When I was around six years old, I was eating a ham sandwich at a deli with my mother, when one of my bottom teeth went all wiggly into the bread. “You have a loose tooth!” my mother said, like this was something I should have been excited about. I was not. We both cried all the way home — her, because it had just struck her that her first baby would soon become a real participant in a painful world, and me, because I’d grown attached to those teeth and didn’t see why I should need new ones, plus 12 extra.
I lost the baby teeth over time, as you might've guessed. Some fell out naturally, as they’re meant to. Others I tugged and wriggled and manipulated until they gave and popped straight out from the gum. I started to get impatient toward the end, so the last stubborn few I wrapped in a length of string, tied the other end to a doorknob, and had my younger brother slam the door. The milk teeth left my mouth one by one, flooding it with the metallic taste of blood and chipping away at the big-eyed, toothy baby I was no longer.
Serge Lutens Dent de Lait — which translates to “milk teeth” — takes that memory of mine, and turns it into a luxurious French perfume. What does it smell like? Technically, it has a sweet, milky baby-softness to it, with creamy almond milk, coconut, and clean musk, and then a hit of frankincense for bite. A metallic note, aldehydes, lends a sharpness that seems sudden and violent, like the local anesthesia’s worn off and the dentist’s sharp sickle probe is poking right through.
Figuratively, it’s like breathing in the comforting scent of childhood, with a hint of foreboding and unease in the background. It’s a transient state, like hovering between something pure and something not so pure, an innocent child becoming a sentient being who has strange dreams and watches wars on HD television and knows that not everything in life is eating ice cream cones at the beach.
It’s weird, but I love Dent de Lait. The dichotomy of the scent appeals to me, a person who relishes horror movies and initiates uncomfortable conversations about death but wears white lace dresses and suede heels and pink lipstick and dedicates 20 minutes to eyebrow grooming every morning. Here, the naïve and the beautiful meet the macabre. I guess that must be my sweet spot.