Fils de Joie Eau de Parfum by Serge Lutens Review

Collage of Fils de Joie Eau de Parfum by Serge Lutens, along with its notes: night blooming jasmine, honey, and ylang ylang.

Fils de Joie is blooming night jasmine and honey.

That’s it. Either you like jasmine and honey or you don’t. If you do, get this perfume. If you don’t, don’t. End of review.

Thanks for reading!

Tall rectangular glass bottle of Fils de Joie Eau de Parfum by Serge Lutens with black label, round cap, and dark red liquid.

Where to Find Fils de Joie Eau de Parfum by Serge Lutens

You can find samples and decants of Fils de Joie EdP at Scent Split.

Want more? You can find full bottles at StrawberryNet.

These are affiliate links. If you click on them and buy something, the seller pays me a commission, at no extra cost to you. You can learn more about them here.

I’m totally kidding. If I can’t ramble on in vain for thousands of words trying to describe to you my experience of a smell, no matter how simple and relatable it may be, what even is the point?

Serge Lutens’ Fils de Joie is known as a striking, heady overpowering blooming night jasmine perfume that evokes imagery of sultry summer nights, retro femme fatales, and, as one reviewer put it, “sex poison.”

My experience? Fils de Joie is not nearly as grandiose and scandalous as all that. She’s a pretty pink-and-gold sort of candy made of dizzying jasmine blossoms and honey.

There isn’t much of a dark, mysterious, or poisonous side here. To my nose, at least. Instead, this is a loud, sweet, sticky honey-and-jasmine perfume that delivers the powerful punch of jasmine with none of the filthy indolic underside.

But the jasmine note really is quite striking, rich, and realistic. It colors the honey in such a way that keeps it from going entirely juvenile as many golden-nectar-honey-sweet perfumes do. Honey Nectar by Love & Toast, Curve Chill for Women by Liz Claiborne, Nectarine Blossom & Honey by Jo Malone: all of these honey-forward perfumes lean stereotypically cute and youthful. They feel like perfect sugary-sweet first perfumes for nice high school girls to spritz on in the locker room after gym class.

A white dish with black dots around the rim full of stringy yellow and green ylang-ylang flowers.

Fils de Joie stands apart from this class through that stunning photorealistic night blooming jasmine accord. While it isn’t utterly skanky and filthy to my nose as other seem to suggest, there is a certain grown-up-ness about it that makes it clear this isn’t a perfume made for awkward slow dancing at freshman year homecoming.

Some say they smell other things in Serge Lutens’ lauded floral Fils de Joie apart from that jasmine and honey. A hint of ylang ylang, perhaps, a shade of another type of jasmine, a suggestion of white musk.

To that I say, maybe. Perhaps those things are couched somewhere around the edges, smoothing and rounding out Fils de Joie. If you ascribe to believing in note pyramids as gospel, anyway. There is something a bit yellow-floral about the texture of it all, and something a bit fruity, almost like that juvenile nectarine nectar is still lurking in there somehwere.

But, for simplicity, I’m just going to refer to Fils de Joie as blooming night jasmine and honey. Because, to my nose, that’s just about all it is.

The first time I smelled Fils de Joie, I’d sprayed it on a tissue to sample when visiting my parents one weekend. I gave the tissue to my dad, who put it in his office and later told me the room smelled like blooming jasmine for weeks. This is potent stuff.

It’s also very brightly colored stuff. I’m not quite sure why, but the liquid in a bottle of Fils de Joie Eau de Parfum is a deep pink color. It didn’t stain my skin, but does look like it would stain light-colored clothes. You have been warned.

Fils de Joie is one of the very few starkly photorealistic florals in my collection. To join this upper echelon, a perfume must smell like one flower and very little else. Fils de Joie smells like nothing but jasmine and honey.

A bunch of tiny white star-shaped night blooming jasmine flowers with green leaves.

I’m quite familiar with jasmine generally, but hadn’t smelled night blooming jasmine before. It’s similar enough to other jasmine scents, with a few key differences that make it recognizeable enough as a different scent profile.

Night blooming jasmine is muskier than many other types of jasmine. It feels somehow shallower and drier to me than other jasmines, less rich and botanical and deep, more musky and spicy and green.

This is a jasmine bordering in places on ylang-ylang, pungent and musky and exotic and unusual. It feels much less like a rich, dewy bloom or cup of jasmine-laced tea, and more like little handfuls of dropping and drying white flowers on a cool summer night. Sensual and sweet, a little mysterious, a little warm, and just a bit powdery, in the way powdered sugar is powdery.

I enjoy the spectacle of experiencing this new jasmine, but it personally isn’t my favorite jasmine accord. It’s still dizzying and heady enough, distinctly powerful and sweet, but it lacks some of the rich, damp, deep, scratchy, narcotic, and animalic elements of jasmine that I adore most. This is less of a full-throated white prettiness and more of a sweet flowery cocktail you’re served on vacation with a delicately frosted sugar rim.

Altogether, night blooming jasmine is similar enough to other types of jasmine that this reminded me of the days in college when I wore straight jasmine essential oil to go dancing, but I could distinctly tell this is a different flower. The scents feel like cousins to me, not sisters, and certainly not twins.

But perhaps this isn’t a fair assessment of night blooming jasmine as a whole. Fils de Joie is built on a backbone of sweet, captivating, but ultimately rather polite honey. This, to me, defines the perfume perhaps more than the jasmine does, and secures its place in my mind as a sweet and very pink take on wild and sensual jasmine.

A glass jar of liquid honey wound with twine.

To be frank, the honey here is far more powerful than the jasmine. It’s the first thing I smell in the vial. It lasts for hours after the jasmine is all but gone. It forms the sweet and punchy heart of Fils de Joie. This, to me, is a honey perfume decorated with night blooming jasmine, not the other way around.

The honey note in Fils de Joie is one of the most evocative ones I’ve smelled in perfumery. One of my favorites, too. It’s quite similar to my nose to the honey note in Amouage’s Journey Woman, with its realistic beeswax accents and its almost-fruity nectar depths, except the one in Fils de Joie is less nauseatingly rich.

This is a honey that’s sweet like apricot candy, jammy and sticky and golden, with flakes of beeswax strewn about. It’s not a particularly challenging or animalic honey, but it’s a deep and compelling one all the same, more like golden fruit candied in syrup than like pollen-dusted flowers, more sticky late-night pantry fingers than the lifeblood of a colony of bees.

In many ways, Fils de Joie is what I had expected Zoologist’s Bee to be (to bee?). This is a light, springtime honey laced through with indolic flowers and sugary sweetness.

Honestly? I know Fils de Joie is supposed to be all about the night blooming jasmine, but I think of this more as a honey perfume with strong indolic flowers than a floral perfume with a significant streak of honey. The timbre, on me, is defined by a certain golden stickiness, a polite pink sugar encasing pretty white flowers.

A pile of three pieces of loukhoum, a rose-flavored type of Turkish delight, along with a single red-and-white rose petal.

It’s kind of like if loukhoum, traditional rose-flavored Turkish delight, were flavored with jasmine instead of rose. Sweet, pretty, candied flowers drenched with honey. That’s what I get here.

Not that Fils de Joie is insufferably sweet. I’m rather sensitive to sweet smells, but never was this a nauseating or oppressive perfume. I wore it on a sweltering hot and sunny summer day for a traipse through a crowded city arts festival. Usually I shy away from sweet perfumes in anything approaching warm weather, but something instinctively told me that Fils de Joie could handle it. And I was right. Fils de Joie would be natural, even magical, on a sweltering hot summer night. The simplicity and enchanting indolic element of the scent keep everything magically in line.

And… there it is. That same grassy, buttery, oily, peppery thing I’ve smelled in a few perfumes recently. At first I thought it was black pepper when I smelled it at overwhelming strength in a cologne called Black Pepper and Sandalwood. This still made sense when I smelled it in Aether Arts Perfumes’ Mayan Chocolate. It made less sense when I smelled it in Serge Lutens’ Santal Majuscule.

And now, it makes no sense smelling it here in Fils de Joie.

It’s at the very edge of the honey note for me, a grassy, oleaginous underside. It’s a certain sharpness and smoothness all mixed together. I suspect there’s some sort of versatile musky aromachemical I’ve become quite sensitive to lately. Perhaps, Baader-Meinhoff-effect-style, I’m just now seeing it everywhere after being gagged and overwhelmed by it in that black pepper cologne. Perhaps it’s been there all along. Who knows?

A bright green blade of grass with four round drops of due.

Needless to say, if you do not frequently experience such odd grassy perfume undersides, this will not be a problem for you. I think I’m just very sensitive to something or other, one of those versatile molecules that can go oily or peppery or musky or green.

It’s not very prominent here to my nose anyway. Just a grassy sharp sort of underside to the sweet honey note that lingers through for the first few hours. It’s what forms the sharpest knife edge of the note to my nose.

By the very end, all that’s left of Fils de Joie is just a hint of that honey. It’s just as convincing and cohesive as it was from the very beginning, twisty and almost fruity and oh so sweet. It holds together well.

Based on the hype, I’d expected to find a sensual sumptuous sultry summer goddess in Fils de Joie. And I… kind of got her? She just didn’t quite enchant me for long. I had hoped for more wildness, more fullness, more depth. The goddess I got was a bit of a carefully preserved Barbie doll of one, pretty and honeyed and pink, careful and dry. Sure, there’s something funadmental to jasmine here that’s rich and narcotic and dizzying, but I’m just not feeling as much of an indolic punch as I’d hoped for.

That’s not a fault of the perfume, but of my expectations. Given the double entendre of the name, I’d rather hoped for something a bit filthy. At least, something that leans into the rich, humid indolic side of jasmine, with all its carnal, almost unsavory depths.

A cluster of soft white jasmine flowers with golden centers.

If you’re looking for a skanky, dirty, daring jasmine, this is not for you.

If, on the other hand, you’d like a strikingly realistic yet unusual jasmine perfume that will pack a heady punch and stick around forever in a sweet and people-pleasing honeyed haze, Fils de Joie is for you. It still has that incredibly potent and real jasmine effect that’s enchanting and sultry while being laced through with a heavy dose of honey.

It really does feel quite a bit like a loukhoum-themed perfume on my skin, sweet in a way that’s pink and refined and just a bit flirty and magical. It’s candy. It feels like floral candy. Candied night blooming jasmine, dripping with sweet golden honey. This night blooming jasmine behaves like a noble rose that’s been tamed into pretty pink dresses and behaving civilly at the ball and has just a hint of sparkle left in her eye.

Ultimately, though the punch of pure jasmine is enchanting, this is a bit too clean and pink and candied for my taste, but that’s not to say it’s boring or like anything else out there. Quite the opposite.

A purple lilac branch.

While I don’t see myself reaching to wear Fils de Joie very often, I can imagine reaching for it when I’m in need of a hit of that magically realistic rich floral smell. It’s a clever composition by talented nose Christopher Sheldrake, artfully balanced, rich and real jasmine but sweetened and elegantly cleaned up.

Ultimately, though, my favorite ultra-realistic floral perfume is still the humble yet mighty French Lilac by Pacifica. That one feels to me like just lilacs, all lilacs, all the way down, drawn out and accentuated in swaggering purpurescent lines and melty ice-cream-y texture. It’s sweet and happy and certainly easy to love, but it doesn’t feel quite as tied down and candied to my nose as Fils de Joie is.

But if I’m ever in the mood for something sweeter, more sugary, dripping with honey and petals, Fils de Joie cannot be beat. If you prefer your florals served with a carefully-constructed sugar drip that emphasizes their decadence and voluptuousness, you’ll absolutely love this one.

That heavy dose of honey just ultimately isn’t something I can see myself reaching for often. Not because it’s sickening or unoriginal or poorly done. Not at all. I’m just not a flower-candy loukhoum sort of gal.

Fils de Joie lasted on my skin for well over twenty four hours, including four sweltering sweaty hours spent outside at a local arts festival under the blazing sun. The perfume lasts even longer on clothing and hair. That’s frightening, phenomenal performance in my book, especially for florals, which can feel so delicate. For the last handful of hours, though, I was mostly just smelling honey with a faint suggestion of jasmine, rather than something that felt like a true jasmine perfume.

A shiny green leaf from the camphor tree.

This reminds me, again, of the long drydown of Journey Woman, with its sticky and sickly-sweet golden honey and osmanthus and apricot syrup. Fils de Joie never gets that dense, but the feeling of languidly exploring a stretch of lazily dripping honey and flowers is similar. A hint of jasmine is always there, but through most of its time on my skin, Fils de Joie feels like a rich array of honey-sugar sweets tinged with flowers and not the other way around.

A final note: a surprising number of people smell menthol or camphor here. I don’t smell anything at all like those notes, though I do smell that strangely grassy aromachemical I can’t quite place. Perhaps some aromachemical thrown in to provide coolness and vaguely green humidity reads like screeching Vicks VapoRub on some people’s skin. It doesn’t on mine, but, you know. Caveat emptor.

In summary: Fils de Joie is candied flower petal confectionery with all the lush potency of actual blooming flowers.

A large white jasmine flower with dark green leaves.

Sweet and sticky. Pink and yellow and gold rather than green and white. More like sugary rose than dewy fresh gardenia. Intoxicating and dramatic, but in the direction of candy rather than sex.

To my nose, at least. Many reviewers beg to differ.

Fils de Joie might not be exactly for me, but never for an instant do I regret choosing her. There’s something here that really is quite original and captivating, and photorealistic like little else. If you want to smell like real, authentic night blooming jasmine and aren’t afraid of a bit of honey sweetness, Fils de Joie was meant for you.

Tall rectangular glass bottle of Fils de Joie Eau de Parfum by Serge Lutens with black label, round cap, and dark red liquid.

Where to Find Fils de Joie Eau de Parfum by Serge Lutens

You can find samples and decants of Fils de Joie EdP at Scent Split.

Want more? You can find full bottles at StrawberryNet.

These are affiliate links. If you click on them and buy something, the seller pays me a commission, at no extra cost to you. You can learn more about them here.

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