Review: L’Eau Serge Lutens

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As fresh and white as as a magnolia bloom.

leauL’Eau Serge Lutens is another perfume sent to me by Serge Lutens recently for review.

L’Eau Serge Lutens came out in 2009 and was immediately a smash hit but as of March 2011 will also be available in a 50ml format, so you can carry it around more easily (the 69 euro price also probably appeals to those who don’t want to shell out 100 euros for the larger bottle). 

The new, handbag-size bottle is just gorgeous, like a glass baton, and comes in the firm’s usual refined matt black and tan packaging. 

L’Eau is something of a departure for Serge Lutens – the firm is better known for woody and leathery scents and some devotees were a tad concerned at this change of direction, worrying that he might have been pressured by Shiseido to produce a more commercial scent that would please customers in the Far East. L’Eau is what Lutens himself calls an ‘anti-perfume’: it’s meant to smell like cleanliness itself, in a sense, not like perfume at all. 

In this, it must be said, it succeeds admirably. Pop it on and you feel soapy, clean and fresh out the bath – I will definitely be wearing it for things like yoga class and after swimming, or for any day when I wear a white dress. It is not a perfume for a leather or velvet day. 

The fragrance is also long-lasting, which is very unusual in anything so spiritually light – it is a true eau de parfum and not an eau de cologne (the difference is the amount of actual perfume dissolved in the alcohol base as well as the way you use it – you dab or spray it on, rather than splashing it all over). Although the top notes have a lemony, fresh smell that you might associate with a cologne, this fragrance has real staying power and lasts for hours.

A sherberty top note (the company insists there’s no actual lemon in it), gives way to what I can only describe as a ‘white’ smell. It is after all one of the limitations of smell that we can only describe what a scent is like by saying it’s like something else, so let me say that it is not like the smell of lilies, or white roses, or cherry blossoms (which actually smell like almonds), it is more that it smells like those things look – the look of my cherry blossoms against the bright blue sky of April, the feel of my white ramie chiffon shirt against my skin, the crumpled petals of my Rosa Rugosa Nyveldt’s White.

I’ve been sniffing my wrist all day and it hasn’t changed at all in over four hours, something very remarkable on my weird skin. The effect is very spare and Zen and spa-like, perhaps – at length – becoming fondant-like. At the very end of the day, there remains the faintest trace of white musk.

There are, here in France, large public plantings of Magnolia Grandiflora, a waxy-leaved tree with a rust-brown undumentum on the reverse side of the leaves. It takes them about 20 years to flower, but so exotic is that perfume when I’ve caught it on the breeze that I’ve even asked the DH to lift me up so I can bury my nose in the huge cream bowl of the flower. This perfume reminds me of those magnolias.

L’Eau Serge Lutens is available from Sephora: 69 euros for 50ml or 100 euros for 100ml. 





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