It’s a strange paradox that the king of non-mainstream perfumery’s most divisive fragrances are those that are the least unusual – the L’Eau series. This is evidenced by the fact that there was practically a public outcry when Lutens launched his first ‘eau’. Die hard perfume nuts were found weeping in the street, bell jars were burned and bottles upon bottles of Ambre Sultan were smashed in moments of despair.
OK, I accept that I may have dramatised the situation a bit there but the truth is that many were disheartened that Serge Lutens, the man behind so many of perfumery’s modern greats, was going against his own grain by releasing anti-perfumes that were evocative of cold water and clean linen as opposed to life’s darker and more dangerous aspects. But people need worry not, both perfumes in the collection so far (L’Eau and L’Eau Froide) have turned out to be pretty decent, acting as a welcome change from Lutens’ usual oeuvre and showing how clean fragrances really should be done.
The latest perfume to be added to the L’Eau collection is ‘Laine de Verre‘. Taking its name from everyone’s favourite mode of loft installation – fibreglass – this new L’Eau penned by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake is as unusual as it is fresh and relaxed. Serge Lutens, in his usually riddle-filled way, states that the perfume is inspired by “complementary opposites” , elaborating further that the conflict is himself and the masculine and feminine. With that in mind, it’ll be no surprise that Lain de Verre is a genderless, inhuman fragrance that piques interest.
“With Laine de Verre, it is the metal which, physically, takes shape within its fragrance…” 
Citrus, Aldehydes, Musk and Cashmeran
How Does it Smell?
It would be fair to say that Laine de Verre is intriguing right from the outset. The initial impression is of blinding citrus and turquoise coloured mint, much in the same vein as the austere chill of L’Eau Froide. Things shift away from this quickly and when the aldehydes kick in it all become about texture, specifically that of waterlogged cotton. At this point the effect of the steamy aldehydes and the sweet mint is slightly jarring and sets one’s teeth on edge, almost like chewing on noisy fabric.
This means that Laine de Verre is true to its namesake and succeeds at capturing that strange dynamic of fibreglass, where the material’s texture is simultaneously discomforting and strangely addictive. For the most part, the rest of Lain de Verre’s developed is centred around a gentle waft of white floral-esque musk, sweetened by mint and citrus, that supplies volume for that off-kilter fabric accord.
Laine de Verre is the most conceptual of Serge Lutens L’Eau collection and equally it will be the scent most likely to garner compliments from critics and perfume nerds alike. It’s also one of the lighter perfumes in the collection and the fact that it is so interesting is equalled by the fact that it doesn’t have particularly good staying power, a quality that it does not share with either L’Eau or L’Eau Froide and ultimately leaves one feeling a little bit frustrated.
Still, Laine de Verre is a good perfume (that’s reminiscent of CREED’s Silver Mountain Water). I personally find it very intriguing and keep spritzing on my sample to re-experience that startling effect of cold water being wrung out of a cotton towel. It’s the sort of fragrance that will resonate with anyone who has affection for the Comme des Garçons Synthetic or Odeur scents, but given the choice I’d go for the slightly more conventional and infinitely more beautiful Aqua Universalis by Maison Francis Kurkdjian or even Serge’s own L’Eau Froide before picking this one up if I’m in the mood for clean and fresh.
Serge Lutens’ Laine de Verre is available 50ml (£67) and 100ml (£94) Eau de Parfum.
Sample via Serge Lutens. Image via grey-magazine.com. Image 2 via tendance-perfumes.com.  via grey-magazine.com.  via Serge Lutens.