Friday, November 11, 2011

Serge Lutens L'Eau Froide: new fragrance

When Lutens launched L’Eau Serge Lutens, in 2010, he didn't mince his words: ‘When I presented L’Eau to my team, I felt like Saint Just informing the nobles they were going to lose their privileges.’ The concept behind L'Eau by Lutenswas interesting to analyse, even if the reality of the fragrance was lukewarm to hard-core Lutens fans such as myself. Now, he's following up with a second "Eau". Who, the magus of orientalia? Apparently yes.

True to his signature blend of humor and provocation, next March the divine Serge will be presenting the follow-up: L’Eau Froide, a clear eau de parfum concentration of fragrance that will see his previous Eau joined by a similar-looking bottle. (1.7oz/50ml and 3.4 oz./100ml, 69 and 100 euros respectively at select doors stocking Lutens fragrances in March 2012).
What will Serge Lutens's upcoming fragrance L'Eau Froide smell like, though?

He only reveals frankincense aong the fragrance notes, the classic Catholic and Orthodox ecclesiastical incense note. ‘Frosty’ and ‘glacial’ are enot adjectives we tend to associate with incense (rather pyrocaustic is, although on Perfume Shrine we have devoted a whole series to different  varieties and  nuances of incense fragrances). But Serge’s response is probably what matters anyway: ‘People only notice the pyrogen facet in smoky incense burners… but not the coolness, except for the church’s.’Incidentally, Lutens is no stranger to incense in his impressive line already: Encens & Lavande takes on the ashen facets of lavender-nuanced smoke, while Serge Noire is the spicy, warm & cool contrast of serene meditation.
Back to the newest Lutens L'Eau Froide: "To begin with, it is cold, but in a nice way. Smells like rosemary, pepper… a slightly spicy-aldehyde-y effect, like bay leaves. A minty sensation too, plus a woody pinch of eucalyptus. Who knows, maybe it’s meant as a wink and a nod to Morocco’s “hammams”, or Turkish baths?" writes Nicolas Olczyk trying. it.

The bottle and the box are inscribed with iterations of coldness...cold, icy cold, frosted, transparent, crystalline, calm, ice salt, large glass of water...
I'm a firm believer in the cooling properties of unadulterated frankincense which I burn regularly: After all, the raw material shares citrusy top notes in itself, which dissipate and volatilise quickly rendering that cool smoky ambience we associate with stone temples of old.
One is quick to suppose that this "second act" might actually be an abandonded mod in the creative process of either of Serge's previous incense fragrances (or even of his L'Eau), but I can't wait to smell this aromatic interpetation of one of my favourite notes all the same. Expect a full review soon!

Photo by Fred Boisssonnas, Old Metsovo 1913, Greece, To the springs.


  1. Anonymous22:06

    The last several Lutenses smelled disjointed, so now I worry a little. I didn't like L'Eau and I didn't think the scent had much in common with the pretense that preceded it. As I was reading this and saw "cooling," I was cynically thinking, please don't say mint, please don't say mint, and then mint was listed. That coupled with the "aldehyde-y" line has me concerned. Please oh please give this one some character, Mr. Lutens! I can imagine glacial incense to be sure, but I doubt this will be it. :( And I feel bad about that.

  2. I' m looking forward to that one! I can imagine it as "αγιασμός" / holy water with basil - you list bay...I love frankincense and I hope this will be wearable - not stark church ambiance, like CdG Kyoto! :(

  3. This sounds wonderful - can't wait to smell this....wonder if it will be in the States by March or will be making it's appearance closer to Summer? Regardless, I will be on the lookout for it.

    I FINALLY got my hands on some Tubereuse Criminelle & Musc Koublai Khan recently and I've been enjoying the quirky journeys that both evoke. The first time I wore MKK, I thought I must be anosmic to all the "barnyard" smells everyone always comments on...until about the 4th hour - then I literally thought "Who pooped?" and realized it was good ole MKK. It was only slightly fecal for about 45 min before it continued on it's beautiful and surprisingly "comforting" journey.

    Mr. Lutens is a genius and I always look forward to what he brings to the table (unless it's poop, of, course...) ;-)

  4. Oh wow, toujours une carte cachée dans la manche....he is a trickster.

  5. Anon,

    I certainly hope that this one doesn't joint the somewhat "disappointed" feeling produced by the latest couple. Hardcore fans have expected so much, it's not easy to deliver each and every time.
    I would like a cool incense, though I don't know whether mint would fit in such a context (I personally like mint juxtaposed with something warmish and bitter-sweet, such as licorice). However, the note is just an impression by a tester, not an official, publicly given note, as yet.

  6. A,

    αγιασμός with basil is among my most fond memories: school beginnings and therefore the beginning of my favourite season (i.e.fall), offices inaugurations etc. It's an optimistic reference. I do hope it might fit that "cadre". ;-)
    And basil is a spicy note, which I absolutely love! I'd hope basil were included, though with IFRA regulations what they are recently, basil is too high in spicy molecules to be able to be incorporated to a big percentage.
    Bay is an impression from someone testing it, not an official note (neither are aldehydes or anything else, the ONLY official note so far is frankincense).

    For straight church incense, try CdG Avignon, if you haven't already. As good as being in Monemvasia during Mass. (Have you tried Messe de Minuit, btw? It's best for us Med types!).

  7. M,

    I believe spring is the time for SL releases (with July being the next one to follow). Don't see why US would be far behind in launching, usually there's a small window of delay, not much.

    I'm also of the Lutens is genius school of thought, even if I don't like the end result all the time. How many others have such an impressive portfolio anyway? :-)
    Loved your assessment of the MKK, thanks!! Luckily for me, I don't really get any poop or armpit or anything of that sort; or perhaps my tolerance is raised, who knows? :D

  8. V,

    vraiment un magicien ou peut-etre un expert tricheur, comme tu le dis!

  9. Why is that with basil? I use basil essential oil and it's safe. It's not recommended for regular and extensive application on skin, because it might cause irritation on the skin, though. I remember Serge Lutens saying in an interview he should use the indication "Perfume kills" (not exact quote), like the one on the packet of cigarettes...He had been disappointed by the IFRA which caused him to change some of his original compositions. I am so impressed he made his point ironically on the death-inspired titles of his recent perfumes - very elegant! In a row, here comes Eau Froide, which might be the Purgatory! :)

    I' m disappointed by the Kyoto, which is very very weak! I guess the whole Incense series has the same intensity, so I wouldn't bother with anything else from the line. :(

    However, Etro Messe de Minuit sounds like something I would love to try! Bergamot and the eau de cologne character/concentration are very appealing! I' m so glad it's availabe in escentual! Thanks for the recommendation, Elena!

  10. Etro is not Eau de Cologne, but EDT. OK, I guess that will do :)

  11. That's exactly it, A.
    The oil is sold as an essential oil all right, but the fragrances industry has been implementing restrictions on the use of many ingredients in finished products (such as the eugenol/isoeugenol in certain spicy essences), in the distinctly slim chance they might create skin sensitisation/irritation to some individuals (btw, Respiratory problems/risks are not really taken into this stride, because they require a different kind of testing, so realistically speaking the restrictions don't significantly help the greater community).
    The logic is rather mind-boggling to begin with, as there could have been a clearer warning system for consumers allowing them an informed, democractic choice, like with foodstuff (You either choose to eat knowing there's a risk, or not). It's not that difficult to implement!(Though certainly far less dramatic than that on cigarettes or as proposed by SL himself!).
    I guess they can't control everything and they want to avoid litigicious trouble in the long run. Anyway...

    I like your interpretation of the latest releases by SL as being a tongue-in-cheek comment re:IFRA, I admit I was not enthusiastic and didn't really got to think of it that way. It certainly puts a different spin on things...

    If Eau Froide is the Purgatory though, I'm very much afraid!!!

  12. Avignon is much more concentrated than Kyoto (it's the denser in the range), but it's straight church incense, not what you're looking.

    Hope the MdM proves your thing. You're advised to try a sample first, though, it's quirky. (But blooms nicely in our own warmish climate)

  13. It seems like Serge Lutens is creating too many perfumes too quickly. In the past year, it seems like he's already released 2 and now a third,

  14. Eld,

    I think 3 a year was his norm, most of the last few years actually (2 mainstreams and one exclusive, plus a non-counted in this limited release of an exclusive for the US market). I hear he's got several mods in his archives, waiting to be brought out.
    I agree that too many releases sort of confuse the game and eventually tire the consumer, though.


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