How Do You Make A Good Celebuscent? Like This – Etat Libre D’Orange Tilda Swinton Like This & Rossy de Palma Eau de Protection Perfume Reviews

Tilda & Rossy

The Etat Libre d’Orange Muses

Celebrity fragrances, or ‘celebuscents’ as they are so often called, are the scorn of many a perfumista. The majority are cheap, thoughtless compositions with the sole intent of making a quick buck for a celebrity desperate to cash in on the latest trend. As you can imagine, most of the time the celebrity has very little input in the development of their fragrance, preferring simply to be ‘the face’ rather than ‘the brains’.

There are of course exceptions, and some celebrities do insist on being more involved by playing the role of creative director. Celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker and J Lo are widely reported to have been directly involved with the creation of their early fragrances and this involvement shows in the final product. But these celebrities are few and far between.

One brand in particular has taken the idea of the celebuscent to a new level by choosing to partner with unusual celebrities who take on the role of muse and work with the perfumer to create their fragrance. This brand is Etat Libre d’Orange, those funny French olfactory freedom fighters whose compositions feel like a breath of fresh air within the industry.

For their celebuscents Etat Libre d’Orange chose two unexpected, subversive celebrities; Oscar Winning British Actress & Androgynous Style Icon Tilda Swinton and Pedro Almodóvar’s Picasso-esque Muse Rossy de Palma. Two strong, unique women for a strong and unique brand.

Like This

“I have never been one for scents in bottles. I have always located my favourite fragrances at the doorways of kitchens, in the heart of a greenhouse, at the bottom of a garden. Scent means place to me: place and state of mind – even state of grace. Certainly state of ease. My favourite smells are the smells of home, the experience of the reliable recognisable after the exotic adventure: the regular – the natural – turn of the seasons, simplicity and softness after the duck and dive of definition in the wide, wide world” [2]

Like This
Tilda Swinton

The Notes

Yellow Mandarin, Ginger, Pumpkin Accord, Immortelle, Moroccan Neroli, Grasse Rose, Vetiver, Heliotrope and Musks [1]

How Does it Smell?

I am a HUGE Tilda Swinton fan, she has been truly incredible in some equally incredible films (I am Love and We Need to Talk About Kevin, just to name two). I love her oddball (but completely spot on) style and her so-not-Hollywood attitude. Tilda Swinton is a rare, exotic bird amongst a flock of celebrities that pale in comparison.

Tilda Swinton’s Like This, created by Mathilde Bijaoui (Penhaligon’s Lily and Spice and Jacomo for Men), is one of the best fragrances to have been released in the last two years. It is a fragrance as strangely beautiful and grounded as Swinton herself. It speaks without pretence, declaring itself as the sum of its parts – an unusual beauty.

With Like This, Tilda Swinton was inspired by the scents of home and the colour orange, owing to the colour of her hair at the time. The name ‘Like This’ comes from her favourite poem by Sufi poet Rumi. As you can imagine, this domestically-inspired fragrance is vastly different from the bazillion saccharine candy floss fragrances released by Paris, Hilary, Britney et al.

Like This opens with fresh and über zingy ginger that doesn’t quite feel like ginger, as if the sourness of the mandarin takes something away from it and creates something new, a new kind of ginger with a soft papery quality. This sourness is quickly complimented by sweet pumpkin, think of freshly baked pumpkin pie and you’re on the right track.

The most noticeable note is imortelle, that bizarre and complicated flower that smells of maple syrup, curry and burned sugar. Imortelle can be a tricky note, it can be too much or it can be absolutely divine (see Dior’s Eau Noire). In Like This the imortelle is used very cleverly and is matched to the many facets of the other notes; the burned sugar of the pumpkin pie, the sweetness of the rose and the spice of the ginger. It fits in seamlessly.

Rose becomes more prominent in the dry down and it changes from being rather sweet to dry, earthy and dusty. The dry down itself is very warm and it has an unusual, but pleasant biscuit vibe that I cannot quite put my finger on, but I enjoy it nonetheless. Musk and vetiver add an earthy contrast to the sweetness and what’s left on the skin is a beautifully soft, musky shadow of everything that preceded it.

What I find most startling about Like This is that despite all of its gourmand notes it doesn’t really feel edible. Instead it feels incredibly homely, like the smell of a warm country kitchen filled with the smells of baking, human warmth and the outside dragged inside – the humble smells of home. If this is what Tilda Swinton’s Scottish home smells like then somebody give her a call, I’m moving in!

Eau de Protection

“Draw me a rose, surrounded by brambles that I have to overcome. Delicate enough so that I can move here, yet strong enough to let me protect her. A rose that would be beautiful because she would be my rose. Draw me a woman.” [3]

Rossy de Palma Eau de Protection
Rossy de Palma

The Notes

Ginger, Black Pepper from Madagascar, Bergamot, Blood Accord, Bulgarian Rose, Jasmine, Benzoin, Patchouli, Incense and Cocoa [4]

How Does it Smell?

Rossy de Palma is the Spanish actress most famous for her role in Pedro Almodóvar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (see it if you haven’t already!). Her Picasso-esque looks have led to her being dubbed as one of the world’s ugliest actresses, but at the same time have also led to her being a muse to fashion renegades such as Thierry Mugler and Jean Paul Gaultier. Personally, I find her to be absolutely striking and there is just something about her that makes you want to keep looking.

Eau de Protection (or ‘Rossy de Palma Eau de Protection’ to use its full name) was created by the olfactory dream time or ‘the two Antoine’s’, Antoine Lie (ELDO’s Tom of Finland & Sécrétions Magnifiques and Comme des Garçons Wonderwood and Daphne) & Antoine Maisondieu (ELDO’s Fat Electrician and Burberry’s Brit for Men), and like its namesake it is uncomfortably beautiful. It centres on the most ubiquitous flower of them all – the rose, but it is a rose like no other. A rose that suggests danger, beauty and carnal indulgence – “a witches rose.” [5]

This rose is blood red and shrouded in thorns. It is sour, uncomfortable and as Luca Turin put it so aptly, it has a “teeth-on-edge effect” [6] that is rather alien, yet quite enjoyable. This affect is achieved by the use of ginger and bergamot (sour) and pepper (prickly thorns), and is supported by earthy, camphorous patchouli and a metallic blood accord.

Rose and patchouli are two notes that are often shoved together, they are a perfumers bread and butter. In Eau de Protection, the patchouli slowly outweighs the rose as if is taking over or corrupting the innocence of the flower. The rose is darkened further by a rather astringent incense that gives a bleak outlook for the overall survival or our rose.

Bitter cocoa and sugar syrup make a surprise appearance in the dry down and they show a softer side to what could be described as a ‘dark rose’. The cocoa lingers on the skin after the rose is devoured by the patchouli, almost as if it was never really there in the first place.

Etat Libre d’Orange describes Eau de Protection as a “bewitching rose” [7], and there is a definite degree of dark magic affecting this rose. It is a talisman carried by our unusual actress and shared with those who truly understand the beauty of flowers, of patchouli and of perfume.


Tilda Swinton Like This and Rossy de Palma Eau de Protection are both available in 50ml Eau de Parfum with prices ranging from £59.50-£74.


This review is based on bottles of Tilda Swinton Like This and Rossy de Palma Eau de Protection from my own collection.

[2], [3], [4], [5] & [7] via Etat Libre d’Orange
[6] Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, p478. 

Image 2 and 3 via Etat Libre d’Orange