Thursday, June 21, 2012

A scent for sadness

My grandpa, Jakob Sigurðsson, and myself
In everybodys life there are ups and downs. Some days are good, some great, other not so good. There are times when whatever is pulling you down can be successfully shrugged off, maybe by go seeing a friend, read a couple of blogs or have a long hot bath. And there are occasions when it's not so easy. Sometimes, sadness must be met head on. You have to embrace it and let it do it's thing because then, and only then, it'll pass.

I had a bout of the latter kind a while ago, as my grandfather passed away. It wasn't unexpected, he'd been very ill for a long time, but still, when death actually strikes, it's always devestating. All of a sudden the livliness of floral and fruity scents felt wrong. Gourmands, especially the sweeter ones, I couldn't stand at all as I'm the kind of person who looses apetite when sad. Loud, dramatic scents with a lot going on in them were just too much, I had enough of issues of my own. I tried going scentless, but that didn't feel right either. I wanted something. An olfactory equivalent of a funeral dress. Something functional and no-fuss to get me through the day without demanding any attention.

And what kind of a scent would that be? There was one that came to mind. It was released earlier this year and when I first tried it, back in February, I didn't think much of it. But now, under these new circumstances, there was something about it that kept tugging at my sleeve. I had a try. And yes, Serge Lutens L'Eau Froide did hit the spot.

It starts out with grapefruit. But there is no sun kissed Florida goodness here. When I say grapefruit I mean grapefruit zest of grapefruits 20 years ago. Before ruby was the norm and your face puckered up at every bite. On top of that I get a mint, but it's compeltely stripped of all its herby facets. Only the cold is left.

There came a card with my sample and, if I remember correctly, it said that L'Eau Froide smelles like cold water running through rusty pipes. That is a very accurate description of how the scent moves on. There is water, metal and cold, and that's it. There is supposed to be somali incense in there but as that's not a note I'm familiar with so unfortunately I can't pick it out.

If I'd envision L'Eau Froide as a person it would be as a stiff and solemn old fashioned butler. One who keeps a respectful distance but still is always ready to do whatever needs to be done, day after day after day, without ever letting the tiniest inch of personal emotion slip out through his face. He might never smile but he got me through days when my body felt numb with grief and my mind was so muddled I compeltely lost track of what I'd actually been been saying and doing, thought about saying and doing and dreamt I'd said and done. Thankfully I'm through the worst of it now, the flowers have regained their colors and the food has taste again. I wouldn't call L'Eau Froide either joyful or adventurous but it stood by me when I mostly needed it - and for that I'll be forever greatful.


Images: Fragrantica and my own.





15 comments:

  1. I can't think of any perfumes that I think are sad in a traditional sense. Apree l'Ondee is said to be a mournful perfume according to The Book, but I couldn't smell it very well.

    I think Acqua di Gioia is kind of thoughtful and nostalgic. Maybe that counts as sad, but not in a mournful sense so much.

    I also think Tubereuse Criminelle is steely, cold, and stoic in a way that feels like it's trying to ignore past disappointments. That's sad too, maybe more in the way that L'Eau Froide is.

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    1. Hm, I haven't tried either Apree l'Onde or Acqua di Giola so I don't have much of an opinion about them. TC I think very well could work. It certainly is chilly, just like chills going down your spine or how anxiety can feel.

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  2. What a sweet and touching picture with little FF and her nice grandpa. And a reason to re-test L'Eau Froide that I dismissed earlier this year, just as Nuit Etoilée which I'm now very fond of. Have a nice Midsummer!

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    1. Thank you! I wouldn't say that L'Eau Froide is very interesting in itself, it isn't, but it did hit the spot in these circumstances. And btw, the next perfume I plan on reviewing is one I got from you :)

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  3. Oh goodness, Sigrun! I echo what Parfumista said ... that photo of you and your grandfather is precious!

    I'm very sorry to hear of your loss and can quite understand why you needed to find a perfume that was more or less in rapport with the way you were feeling. Your description of L'Eau Froide -- it's cold steeliness -- makes sense to me; I can see why you chose it.

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    1. Thank you Suzanne! I thought long and hard about if I should publish this post at all, as it isn't that pleaseant. But then I thought it's a situation most of us find ourselves in, sooner or later so, I figuered I'd share my experience.

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  4. I am so sorry Sigrun. People live on through the memories of their loved ones. If L'Eau Froide managed to capture the aura of perdition of loss even for one person them it served its purpose.

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    1. Thank you! Yes, all of this did make me see L'Eau Froide in a new, much kinder, light.

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  5. Sigrun, I am so sorry to hear about your grandfather. I hope that as time goes on, you find comfort (and I'm glad you found it in Eau Froide). Your post was so honest and touching; I understand why you hesitated to post it, but I'm glad you did.

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    1. Thank you Nathalie! Things are getting better every day now and I'm taking the kids to Iceland in order to cheer up my grandmother in a couple of weeks now. We're all very much looking forward to it :)

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  6. That is a beautiful review of a perfume worn in sad circumstances, and I agree with the other commenters that it must have been a perfect "mourning" scent. I would also recommend Apres L'Ondee for such occasions, and have worn Orris Noir to a winter funeral recently for which it felt very fitting. Glad you are through the worst of your grief and enjoy your trip to Iceland.

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    1. Thank you Vanessa, and I've been thinking about you as well! I hope you're ok and next time you're nearby I'd love to meet up. It's a good thing that there are perfumes for every occasions - both sad and glad :)

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  7. Condolences from me, Sigrun. My own grandma just passed away this last December, and I know exactly what you're talking about. For me, the mourning fragrances that seem to work are the incenses: solemn, respectful but also calming.

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    1. Thank you Dionne, and condolences to you too! I can imagine those kind of fragrances doing the trick. I did try out Iris Silver Mist (which has some incense in it, but mostly soil), but somhow that one felt to literal.

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  8. Recently I came across the perfume" Funeral Home" by Demeter when I was searching the internet for some funny perfume names. At first I thought it was a joke, but it turns out to be a real fragrance. Funeral Home is a blend of classic white flowers: lilies, carnations, gladiolus, chrysanthemums with stems and leaves, with a hint of mahogany and oriental carpet. This may be just the scent some people are looking for!

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