02 Dec 2011
( 4/5 )
Eau Froide is the second fragrance in Serge Lutens' new line of 'eaux' fragrances. Far from being 'watery' as in eaux de toilette, they are, like all of his fragrances, full strength eaux de parfums.
Eau Froide won't be released until March 2012 and will be in the export line, though it's available from the Salons de Palais Royal de Shiseido in Paris from February onwards. Since I was in Brittany at the time of the launch, the firm kindly sent me a bottle in the post, as I was unable to come to Paris.
The first thing to notice is that, like Eau Serge Lutens, Eau Froide comes in a baton-shaped bottle, not the usual rectangular bottle of the export line. The enormous verticality of the bottle and packaging design necessitates equally strong verticality in the labelling, and I can't help but feel that Lutens was inspired by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for the squared-off lettering with touches of icy blue.
The 100ml fragrance will cost 100 euros, while the price for the 50ml is 69 euros.
As usual, Lutens isn't telling when it comes to the actual ingredients, but one thing he has admitted to is the inclusion of Somalian incense - boswellia sacra - which he values for its coldness. Coldness, he says, is not something often associated with frankincense, which has to be burned to release its scent, but he cites the coldness of old stone churches, where the scent of incense lingers. Not coincidentally, by the way, the Catholic church also obtains its incense supplies from Somalia.
The house's earlier eau, Eau Serge Lutens, was the first of the Lutens fragrances I ever tried, which is of note because it is so very different from the oriental darkness usually supplied by the house. And strangely, though I love it, I seem to wear it very seldom, finding more suitable occasions for my tiny 5ml samples of Chergui, Ambre Sultan and - on days when I need calming down - Fleurs d'Oranger. However, my mega-favourite perfume of Serge Lutens is Fille en Aiguilles - based also on incense, with the inclusion of a good dollop of pine resin. In imagining that Eau Froide might smell something similar, however, I couldn't have been more wrong.
Far from the dark, warm, turpentine-and-wood feel of Fille en Aiguilles, the initial impression of Eau Froide on my skin was of cold, dancing, sparkling primose-coloured fizz. It seemed to literally 'pop' off my skin and shoot up my nose like champagne bubbles. After a few minutes, it calmed down and released the scents of light spices and wood shavings - perhaps cedar, perhaps eucalyptus? Some reviewers detect a touch of mint, perhaps influenced by Lutens' home country of Morocco. It has a strangely salty tang, as if you were by the sea, and - as promised by Lutens - it is transparent in texture, unlike Eau Serge Lutens, which is as thick and waxy as a camellia petal.
Eau Froide is not as long-lasting as Eau Serge Lutens, but that would have been a hard act to follow, as the earlier release lasts up to 24 hours and has to be washed out of clothing to get rid of it. On my skin Eau Froide lasts perhaps six hours, leaving me free to apply something else for evening.
Although I prefer the more oriental scents of the house, this is a pleasant, light fragrance that doesn't cheapen in the drydown - good for those who find Eau d'Issey cheap and don't want the staying power of Eau Serge Lutens.
I decanted some 5ml decants of this perfume for friends and although one described it as 'unremarkable', another turned up last week with a wild glint in her eye and said: "Got any more?" with some urgency. Fearing she might go cold turkey on me if she didn't get her fix, I immediately gave her another 5ml, and she has tasked her husband with getting her 100mls when it becomes available in the shops - or else he is a dead man, apparently.
I also sent a decant to a perfumisto friend in the UK, who said: "It is not at all in the style of fragrance that I usually go for but I am enjoying it and I can see that I would very much enjoy it as a summer fragrance: I like the frozen sensation when it first goes on the skin and it would certainly feel great in the heat of a scorching summer. The unique cool quality of the Somalian incense has been very nicely and (skilfully) brought out here in L'EF, better than I've ever smelled before."
As time goes by, myself, I find I am wearing it more often - and, in fact, mainly on days when I reach for Eau Serge Lutens and decide I can't commit to smelling this way for a full day and night, I find myself opting for Eau Froide instead.
No word is forthcoming as yet on the next release, which may well be autumn 2012 but the firm has registered the name La Voix Noire, perhaps inspired by blues singer Billie Holiday and (perhaps) her signature flower, the gardenia.