Opening of licorice all sorts and freshly baked bread. Settles down almost buttered rum and golden syrup. Vanilla overtones and leans very patisserie in quality. It's an odd set of notes that all somehow manage to work out. The vanillin/amber base is very comforting and thankfully doesn't lean too sweet. Very nice winter weather scent.
Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau is a bready, spicy, sweet gourmand that has vanillic overtones with bits of character via the licorice and apricot, though admittedly I don't detect much of either, specifically, and a milky transparency that makes it easy to wear. It's fun, comforting, and apt for cold-weather wearing despite not being dense, at least to me.
As far as bready scents go, I'd say that Jeux de Peau is quite agreeable, a gourmand apt for even those that usually don't like gourmands, since the sandalwood, amber, and spices bring it more back to the middle, toward most perfume, rather than specifically the gourmand. It's not as dense and deliberately delectable as, say, 4160 Tuesdays Captured by Candlelight, the first and foremost logical comparison that came to mind.
Decently-performing and quite agreeable, its scent is matched only by its great price, a mere $53 for 50ml on FragranceNet. Certainly a bargain to be had, given its quality.
I sampled this as part of my increasingly forlorn search for a fragrance with the tangy elegance of Eau Noire.
I can't fault Jeux de Peau for not being anything like that. But on its own terms wearing it was a really dreadful yeasty experience that went on and on and on. Not for me.
When Alice first arrives in the foyer of Wonderland, she drinks from a small bottle in order to become small enough to enter through the locked door. That potion "had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast."
This is the olfactory effect one gets from Jeux de Peau, a jumble of gourmand notes that smell deliciously decadent - the maple syrup intensity of the fenugreek immortelle, the yeasty opulence of buttered bread, the suggestion of steaming coffee, the sweetness of apricot jam. One gains pounds within the first few minutes.
Once it all settles down, one is happy for the experience. It is doubtful however if one wishes to smell like breakfast in a patisserie for hours on end. It's a very clever and fun creation, but like most gourmand fragrances, its function as a wearable scent is almost an after-thought.
Jeux de Peau smells at first like the air in a food product preparation lab, where the air swirls with all kinds of flavor molecules added to enhance our perception of what we're actually eating.
I don't think Jeux de Peau is foody per se (because it is not something that tempts me to eat it), but I do think it relies heavily on food aromachemical notes to produce it overall effect. I smell cylotene, a molecule that tastes of slightly burned maple syrup, bread, and coffee beans and is often added to real maple syrup to enhance the flavor/smell, and pyrazines, synthesized molecules responsible for the very intense smell of coffee, chocolate, woods, and bread brought to burning point under intense heat.
Like other pyrazine-rich perfumes, such as Aomassai, Un Bois Vanille, and Eau Noire, the effect in Jeux de Peau is intensely aromatic to the point where it can smell somewhat overcooked, or burned to a crisp, and like those other perfumes, a licorice or anise note has been added to underscore the deep black nuances.
The butyric undertone to the sandalwood is taken to the limits here, so it smells both richly oily and more than a little rancid, like a butter dish left out to fester under a hot lamp. When the toasted bread notes meet the buttery oilslick, the effect is unhealthy in that doughy, yeasty way that always reminds me of when a businessman slips off his loafers on a plane that steamy odor of slightly-cooked feet pervading a closed-in space, always the same regardless of how spotless his socks, shoes, or feet actually are. The opening of Jeux de Peau forces that same unwanted intimacy on me, and I fight through it, gnashing my teeth until the intensity dissipates somewhat.
In the heart, the overly rich, stale butter notes are cut with a dash of salt, which I think is coming from a very herbal licorice or anise note, and the grassy, spicy tones of immortelle. The savory notes are perfectly balanced here by a delicious and delicate apricot jam accord (osmanthus flower), as well as the gentler milk tones coming out from the sandalwood. The sandalwood in this is just incredible sweet and salty, richly, brownly aromatic, like an ancient elephant figurine carved from Mysore sandalwood held up to a fire to bring out the aroma hidden deep within its fibers.
Burned toast and butter, you say?
No, Jeux de Peau smells more complex than toast and butter. It also smells a lot less natural. The combined effect is a blur of intense flavor impressions that attract and repel at the same rate. I think it is high art. I am just not convinced that I want to wear it.