Review En Bref: Serge Lutens Laine de Verre

My Reviews en Bref are always for scents that, for whatever reason, may not warrant one of my more exhaustive, detailed assessments. This time, it’s for the brand new Serge Lutens‘ fragrance, Laine de Verre, which was released in February 2014.

Fiberglass. Source: featurepics.com

Fiberglass. Source: featurepics.com

Laine de Verre is an eau de parfum created by Christopher Sheldrake, and the third in Serge Lutens’ Eaux series. A number of people have described the L’Eau (or Water) series as anti-perfumes, and I think that’s quite accurate. It is always one of the many reasons why I struggle with Laine de Verre, a perfume inspired by fiber-glass. Yes, fiber-glass or glass wool insulation, and no, I’m not joking.

The Serge Lutens website describes Laine de Verre in the usual abstract terms:

It is only after he had been penetrated by the winter that, laying down his arms, the Lord of Glass came to place
at the feet of the Lady of Wool flowers and ferns which had frosted on him.

Source: marieclaire.fr

Source: marieclaire.fr

Luckyscent has a much more detailed olfactory assessment, along with their guess at Laine de Verre’s notes:

A fragrance named after an insulating material? That’s what “laine de verre” means: glass wool. […] His third offering in the Eaux series expresses “a domestic quarrel between my feminine and my masculine” sides, the maestro explains: the Lord of Glass, offering the ferns and flowers etched on his body by frost to the Lady of Wool.

The result is as playfully weird and avant-garde as you’d expect, with a huge aldehydic burst in the top notes – the odorant equivalent of orange soda pop bubbles fizzing in your nose. A whiff of ozone, the slightest hint of metal-tinge rose… There are shards of glass in that ball of mohair wool!

But just when you’re shivering, the “wool” half of the equation kicks in, or rather, rises in a fuzzy haze of musk and cashmeran – one of the most attractive and complex synthetic notes, musky, woody, ambery with comforting a hint of dustiness…

[Notes]: Citrus notes, aldehydes, musks, cashmeran.

I don’t agree with their characterization of the perfume as a whole, but I think their description of cashmeran is quite accurate given how the synthetic manifests itself here. As for the note list, I don’t think it is complete, especially as they themselves mention roses. They’re right, there is a very clear floral presence that lurks about Laine de Verre’s edges. It is a pale, watery, pink rose, and it is joined by other notes which that list omits as well. Very synthetic notes….

Source: de.wallpaperswiki.org

Source: de.wallpaperswiki.org

I’m going to say this as candidly and bluntly as possible, upfront: I’m the wrong target audience for a “fragrance” like this. Laine de Verre is about as much “me” as I am Marilyn Monroe or Vladimir Putin. There was always zero chance that I would like it, and I knew that from the start. I don’t like aldehydes, I can’t abide white musk, I have very limited tolerance for synthetics, and absolutely none for synthetics in massive, walloping, high doses. I don’t enjoy scratchy fiberglass, or metallic textures. I also can’t fathom the whole concept of spending a lot of money on a perfume that doesn’t smell at all of perfume, of a fragrance that is intentionally made to be an “anti-perfume.” With a niche price tag to boot. I simply cannot bear any of those elements, individually, let alone all combined into one. Which is perhaps why Laine de Verre was essentially a scrubber on me from the very first moment, though I actually stuck through with it to the bitter end.

Source: depositphotos.com

Source: depositphotos.com

Laine de Verre opens on my skin with a Wagnerian level of aggressive, soapy aldehydes. They are cold, icy, and definitely manage to convey the sensation of scratchy, glass and metallic wool shards that pierce you through the nose. One reason why is the almost equally aggressive dose of synthetic, clean, white musk. In the trail of the dominant two notes comes a bright, fresh, lemony aroma, along with a nebulous, elusive hint of floracy that feels very dewy and watery. Dust lurks in the corners, next to a sense of dry woodiness, though both are extremely subtle at this point. The whole thing feels very gauzy and translucent in colour, but extremely sharp and strong in terms of the actual notes. In fact, every single time I smell the icy cocktail, I experience a searing pain through my head, and it takes only 5 minutes for a powerful headache to be my constant companion. That clean, white musk is just a killer.

Woolite Delicates via rbnainfo.com.

Woolite Delicates via rbnainfo.com.

The aldehydes are interesting, at least on an intellectual level and at first. They initially create a very classique, slightly elegant, old-time, vintage feel to the scent, especially in conjunction with the sharp, crisp, lemony notes and the hint of something rosy. The aldehydes truly smell a lot more like actual fizzy molecules in the opening minute than anything else, but it takes less than 2 minutes for the soapy undertone to rise to the top. Before a full 3 minutes have passed, Laine de Verre takes on a definite “Woolite Delicates” aroma. I know because I went to check the bottle in my laundry room. The nebulous floral aroma is different, and Woolite doesn’t have the zesty citric element, but there is no doubt in my mind: my arm was reeking massive amounts of something not too far off from Woolite.

Source: soap.com

Source: soap.com

At first, Laine de Verre’s soapy, clean detergent smell bore the same sort of delicacy that Woolite has, but that doesn’t last for long. Exactly 15 minutes into the perfume’s development, the Woolite turned into concentrated Tide laundry cleaner. Specifically, the HE concentrated version with Febreeze. I know, because I own that too, and I compared the Lutens fragrance torturing me on my arm with the bottle in my laundry room. Tide has a much more aggressive, thickly soapy aroma than the more gentle Woolite Delicates, and Laine de Verre was painfully close. Its olfactory bouquet also wasn’t particularly helped by the slightly dusty quality that lurks in the perfume’s background, along with an abstract, dry woodiness.

Both of them are a bit of a contradiction to the very liquidy, wet feel to Laine de Verre. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the perfume also contained Calone, because there is a very aquatic nuance to Laine de Verre. It helps underscore the very designer feel to the scent, as if it were some sort of distant Acqua di Gio relative, or a more expensive version of the Clean brand of fragrances with their focus on white, laundry-based anti-perfumes. None of this is a compliment in my eyes, by the way….

Source: telshopmobile.com

Source: telshopmobile.com

Laine de Verre is quite potent at first, but the perfume also feels very gauzy in weight. The sillage only wafts about 2-3 inches at first, then drops at the end of the first hour to sit about an inch above the skin. It turns into a skin scent near the end of the 2nd hour, which fully in line with the goal of creating an intimate anti-perfume that is an “Eau” in nature.

Laine de Verre does improve, thankfully, though not drastically. Something happens around the start of the second hour where the aggressive quality of Tide laundry detergent softens, and the perfume takes on a more balanced, elegant feel. It feels like a super-light crystal, if that makes sense. It is still painfully soapy on my skin with a sharp, clean, white musk, but I can see how some people might now see this as a very elegant scent. An olfactory version of minimalistic, cubist art, perhaps.

I know the woman who would wear this, and it would probably be one of my best friends who is incredibly fashionable but who hates wearing perfume. She never does — ever — though the last time I saw her she casually asked what I would recommend were she ever to change her mind. Something minimalistic, sleek and elegant that wasn’t really perfume. I had no suggestions for her then, because everything I considered seemed too much like actual fragrance, no matter how light or fresh. Now, though, I finally have a name. Laine de Verre is perfect for someone who doesn’t want to smell of anything at all, while simultaneously giving off some sort of indescribable, elusively intangible, elegant vibe to match her sleek, streamlined, elegant clothes.

Bounce dryer sheets.

Bounce dryer sheets.

Laine de Verre continues its up and down trajectory. By the end of the 2nd hour, that brief moment of elegance vanishes, and the perfume turns into a skin scent which has progressed from Woolite to Tide to, now, Bounce dryer sheets. It’s all the fault of that damn white musk, which seems to take over. As a whole, Laine de Verre is a soapy, vaguely floral, dry scent with strongly synthetic “clean” notes.

Source: hdw.eweb4.com

Source: hdw.eweb4.com

Then, it gets better again, relatively speaking. The impression of Bounce dryer sheets dissipates by the start of the 5th hour, probably because abstract elements of sweetness arrive to dull the white musk. Laine de Verre is a now a nice, delicate, feminine, aldehydic floral musk. I can’t easily pinpoint the flowers. There was always a subtle touch of a dewy, pale pink rose from the start, but is it now joined by jasmine perhaps? There is something sweeter and deeper that goes beyond the rose, aldehydes and cashmeran wood accords, but it’s so muffled and muted that it’s hard to distinguish. In fact, even the rose and wood elements are hard to detect from afar, as everything is blended quite seamlessly together. None of it is my cup of tea, but at least it smells relatively elegant from afar.

Source: ukcurtainsandinteriors.co.uk

Source: ukcurtainsandinteriors.co.uk

The one thing I can genuinely say is quite nice about Laine de Verre is the drydown. In its final 90 minutes, the perfume radiates a softly creamy wood note that is very pretty. There is still plenty of that revolting white musk, but Laine de Verre now has a wonderfully soft texture that feels fuzzy, like the thinnest cream chenille blanket. It’s far too soft to feel even like wool. Actually, it calls to mind fresh cotton wisps that you see in those films about cotton plantations. In its final hour, Laine de Verre is as much about a textural sensation as an actual smell. It is a soft, creamy, wispy, woody scent with clean freshness. All in all, Laine de Verre lasted just short of 8 hours on my skin, thanks mostly to the white musk and synthetics which my skin clings onto like mad.

Generally, in my full reviews, I like to provide other people’s perspectives on a scent, but I rarely do that in the Reviews en Bref and I’m not going to do so here. You can look up the comments on Fragrantica, if you’d like. I’m simply not that enthused about Laine de Verre to spend a substantial amount of my time talking about it, though I find it less horrifying and traumatic than the equally soapy, sharp, synthetic, white musk La Vierge de Fer that was released last Fall. At least this one isn’t priced at $310. Both fragrances, however, are what I personally consider to be “scrubbers.” Serge Lutens is one of my favorite houses, and there is no-one whom I worship more on a personal level than Monsieur Lutens himself, so disliking one of his perfumes is always painful. But I’m afraid I do.

As a whole, I suspect Laine de Verre won’t impress the hardcore Lutens fan who originally fell in love with the house because of its complex, rich signature. The L’Eau series hasn’t been a hit with any Lutens lovers that I personally know, perhaps because “anti-perfume perfumes” seems to contradict the very point of buying a Serge Lutens to begin with. I don’t think Laine de Verre will make the vast majority of them change their minds. However, if you actually hate perfume, you may want to give it a try.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Laine de Verre is a eau de parfum that comes two sizes: in a 1.7 oz/50 ml size that costs $110, €75, or £67; and a 100 ml/3.4 oz size which costs $160, €105 or £94. U.S. sellers: Laine de Verre is available in both sizes at Luckyscent. The Lutens line is also always available at Barneys and Aedes, but I don’t see Laine de Verre listed at the time of this review. The perfume is also not yet shown on the U.S. Serge Lutens website. Outside the U.S.: the International Serge Lutens website has Laine de Verre in the small and large sizes. In Canada, The Perfume Shoppe always carries the Lutens line, but Laine de Verre is too new to be listed. In the UK, Harvey Nichols implies it is the exclusive carrier of Laine de Verre which it offers in both sizes. In France, you can find the regular Lutens line at Sephora, but there is also the online retailer, Premiere Avenue, which has the large size for €105. For other countries, you can use the Store Locator on the Lutens website. Samples: Samples are available at Surrender to Chance where prices start at $4.99 for a 1 ml vial, as well as at Luckyscent.

40 thoughts on “Review En Bref: Serge Lutens Laine de Verre

  1. I still want to try it! I know what you mean about people you know who want an anti-perfume perfume (a friend of mine wears and loves JHAG Not a Perfume). And I did wear Molecule 01 as a signature for a very long time. I was just thinking that there was an empty synthetic hole that needed to be filled in collection . . . maybe LdV will be it.

    Or maybe I can just dilute Woolite Delicates and spray it on my clothes 😉

    • LOLOLOL, “there was an empty synthetic hole that needed to be filled” in your collection. Well, all I can say is that you go give it a sniff and report back. 😉 😀 Honestly, I can’t see this as being you, given your general perfume tastes, Molecule 01 notwithstanding. But there is always a chance that I’m mistaken.

  2. Hi’.
    I got this as a sample as I am on their mailing list not my kind of scent sort of modernistic laundry/linnen refreshener. Scent does not hold sort of emperors clothes as it is not there.

  3. Bwahahahahahaha! Perfectly hilarious review and even better timing. I have just finished reading your Diaghilev review and commented on it. I had just minutely inched into the “its okay then to charge daft prices for perfumes although it still bugs me but I’m getting better about it” place when your words tip me back into the “bah, what the bleep do these people think they’re doing? place.”
    Woolite! Tide! Bounce! This was a tea spiting review and no mistake. The sorry thing is, is that I know exactly what you mean. I’m quite a fan of Uncle Serge but these odes to H20 have me stupefied: “Lords of Glass and Ladies of Wool” – what utter claptrap.
    Hideous white musk that lasted 8 hours on your skin – I salute you for doing this so I don’t have to. The biggest irony for me is that LdeV falls into the scrubber category, when it smells so much of washing/laundry aids…

    • Sadly, I still think this is better than the $310 La Vierge de Fer which, imo, did not deserve inclusion in the prestigious bell jar line. Actually, I’m not sure it even deserves the Lutens name as a whole. At least this one is much cheaper, and the drydown is relatively nice. 🙁

  4. I have a friend who loves Tide and Febreeze and the smell of Silly Putty. She also loves Demeter and that’s fine.

    Me? I do not like most synthetic smells. I suspect, as you do, that many Lutens fans (myself included) will not be much interested in this. I’m not “anti-perfume,” but I dislike all the products you named in this review.

    I applaud you for your tenacity in sticking with a headache inducing experience. Did your headache go away? For me to douse myself in this would be an act of pure masochism. I enjoyed your review, but I’ve no need to try this. I smell these smells, which were designed to mask other smells, as I walk down the street on any given day.

    I think Etat Libre d’Orange would have perhaps done a better job of Fiberglass; it’d at least have had a sense of humor.

    • No, my headache remained until the very end, and there was a small shooting pain every time I smelled Laine de Verre up close. White musk in large amounts always does that to me. 🙁 I had a similarly bad time with La Vierge de Fer, though that one was actually a much worse experience as a whole.

      I think Etat Libre’s version of Fiberglass may have been equally difficult, simply because… well, FIBERGLASS!!!!! But, yeah, it definitely would have had a good sense of humour about it and been intentionally playful.

      • Yes, exactly: Fiberglass!! I had to laugh about that indeed, for I’d mentioned my dear husband this morning on your blog, and I told him about this at supper. His mother has a fiberglass phobia, dear thing. She thinks it lurks everywhere, and she may be right. I mentioned this would make a truly sadistic gift for her. Would make a sadistic gift for me, too, and for many, but perhaps not for my friend who loves Tide and such.

        Again, I salute you for your endurance! I would’ve scrubbed for sure.

  5. I should have known from your art direction that this scent was in the scrubber category. Woolite, Tide and dryer sheets? I almost fell off my chair when I saw those images pop up as I was scrolling down your review. I think I’ll pass on this one.

  6. You and your readers are so much nicer than I am. I unabashedly say drivel. I am now officially an old crank and can drum up any opportunity to revel in my knowledge of arcane phrases. Thus, drivel. 🙂
    I do remember “angel hair” as being a decorative item used during Christmas, I’m guessing in the 60’s? I have no idea what it was, but it was a beautiful ghost/angel white fiberglassy spun- sugar cotton candy confection of great beauty. It was also generally acknowledged as “dangerous.” Wherever it was displayed, the children in our neighborhood wanted to consume it, wear it, flaunt it. No one knew what it represented, but it had the lure of the forbidden. Considering that my parents are proudly WASP, we did not indulge in such ostentatious displays. Luckily, my best friend down the street was Catholic, and they had angel hair on the mantel, wore mantillas for Sunday mass and put suet in the bird feeder ( after indulging themselves.)

    Laine de Verre sounds somewhat more like the air filter I just replaced for the central heating system here. It’s in the recyclying bin.

    • I remember that white stuff really well! My family got it one Christmas to put on the tree, the first Christmas we had in the U.S. and I was fascinated by the white glassy strands and their sharp texture! I’d never seen anything like it before, so it’s always stayed in my mind when I think of fiberglass. Did they end up banning it, because it seemed to vanish after a few years from wide commercial usage.

      I think Laine de Verre’s texture in the opening minutes definitely recreates the feel of those white Christmas fiberglass strands. It’s quite clever in its way, even if I don’t like it personally.

  7. I love the smell of laundry products but not as a perfume. I like them around the washer and dryer. The only time that I smell like Bounce is when I’m gardening. I read somewhere that it helps repel bugs so I stick a dryer sheet in the back of my baseball cap. Even the bugs can’t stand those clean scents. Now I’ll just pretend I’m sporting this perfume while I’m out there. Lol. I love Serge. I even sort of like the silly name and would like to smell this just because, but I don’t think I’d pay the price for a scent like this.

    • Does Bounce really repel bugs in summer? I’ll have to remember that. As for Laine de Verre, well, Serge Lutens seems to be on a trend that is focused on metallic scents with an almost textural quality. I just hope this is the last of it.

      • I’m not sure if it works or if the days I use it the bugs aren’t that bad. I’d rather have a dryer sheet sticking out of my hat than spray my head with Off.

  8. “…a Wagnerian level of aggressive, soapy aldehydes…” – wow; this is exactly what Chanel No 5 does when it hits my skin. I’ve tried each concentration in both modern and vintage, and it’s Death by Aldehydes every time (I kept hoping that some quirk of concentration and/or age would make a difference; nope).

    Apparently my skin reacts badly to certain aldehydes (as well as to Guerlainade); if I put on a few dabs of Laine de Verre, I bet I could repel an invasion of space aliens (unless they hailed from the Laundry Musk planet, in which case I suppose I’d be declared their Empress).

    And Holly’s comment gave me a flashback to the 70s; my parents decorated our Christmas tree with that stringy-tinselly stuff a few times… until the family cat took to gulping it down and then horking it back up in festive little piles all over the house. Slippery vomit-covered fiberglass strands; now there’s an anti-perfume.

    I’ll stop now, before the Good Taste Police are forced to perform an intervention. 🙂

    • You’re not alone, Stina. Chanel No. 5 is pretty much of a disaster on my skin as well in its opening stage, and for the same reason. If you’re not into aldehydes, and your skin amplifies them into soap, then Laine de Verre won’t really be for you either, I’m afraid.

      As for the Christmas tree fiberglass, we’re quite a merry, little band of people who remember the 1970s and used that stuff! It was very pretty, wasn’t it? But, yeah, kinda deadly in its effects.

  9. What a shame. I love many of Mr. Sheldrake’s creations, too. But I HATE saopy scents. With a passion. And they do not scrub off easily either. Gah!!!!!!

    • Yeah, I don’t know any hardcore Lutens fans who love the L’Eau series, so I’m not surprised by your reaction to them. As for Laine de Verre, it’s not as bad as L’Eau Froide perhaps (?), so maybe you’ll approve of it more, but I can’t see you being enthusiastic about it nonetheless. It doesn’t feel like a scent that would come from the man who did Cuir Mauresque, Fille en Aiguilles, Fumerie Turques, Miel de Bois, Tubereuse Criminelle, and the like.

  10. “,,,a nice, delicate, feminine, aldehydic floral musk” sounds rather nice to me, but suffering through five hours to get there, at, what, $160 a pop?, does not. Especially when I decided to channel my mother and buy a half-ounce of Jovan Musk for Women for $5. (That’s been Mom’s “everyday” scent for yonks now. She wears No. 5 parfum, Eau Premiere, and Amouage Gold body lotion for dress-up scents.)

    PUHlease.

    I adore aldehydes, true, but I don’t like to smell like soap… what typically goes soapy on me is orange blossom: flat, dull, creamy-soapy like Dove lather. Bleargh. Can’t manage that. (You know what? Fracas, even Fracas, has so much orange blossom in it that it can actually smell a little soapy on me. So does Poison, if you can believe it.

    Anyway. Put yet another Serge on the “don’t bother” list. The only Lutens I really love at this point, having tested a good 2/3 of the line, is still La Myrrhe. Aldehydes yes, detergent no.

    • La Myrrhe did have a soapy aspect on my skin (because that is what my skin does to aldehydes as a rule), but it was brief and it was NEVER like Tide! Plus, it was only one of the perfume’s many layers and characteristics. It’s a fascinating work of art.

      Laine de Verre…. hmph. 😉

      As for orange blossom, I know quite a few people who share your problem, where it goes terribly soapy and flat on them.

      • Yes, FLAT. Exactly. The dulllllllest thing in the world.

        I puzzled for years as to why my mother the BWF hater actually let me out of the house in my teen years wearing Chloe (the old KL one, the kitchen-sinky tuberose bomb), but upon resmelling it I picked up a good bit of OB in there. Clearly it must have smelled “clean” to her, ergo permissible.

  11. Ug. I have nothing to say except “Ug.” I completely agree with the poster who said ELdO could/should have taken this on. It likely would have been more playful with the concept which may have resulted in a more enjoyable end product, even if the outcome of ultimately not liking it was the same. I wish Serge Lutens would get off this weird minimalistic, metallic, austere kick. Yuck.

    • I’ll be honest, there were moments at the start where I felt almost like crying. Primarily because I felt utterly trapped with this scent on my arm, and I was experiencing feelings ranging from anger, to frustration, to sadness, to huge disappointment. It was just so terrible at the start that I repeatedly wanted to scrub it off. It does get better, but it’s all a relative matter. Bottom line, if I didn’t have to review the scent, I would never ever have stuck with it. Ever.

        • I rarely scrub things off because I feel obliged to stick with things for the sake of an accurate or complete review. Very, very rarely does it happen. So when I actually do scrub, I think that says something about just how unbearable I found a particular scent. There haven’t been many, but Malle’s Lipstick Rose definitely comes to mind, along with many of the Imaginary Authors line, especially Cape Heartache. Both scents are quite loved by others, especially Cape Heartache, but I found them both to be completely unbearable.

          • Malle’s LR was a scrubber for me, and so were a few others of his that I forget. I don’t bother to try any now. Funny – I scrubbed Cape Heartache yesterday after a second try at it (from reading you – I figured I could tough things out a bit longer – after all, it’s a pleasant enough smell, at least theoretically) I felt I ought to like it – there isn’t a note listed that I don’t normally like – but I found it so oppressive after two hours that I needed it off me. The last time I tried it, I scrubbed fairly quickly and assumed I was just in a bad mood for scent. I “replaced” it with Norne, which has many of the same notes but nothing of whatever bothered me (ISO E Super?) I don’t know enough to tell you (but I suspect you know).

  12. Despite my tardiness in reading this review, no one else has made the obvious lame jokes: 1. “En Bref?!” and 2. Your experience with this perfume reads like a mild case of Stockholm Syndrome.

    I’ve finally ordered my first handful of Serge Lutens samples, and am waiting impatiently for them. Definitely not adding this one to the list.

    • No-one made the joke because it’s been done before. Plus, this is brief *for me,* and skips a lot of what I normally do. Regular readers also know that the “En Bref” reviews are code for perfumes I hated, or that had something really wrong with them, such that I couldn’t be bothered to cover them properly.

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