When Serge Lutens presented L’Eau, I found it baffling—it smelled of laundry musks and a whisper of florals, but eventually I took it in stride. When the master has been busy weaving opulent tapestries for the past twenty years, it is only fair that he pursues some other olfactory avenues to remain inspired. When L’Eau Froide crossed my path, I no longer felt any strong emotion about Lutens’ new direction. After all, the man has given us glorious Jeux de Peau and De Profundis! As it turns out, L’Eau Froide is wonderful—a crisp, sparkling cologne of incense and citrus.
The first impression is a chill of ginger and lemon. Ginger sometimes smells like the most citrusy of all citrus fruits, and this is exactly how it features in L’Eau Froide. Its effervescence lends itself perfectly to the cool demeanor of a perfume that means Cold Water in French. After a few more minutes, the bergamot, lemon and pepper begin to sing a cappella.
As the citrus and cool spices lose their initial glitter, the incense takes center stage. Frankincense, from a resinous material obtained from a Boswellia tree species, is usually associated with dark and voluptuous blends, but set into a crisp and cool frame, it displays its cold and austere side. Even a layer of sweet musk does not do much to warm up this beautiful note in L’Eau Froide. There is not a hint of Christmas high mass about this perfume. It is the mineral scent of snow melting on your cheek.
Given its bright and cold character, L’Eau Froide is different from the rich incenses like Comme des Garçons Incense Series and dark blends like Armani Privé Bois D’Encens. The closest reference is the freshness of Atelier Cologne Bois Blonds. However, L’Eau Froide makes incense more prominent, allowing me to enjoy all of its facets, from the peppery bite of its top notes to the elegant sweetness of its base. I am already fantasizing about wearing this chilly perfume during the dog days of summer, which is sure to come very soon.
Serge Lutens L’Eau Froide includes notes of citrus accord, lemon, frankincense, and musk. It is sold in the export range. The export line fragrances are available from Aedes, Beautyhabit, Luckyscent, Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, and from some Neiman Marcus locations.
Image: Snowflakes via stockimages, some rights reserved.
Sample: my own acquisition