When L’Eau Serge Lutens was presented to the Parisian press – which now includes the bloggers – I withheld judgment, because a) it was so far ahead of the actual launch that no one else could have commented on it, and b) well, I’d just met Serge Lutens for the first time and he’s really one of the few people in perfumeland who is truly a magical character to me, so that said judgment would have necessarily been affected.
I’ve been over my emotions for a little while now, and L’Eau Serge Lutens is out. Serge Lutens’ puzzling move towards “clean”, which could read like a rejection of his previous oeuvre, has been widely speculated upon. Take it at face value, as Mr. Lutens presents it, and it’s a desire for purity in an oversaturated olfactory environment, a way to clean the slate, including his own. Put it in the context of the market, and it’s the addition of a popular style to a line-up that did have cleaner scents, but nothing quite so… minimal: a bid to rope in the mainstream customer, understandable in the current downturn.
But let’s talk about the scent, shall we?
L’Eau Serge Lutens is a delicate construction of citrusy aldehydes, transparent rose, muguet, magnolia and freesia effects, with a tiny touch of the spiciness you’d find in L’Air du Temps and an abstract green galbanum/hyacinth bubble that tie it in, tenuously, with the current trend for green. The musk base is slightly metallic and haunted by an aquatic note I’d sworn left and right wasn’t in it when I first tested it. But that unmistakable touch of melon (not Calone) is hard to block out once you’ve zeroed in on it and a deal-breaker for me. I’d call it an aquatic magnolia/muguet musk, which lands it square into several current trends – magnolia being the newish olfactory code for “clean” because of its soapy-citrusy facets – less sharp-smelling than, say, Narciso Rodriguez Essence and not as sweetish as Francis Kurkdjian’s laundry orange blossom and musk Aqua Universalis.
So, no, it doesn’t smell like a Lutens. It does smells pleasant and it’s got the half-life of plutonium on skin, as white musks tend to. I’ve worn it several times to test it, I certainly wouldn’t buy it, but you could do a lot worse if you’re looking for a clean scent (which, if you’re reading me, you might not be).
I still love you, Mr. Lutens, and I understand your need for a change. But you’ll understand me for sticking with Bois de Violette or La Myrrhe, won’t you? When I’m an anti-perfume mood, I just don’t wear any.