Approach With Caution – Etat Libre d’Orange Sécrétions Magnifiques Perfume Review

A body of evidence...

A body of evidence…

What is the worst thing that you’ve ever smelled? For me it’s the smell of rhubarb boiling. Seriously, there is nothing worse to my nostrils than those large sticks of pink fruit bubbling away on the stove. As a kid I used to hide away from the kitchen whenever my dad made rhubarb crumble because the smell (which is the olfactory equivalent of white noise FYI) would permeate every fibre of my being and leave me feeling utterly nauseous.

What is the worst perfume you’ve ever smelled? Now this question is even easier to answer! I’ve smelled a good few stinky scents in my time, take Estée Lauder’s Spellbound for instance, a vile syrupy mess of florals and fruit that apparently has the power to strip nail polish, but that’s hardly the worse thing I’ve ever smelled. No, if I were to pick a scent that was the worst I’d ever smelled then I would pick Sécrétions Magnifiques by Etat Libre d’Orange, and to add insult to injury it is a fragrance that INTENDS to smell bad.

Sécrétions Magnifiques was part of the original bunch of offerings from Etat Libre d’Orange when the brand first launched in 2006. Since then it has gained cult status as one of the most disgusting fragrances on the market whilst simultaneously earning a legion of fans who love and wear it. Sécrétions Magnifiques, with its accords of milk, blood and iodine, is described as being “as real as an olfactory coitus that sends one into raptures, that extraordinary and unique moment when desire triumphs over reason.” [1] Above all it is a “subervsive, disturbing perfume” [2] that really does need to be smelled to be believed.

(NSFW pic after the jump)

I literally have no words for this image...

I literally have no words for this image…

The Notes

Milk Accord, Blood Accord, Iodine Accord, Iris, Opoponax and Sandalwood

How Does it Smell?

First things first, Sécrétions Magnifiques really is as disgusting as its reputation suggests, but that’s not to say that it isn’t interesting. There are two kinds of disgusting in my opinion; 1) bad disgusting, as in badly made, cheap smelling fruity floral messes; and 2) interesting disgusting, as in a perfume that is as compelling as it is horrid. Sécrétions Magnifiques definitely falls in to the latter category.

Sécrétions Magnifiques starts with some pleasant (yes, pleasant) milky citrus and for a few seconds you are lulled into a false sense of security, in which you think to yourself “aww, this isn’t so bad” WRONG, it is. Just when you think that you’re able to rock it without fear Sécrétions Magnifiques throws out a metric f**k ton of stank and nastiness.

When I say “stank and nastiness” I am of course referring to the horrifying concoction of milk, metal and spooge, all of which is sweetened by a heavy dose of coconut. It is absolutely disgusting and despite the claims of the ad copy I would say that Sécrétions Magnifiques conjures up images of wet dogs in my mind rather than anything remotely carnal or sexual.

The godawful-ness of the smell is only matched by its nuclear strength and longevity, meaning that if you don’t like it, tough titty for you, you’re going to be stuck with it for a good few hours, no matter how hard you scrub. It will completely fill your nose and one small dab is strong enough to clear the room of all sentient life (I realise that I am being perhaps a tad over-dramatic here, but just go with me).

What I find startling about Sécrétions Magnifiques is that if you really smell it, as much as you don’t want to, it is apparent that there is a nice fragrance hiding deep down beneath the bilge. If you strip away all the disgusting notes you will find a beatiful and interesting white floral, and if you can stomach wearing it for long enough a pretty, and completely unique coconut and vanilla-drenched floral appears.

I don’t like Sécrétions Magnifiques but I do admire its balls (for want of a better word). It may not be pleasant but it is interesting and successfully achieves its mission of being a piece of high olfactory art, with a great big touch of novelty thrown in for good measure. Do try it if you can, if you hate it – that’s OK and if you can rock it – well, major props to you!

Join the Discussion!

What is the worst thing you have ever smelled?

What is the worst perfume you have ever smelled?

Do you love or loathe Sécrétions Magnifiques?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments box below!


Sécrétions Magnifiques is available in 50ml Eau de Parfum for £52.50.


Sample via Notes via [1] & [2] Image 1 Image 2


73 thoughts on “Approach With Caution – Etat Libre d’Orange Sécrétions Magnifiques Perfume Review

  1. Argh, don’t remind me.. I wish, really, really wish I never smelled it. But as you know, SM can’t be unsmelled. It’ll be burned into my memory forever and ever.

  2. I could instantly smell it again when I saw what your review was on, I wish I could unsmell it too as I have never been so traumatised by smelling a perfume. I had a tester that unfortunatley spilt onto my fingers, no matter how much scrubbing or bleach I used the smell of blood kept on coming and stayed there all through the night on me. The question is WHY???? Other than the shock value, WHY?????

  3. This perfume sounds like the olfactory Bluebeard’s key. I don’t want to smell it, because I know it will be bad, and yet curiosity draws me towards experiencing the horror of it for myself. I don’t think I have ever smelt a perfume which I could describe as quite so sophisticated in its repulsion. I did once have an assistant who wore Britney Spears circus to work. Very sweet, very cheap. Plays havoc with my gag reflex. That fragrance should be classed as sufficient grounds for instant dismissal.

  4. Well, let’s be honest here – Sécrétions Magnifiques does smell like spunk, however it ain’t as bad as people might think.. The concept is quite unique – like you said Tom – it does have some balls ;P
    …but the worst thing I’ve smelled must be a goat cheese – no matter how served / hot or cold it will always stink like old tramp’s socks! And I wouldn’t wanna touch it with yours even… 😛
    In terms of fragrance – even though as a child of Polish comunism era I’m emotionally attached to it, the worst fragrance will have to be a product of Miraculum called “Pani Walewska” ( Next time I go to Poland I’ll get you a sample 😉

  5. I actually have smelt something that to me is even worse than this. SM is just a weird smell and it never makes you think that this is a perfume. And this is actually a good thing because it is not confusing. I was participating in a blind sniff event hosted by Gardenia Nell’ Occhiello blog and one of the samples was really horrible. I later found out that it was Humiecki and Graef, Multiple Rouge. Now this manages to combine the disgusting notes of SM that hit you straight in the stomach with perfumey notes of sweet red fruits and decaying forest vegetation. It is worse because of the confusion it creates: some parts could smell good but the rest is attrocious.

    Of course I admire Humiecki and Graef for their individualistic approach to perfume but this one is definitely NOT FOR ME.

    On the other hand, if anyone finds SM interesting but unwearable and would like a more approachable version of this, they should try Montale Sandflowers. It smells like naked skin and hot sand. Very impressive!

    • I think you make an interesting point. SM is not really supposed to be a perfume (in a way it’s more of a “Not a Perfume” than the Juliette Has a Gun, but that’s another matter) it’s meant to be some form of shock pop art.

      The Humiecki and Graef really sounds awful. I think I may avoid that one.

      Montale’s Sandflowers on the other hand, sounds wonderful. I’ll have to seek out a sample.

  6. The worst (but interesting) perfume I’ve ever smelled is Breath of God, a true scrubber. That one felt as the breath of God as he was about to punish me for some horrible sin I’ve commited.
    I’ve haven’t smelled SM yet and must admit I’m curious, maybe one day I’ll risk being traumatized!
    The worst thing I’ve ever smelled is anaerobic bacterial infections (rare fortunately, because that smell could almost literally make you faint) followed by doing autopsy. Ah, the joys of the medical profession! 🙂

  7. Ha – I had exactly the same reaction to SM – I tentatively sniffed the opening and thought ‘this isn’t that bad!’ and then bang the milky blood accord arrived, just vile! I’m sure you’ve seen Katie Puckrick’s reaction on Youtube, it’s hilarious! Um other than that I did grow up with a pet Great Danes and an ill one of those can be pretty unpleasant…

  8. Why did you write this? You might as well have said I dare you.

    I decided to try my sample again off the back of this post, thinking I remembered it as not being that awful. Clearly I was repressing the memory. This stinks of wet dog, never mind blood and milk and whatever, wet mangey greasy dog fur is all I’m getting here. It doesn’t wash off btw.

    You are dead to me candy perfume boy. Dead to me.

    Sobbing quietly now between retches.

  9. Still haven’t smelled this. I admit to a morbid curiosity, but it doesn’t seem to be pushing me to get a sample.

    Worst thing I’ve ever smelled? A dead moose rotting. Truly, truly horrible. Worst perfume? Kind of a trick question, because stuff that can smell wonderful on others will go completely vile on my skin. Cases in point: Private Collection, Rahat Loukhoum, Madame X…… urgh. But the prize for “What-was-I-thinking-both-leather-and-violets-are-problematic-for-me” is Smell Bent’s Violet Tendencies. I almost gnawed my arm off to get rid of it.

  10. I sampled this and gave a commentary during my early BN days. TBH I don’t find it to smell of blood or male ejaculate at all. More like turned milk and iodine which on my skin then turned into a weak mixed floral. I did get one odd reaction, when I sampled other ELdO’s I kept getting “SM flashbacks”. To me many ELdO scents have a trace of SM in them. A bit like Guerlainade in classic Guerlains.

    • I agree that it really doesn’t smell of bodily secretions, it’s more wet dog than anything.

      It’s interesting that you mentioned that you get “SM flashbacks” in other ELDO scents. I definitely get flashbacks when smelling Archives 69 and one or two others.

  11. I suspect SM is rather like the ultimate rite of passage for us perfumistas…you really, truly, absolutely HAVE to smell it, just the once, just to say you survived! 😉 I actually put it on, and then timed how long I lasted. (six hours, and I could stand it no longer). But no matter how vile I thought – and still think – it is, I have to admire the concept. To take perfume and entirely subvert it – that takes titanium cojones! It still holds the record for Vilest Vial Evuh.
    On the other hand, I had a chance to try one of the new Middle Eastern Guerlains (and this was Thierry Wasser, mind, and I have a bit of a crush there) yesterday. It wasn’t horrible at all, but it raised my hackles for the worse in a way no perfume has since SM, and that is…rather strange!

  12. What is the worst thing you have ever smelled? Dead fish and the fishtank water they’d been in for several weeks (over vacation–the person who was supposed to take care of them didn’t and I had to dump everything out!)

    What is the worst perfume you have ever smelled? By Killian Pure Oud–smelled to me like burning black licorice, and I can’t stand licoricey smells in the first place.

    Do you love or loathe Sécrétions Magnifiques? Haven’t tried it and don’t think I will!!!

  13. Loved reading your thoughts on this one and that Gaga crime scene pic is perfect!

    I have to say I’ve never tried it and feel like I should but all the comments above make me think I may never recover. I’m glad it exists though. Someone has to push it to the limits and it’s good to know we can rely on ELDO for that.

    Oh I don’t like the smell of rhubarb either and roasting pheasant is pretty horrendous. We got given one once and it smelt fowl. Ha ha.

  14. I’ve always thought that if Secretions Mangifique were quieter – it would be a stunning composition. It was completely unncecessary for it to be so loud and tenacious – it’s completely unappealing and overhwelming.
    I do adore the opening, but it soon goes utterly repulsive. I felt very brave when I first got my sample many months back – I wore it solely for about four days… by midday I was sick of it – the standard coconut/vanilla/iris drydown still gave me horrible memories of the intense iodine heart.
    A much more wearable version of Secretions Magnifique is Bosque by Humiecki and Graef which is absolutely divine and has a true to life, but unlisted, “sperm” accord, without a doubt. I adore this fragrance (but not the price tag)…

  15. I’ve never tried SM and with my general attitude toward the brand I doubt I ever will.

    It’s strange but I’m not sure I can answer any of your questions… I can’t think of any particularly unpleasant smells… Well, maybe an anticeptic cream from my childhood – Linimentum balsamicum Vischnevsky. The worst perfume?.. Again, I’m not sure. Let’s say Pink Sugar: it makes me nauseous. But, in general, either I do not come across too many truely unpleasant odors or I just block out those memories 🙂

  16. I was at a Sniffapalooza event in NYC years ago, when a lot of people hadn’t smelled his yet (maybe in 2007?) and someone accidentally sprayed a tester bottle into the air at Barney’s. Too funny how the crowd jumped back in horror! I also got a chance to ask Etienne De Swardt (ELdO’s owner) about this scent a year or two later. I suggested that perhaps SM is just a marketing ploy, and no one really buys it to wear. He kept a straight face as he claimed that some people really do wear it, and that SM is better on the skin, and said something along the lines that it mellows once you put it on. He mentioned that it was one of their better-selling fragrances. Well, I still think it’s part of their bad boy marketing, and people buy it as a joke or novelty item, but I didn’t press him. He’s very nice and I didn’t want to seem rude 😉 The only ELdO fragrance I own a full bottle of is Tilda Swinton, Like This!

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  18. That is the most disgusting sounding fragrance ever. I am so glad that I read this so I can stay far away from it! Thank you for the warning! I am very comfortable with my identity as a fragrance lover and don’t see a need to test the waters 😉

    I am also one of those people who generally resists when others tell me something tastes disgusting and I have to try it (no) or something is super scary and I have to do it just once in my life (no).

    I have to say that your review was really fun to read in a kind of horrifying way. The images you wrote about are so seared in my imagination that I think I can pass on smelling spooge-y scrubbers!

  19. Oh! I just remembered:

    The worst thing that I have ever smelled? Once, my mother got this traditional remedy from her Chinese herbalist. The label on the box actually said, “Donkey Ass’s Glue.” She had to boil it. It turned a stainless steel pot black and made the house smell like a rendering plant for WEEKS.

    The worst perfume? Kind of whatever the top men’s fragrance is at Sephora at any given time.

  20. Hi Thomas, sorry this is a day or two late, but I had to weigh in. First, thanks for taking one for the team. I would have been surprised if you liked it. After seeing Katie’s video test of SM I never wanted to try it. Not even curious.

    Worse perfume ever was Serge Lutens Miel de Bois. I’ve never had such a visceral reaction to a perfume, to the point of gagging. Still, I kept sniffing my arm, in disbelief, I guess. I mean, how could a perfume smell so bad? The honey beckons a bit and then, oh the horror. I know MdB has its fans, but I had to throw away the sample. It will never touch my skin again.

  21. Heh, heh, nice review T’ ! … However, I agree with ‘Eva’ above – to me Breath of God smells even worse than SM. But then I’m probably one of the very few who was never really ‘offended’ by the so called stench of SM. Granted I still wouldn’t want to actually wear it as such. But to my nose it smells more interesting than ever actually off-putting or ‘disgusting’. It smells no worse than a early spring walk along a beachy marsh. I’ve always imagined SM as the sort of perfume that would suit a mermaid perfumista perfectly. 🙂 …
    The other thing I find most interesting about SM is how different it manages to smell on different skins. (& even times.) I have a friend who ‘has the balls’ to wear it, (a bottle at first given to him as a joke, which he instead landed up embracing), and I’m constantly amazed at how different, even pleasant it smells on him. Hardly even recognisable most times. I’ve even been caught asking him “what scent is that u wearing ?” – when I know the scent so well. ~ Strange !
    I think there are 2 ‘exterior’ things that increase it’s “unpleasantness” considerably. 1) the close scrutiny and focused attention of a sampling (as apposed to inattentive ‘wearing’). & 2) The lemming &/or ‘herd mentality’ perpetuated & hyperbolised on the net. – Without these two things exacerbating I doubt this many would find it that truly revolting (IMO at least.)

    As for which scents I can’t stomach ? … In perfumery : I detest tomato-leaf ! (+ coriander-leaf/cilantro, but to a lesser extent.) … And in life : probably not exactly the ‘worst’ thing I’ve ever smelled – but mutton or liver cooking never fails to make me wretch. – urgh !

    So, sad for me – as ‘Tomato-Leaf’ seems to be THE new “in-note” emerging everywhere. 😦

  22. The worst thing I’ve ever smelled: I’ve been in some outhouses and Port-O-Sans that have been overused, left baking in the hot sun, and not cleaned too frequently.

    The worst perfume I’ve ever smelled: Secretions Magnifiques is in the Hall of Fame in this category (just a sniff at the nozzle made me nauseous, I went no further), but in my opinion Byredo’s M/Mink is just as bad.

    Do I love or loathe Sécrétions Magnifiques? BLECCHHHHH!

    BTW, your reference to Spellbound makes me laugh. I loved it when it first came out, and sprayed it on copiously! I was not the most popular person in the office at that time. I stopped wearing it after a co-worker told me I stank. She was rude, but correct. I recently re-tested it after many years, and had to sit through a train ride home, wishing I could chew my arm off. Serves me right.

    • Oooh those outhouses sound NAAAASSSSTY!

      M/Mink is weird. To me it smells like tinsel. I didn’t find it completely unpleasant though.

      “BLECCHHHHH” sums Sécrétions Magnifiques up perfectly. I could have saved some time just by typing that 😀

      I love your Spellbound story and that you’re happy to admit that you stank. Your colleague was very rude though!

  23. The worst smell for me is when my dad would clean out hard water deposits in his coffee pot with vinegar when I was a child. The whole house smelled like hot sour too-strong vinegar.
    I’m new to this fragrance smelling business; I’m so disappointed with SM! I love the idea of taking natural smells and abstracting it to smell wearable. Some of you may scoff, but Demeter Dirt is brilliant to me, if only it lasted! The reviews I’ve read for SM inflamed my imagination with potential of smelling like a sexy dangerous sex on wheels so-bad-it’s-good bad boy but I got none of the horror some of you are getting. All im getting is a powder + floral + marine — it isn’t appealing but I’m not getting buckets of blood on a porno set that some are claiming. (maybe my dad burned out my nose with the hot vinegar).

    • No scoffing here, Demeter’s Dirt is wonderful!

      This is the thing with Sécrétions Magnifiques, it is disgusting but it doesn’t really smell like anything in nature. You’re never going to come across that combination of smells in real life, especially not in the bedroom.

      Oh and I know exactly what you mean about the smell of pots washed in vinegar. GROSS.

  24. Never in my entire life have I smelled such awful, traumatizing smell, like many people say I will never be the same after that perfume came into my life I can recall it by just thinking of it and feel sickened while doing it, my son 8 year old boy says it was great, I think the perfume is so well done to make girls hate it but guys sometimes like it, I admire the fact the could create such a bad smell and still sell it….. I imagine that is how a psychopath would smell, that is how a serial killer would smell, it is horrendous but for some strange weird reason, Im attracted to it, maybe I am attracted to serial killers, semen, blood and lust. Oh God I cant believe how awful it is, as I write this lines I can still feel the smell in my fingers. I also tried washing it so many times it turned into a pus-like smelling stuff, please people stay away from that evil smell hahahha But congrats to the creators you can now laugh like a crazy person and say “it is alive! mmmmwwwuuuuuajjajajajajaj”

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