Eau d'Italie released Au Lac just over a year ago, describing it as a feminine floral with top notes of water lily, bitter orange leaves, and panarea fig leaves; middle notes of osmanthus, rose bud, and sambac jasmine petals; and base notes of cedar wood, papyrus, and mineral amber. I was preoccupied with some non-perfume matters last spring, so I somehow didn't get around to trying Au Lac until recently, although both its notes and its "back story" appealed to me. According to Eau d'Italie, this fragrance conveys the impression of "a gorgeous Italian garden at the height of summer, the air filled with the scent of flowers and the fresh waters of a lake" and was "inspired by the love affair between Italian Princess Vittoria Colonna and Futurist artist Umberto Boccioni."
There isn't anything particularly Futurist about Au Lac — what would a Futurist fragrance smell like? I'm imagining a mix of scorched rubber, hot metal, marble dust, and red wine — but the idea of a rendezvous in a sunny garden is definitely there. Au Lac opens with a lemon-tinged note of water lily petals. There's also something lightly salty and bright in the initial phases of this fragrance, perhaps some unlisted neroli. The creamy lily petal note never really disappears, but it's joined by a slightly warmer second phase of closely-knit floral notes. I caught a hint of osmanthus, which always reminds me of peach skin, but the jasmine is very subtle and not at all indolic. Au Lac's garden-in-bloom development gains some structure from a greenish wood note (the papyrus?) and a light cedary base. Overall, Au Lac strikes a nice balance between clean and lush notes. I wouldn't have minded just a touch more dirt in this cultivated landscape, but as it is, it's a very appealing scent.
While I was sampling Au Lac over the course of the past week, it kept reminding me in some indirect way of something else I'd tried recently. I tried and tried to remember, and then it dawned on me: this scent is what I expected Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey Florale to be: a versatile, fresh floral with sheer woody notes. It was only when I did some quick back-tracking that I realized both fragrances were created by the same perfumer, Alberto Morillas. I don't have any inside knowledge of either fragrance's creation, but now that I've made this connection, I keep thinking of Au Lac as the more elegant predecessor of L'Eau d'Issey Florale, with higher quality ingredients, a tighter construction, and a more smoothly polished surface.
Au Lac is a bit of a depature for Eau d'Italie, since the line's previous releases (with the exception of Magnolia Romana) have all been blends of wood, spice, and earth. However, if you're anything like me, and you enjoyed smelling Sienne d'Hiver and the very popular Paestum Rose on paper (and on other people) but didn't end up wearing them yourself, because you're fundamentally a pretty-floral lover and you just can't change your ways, Au Lac may pique your interest. It would fit comfortably into a fragrance wardrobe that already includes Ormonde Jayne's white-and-green florals Osmanthus and Frangipani Abolute, for example.
Au Lac happens to have excellent staying power for an Eau de Toilette: I could still catch a distinct breath of scent on my wrist after an eight-hour workday. It feels especially suitable for spring and summer, and would transition nicely (perhaps with a slight touching-up) from daytime to a romantic meeting on a warm evening.
Eau d'Italie Au Lac is available as 100 ml Eau de Toilette ($140). For purchasing information, see the listing for Eau d’Italie under Perfume Houses.