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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Eau no you didn't: L'Eau Serge Lutens

By Tom

Remember the heady (literally) days when the release of a new Serge was at least by my awaited with a fervor unseen since the answer to "Who Shot J.R."? Days were counted, samples were begged; one heard rumors "opens with gasoline!" "The dirtiest musk in existence!" "Cat pee!!"

Somehow over the last couple years I just haven't felt that way. Maybe because of, well Chypre Rouge. Or Rousse. Or Louve. Or the fact that there are other perfumers out there even in my area code that I'm finding as exciting if not more..

L'Eau Serge Lutens is at Barneys right now. It's a fresh blend of sage, mint and magnolia and smells very clean, like you just got a haircut and brand new clothes. People on the interwebs have been complaining that it smells too much like Gendarme or something, so in the interest of Science and enjoying a lovely Sunday before the dreaded workweek starts, I went to Fred Segal and Scentbar to test the theory.

It isn't quite a carbon of anything; certainly Lutens would rather wear poly blend that go that route. Gendarme is sweeter, Sky is brassier, Escentric is woodier, etc.

I do like this; not enough to pop $150 even for 100ML. But I'm not going to pile on with the howls over this. We've all been saying that Uncle Serge has needed to branch out. First he brought us the penultimate fruity-floral in Nuit de Cellophane. Now we have the Apollonian ideal of "clean and fresh".

Moral? Watch what you wish for.

$150 for 100ML, at Barneys now, soon to be at Aedes and Luckyscent.

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Anonymous Marian said...

L'eau is the opposite of scents I usually wear - maybe that's what caught my attention. I like the hint of mint that doesn't smell like toothpaste and the squeaky clean freshness it embodies without smelling like an eau de cologne or ozonic/aquatic perfume. But spending $150 is hard to justify on a scent that isn't all that interesting or unusual. I think I'll put my resolution to branch out on hold for the moment.

2:34 AM EST  
Anonymous lady jane grey said...

Thank you, Tom !
I was so curious about this one that I already wanted to ask PST for the review : magazines in Europe are full of news about L'eau S.L. - everywhere with the same P.R. text... And still, if it's S.L. I'm still excited. Strangely, they describe the opening with citrus - did you get that one ?

6:57 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Super, witty review, as ever. Thank you, Tom. This doesn't sound like my kind of thing - I never want to smell minty. Although I am desperate for Spring and am using lily and lily-of-the-valley scents as a pallitive, so perhaps a bit of magnolia wouldn't go amiss.

"Who shot JR?"! Hehe, oh to return to those days.
- Emma

7:11 AM EST  
Anonymous Flora said...

I hope to try this soon. I really loved Nuit de Cellophane, so maybe this will be the apex of "fresh" scents after all.

4:23 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I feel exactly the same.

4:26 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

lady jane-

The opening isn't really definable citrus. It's all very polished with whispers of this and that that just comes across as clean and fresh in a way that's very natural and I feel completely unnecessary.

4:28 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Thanks! Oh, those days...

I appreciate this but since I can get the same effect with a shower and a fresh shirt I think I'll keep my $150.

4:30 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think it is the apex of fresh. It just doesn't make me want to buy it. I like things a little spoiled I guess.

4:31 PM EST  
Blogger elle said...

Oh, I remember those days when I literally almost couldn't wait for a new Serge and I would almost always skip the sampling stage and purchase a bottle unsniffed as soon as one became available. Distant memories now. Sigh. The direction I want him to branch out in is w/ roots - underground, slightly dirty and w/ connections to his origins, to his home in Morocco. Not airy, above ground branches. Too many other people do that and do it well.

6:39 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I totally agree. I also think he needs to get off the 4 new releases a year wheel.

8:59 PM EST  
Anonymous Select Perfume said...

greats style..Thanks for sharing

4:50 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's interesting. Perfumistas are hard to please as a crowd. Some people complain that Borneo is too sweet, some, too dank and dusty. The idea of Arabie and the general spice, fruit cake idea in general oozing out of the Lutens counter is repellant to some while others celebrate it. It's a pretty polarizing house. I feel that he may have felt he'd taken the syrupy dried fruit and spices, cat pee, and shocking accords (even Vetiver Oriental and Daim Blond fall into the unusual verging on shocking to me) to its logical conclusion and decided to take a hiatus of sorts, but I'm hoping he'll be back. If the house is to enjoy a long and healthy existence, there need to exist these ebbs and flows of aesthetic. I'm excited for the day when, as you said Tom, we are churning in anticipation about the coming full circle of Serge Lutens. It's bound to happen sooner or later. On the other hand he may be thinking, "I've given you guys Arabie, Ambre Sultan, MKK, Encens et Lavande, Borneo, Vetiver Oriental, Iris Silver Mist, A la Nuit and have given the Serge treatment to practically every main note in perfumery... what more do you want from me???" :) I've just taken this time to go back to the beginning of Lutens and start over again, though I think I, like you, would appreciate this one to some degree or another. Thanks for the great review, as always, Tom :)

10:46 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Select perfumes-


1:03 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Thanks for the well-worded and well thought out response. I agree with you completely; I just wish they would pull back from the "4 perfumes a year" treadmill.

I do like this in the abstract. I just see no reason for me to buy it.

1:05 PM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

I have been away for a long time, but i'm back, and love the post. thank you tom. i haven't had the chance to smell this one, but the last time i felt something of any interest with Le Grand Serge was (following your advice) with Filles en Aiguilles, and a few years ago with Gris Clair, that is a mysterious elaboration of lavender. So, I wonder, what fresh would still be good enough to wear in 30 degrees centigrade?

2:40 AM EST  
Anonymous Claudia0219 said...

I love this one, unlike so many of the other SL's this one is totally uncomplicated and smells clean...i love the scent and its absolutely great for wearing to the office. The mint really does not stand out, i definitely get themagnolia. I fnd this one very beautiful.

10:42 PM EDT  

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