A Walk in the Forest – Etat Libre d’Orange The Afternoon of a Faun Perfume Review

The Afternoon of a Faun

Nijinksy’s The Afternoon of the Faun

The best perfumes are those that have a transportive quality. They take you to another place in space or time, linking back to often forgotten memories or cementing themselves as catalysts for new memories. Perfume is often referred to as “liquid emotion” because of this ability to conjure up the past and one often finds that a single spritz is all that is needed to play out forgotten moments right in front of your nose.

I grew up in a small village surrounded by fields, farmland and woods so much of my formative years was spent exploring the countryside, climbing trees and getting as muddy as possible with my siblings. To this day I don’t think there is anything quite like the smell of an English wood; the cool, damp of earth, the fusty wetness of moss and sweet, mineralic quality of tree bark. It is the smell of childhood.

Those punky rebels at Etat Libre d’Orange in collaboration with performance artist Mx Justin Vivian Bond and perfumer Ralf Schwieger have created a perfume that captures the spirit of a forest walk. Named The Afternoon of a Faun after Nijinksy’s controversial ballet, the theme of the fragrance is the “relationship between the suggestive fantasy and seductive reality” [1] and what better genre of fragrance to explore suggestion, fantasy, seduction and reality than the classic chypre?

"Did I Love a Dream?" - Etat Libre d'Orange's The Afternoon of a Faun

“Did I Love a Dream?” – Etat Libre d’Orange’s The Afternoon of a Faun

The Notes

Top: Bergamot, Pepper and Incense
Heart: Rose, Immortal Flower, Orris and Jasmine
Base: Namibian Myrrh, Moss, Leather and Benzoin

How Does it Smell?

The Afternoon of a Faun’s opening act is a song of rose. It is a dewy, earthy rose that feels relatively bright to begin with, almost like sweet rose water in fact, but deepens in time to something much richer and garden-esque. Accents of galbanum (it definitely has more than a hint of Chanel’s austere N°19), bergamot and pepper also bring out the sharpness of the rose hinting at the danger of the thorns.

Things are rosy for quite some time in these woods but slowly and surely the mossier, more chypre-like nuances take centre stage. Chypres are funny old things, they usually have a standoffish feel to them that, whilst being unquestionably beautiful, puts them at a distance from the wearer. The Afternoon of a Faun is somewhat different, it shakes things up with a measured does of immortelle (curry spice) which adds an incredibly human warmth, placing the humans alongside the animalic fur of the faun, meaning that this chypre is anything but aloof – it is magical and alive.

The Afternoon of a Faun intensifies further in the base with dank notes of mossy, myrrh and leather clouding together to shroud one in darkness as one steps blindly in to the farthest depths of the trees. The air is thicker here at the heart of the forest but it is more comforting than oppressive and has just the right level of headiness to simulate the feeling of your pulse beating in your ears.

To say I was bowled over by The Afternoon of a Faun would be a severe understatement, the truth is that I fell head over heels in love with it. But seeing as I don’t wish to bombard you with too much hyperbole I will simply say that Etat Libre d’Orange have succeeded in creating a real chypre (which is no mean feat considering the IFRA ban on oakmoss) that adds something unique to the genre.

Is it as beautiful and erotically charged as Nijinksy’s choreography? Beautiful yes, but the erotica is kept to mere hints which may come as shock from a brand who purvey scents that smell of spooge and have names such as ‘Hotel Slut’. To put it another way, The Afternoon of a Faun is by far the best thing the house has come up with to date.


The Afternoon of a Faun is available in 100ml Eau de Parfum for £99.

Sample via Escentual*. Notes via Escentual. [1] etatlibredorange.com. Image 1 artinthepicture.com. Image 2 etatlibredorange.com. *Affiliation.


44 thoughts on “A Walk in the Forest – Etat Libre d’Orange The Afternoon of a Faun Perfume Review

  1. Poetic review about a fragrance which must have inspired it. The fragrance must be romantic, poetic, cool, warm, misty and intensely real, like a dream. I want to cross its path while wandering in a beautiful wood…..but I am afraid I will have to go and buy it in a department store. Well, a perfume can invite us into its own world although it cannot change ours. I accept this perfume’s invitation.

  2. I have a small bottle of this. It was another one of my blind buys. I almost swapped it away but I’m glad I didn’t because I really like it now. I think the weather was warmer when I first tried it and now that it’s cold out it works better for me. I like a few ELDO’s and this one has made my favorites list as well.

  3. A-a-a-n-d just like that we’re back on ! 🙂

    U can count me as : +3 ‘nother fan’ …

    Plus I’m a great fan of Justin Vivian’s, so was really extra chuffed to see him come up with such an excellent scent & total winner for ELDO. – (I suppose being a self-confessed dendrophile was just the spark needed for creating a perfect ‘woodland’ chypre.) 😀

    I must admit tho’, my very first few minutes of sniffing ‘Faun’ I almost thought I was going to totally hate it instead – And all because for some reason the very first thing it brought to mind was one of my absolute nemesis chypres i.e. Yatagan (Probably my all time least liked frag !) … Thankfully however, it very soon became apparent out little faun was a whole different beast I need not fear. It quickly began to win me over so that by the end of the 2nd sampling I was practically swooning instead. …
    – So, I couldn’t agree more – it’s definitely one of the best chypres we’ve had in recent times. ->
    BRAVO Mx BOND !!! – (Congrat’s are certainly in order !)

    I’ve now since been desperate to do a ‘side-by-side’ comparison of the 2, just so I can work out exactly what was going on there … (??)

      • OK, just managed a ‘side-by-side’ sniff with Yatagan … & … well, now possibly even a little more perplexed than before (!?) …
        Apart from both being chypres and kinda having a similar vibe, or other than the few shared notes (most notably the ‘moss’), outside of my obviously flawed scent-memory, in comparison I can’t really say these smell that alike. – So, still not sure why I found them so reminiscent of one another. …
        Interestingly tho’, I did find an odd random clue -> Just noticed that someone commented on Fragrantica that when it comes to ‘Faun’ they just can’t get passed the smell of celery. Now interestingly, while there’s no actual celery in ‘Faun’ (or at least not that I’m aware of), Yatagan however IS notorious for it’s celery-seed note. And it’s in fact exactly one of the reasons I dislike it so, as similarly it’s the ‘celery’ that I can’t get passed in Yatagan, funnily enough. So, whilst I don’t particularly smell celery in ‘Faun’ as such, it seems this person must also be getting whatever it is/was that I got that triggered my thinking them reminiscent of one another somehow.

        – So now I must ask – Do u by any chance get any whiff of anything ‘celery-ish’ in ‘Faun’ ?? 🙂

      • Ah, that’s interesting – I never thought of the ‘celery-like’ scent originating from the immortelle as such. I’ve never picked that facet off immortelle before, but will certainly be looking out for it from now on. It’ll probably pop now that you’ve mentioned it … 🙂

  4. I got a sample of this and wore it just yesterday. It is gorgeous! It’s definitely unisex, too. Considering a fb, ELDO is one of my favorite houses!

  5. Oh I knew I shouldn’t have read this. I smelled it at MiN NY last year and it’s been haunting me ever since. Hoping Les Senteurs has it so I can test it again…

  6. It transported me as well! I love how etat libre d’orange fragrances remind me of fictional characters or settings from movies or classic literature. Even if I don’t exactly love all of their scents, they still manage to make me smell things I didn’t think were possible.

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