start to grow, more cutting than ever. Nothing is set in stone, of course, but if we are vigilant, everything can point to the emergence of a dictator, a wise man, an artist...”
It is almost impossible to imagine the translation of such a philosophical concept into smell, but one whiff of Dent de Lait reveals the full extent of Lutens’ brilliance, its powdery scent at first sweet and milky before a metallic afterbite subtly evokes the bloody reality of a lost tooth. “The main raw materials in this perfume – almond milk, coconut, cashmeran – bear witness to this child,” Lutens affirms. “They’re still pure, naïve, not yet formed but already growing, [hence] the metallic note.”
Anyone who is used to the Lutensian universe knows that what you can expect usually, is the unexpected.
Lutens remembers in his sleep an episode of his past fraught with fear while listening to the ticking of his wristwatch. There is the memory of the cruelty of children in the school yard, symbolized by a vision of smirking and taunting faces revealing "abandoned sections of the dental arch". "Milk Tooth", this bizarre name, is actually meant to purposefully convey early human ugliness. It is therefore not so much strange a name as an ugly one - and acceptingly so. School bullying supplemented with Internet bullying today is oh-so topical. How can you respond to gratuitous violence and cowardice? Lutens' answer is: with a memory turned into a perfume composition. The scent itself is a bit cold and challenging at first, but gives way to warmth - you could say, human warmth.
The exaggerated, near-industrial cleanliness of the beginnings, mitigated only by what smells like lychee, bitter almond, tuberose and scratchy indoles, slowly gives way to softer sensations. The composition smells of vague and pleasing florals, rubber. You detect familiar Lutensian undertones of plummy, fruity woods - and soon, sandalwood, not cedar, but with a raspberry kick, which makes it smell like an edited oud wood where you keep the fruit and replace the medicinal wood with sandalwood.
Dent de Lait is a beautiful, emotional composition and there is a sense of mystical longing in the composition, which is one of the joys that Serge Lutens + Christopher Sheldrake are able to create for others.
The heart is distinctly floral and smelling it, I definitely get shades of Lutens’ other florals. I always think that the flowers he creates are deadly blooms – those that are likely to sit in some mad botanist’s garden somewhere. I see hints of these in Dent de Lait, specifically in the form of a sweet jasmine note, but the overall impression is softer and more innocent. This is Lutens’ cuddly side – his innocence, shown vulnerably in the guise of a fluffy white flower.
Dent de Lait’s main theme is the clash of the metallic and the milky. We’ve seen a similar essay in Etat Libre d’Orange’s Sécrétions Magnifiques, but the treatment here is less horrific and more intimate. This clash of polar opposites creates a fabric-like feel, almost as if soft cashmere is pulled against a rough hessian. To my nose, it smells like a liquid metal in the purest shade of white. It cannot be placed in nature because it smells entirely new.
Like many of Serge Lutens’ fragrances, Dent de Lait is hard to pin down. It showcases elements of familiarity but there’s something really undefined about it and I’ll admit that I often found it difficult to choose the right words to describe how it smells. So I think Dent de Lait will be one of those divisive fragrances that people either love or hate – it may be too weird for some, but others may love it for its unusual beauty.