What’s In a Name? – Etat Libre d’Orange Malaise of the 1970s Perfume Review

Let it Rock

“Let it Rock!”

Throughout the majority of my perfume journey I have been under the impression that it’s all about the juice with my mantra very much being; ‘nothing else matters except the smell’. But I’m no longer sure that this is entirely true, after all a perfume is a concept, and the best perfumes are the ones where the smell, bottle, name and concept are harmonious with each other. One thing that I have recently discovered is that a bad name can really take away from my overall enjoyment of a perfume. I can hide a crap bottle and I don’t necessarily have to tell people the inspiration behind the perfume I’m wearing, but if the name is bad then things can go sour rapidly.

Take Shalimar for example, could Guerlain have picked a more beautiful and fitting name? Or what about Gorilla Perfume’s ‘Breath of God’? Or on the flip-side, think of Thierry Mugler’s Womanity, the hideous name (sorry Thierry) honestly does make me hesitate from picking up my bottle at times. A bad name can ruin things, just as a good name can be the cherry on top that makes for perfection.

One brand who can always be counted on for an interesting name is Etat Libre d’Orange – they’ve got it all, from Fat Electricians to Magnificent Secretions and Hotel Whores. I think these names are fabulous but I can understand why they might rub some people up the wrong way, they are after all quite risqué. But name-wise Etat Libre d’Orange are at their best when they aren’t trying to be controversial (‘Jasmin et Cigarette’ anyone?) and none have been bestowed with a more perfect name than their latest release – ‘Malaise of the 1970s’.

Malaise of the 1970s may be the latest perfume from the Orange Free State but it is in fact a repackaged version of 2010’s Sex Pistols fragrance created in collaboration with Sephora. Etat Libre d’Orange describe Malaise of the 1970s as being “Inspired by a wealth of seventies pop culture references, from Star Wars to The Stranglers, Malaise of the 1970s captures the resistant and tumultuous spirit of the times. A metallic juice that resonates like the twang of a guitar string, its sharpness reminiscent of safety pins fastened to tartan. A distillation of rebellion, music and raw emotion.” [1] 

Malaise of the 1970s

The Notes

Top: Citrus, Black Pepper and Aldehydes
Heart: Prune and Heliotrope
Base: Amber, Patchouli and Leather [2]

How Does it Smell?

Now I’m not going to sit here and say; “Oh wow, this smells just like the 70s, well at least the way I remember them smelling anyways” because I wasn’t technically alive back then. In fact I didn’t make my grand entrance into the world until the late 1980s (I like to think it was grand but my mother assures me it wasn’t), instead I will say that Malaise of the 1970s does have a strong retro feel about it, and that’s all down to one ingredient – the patchouli.

Malaise of the 1970s starts out in a very lively manner with riotous notes of sparkling lemon, fizzy aldehydes and the black pepper which crackles like an antique vinyl record. It seems that perfumer Mathilde Bijaoui (also responsible for the impeccable ‘Like This‘) has shoved in as many effervescent notes as possible, each of which bounces off the other and makes for a rather fun opening that still manages to remain relatively well behaved and never quite crosses the line into full blown anarchy.

As the riot of the opening is dispersed, Malaise of the 1970s becomes a bit softer and fruitier. No there is no need to fear, there are no pink berries here, instead the fruit of choice is a rich and sticky prune, a note that was also cleverly used in Etat Libre d’Orange’s flagship fragrance ‘Archives 69’. The subtle use of the prune simply gives Malaise of the 1970s a soft fruity undertone and adds a welcome touch of colour to the composition.

As it dries down, Malaise of the 1970s really becomes all about the patchouli. There is a hint of leather in the dry down but the focus remains firmly on the patch. Now, I may not have been alive in the 70s but I do know that that patchouli was relatively popular at the time so it stands to reason that it should be so prominent here. I’m also very glad to report that the patchouli in Malaise of the 1970s is of the good variety, not the ‘cleaned beyond recognition variety’ that we’re so used to seeing. It is relatively dry and earthy but also has a really soft, furry texture that feels like a second skin.

Malaise of the 1970s is an uncomplicated fragrance, it feels effortless to wear and despite the prominence of as heavy a note as patchouli it does wear relatively light on the skin and you can still detect some of the initial fizz right into the far dry down. I didn’t expect to think much of it at all but It has surprised me and I have already made a big dent in my bottle which makes me think that it’s going to be a staple for me this summer. Perfumes like this are the reason why I am an Etat Libre d’Orange fan-boy!


Malaise of the 1970s is available in 50ml Eau de Parfum for £52.50


This review is based on a bottle of Malaise of the 1970s (in the Sex Pistols packaging) from my own collection.

Image 1 rockpopfashion.com
Image 2 etatlibredorange.com

[1] escentual.com
[2] basenotes.net


12 thoughts on “What’s In a Name? – Etat Libre d’Orange Malaise of the 1970s Perfume Review

  1. Being an avid fellow ELd’O fan-boy, I’ve actually got no idea why I totally neglected this release the first time around (??) I think maybe because most of the reviews I remember reading seemed mostly apathetic. (*citrussy water*) … In fact your review is the most positive I’ve read so far. And so has now finally intrigued me. I think I shall have to hunt me down a sample after all. … And whilst I totally agree with you re ELd’O’s excellent “names”, to be honest I’m not quite sure how I’m feeling about “Malaise …” just yet (??) Think I need to let it sink in for a bit ….

    Actually – just “Malaise” is starting to sound rather kewl … :o)

    • It’s quite an unusual name for them I think, normally their names are munch punchier (except for Fils de Dieu which goes on FOREVER) and to the point. Still, when I first heard it I thought it was fab.

  2. As someone who remembers the 70s – but is still trying to forget the outfits I wore! – I would be up for trying this one – intrigued by the prune note and the patchouli and “second skin” vibe.

  3. Being only 21 (for the last few years) obviously I don’t remember the 70’s. Haha. I really must try some more of this line especially the jasmin et cigarette.

  4. Trust me, there was nothing fabulous about the 70s from the clothes to the cars. And you’re right patchouli was worn by the supposed post-hippy wannabes. I can still conjure up that horrid oily smell combined with clove cigarettes. Ugggh. I love ELd’O’s irreverence, but this will probably be a pass for me.

  5. I like the name “Malaise of the 1970s” and they get points for an unusual note in prune. Plus you must be quite rebellious to use black pepper instead of pink, these days 🙂

    The ad campaign for Shalimar Parfum Initial showing an extremely young looking girl nude turned my stomach more than any of Etat Libre d’Oranger’s perfume names.

    • Haha definitely, black pepper is so uncool that it’s cool nowadays 😀 The prune is weird but lovely.

      Thinking about it, that model in the Shalimar Parfum Initial ad does look very young. I hand’t noticed before.

  6. Malaise of the 1970’s, yes. Sex Pistols, no. I remember smelling SP when I was in ELd’Os 69 Archives digs, and I was so not convinced that it had the fierce punk aesthetic that the name warranted. I couldn’t imagine Johnny Rotten smelling fruity. 🙂 The way the patchouli sings towards the end as you point out is definitely 70’s, and it reminds me of BLK DNM’s Perfume 11.

Join the Discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s