Bottled images

I mentioned in my last post that Valerie and I went to Mecca Cosmetica — again. I’ve been slowly sampling most of the fragrances there, and I’m developing a fondness for Serge Lutens. It’s quite a bittersweet fondness, though, because I think Lutens fragrances are really rather playful but somehow turn a bit generic on me. I think my skin chemistry brings out a musky sweetness in most perfumes, even in ones that aren’t really all that sweet to begin with.

I tried Chypre Rouge on one arm and Lutens’ latest ‘anti-perfume’, L’Eau. Chypre Rouge turned predictably sweetly musk on the dry-down on me, although I think there was an interesting fruity tang now and then. It’s a beautiful fragrance, I think, but ultimately quite forgettable — it’s already faded as I write this and I can’t really remember it.

L’Eau, on the other hand, has stuck with me a bit. I believe there are more interesting anti-perfumes on the market (like Commes des Garcons’ Odeur 71 and Odeur 53) but I’m quite fond of this one, even though it’s been described as a ‘giant box of laundry powder for $200’. People have found it quite linear or, at least, reminiscent of only one or two things: fresh laundry, and showers.

from lenoma.ru

In the bottle and on paper, it smells like ironing. Like the impression of ironing: steam rising from cleaned sheets. It doesn’t smell like laundry detergent as such nor an obviously soapy smell, which I liked quite a bit. It smells cool and fresh. It actually does smell… clean.

On me, it seemed to take quite the journey. I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t take on the coolness that was suggested on the tester paper. It started with a sweet, citrus warmth, which made me just think my skin chemistry had turned an interesting perfume into the usual lemony stuff of mainstream ‘clean’ fragrances.

About fifteen minutes later, though, it shifted rather dramatically. The citrus notes had disappeared and I got the impression that I was smelling mildly scented laundry powder, which doesn’t sound all that flash now that I write it — but it was interesting to see it turn rather cool after the opening warmer notes.

By Dahliyani Briedis

Throughout the day, L’Eau kept morphing into something else. It was as though I was cleaning something myself. The laundry powder turned to wet sheets in the washing machine; to the faintly metallic smell of the dryer; to the dustiness of sunny spaces; and then to the sweet and fresh coolness of clean sheets. But it didn’t end there — all of a sudden I was smelling the crisp synthetic freshness of room spray, which turned back to the scent of clean sheets and then moved to the metallic warmth and nothingness of iron steam.

And then the scent moved away from the household and onto the person: it was a musky skin-scent; like clean, scrubbed skin without a hint of soap. It definitely wasn’t the sparkling cleanliness that characterised the notes of the first few movements — more like a soft, enveloping sense of clean, like bubble baths and white pillows. Like cuddling after showers, if you want to be fluffy.

And this skin-scent lasted for quite a while, wavering slightly back and forth between laundry-fresh and skin-fresh, as though I were swathed in my clean linens or had just donned a collared white shirt.

If Lutens’ aim was to guide the wearer through various concepts of ‘clean’, I think he did it extremely well. I haven’t had such clear visuals from a fragrance since Comme des Garcons’ Dover Street Market (tar! Smoke! Road! —It’s awesome) and, unlike many of Lutens’ creations, this scent seems to be remarkably playful on my skin. For a ‘clean’ scent, it is remarkably good — not groundbreaking, not breathtaking, but it did what it set out to accomplish with finesse.

And after years of wearing Christian Dior’s Miss Dior Cherie, it’s nice to break the heady sweetness with such a subtle palate-cleanser. As I have a signature scent, I can’t imagine shelling out the $200 for a bottle — but I suspect a few sample/miniature sizes will find their way into my perfume drawer rather soon.

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One Comment to “Bottled images”

  1. The imagery in this is amazing. I love your observations and descriptions of the changing scent. Thanks for a beautiful read.

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