dimanche 29 janvier 2012

L'Eau Froide by Serge Lutens: Turning smoke into water (and drawing a preview sample)

 Sticking the most emblematic note of niche into the genre most reviled by aficionados? Let no one say that Mr. Lutens doesn’t have a rather devilish sense of humor. A bucket of icy water poured over the heads of his most ardent fans, L’Eau Froide does just what is says on the bottle: it is, of all Godforsaken things, an aquatic incense. Well, not quite. L’Eau Froide may be the second installment in a collection kicked off with L’Eau Serge Lutens, which definitely featured an aquatic note, but here, there’s just a drop. Call off that post-trauma support group. 

For all its beauty, incense is a bitch of a material, with mineral and old-coin facets that can veer on blood or butcher’s stall. Ripped out of the oriental formulas in which it is most commonly featured, it is rather cold than warm, a quality Serge Lutens had already highlighted in the austere Encens et Lavande.

Though towards the drydown, L’Eau Froide takes on the slight mineral tinge of certain spring waters, throughout the development the stress is more on the adjective than the noun. The citrus-y, peppery and terpenic (as in pine and turpentine) facets of incense are boosted by mint and woody-aromatic notes likely to feature laurel and vetiver – the sinus-clearing effect is not unlike sucking a eucalyptus or pine-sap candy.

This salubrious splash is about as comfortable as an ice-cold shower until the very end, when the incense is finally coaxed by musk into releasing its rounder balsamic notes, at which point it takes on a warm, sweet, almost fatty tinge.

L’Eau Froide a little unrelenting in colder months – this may be an “eau”, but watered-down it’s not – so it’ll be interesting come summertime to see whether Serge Lutens has done his bit to fight global warming.

L’Eau Froide will be on sale as of February at the Palais-Royal, then world-wide in March. I’ll be happy to share my advance sample in a draw: just drop a comment telling me what you consider to be the coldest perfume in your collection.

Image: Lightning Fields by Hirochi Sugimoto

71 commentaires:

  1. This sounds very interresting! Is it anything like Andy Tauers Incense Extreme, I've never thought of that one as warm either? The coldest scent in my collection is Voyage d'Hermes, it makes me think of gin and tonic.

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  2. Eva, I don't know Incense Extreme so I couldn't tell... Voyage does have that vibe though, doesn't it?

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  3. The immediate reference point for me is also Incense Extreme. Be curious to compare the two.
    The coldest perfume in my collection? Hm. Maybe 4711.

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  4. Susan, 4711 is pretty much the grand-daddy of all eaux, isn't it?

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  5. wow! this sounds bizarre! And intriguing! I would say vintage L'Aimant is the coldest fragrance in my vintages and Bas de Soie is the coldest in my contemporaries. I love crackly fragrances in the winter!

    xoA

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  6. Musette, Bas de Soie is a cold b**ch all right! And L'Aimant, well... they say Chanel N°5 was inspired by the Arctic circle, and the two are so close you'd swear they had the same formula...

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  7. GalileosDaughter30 janvier 2012 00:24

    Oh I love the description of this one! Will it come in a frosted bottle, or would that be too obvious? My coldest fragrance is also from this house, Iris Silver Mist.

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  8. Galileo's Daughter, ISM is definitely colder-than-cold... And no, it won't come in a frosted bottle! I scanned it for this post:

    http://graindemusc.blogspot.com/2011/11/en-avant-premiere-un-nouveau-serge.html

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  9. I am no «cold» fragrances fan, so the
    only one I can come up with is Guerlain's Mouchoir pour monsieur.
    I know, it is more on the «cool» than the «cold» side but still, it is invigorating.
    Looking forward discovering the new Lutens, I see him as a kind of wizard, he always keeps me awake and wondering...

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  10. The coldest scent in my collection would be a decant of vintage Chanel 19.

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  11. CDG Zagorsk followed by Hinoki and Lalique Encre Noir. They all smell quite cold on me but i like it this way. I have high expectations from Eau Froid. I think cold and bitter is tha modern equivalent of gray elegance. Perfumery finally catches up with the trends of haute cuisine ,and not too soon either as bitter tastes and cold dishes were all the rage 3 years ago.

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  12. L'eau d'Issey. I wear it only on the hottest days.

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  13. Interesting....apart perhaps from Cartier Declaration and its "cold" and transparent woods, I cannot think of a single perfume on my shelves that I would think of as "cold"...this new Lutens might be a very worthy addition!

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  14. Hopefully it will be more interesting than the first L'Eau!
    I can think of CdG 8 88 as my coldest fragrance- this gold is very distant.

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  15. Denyse, I'm very eager to try this, as frankincense has always struck me as an icy cold note. I love Encens et Lavande, and also IUNX Eau Sento, which strikes me as playing on the idea of "cold" incense. CdG Zagorsk also speaks to me of snow covered pines and cold smoke.

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  16. Isayah, I've used the same image of Lutens as wizard in my book! Come to think of it, Mouchoir de Monsieur also features in a key role...

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  17. Graham, yes, N°19 does have a kind of adamantine coldness to it.

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  18. Kostas, interesting what you say about cuisine and perfumery: I believe the cross-over inspirations/operations might develop in the future.

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  19. Civiva, like many people who have been overexposed I have troubled being objective about L'Eau d'Issey's qualities... Maybe in 10 years I'll find it deliciously retro?

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  20. Laurinha, Déclaration definitely has a coolness about it -- like a refreshing drink of something exotic and non-sweetened.

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  21. Ela, I do find L'Eau Froide more interesting than L'Eau Serge Lutens and somewhat weirder...

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  22. Jarvis, now you've made me want to go and re-smell Eau de Sento and Zagorsk -- the latter seems perfectly suited for the snow alert here in France!

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  23. Gris Clair by serge lutens

    Cold or Hot...
    Let us try to recall the experience of touching something cold (let's say ice) in the palm of hands.
    Isn't that after a few moments a burnt sensation is born?

    Cold or Hot...I believe the experience of cold or hot lies in the "or"...a sensation of boundary.

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  24. Like Jarvis, I feel CdG Zagorsk as very cold by association to a cold pine forest and smoke. Might have to obtain a decant as I only have a small sample of it at the moment. But the coldest in my collection is Six Scents Series 2 End/Beginning (Ende/Anfang) by Yann Vasnier, which is a subtle incensy-woody scent starting with cold spices and ending up warm woods. I love the transition and it's actually my favourite fragrance from everything I've tried, ever!

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  25. Anonymous, that's very aptly phrased. I sometimes get the idea of cold burn from perfume notes -- thinking of the tops notes in Tubéreuse Criminelle for instance. Mint has that trigeminal effect.

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  26. It sounds very exciting, can't wait to try L'Eau Froide. I love the way that SL always toys with our anticipation, so that nothing can really prepare you for what you get. Apart from some of the SL's already mentioned, one of my favourite cold scents would be Winter Delice.
    Thanks for sharing, Denyse.

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  27. Mikael, then I'll definitely need to have another sniff at Six Scents. I think at this point they're only available at Colette in Paris, a place that is less than sample-friendly (you even have to ask for the blotters), which has put me off a little...

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  28. The coldest in my (rather small) fragrance collection is certainly Avignon. It's like touching a cold church stone in a hot day. BTW, I don't find it dark or northern gothic as many suggest, I find it luminous and definitely romanesque. Last spring, I was heading to Marseille by train and suddenly caught sight of Avignon Cathedral in the distance, white and glowing in the sun. I can say it added something to my perception of the fragrance itself.
    Id love to test L'eau froide...

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  29. PS: I've just read that you'll be in Milan at Exsence! Great, I won't miss it!

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  30. So very interested to smell this
    my coldest fragrance is Iris Silver Mist and the most cooling, Hermes- eau d'Orange verte
    Thanks a lot, Denise for your willingness to share

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  31. Asali, true, Winter Delices by Guerlain plays on "cold" spices, doesn't it? And true, Mr Lutens does have his fun playing with our expectations... No one ruffles quite as many feathers in our little milieu.

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  32. Iodine, Avignon-the-city holds a very special place in my heart: the coolness of the cathedral, contrasted with the dry heat of the Provence, is indeed conveyed by Avignon-the-scent. I like the idea that it is romanesque...

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  33. And P.S. Yes, I'll be a guest on a discussion panel, then present my book and do a signature session at Esxence on Friday 30th. As soon as I have the exact schedule I'll post the news. I'm looking forward to meeting you!

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  34. Irina, ISM is getting quite a few votes here, and understandably so. L'Eau Froide is a very different animal though.

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  35. Wow! I'm not sure it will be possible for me to like this but I certainly want to try it. :)
    Then again, who knows what might happen...?

    The coldest perfume in my collection? A difficult one as I'm pretty much an oriental girl.
    Let me think, possibly Bal d'Afrique.

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  36. Ines, I've only tried Bal d'Afrique once... Cold spices?

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  37. I haven't worn it in ages now, but yes, mostly cold (spices? flowers?)- it has an underlying sweetness and warmth but not apparent at first and not greatly.

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  38. The coldest perfume in my collection happens to be one of my favorites: Tubereuse criminelle.

    It's opening is so green-tinged-cool, that last summer I used to spray TC again and again to get that soothing mentholated and medicinal blast. I loved it that it morphed so dramatically on skin.


    L'eau froide sounds intriguing - l'as tu aimée?

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  39. Interestingly, my coldest fragrance is another incense. Messe de Minuit is the cold of an icy marble crypt under a Medieval cathedral. The older version of the scent comes complete with a trace of ancient dust and decay.

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  40. Oh I like the sound of this. The sensation of entering an old cathedral or ancient cave hollowed out of the rocks when it is 35 degrees C at least outside. I love Avignon too. Coolest scent in my collection.....a tough one this. I thought first of my decant of Tubereuse Criminelle but that has been mentioned before. Even Cristalle EDT is more sparkling citrus than cool to me so I will go with YSL Nu which I feel is cool in a detached way. Nicola

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  41. I'm not sure that this fragrance fits in with the others here, but Apres L'Ondee has a cold feel to me. I love it, but it reminds me of a quiet, rainy day spent alone when one wants to find a warm blanket and a dog for warmth. Also Pierre de Lune from Armani has a cool, austere feel to me.

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  42. By far the coldest fragrance of my wardrobe is Navegar, the wonderful Giacobetti creation for L'Artesan Parfumeur.

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  43. My coldest perfume is probably YSL's discontinued "Nu", which I've always referred to as, "ice cold incense." So I'm curious to see whether these two are similar!
    Thanks for hosting a draw.
    -Marla

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  44. I think my "cold" is L'eau d'Issey.

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  45. Zazie, that's actually something I write about Tubéreuse Criminelle in my book, spraying myself over and over with it to catch that venomous green flash! I agree there's something very icy about it.
    L'Eau Froide, c'est pas trop mon truc en principe, mais c'est plus étrange que L'Eau Serge Lutens.

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  46. Nancy, Messe de Minuit is probably the most accurate rendition of damp stones in a church... Haven't smelled it recently though, never wore it, it was just too spooky!

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  47. Nicola, Nu would pretty much hit the spot in the cold incense category. It's astounding that such a weirdo was put out by a big brand, but then under Tom Ford's tenure Gucci, then YSL, came up with pretty compelling products.

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  48. Kathy, Après l'Ondée definitely has some coolness along with its tenderness... It's such a wistful scent.

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  49. Lorenzo, I've just realised I'm NEVER smelled Navegar... Even though I love Olivia Giacobetti's work!

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  50. Marla, Nu is now reedited in the square bottle collection. I never wore it and only have a tiny sample of the original to compare, which I intend to do as soon as I can remember to put that little vial in my handbag when I go to a department store (which is almost never, especially not during the sales!).

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  51. Tomatefarcie, that's the second vote for L'Eau d'Issey!

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  52. To complete «our» image of Lutens the wizard, I would add he sometimes shows himself as a magus (in full suit with wonderful orientals as offerings), and other times he appears as a playful trickster who enjoys surprising us with unexpected smelly puns!

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  53. Grizzlesnort, Dzhongka is definitely chilly!

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  54. Isayah, all of that and more... also a recluse reading in his Marrakech hideaway!

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  55. I'm not really a fan of cold fragrances, but I did have a bottle of AG Des Lys; I found it icy and sad and completely unwearable. I bought it blind when I first got into perfume, and I wonder what I would think of it now.

    Occhineri

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  56. Occhireni, I missed out entirely on the Goutal lily, but Frédéric Malle's Lys Méditerranée definitely has a cold, moist note...

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  57. The coldest perfume in my collection is the bloodless vanilla Cuir Beluga. Got my fingers crossed for the draw.

    --Nicole

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  58. Nicole, now that's odd, I've always pegged Cuir Beluga as a cosy fuzzball of a scent... I would imagine the rest of your collection is quite a bit warmer, them.

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  59. Hard to say. . . either Bas de Soie or Chanel no 19. I love them, but can't really enjoy wearing them except in spring. They don't seem right to cool me in hot weather, though - that's a job for colognes, or EL Aliage.
    -- Gretchen

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  60. Gretchen, so: iris green combos are getting a lot of "votes" here!

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  61. I cannot say that I perceive incense as a cold note, this is why I am very interested in L'Eau Froide. I want to see how this works.

    The coldest fragrance I have is Aqua Di Biella Ca' Luna. To me it feels like smelling pearls.

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  62. Memory of Scent, to me it's N°22 that smells like pearls should... Come to think of it, their aldehydes *do* give off an incense notes...

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  63. I do not have a "cold" fragrance, perhaps I need one :)

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  64. Yeah, it is odd, especially given the immortelle emphasis, but Cuir Beluga gives an almost minty cool impression on my skin as it develops. Perhaps in my mind I am also comparing it to Tonka Imperialle and SDV which are -so- warm and fuzzy.

    These comments are a fun read!

    --Nicole

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  65. I'm with Irina on this, my coldest fragrance has to be Iris Silver Mist. I'm testing L'Eau Froide this weekend and it does feel more like a cooling refreshing scent than a cold/austere perfume. The citrucy facets tame the darker side of incense. The drydown is pretty, soft and extremely lasting. This is your perfect anti-heat anti-humidity fragrance - although the original L'Eau Serge Lutens also does the job but in a more conventional way. Now I know what I'm going to wear when I have to ride the NYC subway where temperatures exceed 100 degrees in July and August on the platforms!




    Emma

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  66. Shelly, if you don't have a cold fragrance it might be because you're just not attracted to them... but never say never, I guess!

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  67. Nicole, I may have a sample of Cuir Beluga somewhere, I'll re-smell it to see whether I catch that too.

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  68. Emma, I agree L'Eau Froide will probably be at its best in hot muggy weather. But right now, Paris is within the Arctic circle!

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  69. I think I always fall on the warm side! But I've been looking out for Eau des Marveilles by Hermès... not sure that's cold enough!

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  70. Nosideup, L'Eau des Merveilles seems to me to be more on the warm side... So, no, cold is probably not your thing!

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