Good Clean Fun – Etat Libre d’Orange Tom of Finland Perfume Review

I have a confession to make:  I am unashamed to admit that I am an Etat Libre d’Orange fanboy. I enjoy their fun, pop art-like scents with wacky names and over-the-top marketing, which in my opinion needs to be taken with a rather large pinch of salt.

Tom of Finland was released by Etat Libre d’Orange in 2008 and was created by perfumer Antoine Lie who has created a number of other ELDO scents such as; Rien, Vierges et Toreros, Rossy de Palma Eau de Protection and the Infamous Sécrétions Magnifiques.

The fragrance is inspired by the drawings of Finnish erotic artist Touko Laaksonen who is more famously known as Tom of Finland. Tom of Finland’s drawings usually depict leather clad, muscular men in overtly sexual poses. Only Etat Libre d’Orange would even consider creating a scent for such an artist.

The Notes

Top: Aldehydes and Lemon
Middle: Birch leaves, pine, safraleine, pepper cypress, galbanum and geranium
Base: Vanilla, tonka bean, iris, vetyver, pyrogened styrax, suede, musk and grey amber [1]

How Does it Smell?

Tom of Finland opens with lots of bubbly lemon and aldehydes. This isn’t a huge blast of aldehydes that you see in a fragrance like No 5 by Chanel, the aldehydes here are used with much more of a gentle hand. The top notes give the impression of crystal clear and clean fresh water from a bubbling mountain spring.

The sparkly top notes don’t last long, and as they fade the powdery, more feminine part of the fragrance shows itself. Iris and vanilla create a wonderfully warm suede affect which lasts for most of the dry down. As the dry down progresses the vanilla, coupled with tonka and safraleine becomes more gourmand and slightly rubbery, like PVC. The dry down lasts for ages, and really gives the impression of warm, sweet skin.

The notes list a lot of green notes such as; pine, cypress, galbanum and geranium but I find that these notes aren’t very detectable, at least not on my skin. I smell the vetiver but it’s very subtle and I can only get whiffs of it every now and then. The green notes seem to hide behind the vanilla and I can’t help but wonder what Tom of Finland would have smelled like if the vanilla had been toned down and the greener notes (especially the galbanum) had been allowed to be more prominent.

If you are expecting something over-the-top like the exaggerated male forms depicted in the Tom of Finland drawings you are likely to be disappointed. This is a very subtle skin scent. Tom of Finland also, is not an overtly sexual or masculine scent, it feels very clean and represents more of the good, clean fun that is a big part of the Tom of Finland aesthetic.

I think it’s pretty much impossible to create a ‘gay’ scent and what ELDO has done here is create a fragrance for the metrosexual man, something that smells overtly masculine, yet distinctly feminine. It’s this juxtaposition between the masculine and feminine that makes Tom of Finland so interesting.

Whether you are straight, gay, male or female, Tom of Finland is most certainly worthy a try. It’s a clean, comfortable scent for all occasions.


Tom of Finland is available in 50ml Eau de Parfum and in the UK it can be purchased from a few select retailers such as and Les Senteurs. In the USA it can be purchase from Henri Bendel.


This reviews is based on a bottle of Tom of Finland purchased by myself.


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