Serge Lutens L’Eau : Fragrance Review


Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Serge Lutens L’Eau baffled me. A friend urged me to read the marketing information, saying it somehow helped him to understand L’Eau. “..these ruptures are at a given moment absolutely necessary if I don’t want to collapse, fall — if you will — in a cliché of myself and finish dying of boredom…” (WWD, 2/19/2010) Basically, if I want Serge Lutens to continue his dark mysterious tales, I need to put up with something different from time to time. Fair enough! Many of the previous Serge Lutens lite offerings have actually been quite interesting—the wholesome sparkle of Fleurs de Citronnier, the delicate opalescence of Gris Clair, the luminosity of the modern white musks in Clair de Musc. The main issue I have with L’Eau is not that it is a clean floral, but that it is not particularly interesting or original as a fragrance in this genre.

In fact, if L’Eau was released by another label, I probably would not have written about it, as it is precisely the kind of fragrance I do not enjoy reviewing. There is nothing polarizing one way or another about it and nothing memorable. Marine and ozonic notes can give very interesting effects in fragrances by suggesting the elusive freshness of the sea or by lending a dewy impression to floral accords. Overdosed as in L’Eau d’Issey or Calvin Klein Escape, marine notes set against rich floral accords lend an interesting juxtaposition of ethereal transparency and impressive tenacity. Although this genre was overdone in the past few decades, there is always room for innovation and creativity. One example is Hermès Un Jardin Après La Mousson, which contrasts watery notes with a warm, spicy sensation. It is disappointing that L’Eau, coming from one of the most trendsetting niche houses, does not provide any twists on the theme.

L’Eau is certainly fresh, crisp and delicate. The aldehydic accord is reminiscent of starched linens, while the combination of different musks in the base gives it a hot iron effect. It is pleasant and unoffensive because it is barely noticeable. L’Eau is the last thing I would wear, mostly because I would keep forgetting about it. So, I suppose that if the goal is to create an anti-perfume or anti-scent, it works. Meanwhile, I will wait out this phase of Serge’s creative development and hope for the next dark wonder.

Serge Lutens L’Eau (fragrance family: floral-watery/marine) includes notes of citrus accord, aldehydes, oxygen O2 accord, ironwood, clary sage, musks. Compared to L’Eau d’Issey, it also seems sharp and rough, while the complex natural rose notes in L’Eau d’Issey wraps the synthetic sharpness of its marine accord. In fact, Lutens’ Clair de Musc gives a much better suggesting of musky radiance than L’Eau. For a clean and refined sensation interpreted in the crisp effervescent (aldehydic) manner, Chanel No 22 or Estée Lauder White Linen are unrivaled. L’Eau 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.

OK, I really needed to get this off my chest and leave it behind in 2010!



  • Daniela: I actually have two samples of this. I think I’ll wear them as linen sprays. December 31, 2010 at 7:14am Reply

  • Olfactoria: Like you said, if it were not by Lutens we wouldn’t sniff twice. This scent almost angers me, stupid, I know, but I think it is just not worth the attention.
    Happy New Year, V! I hope all you wish for will be fulfilled in 2011. December 31, 2010 at 6:34am Reply

  • Victoria: Happy New Year! Let 2011 bring more interesting perfumes! 🙂 December 31, 2010 at 11:33am Reply

  • Victoria: I think that it is a very sensible way to using it! December 31, 2010 at 11:33am Reply

  • Marina: Maybe SL was having a laugh :)…this is so generic, it’s inexplicable otherwise. Here is to a great perfume and non-perfume year ahead! 🙂 December 31, 2010 at 11:48am Reply

  • Cait: I find your review refresfungly frank yet fair. Plus, I agree with you. December 31, 2010 at 4:50pm Reply

  • Victoria: It is perhaps trying to be too cerebral. And this too will pas… Ambre Sultan will remain. Let’s raise our glasses to that! December 31, 2010 at 11:58am Reply

  • Victoria/EauMG: I can see why SL created this fragrance, I’m sure even he has his “anti-perfume” days. Plus, the anti-perfume trends really slipped into the niche, Nudite Intense and Juliette Has A Gun. It has been a trend in the mainstream for years & now luxury wants to play with it. But, I really do see this as a trend and I can’t wait for it to be over!
    I love your “fresh” suggestions. I always reach for No 22 and the original White Linen on those days I want crisp and clean.
    Hope you have a wonderful new year! December 31, 2010 at 3:56pm Reply

  • Victoria: V, you are absolutely right, it is part of the anti/non-perfume trend in the niche. It all strikes me as king’s new clothes. Oh well, this will pass… I will just get my cantankerous gripes out and let it be. 🙂
    Have a wonderful New Year’s Eve celebration! December 31, 2010 at 4:43pm Reply

  • Victoria: Cait, thank you, I tried to steer the course this way. 🙂
    Happy New Year to you! Hope to catch up more often in 2011! December 31, 2010 at 8:09pm Reply

  • dodie: New perfumes are now getting similar scents between one to another. I would prefer an old classic perfume for my daily ware. January 2, 2011 at 12:21am Reply

  • Victoria: There are many great new launches, but yes, there are plenty that are pretty much identical. January 2, 2011 at 11:07am Reply

  • Antsmen: I also agree with the above comments, I received a sample bottle from a friend as I collect sample fragrances. I must admit that at first I was confused as whether it was a fragrance for men or women. Not my kind of fragrance. I’m more Chanel Eau Premiere & Chance. October 23, 2011 at 4:32am Reply

  • Clare Obsure: I agree & disagree with these comments. Although I am a perfume obsessed person, when I end up buying a full bottle, it’s always a big deal. An event firstly, because it’s so pricey & secondly because it is different & appealing to me. I own a bottle of this & really love it’s fresh cologne hit in warmer weather when more complex fragrances like EL’s White Linen wouldn’t work for me. This clean scent sends me to a fresh place that’s cooler in temperature & company…the only fresh fragrance I like better is Clarins red bottle of Eau Dynamissant.
    Where I do agree with Victoria’s annoyance with SL is that I hate the marketing slogans. They are what my late father would have called, “smart – ass”. Cringingly silly & ridiculously faux intellectual. Is it a translation issue or just inauthentic… In spite of this issue, if SL’s L’Eau smells good on my skin, I like it.
    My agree November 7, 2019 at 2:34pm Reply

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