Diptyque L’Eau Trois : Fragrance Review

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Ice_moss_stone

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.

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11 Comments

  • Dusan: Vika, you’ve captured L’Eau Trois perfectly! I know March, who kindly sent me a decant, loves this, as well as Kevin (NST) so they should be happy to read your spot-on review. Is it unique? Definitely; if one could smell photos, the one you picked (beautiful!) would smell just like LET – mossy rocks, rain-kissed herbs, warm myrrh/incense and the ever present feeling of transience. After giving LET 5-6 tries (March, if you happen to read this :-)) it’s beginning to grow on me, but even though I admire the composition, it is too austere for me to love it and so dry that I actually catch myself grinding my teeth! One thing that definitely works in its favor, though, is that it reminds me of Greece… In any case, I’ll keep trying with it 🙂 February 22, 2007 at 1:07am Reply

  • March: Yep, it’s me! Showing up all bright and cheerful to see your review of a fragrance I think is wildly underappreciated!

    I smelled this on a random sniff at a local boutique (which has since jettisoned its Diptyques.) I bought it on the spot — the resins! The frankincense! I was *stunned* to read references to barnyard and hamster cage on Basenotes — what on earth are they smelling?!?? I will concede that I think the fragrance is very strong, stronger than any of the others you mentioned, and I’m careful when/where I apply it, but goodness it’s lovely… I am so glad to see you think so too. February 22, 2007 at 7:38am Reply

  • Elle: Please, let someone who can call the shots at Diptyque be reading this. Yes, if they don’t offer original, inspired creations, what *is* the point of niche lines? I used to quite dislike L’Eau Trois. I can’t explain that now that I’ve come to love it as a true comfort scent. Perfect quote from Gogol. February 22, 2007 at 7:45am Reply

  • Marina: Viy! “Open my eylids!” I’d love to see that old, old movie again. Thank you for the wonderful review. February 22, 2007 at 8:44am Reply

  • newproducts: What a beautiful review. I have not smelled L’Eau Trois, but now it goes on my list of must-sniffs. You have a way of painting a picture with words! February 22, 2007 at 11:31am Reply

  • violetnoir: V, I love that quote from Gogol. It completely captures the essence of the fragrance.

    I didn’t know that Diptyque has a boutique in SF. That’s good news for the next time I visit up North.

    Hugs! February 22, 2007 at 2:27pm Reply

  • Ina: Love your description! Somehow, I have no recollection of ever smelling this Diptyque. Hmm. February 23, 2007 at 12:46am Reply

  • stephania: L’Eau, l’Autre (especially) and l’Eau Trois are the only Diptyque I truly enjoy because they are so unusual. True, the more recent fragrances they made are easier to wear and much less exciting, lots of citrus and rose notes, like in Opone and Oyedo, not really in my tastes.
    Anyway, I always keep a Diptyque candle in Menthe Verte in my living room, it’s my favourite, smells like spring! February 23, 2007 at 12:02pm Reply

  • qwendy: Hi Victoria, congratulations on the Basenotes award! I’m so glad you covered this wonderful scent — I sniffed several times in Paris this Fall and it remained my favorite of the line. I figured that the Euro was so high, I might as well just buy it here when I “need” it! I’ve started blogging again too http://www.qwendy.typepad.com Happy scented chocolatey 2007 to you! February 23, 2007 at 6:47pm Reply

  • Gaia: March is responsible for my Trois addiction. Its beauty is the kind that transforms you to other times and places. Just what I need in the middle of winter. March 1, 2007 at 7:23pm Reply

  • Alessandra: Agreed. 100 percent. In fact, I prefer L’Eau Trois to Philosykos, for example! One of my absolute faves from the company. Considering buying myself a new bottle after having sprayed it on again the other day. The balsamic incensous concoction inundated me with mystery and joy. December 12, 2013 at 6:32am Reply

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