Etat Libre d’Orange is one of my all-time favourite perfume brands. They burst onto the scent with a collection of fragrances that stuck two big fingers up at the industry, acting in a manner that was disruptive, innovative and horrifyingly beautiful. Ever since their launch, Etat Libre d’Orange has proved that they have just as much substance as they have style and they’ve continued to innovate, creating some of the most fascinating scents of the last decade. So yes, I’m a fan, but because of this my expectations are very high.
For their latest fragrance, Etat Libre d’Orange have teamed up with journalist and author Chandler Burr to create a scent inspired by his novel ‘You or Someone Like You’, or more specifically, the novel’s lead character, Laura. The scent, which shares the novel’s name, has been created by perfumer Caroline Sabas and is her first outing for the brand. The notes have been left to the imagination of the wearer because, as Burr puts it “the scent is the scent, if you need to know what’s in it, “You” is probably not for you” (insert eye roll). That said, there are notes of rose and mint mentioned in the press release, and it’s clear from sniffing it that these two elements play a large role in this olfactory tale. Speaking of sniffing, let’s stick our noses into this latest chapter in Etat Libre d’Orange’s Odyssey of the Obscure.
Mint and Rose
How Does it Smell?
When I smell You or Someone Like You in the initial stages, words like ‘green’, ‘dewy’, ‘crisp’, and ‘sweet’ roll through my mind. Perfectly in tune with the idea of the expansive blue skies of Los Angeles that serve as inspiration for the fragrance, You or Someone Like You opens bright and gleaming with a large spread of citrus and mint. The texture is bubbly and bracing, but it holds none of the iciness of mint, instead it pushes forward a sweet aromatic impression of garden mint rubbed between the fingers. The effect is suitably bright and airy.
The concept at the heart of You or Someone Like You is the tension between rose and mint. It feels like a snapshot of the exact moment where mint and rose meet in the middle – at the very point where they both share the same olfactory profile. There’s a seamless feel to it, with the dewiness of rose linked to the dewiness of mint, whose herbaceous green nuances are connected perfectly to the sweet petals and stems of the rose. Together they create one plant, one odour and one emotion. Oneness is a distinct part of You or Someone Like You‘s character but by being so precise in its movement, it missed out on the chaos and flawed beauty of Etat Libre d’Orange’s punk spirit.
Let’s cut to the chase, You or Someone Like You is perfectly nice. I’d even go as far as saying that it’s pretty and it’s certainly very wearable. I even enjoy the way that the rose and mint seem to be seamlessly blended into something that is more than these two individual elements. The problem is that ‘nice’, ‘pretty’ and ‘wearable’ isn’t what I want from Etat Libre d’Orange – I want to be challenged and You or Someone Like You doesn’t feel particularly forward thinking or subversive, especially considering the fact that it comes from the same brand that birthed the monstrosity that is Sécrétions Magnifiques and the remarkably amorphous Hermann à Mes Côtés Me Paraissait Une Ombre. You or Someone Like You is pleasant but for me, it unfortunately falls a little bit flat. I don’t want blue skies from Etat Libre d’Orange, I want filth, fantasy and fun.
You or Someone Like You is available in 50ml (£82) and 100ml (£115) Eau de Parfum
Sample, notes and quotes via Etat Libre d’Orange. Images are my own.