The controversy about Serge Lutens launching the anti-perfume L’Eau Serge Lutens is already old. The prince of darkness decided to dive into clear waters. L’Eau received lukewarm reviews and many reviewers thought inappropriate the addition of a clean fragrance in the house line-up. L’Eau is clean but it is meaningful. It opens with the aldehydic coolness of La Myrrhe coupled with the citrusy smell of magnolia. The effect is clean but not airy. It is very compact, fruity and brings to mind ripe apricots. As the unholy water progresses the fruitiness gives its place to dry a white wood accord. L’Eau starts to wax lyrical and aloof. In the drydown the beautiful ironed cotton note of Gris Clair puts its mark on the composition wiping out everything light and innocent that was evident in the opening. L’Eau is a drop of cold water dripping down your spine, making the hair in the your back stand up, like the cold breath of a ghost. It is a creature of devious innocence. L’Eau is the children from “The Others”.
Notes from Fragrantica: aldehydes, citrus, magnolia, white mint, clary sage, ozonic notes and musk
Notes from my nose: aldehydes, magnolia, apricot, white woods, ironed cotton
This year Serge Lutens shows everyone that he will take his creativity wherever his inspiration leads him. He has every right to do so, he has earned this after all these years. Not that any artist should justify their inspiration of course. He releases L’Eau Froide: the cold water. It opens with the smell of incense tears, cold and detached. I also smell rosemary and vetiver in this initial accord. The opening is indeed marvellous. I just wanted this to hang on and linger more. This impression of green incense is unique and like nothing I have smelled before. It is a reminder that incense actually comes from plants. As much as the opening gets me hot the development takes a cold turn. It is not that it stops smelling good. On the contrary. The problem is that I start missing the incense of the opening. The ozonic notes come into play and the whole composition starts to feel familiar. I am reminded of two perfumes: Montale Embruns d’Essaouira is one. L’Eau d’Issey is the other. L’Eau d’Issey is a red flag for many niche snobs. I believe that it is the fragrance that revolutionized the way we see feminine scents, the way Gaultier Le Male revolutionized the way we see masculine scents. They have both claimed their place in Perfume History and branched tens of perfumes that copied them or were inspired by them. And L’Eau d’Issey smells beautifully. So does L’Eau Froide. But L’Eau Froide fails to intrigue me. I just don’t see the meaning behind this, the story that will make it worth wearing. I will go against the stream and declare L’Eau Serge Lutens my favourite of the waters.
Notes from Fragrantica: olibanum, sea water, musk, vetiver, mint, incense
Notes from my nose: incense tears, rosemary, vetiver, ozonic notes, floral notes
Samples of L’Eau Serge Lutens and L’Eau Froide where sent to me by Serge Lutens as part of their promotional campaign