30 September 2010

Feed Your Inner Fanboy:
Etat Libre d’Orange Homage Series

I’m desperately trying to squeeze another post in before September ends, in part because I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t like the archive list to suggest I’m more prolific a blogger than I am, and also because one of these fragrances launched this month. Since I’ve very little time left, I’ll try to make it quick.

I know it might seem a little heavy on the Etat Libre d’Orange here, to the point that one could call me a ELd’O fanboy, but I tell you, Etienne de Swardt helms one of the few perfume brands that take real risks and make hefty statements. Additionally, I get a feeling that it’s the kind of brand that wouldn’t mind its admirers being referred to as ‘fanboys.’ (Come to think of it, Fanboy would be a great name for an ELd’O fragrance.) That’s probably because they do it themselves, having slowly but steadily produced a series of special editions that pay tribute to various artists, most recently including Tilda Swinton’s Like This.

The series started, though, with Tom of Finland, dedicated to the erotic artist -- a cool and bright lemon splashed over a muddle of iris, vanilla, tonka, suede notes and resins, spiked with sharp and/or green notes, like pine, saffron, pepper and galbanum. A dose of aldehydes makes it smell clean and raunchy at the same time.

The second in the series is named for Rossy de Palma, the Spanish actress best known for her roles in Almodóvar films. The scent, I think, is the best in the series, including the two new ones I’m discussing below. Givaudan whizzes Antoine Lie and Antoine Maisondieu, both credited for this one, took a classically beautiful Bulgarian rose and made up its face into almost a drag version of itself, using smooth, milky spices (ginger and cardamom), a slightly slutty jasmine, clean patchouli and cocoa. 

I had an opportunity earlier in the summer to smell the fourth and fifth in the series, which are both being launched this season. The ‘holiday’ timeframe will see the release of Josephine Baker,  a sweet-citrusy, cheekily ‘tropical’ confection that smells like a coconut foam. But the 10th of this month saw the release of Sex Pistols, and while I bet any actual Sex Pistols fanboy would engage in a good bit of teeth-gnashing if s/he came across the twee plaid-capped bottle, it’s the better of these two by a mile. Up front it’s lemon and some very strong black pepper, which lingers admirably through an odd-but-it-works dried fruit note (“prune” as you’ll see if you scrutinize the graphic up close), some faint leather and patchouli, a nicely funky ambrette, and the heliotrope that wraps it all together. Like in Tom of Finland, some aldehydes of the fatty variety soap things up a bit and keep the jammy prune note and sweet heliotrope from feeling too dense. 

Hey, I got through it all with a half-hour left before October starts!

Etat Libre d’Orange Sex Pistols is available at Henri Bendel in New York. Most of their other fragrances are available online at Lucky Scent.

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