Serge Lutens L’Eau Froide : Fragrance Review


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



  • Dane: I was excited to read the reviews for this one…interesting to read that both you and Octavian mention Atelier. His review, however, is not so favourable.

    Can’t wait to try it now! I’m hoping I fall in your camp…I’ve been wanting to love a new Lutens for some time now. March 8, 2012 at 8:38am Reply

  • Victoria: Dane, hope that you can try it soon. Bois Blonds is such a natural comparison for this crisp, cologne style fragrance.

    Off to read Octavian's review!
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile March 8, 2012 at 8:51am Reply

  • Michael: Your review definitely makes this sound lovely! I think it is coming to my department store fairly soon, so I’m looking forward to trying it. The incense in particular sounds intriguing. March 8, 2012 at 9:05am Reply

  • Victoria: It is definitely a simple, minimalist Lutens, if you will. However, the incense note is beautiful and the way it is ornamented to create a chilly impression is great. Minimalist, but miles away from bland (a la L'Eau).
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile March 8, 2012 at 9:09am Reply

  • patuxxa: Oh dear, now I have to go dig out my sample and sniff it. You had me at “incense”. March 8, 2012 at 11:07am Reply

  • Dl: I’m glad to see we agree on this one! It think it’s exactly what leau should have been: minimalistic and mineral to align with the water concept. March 8, 2012 at 11:21am Reply

  • Victoria: Incense is so wonderful I enjoy it even as a single note. 🙂

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile March 8, 2012 at 3:44pm Reply

  • Perfumista8: You’re review is lovely- now I just have to sample this. I’ll also have to retry Bois Blond. It was so very sheer/invisible on me that I thought I may be anosmic to the musk, unfortunately. March 8, 2012 at 7:06pm Reply

  • Victoria: It really does work for me. I keep thinking of melting snow–mineral, cold, sparkling. March 8, 2012 at 10:46pm Reply

  • Victoria: On me L’Eau Froide lasts better than Bois Blonds, which is something that I am happy about. I love Bois Blonds, but I always wished I could make it linger longer on my skin. March 8, 2012 at 10:47pm Reply

  • civava: As I’ve read your descripiton I imediatelly had thought about Kyoto of CdG. I remember it felt so cold and dry when I have first tried it but next to L’Eau Froide it is nothing. At the beginning I smelled some similarities with Aria di Mare or Pioggia Slata from Il Profvmo. I guess it’s ozonic feeling. But just for the first half hour.It is really cold but very well done crisp incense. I would wear that in higest heat in the summer although my soul belongs to the “dark” Serge perfumes. March 10, 2012 at 10:00am Reply

  • Amer: Wrote a better comment but smthg happened and was lost so here is the main complain I have with Eau Froid. It smells like having just washed with a macho sporty shower-gel of the type that comes in a huge blue-black bottle and this makes it unwearable for me. I like the idea but would prefer it in a different context. March 12, 2012 at 4:20am Reply

  • Victoria: That doesn't sound good at all! I'm sure that you will find–or make–something that works better. March 12, 2012 at 10:57am Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, I have to agree. I like it very much, but I can't resist the perfumes that have a dark, brooding side. March 12, 2012 at 11:14am Reply

  • Amer: Sometimes I get a bit blatant when expressing my oppinion. I apologise if I offended you but let me explain why Eau Froid seems to me that fails to accomplish its mission.

    I have been wearing Eau froid for almost a week now hoping I will be able to get past the showergel connotations. It is a strange case really because I find it technically immaculate (technically speaking nowhere near the mainstream fragrances and ofcourse my skills). Its lasting power and sillage are very good for something that transparent but unfortunately everything that comes close to the area of functional products becomes tainted. It is the same story as lemon, lavender and musks really, themes that once were concidered noble and now are the laughing stock of perfumery materials. Every now and then some phenomenal fragrance appears and reintroduces us to what we’ve come to look down on, giving new life to a theme. However, eau froid is not the perfume that will make me love freshness all over again because the central idea is not incomrporated in a sound aesthetic vision.

    It is a thin line that comes between success and failure, in fragrances more than anywhere else. For me this would have been a success if it managed to marry freshness with naturalness or if it managed to take something widely considered ugly and showcase it as beautiful (like Tuberose Criminel, Bulgari Black or Comme des Garcons recent creation). Eau de Gentian still remains my frsh incense of choice I’m afraid. March 13, 2012 at 8:07am Reply

  • Victoria: Amer, oh, you certainly haven’t offended me by not liking L’Eau Froide! And it takes a lot to offend me, in the first place. In fact, I like hearing opinions different from mine, because I learn this way too. So, don’t hesitate in sharing your impressions, positive or negative.

    Eau de Gentiane Blanche is fantastic, and I agree that it is one of the best cold incenses. I like L’Eau Froide, but it is not perfect and maybe not all that new. March 13, 2012 at 9:36am Reply

  • Victoria: You’re welcome! I’m so glad to hear that you liked it. Cold incense isn’t something I usually crave, but this take is fantastic. March 20, 2012 at 9:39pm Reply

  • Nathan Branch: Thanks so much for this review, Victoria. It pushed me into ordering a bottle and I received it today. It’s *exactly* how you describe it — sheer, cool and austere, yet not too cold. I’m a fan. March 20, 2012 at 8:26pm Reply

  • al: Thanks for excellent review.I am very impress on your detail review. One question.
    How is logevity of this fragrance. May 2, 2012 at 3:55am Reply

    • Victoria: It lasts quite well, 5-6h at least. I find that incense sticks around for a while on skin. May 2, 2012 at 1:44pm Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: I recently bought two bottles of Serge Lutens scents on ebay: “Jeux de Peau”, and as it went away for next to nothing, “L’Eau Froide”. I had absolutely no expectations at all for the latter, whereas the former often got reverent reviews and so I was looking forward to that one (I am an avid blind buyer!). Well to my surprise I rather liked “L’Eau Froide”: I don’t really get any clear citric or frankincense scents, yet some peppermint?, thus a rather enjoyable modern fragrance which reminds me of wet river pebbles. July 22, 2018 at 4:05pm Reply

    • OnWingsofSaffron: … and I am rather apprehensive as far as Jeux de peau is concerned: the cooked celery smell is rather overwhelming! July 22, 2018 at 4:07pm Reply

  • Julie N DeMelo: Dear Victoria,
    I loved this review and look forward to sampling this one.
    It sounds wonderful based on your description. Maybe I can find a travel size.
    I recently ordered Clair de Musc as I only have a small bottle of Kiehl’s which is close to empty.
    I have never tried Serge Luten’s musks. I love perfume but the summer temperatures go great with a pretty musk. 😉 June 26, 2020 at 8:12am Reply

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