Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
“The church, which stood in gloomy isolation at the outer edge of the village, was of age-blackened wood, overgrown with green moss, and surmounted by three conical cupolas. It was at once apparent that no service had been held in it for many a long year. Candles were now burning before almost every icon.” Nikolai Gogol, a Ukrainian-born Russian writer, paints such a vivid picture of the village church in his story Viy that as I continued to read, I could almost smell the decaying woods, the grey incense smoke and the peeling resinous varnish on the pillars. It was in Diptyque L’Eau Trois—notwithstanding the creators’ intent to capture the aroma of Northern Greece—that I have found the scent of that forsaken church, haunting and intoxicating.
Lacking the classical sequentially defined structure of top, middle and base notes, L’Eau Trois oozes like the sticky sap rolling down the tree bark. It blends the rustic herbal notes with the ambery richness of resins. The green overtones are sharp and roughhewn, and yet paired with the assertive character of the dry and woody composition, the effect is quite memorable. Verdant mosses, sunburnt grasses and damp rocks come alive as one inhales the fragrance of L’Eau Trois. This pastoral theme would have been interesting, but it is the luminous note of frankincense that lifts this Diptyque fragrance out of ordinary. One almost hears the somber incantations and feels the heat of beeswax candles.
Although L’Eau Trois seems to receive less attention than other Diptyque classics such as Philosykos and L’Ombre Dans L’Eau, I find it to be among the house’s most unique offerings. In general, the daring spirit of Diptyque fragrances created before 1990 should serve as an inspiration to the niche perfume companies today. Perhaps, Diptyque itself should take a plunge into its archives. Now, the company seems to be intent upon producing limpid and sheer blends à la Do Son and Eau de Lierre, which is a shame considering the originality of its earlier creations. Indeed, if niche insists on inundating us with the same thing we can find everywhere else, what is the point of artisanal lines?
L’Eau Trois is a unisex fragrance with a strong sillage and persistence, as one might expect from a resinous composition. Compared to other incense themed fragrances, L’Eau Trois is brighter than Etro Messe de Minuit, greener than Armani Privé Bois d’Encens and more resinous than L’Artisan Passage d’Enfer. It includes notes of rosemary, myrrh, myrtle, oregano, cistus labdanum, pine, laurel, and thyme.
Diptyque fragrances are available online from Aedes, Beautyhabit, Fourseasons, Belgium-based Senteurs d’Ailleurs and Germany-based First-in-Fragrance. While the company has free-standing boutiques in Boston and San Francisco, Diptyque website can be used to locate other retailers.
Photo of mossy stone covered in ice from Nmazca.