Serge Lutens l’Eau Froide, 2012

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Perfumer Christopher Sheldrake

When I read Sanchez/Turin The Guide I was taken by the idea mentioned in the review of Equipage. It was said to be fashioned after the scent of cold pipe. My mind went to plumbing. The image stuck with me long after I put the review down. Over the course of time, it dawned on me that Turin had meant the kind of pipe you smoke. Not too bright, I know, but it did make me seek out Hermès Equipage, a fragrance I loved from first sniff.

But Serge Lutens has redeemed me! He has made a fragrance that smells like condensation on cold metal pipes. L’Eau Froide smells like cold metal, it smells like a stony brook in autumn, it smells like drinking melted water from a metal camping cup in winter. It’s made of frankincense, but it smells like snow.

We use the expression ‘skin scent’ as a placeholder for a perfume’s later stages of coziness, quiet and low sillage. It’s when the scent has faded to the point that you must jam your nose to your wrist to make it out, at which time you’re probably smelling your own skin far more than the perfume applied 12 hours prior. ‘Skin scent’ coziness can be applied to almost any perfume, but it will never be used to refer to l’Eau Froide. L’Eau Froide points out that the scent of live warmth is the true olfactory association with skin, as if we can smell the blood within the flesh.

L’Eau Froide might pass as the scent of a marble bust, but that is as close as it comes to flesh. You’ll never mistake it for a skin scent.

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