As L’Eau d’Issey surpasses its 30-year anniversary, we unpack the legendary layers that make this scent one for the ages.
Scents accompany us through different chapters of our lives often changing with seasons. But few can remain relevant as we enter new phases like Issey Miyake’s L’Eau d’Issey. Inherently fresh, refined, and light, L’Eau d’Issey aquatic floral scent challenged the norm when it was first introduced in 1992 attracting a loyal following that spans several decades.
Issey Miyake and ‘nose’ Jacques Cavallier set out to achieve something that had never been realised in women’s fragrance before: a perfume which captured the purity of water with the elegance of florals. At a time when oriental heady fragrances prevailed, L’Eau d’Issey offered freshness and timeless simplicity, characteristics which continue to be sought-after among minimalists today.
In honour of Issey Miyake’s L’Eau d’Issey’ 30-year milestone, we discover what makes his signature scent so special below:
The scent is equal parts simplicity and surprise
With top notes of lotus, freesia, juicy melon, rose water, Calone, and cyclamen, Issey Miyake’s L’Eau d’Issey sought to interpret the essential element of water to produce a scent reminiscent of dewy water drops and sun-kissed florals on a woman’s skin.
At the height of warm fragrances, the decision to overdose the formula with the coolness of Calone, a synthetic which smells like sea spray, was quite the paradigm shift. Renowned for playing with contradictions, Miyake chose to juxtapose two antagonistic yet highly complementary flowers: the rose, which is beloved in the West, with the lotus, symbolic in the East. Needless to say, its popularity stretched to all corners of the globe.
Each facet of L’Eau d’Issey captures an element found in nature both in an olfactory as well as tactile sense. In Miyake’s words, “Nature is the best perfumer. It has everything we need for inspiration.”
The bottle is an architectural masterpiece
Just when you thought the fragrance couldn’t be any more poetic, the eponymous creator extended his vision of simplicity and deviation from tradition to the L’Eau d’Issey bottle. The idea to use a single silver sphere for the cap came to Miyake one evening when he was in Paris. He saw the moon shining above the Eiffel Tower – a monument which has captured the hearts of women for generations – and decided a crystalline bead belonged on the top of the bottle.
As for the bottle shape, the concept was to embody movement and evoke a rush of water. To this end, the bottle was drawn by hand and is deliberately not straight, proving that flaws make something unique, human, and magical.
Innovation is intrinsic but the vision remains the same
Demonstrating the house of Miyake’s commitment to nature and innovation, a revised bottled design was released in 2020 for both L’Eau d’Issey and L’Eau d’Issey pour Homme (the men’s rendition with more citrus and woody notes) including a clever take on the original cap featuring a miniature bottle which can be taken on-the-go – ideal for the modern multi-tasker.
Miyake’s unconditional respect for the natural world, which inspired L’Eau d’Issey, continues to foster the brand’s sense of responsibility today. With an ongoing commitment to minimise their environmental impact, Issey Miyake takes actions to respect resources, sourcing ingredients sustainably, produce responsibly, and always innovate and improve their product design.