Maison Martin Margiela (Untitled) L'Eau (2011): Paradoxical Cologne {Fragrance Review}


(Untitled) L'Eau is the new, upcoming flanker to (Untitled), the debut unisex signature perfume of Maison Martin Margiela which was released in 2010. The fragrance was very well received then and noticed for its originality. L'Eau, presented as a lighter version of the original, is much more than that, a reinterpretation of the perfume, which while respecting the unmistakable signature accord of Untitled also brings something new, even unexpected to it.

Perfumer Daniela Andrier commented upon the new version saying, "For us, it was an obvious choice. (Untitled) L'eau proceeded naturally from (Untitled), the first house perfume. I concentrated on refreshing coolness, allowing nothing to detract from its intensity. I simply took the existing fragrance and drenched it in green and citrus notes, making it even more invigorating, light and airy, while adding an element of mystery."...



Notes: citruses, galbanum essence, bucchu essence, spearmint / orange blossom absolute, galbanum resinoid, lentisc essence / incense (Boswellia Serrata), patchouli essence, sérénolide (a musk.)

Untitled L'Eau, in the first instants, invites you to revisit a familiar territory, very much recreating the dirty, herbaly and green galbanum-and-musk signature accord of the original but with more of an Eau de Cologne mark stamped upon it at first. This is so far what the house led us to expect.

What is unexpected is soon, behind the initial top notes, the entrance of a very ambery and fruity note which becomes amplified. Sun-ripened lemon, orange, mandarin and bucchu essence, which has a cassis-leaves facet, are part of the new composition. What the nose has done is underscore the rich fruity nuances of these notes, as well as the lighter, more sparkling hesperidic ones. The lemon note is both bracing and filled with sunshine. The perfume in the sense of heft it conveys at this point even makes me think of a tuberose-leather accord. No leather note is listed but there is incense, which has a leathery facet. No tuberose is listed either, but there are mandarin and orange notes and orange is the companion note to tuberose scents done in the style of Fracas by Piguet. This unanticipated heavy and ample high point subsides after a while to let the traditional crystalline, citrusy notes of a classic Eau de Cologne play out their refreshing coolness.

Untitled_L'eau_2_A.jpgThe composition subsequently harmonizes these two seemingly contradictory and opposing personalities, the heady and the light ones, to create the effect of a desirable floral cologne where the lighter and airier hesperidic notes bring liveliness to a still substantial, near-narcotic, floral accord. There might even be a hint of coconut to create the suggestion of an opiate sensation. For a moment, one wondered whether perfumer Daniela Andrier was trying to please the fruity-floral constituency, but after a while it appears clearly that this is an effort, on the contrary, at creating an off-beat feel, not easily classifiable. The vision of a fantasy leathery tuberose blooming in the middle of a crystalline, Mediterranean splash water is illogical, the stuff of a wayward dream. The press material does state that "Untitled L'Eau is not only heady but disconcerting, a burst of green notes heightened by their delicate tanginess, a sun-filled freshness." Reading it I see that the operating words here are "heady" and "disconcerting." As Untitled L'Eau progresses, the floral note recedes yet remains at the same time as the noticeably sweet facet of the perfume.

It is possible that the idea of the fragrance was partially influenced by Dior J'Adore Eau de Cologne which is the graft of a floral perfume onto the Eau de Cologne genre. I am reminded, not coincidentally perhaps, of yet another work by perfumer Calice Becker, Beyond Love by Kilian Hennessy, with its heady, sweet, even candied tuberose. Daniela Andrier worked on a tuberose composition herself for Prada Infusion de Tubéreuse, but it was a resolutely transparent rendition. She may have wanted to play with a stylistic reversal of textures within a transparent genre dictated, without any irony here, by the word "L'Eau."

Untitled_L'eau_3_A.jpgI find (Untitled) L'Eau to be extremely seductive a perfume. It is an unpredictable fragrance but very well balanced. In the summer, one may often hesitates -- I am one of those persons -- between a narcotic perfume which will bloom magnificently in the heat, and a light, crisp perfume which will make you feel like you are walking in the shade. Untitled L'Eau combines both sensations. So much so, that if I hesitated between wearing Datura Noir by Serge Lutens or Alien by Thierry Mugler, say, on the one hand and Un Jardin sur le Nil or O de Lancôme, say, on the other hand, I could always go for the comingling of the best of both of these a priori separate worlds with this clever sunshade of a perfume which leaves room for a good dose of intoxication.

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2 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. Great post! Your description of this fragrance sounds heavenly :-). I was wondering if you know if/where it's available in the U.S., and if not - where I might be able to find it. Thanks!

    • Thanks! I believe the strategy for the brand previously was to launch Untitled in the US a year after the European launch. If there is no change of plan they might just do the same thing once more.

      I would look at private sale channels via eBay, Amazon - which carries perfume now. Discount sites might also offer it sooner.

      Chant Wagner

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