I didn't review L'Eau Serge Lutens when it first came out early last year (or was it late 2009?). I kept testing it, getting more samples, wearing it here and there, but never managed to fully figure it out. Not because L'Eau Serge Lutens is incredibly complex, as it's decidedly not. I just didn't get the rationale behind this creation, no matter what Serge Lutens himself said.
There were some interviews floating around at the time in which Uncle Serge talked about L'Eau as the "anti-perfume". This is the language that comes out from the Jennifer Anistons of the world, not from the man who once said he uses a full bell jar of Cuir Mauresque in one outing. We all understand that not every perfume from this line can be Cumin McSweaty, but are Serge Lutens customers in need of a freshly laundered and starched white shirt?
Apparently so, and as such I actually like L'Eau for what it is. Not every day can be a MKK day, and it's not necessarily a bad thing. The first burst of fizzy aldehydes in a modern incarnation (think Le Labo more than No. 5) opens up in front of me like summer sky in some imaginary countryside location. It's airy, alive and young in the best possible way. L'Eau Serge Lutens become more floral as it develops. There are some herbal notes listed but I don't get anything natural out of it, only an intentionally synthetic big floral and lots of very very clean musks.
Clean or laundry musk has become a very derogatory term in perfume reviews, and justly so. When perfumers replace a rich dry-down perfume base with the stuff used in Downy it is an act of disrespect and contempt towards the perfume-buying public. So what is different here? Very little, probably, as Uncle Serge or whoever pulled his strings for this release, still tries to convince us L'Eau is a luxury perfume ($150, 100 ml EDP). But there is a difference from Eau d'Whatever by Top International Designer Who Sold His Soul. Serge Lutens doesn't pretend his L'Eau is anything but a clean laundry non-perfume thing. There are no fake stories about mermaids who mate with unicorns once every leap year in a secret location somewhere in Grasse. It is what it is, and it's actually very balanced and well done.
The husband says "meh", but I do see the point, even if I can't think of myself wearing L'Eau Serge Lutens in any regularity (or springing for a full bottle). When I want to feel crisp and neat I reach for Eau Premier, Uncle Serge's own Clair de Musc or Terre d'Hermes.
Notes: Aldehydes, citrus, magnolia, white mint, clary sage, ozonic notes, musk
L'Eau Serge Lutens is sold wherever the rest of the export line makes an appearance, including online.
Top photo: fragrantica.com
Photo of girls hanging laundry by Nina Leen for Life Magazine, 1947 (life.com).