Perfume Pen Pals: Serge Lutens L'Eau Serge Lutens


Today I'm wearing Serge Lutens' new one, "l'anti-parfum" L'Eau Serge Lutens, which was apparently created with the Japanese market in mind.

The sales associate was talking it up because, I suspect, she thought I looked like someone who'd respond to "a perfume for people who hate perfumes"! Well, I'm a person who hates people who hate perfumes and so I was having none of it. But there it was in my Barneys gift bag.

And what do you know, it's not terrible. Of course, none of these anti-perfumes are terrible. That's their primary goal, after all, to never be called terrible. Which inevitably makes them inessential. Though some people would argue that all perfume is inessential. (I hate those people. They're terrible.)

What does it smell like? Like watered down The Different Company Osmanthus, which isn't all that robust in the first place. I'm guessing it'll be very popular. And it definitely fulfills a horizontal requirement for Serge Lutens' collection. But that doesn't mean I have to like it. Or maybe it does. I'm never sure about these anti-terrible perfumes.



I’m very keen on my perfume having a point of view. Something to say for itself. Or at least a spine. These people-pleasing non-perfume perfumes are a little too lowest-common denominator for me.

Like this blasted Molecule 01 by Escentric Molecule. I’m not exaggerating when I say that someone brought it up every one of the ten days I was just in London. So good on Geza Schoen. He’s got that town dripping with Molecule 01.

But there’s no there there. To me, offending the least amount of people possible is not a stirring recommendation when it comes to perfume.

I’ll try to keep an open nose when sniffing L’eau Serge Lutens.



  1. You're right about London being dripping in Molecule 01 - I heard about it first from the SA in the Hermes boutique!

    I think there is a time and a place for "barely there" scents, and I have a soft spot for DSH Special Formula X and Creative Scentualization Perfect Veil. But today - out of pure mischief - I am dripping in AP Maitresse, and in view of Mr Bonker's "terrible" anti-perfume stance, will almost certainly provoke a full-blown domestic for wearing it, Valentine's Day or not.

  2. A decidedly perfume-loving friend also came out of Barneys with a bottle of L'eau. He sent me some and one spray later, I was trying to figure out why it smelled familiar.

    I'm not quite buying the whole "anti-perfume" thing, which to me would smell like, well water. L'eau smells rosy, subtly floral, aquatic and more than a little melon-y. Call me crazy, but it reminds me of a softer, more refined version of Kurkdjian's and Jouet's Ferre Rose.

  3. melisand61 - you've got a point about the validity of calling any fragrance "anti-perfume". Makes me think about people who claim they don't like wearing perfume, while still ponging of their powerfully musk-infused laundry detergent and fruity shampoos.

  4. Uh oh, flittersniffer, there's sure to be an incident. Let's hope you've picked your battle wisely.

  5. Katie, I recall an earlier occasion on which you shook your head at Molecule 01. Still, I want to try it, just to see...

    Would you call FM L'Eau d'Hiver an anti-perfume? I quite like it (it really does smell like warm water in which aquarel paintbrushes have been washed), but it makes me soooo sad.

  6. What a cool description, nadine! It makes me smell L'Eau d'Hiver with a whole new nose.

  7. Nadine, I was with you on your defense of FM L'Eau d'Hiver (solidarity, Sister Girl!) but am at a loss as to why you would want to wear a fragrance that makes you sooooo sad. Maybe it is like watching a sad movie and crying and then feelng better afterwards? I personally have too much sadness in my life so anything I can do to stay upbeat and cheerful is the way I roll.

  8. I'm with you, ScentsofSmell! I don't want to make myself sad either, which is why I don't wear certain things, even when I'm in love with them...

    I was just wondering if Katie and Dan thought L'Eau d'Hiver was and anti-fume...

  9. nadine, I think it's safe to say that Dan and I both consider Frédéric Malle L'Eau d'Hiver an archetypal anti-perfume, judging from the following comments I've just dredged up from our correspondence over the past year:

    KATIE (in response to Dan's inquiry): I realize that I have no olfactory memory whatsoever of L'Eau d'Hiver.

    DAN (from one of his perfume shopping reports): I smelled all the Malles (again) and found myself still drawn to Lys Méditerranée, which Alicia didn't like. She preferred the almond-y Ellena one, the name of which has already escaped my head. Which is fitting because I never can remember what it smells like within five seconds of trying it.

  10. Glad to see my lack of memory is on record because I was racking my brain trying to recall L'Eau d'Hiver. I just asked Alicia if she remembers it (she's the one who liked it, after all) and she said, "vaguely." Indelible it's not.

  11. Dan, it is pretty telling that the only documentation of our "Winter Water" discussion concerns the fact that it made no impression on us.

  12. I've tried L'eau Serge Lutens. Liked it at first, because it's so clean and crisp, but after a while, just feel that it lacks character ;(

    My review's here btw:

  13. Kristen, thanks for sharing your review. It's tricky to combine "clean and crisp" with character, but then again, some clean and crisp fans require the absolute absence of character in order to make clean and crisp work.