A Gourmand to Make You Smile – Etat Libre d’Orange Fils de Dieu Du Riz et Des Agrumes Perfume Review


“I love a perfume that makes me smile – Fils de Dieu brings the smiles, and plenty of them”

Despite their often hyper-sexed and occasionally misdirected marketing techniques, Etat Libre d’Orange are one of the most solid niche brands out there. They offer a line of well made, interesting, unusual and affordable fragrances that simply cannot be matched. The Etat Libre d’Orange war cry is “Parfum est mort, vive le parfum” (“perfume is dead, long live perfume”) and they are going a very long way to resurrect the concept of fun into the landscape of modern perfumery, a landscape that can so often become devoid of any delight.

I have said many times before that I am a self-proclaimed Etat Libre d’Orange fanboy, I simply cannot help it, I find their compositions to be filled with humour, occasional, nay regular genius, surprise and wonder. Each one is an essay in pushing the boundaries of perfume, turning familiar genres on their heads and firmly sticking two figures up at the bland, the trite and the cheap.

Fils de Dieu or ‘Fils de Dieu Du Riz et Des Agrumes’ (Son of God of Rice and Citrus Fruits) to use its full name is one of two latest releases from everyone’s favourite French olfactory freedom fighters, the other being Bijou Romantique. It was created by Ralf Schwieger and the concept behind it is interesting to say the least. Also available under the more controversial name of ‘Philippine Houseboy’, Fils de Dieu “is the golden eye that reflects beauty and conflict, rapture and pain. It is an emotional fragrance that requires a sympathetic connection between the server and the served, the giver and the taker, and the willingness to exchange roles.” [1]

Fils de Dieu

The Notes

Ginger, Coriander Leaves, Lime, Shiso, Coconut JE, Rice, Cardamom JE, Jasmine, Cinnamon, May Rose, Tonka Bean, Vetiver, Musk, Amber, Leather and Castoreum [2]

How Does it Smell?

I love a perfume that makes me smile and the very first time I sprayed Fils de Dieu I absolutely couldn’t help but let my face break into a wide grin. The first spray brings the smiles, and lots of them! Fils de Dieu opens with the oh-so-familiar yet oh-so-underused smell of rice, a smell that is starchy, creamy and delightfully savoury. The more and more I smell the rice note I think to myself “why isn’t this used more?!”, and it’s true there is room for many more rice-based perfumes.

The rice is complimented by the sharp acidity and sourness of fresh lime. This refreshing and zingy lime along with coconut and an almost saffron-like coriander note pushes Fils de Dieu firmly into gourmand territory. But this gourmand isn’t your typical gourmand, it’s that rare thing – a savoury gourmand, and an effortlessly wearable one at that. Rather than being evocative of a western, chocolate-laden desert, Fils de Dieu feels like an incredibly lightly spiced thai curry.

Now those of your wondering whether you would like to smell like a lightly spiced thai curry shouldn’t be put off, Fils de Dieu is gourmand but it’s not GOURMAND. The spices do die down with time and the creamy sweet notes intensify. There is something about the mixture of coconut and vanilla that is just so pleasing that it speaks to you on a completely animal level, it’s almost as if Fils de Dieu speaks in the language of comfort, using words like ‘milky’, ‘cosy’, ‘creamy’ and ‘warm’.

This soft, velvety creaminess shifts into a pleasantly dry blend of musk, amber and leather in the base, with a touch of vetiver for good measure. Fils de Dieu becomes drier, but it never loses that softness that makes it so enjoyable, it also retains a slight hint of the freshness that it opened with. Even in the dry down it has the ability to make you smile.

In a recent interview on Cafleurebon perfumer Ralf Schwieger spoke of the inspiration behind Fils de Dieu;

“For ‘Fils de Dieu/Philippine Houseboy’ Etienne gave me two films to watch: ‘Reflections in a Golden Eye’ by John Huston and ‘The Masseur’ by Brillante Mendoza. The fragrance thus was inspired by Asian cuisine (hence the rice), a Philippine massage parlor (castoreum!) and the body lotions coming with it (musk) all that enveloped in a tone of sepia just like in the Huston movie. The fragrance is quite fresh and not that difficult, I personally like to wear it very much.” [3]

For me the tones of asian cuisine are much more apparent than those of the massage parlour and the mention of castoreum (beaver butt) was baffling to me, simply because I don’t see Fils de Dieu as animalic or dirty in any way. One thing Schwieger (who despite having penned less perfumes than you would imagine has done some great things) says does resonate with me, he describes Fils de Dieu as “not that difficult” and that is 100% true. Fils de Dieu is no Sécrétions Magnifiques, it is unique yes, it is even slighty odd, but it’s not difficult to get, in fact it is probably the most wearable offering from the Orange Free State thus far.


Fils de Dieu Du Riz et Des Agrumes is available in 50ml Eau de Parfum for £52.50 and can be purchased from retailers such as Les Senteurs and Escentual.


This review is based on a sample provided by Les Senteurs.

[1] & [2] escentual.com
[3] cafleurebon.com 

Image 1 basenotes.net
Image 2 escentual.com


28 thoughts on “A Gourmand to Make You Smile – Etat Libre d’Orange Fils de Dieu Du Riz et Des Agrumes Perfume Review

  1. This one intrigues me, however something also scares me somewhat. As much as I adore Thai/Asian cuisine, I also oddly enough considering, cannot stand the smell of cilantro. ~ In your opinion, is the coriander leaf note quite prominent/distinct … and if so, does it stick around for long through it’s progression ??

    • … I do luv me a good coconut/vanilla combo though. So am hoping to be able to ignore the cilantro note for their sake …. 🙂

      • Thanx T’ … Oh no, that sounds like alarm bells to me. Sounding far too prominent for my liking. 😦 …
        I mean I have a neighbour who wears Aquolina’s “Blue Sugar” – supposedly supposed to be all vanilla and sugar – and ALL I can smell from it is the cilantro note, which I’ve heard no one else/reviewer mention. BUT it is very much there, and to me so strongly that it all about drowns out the vanilla. So if that one is too “loud” for me, when hardly anyone else picks up on the note, I imagine Philippine Houseboy’s will totally overwhelm me. …
        (Though I imagine I’ll still be too intrigued not to sample it anyway ;))

      • From the sounds of your tolerance for the note I do think it may be too prominent for your liking. But I’m sure you won’t be able to stop yourself from sampling it 😛

        I’ve never tried Blue Sugar so I cannot comment, but perhaps you have a strong sensitivity to coriander?

  2. Ah, it’s those Funny French Olfactory Freedom Fighters again!

    I am one of those people that prefers curry on my plate to on my person but it’s good to know you think it’s very wearable in this case. Anyway, it’s a definite “Yes” to the rice powder! The spices in Putain des Palaces are too much for me but love the rice powder note in that. There’s a touch in Equistrius too, which I love.

    More rice powder perfumes, please!

  3. What an intriguing scent this sounds, and I am most relieved to hear that the castoreum is not apparent, because that was the bit that rather put me off. Love rice, love creamy gourmandness, like lime and ginger – would definitely give this one a spin. The notes and general vibe made me suddenly recall that Jo Malone scent – Sweet Lime and Cedar – which is very like those discontinued Walkers Sensation crisps that had lime and Thai spices in them. Loved the crisps, didn’t want to smell of them! But this I would be interested to try.

  4. I reviewed this a good while ago and it’s wierd, I find the drydown a real challenge – not one that would put me off it I really enjoyed it, but once the creaminess wore off on me and the citrus dried out, up shone this gleaming metallic note. It’s like Secretions Magnifique, toned down and thrown into a curry.
    I really like this release, I do wish it was a little edgier, a big blast of castoreum in the heart would have been perfect. But there we go! Their new releases are probably what they needed – easy wearers.

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