2017-05-20 21.24.11
Into the Blue

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.

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Etat Libre d'Orange: The Most Scandalous Perfumery on the Planet
Etat Libre d’Orange: The Most Scandalous Perfumery on the Planet

If you were to ask me which fragrance house has really pushed the boundaries of what perfume can be I would answer Etat Libre d’Orange without a moment’s hesitation. They arrived on the scene in a whirlwind of spunk and accompanied by a plethora of bold olfactory characters, ranging from high class hookers to smoking sirens of the silver screen. The house rubs noses up both the wrong way and the right way, taking pleasure in the delightful and the depraved. In short, they are the most scandalous perfumery on the planet but they’re also one of the most substantial with fascinating fragrances that more than live up to their provocative names and inspirations.

The man behind Etat Libre d’Orange is Etienne de Swardt, a self-described troublemaker. Having spent many years ‘working for the man’ at LVMH, as it were, de Swardt broke free from the constraints of boring everyday big business perfumery, which included scents for cats and dogs, to create the ideal ‘anti-brand’. He launched his perfume house not with a slogan or a mission statement, but with a battle cry. Etat Libre d’Orange marched into war in the department stores screaming “Perfume is Dead, Long Live Perfume” at the top of its smoke-filled lungs. The scents were the weapons – missiles that exploded, destroying inhibitions and preconceptions. Etat Libre d’Orange was a chieftain tank and Etienne was the maniac at the wheel.

Having been a big fan of Etat Libre d’Orange ever since I encountered their phenomenal Jasmin et Cigarette one drunken evening, I jumped at the opportunity to pose some questions to the rebellious renegade that is Etienne de Swardt. In one of the most fascinating and frankly hilarious interviews I’ve had the pleasure of partaking in for The Candy Perfume Boy, Etienne tells us what led him to perfume, whether he could create anything more shocking than the blood, sweat, sperm and saliva of Sécrétions Magnifiques, and what is next for the brand. So buckle up, leave your inhibitions at the door and get ready for one hell of a ride, because Etienne de Swardt is in the building and he’s in a mischievous mood…

[Please note that there are a few NSFW images below]

Etat Libre d'Orange's Colourful New Manifesto
Etat Libre d’Orange’s Colourful New Manifesto

If you’ve been following the quirky, rebellious and often x-rated world of Etat Libre d’Orange closely, you may have noticed that change has been afoot. The bottles have got bigger and more luxurious, and the five latest fragrances have all been coloured in brightly shaded bottles – a stark contrast to the uniformed appearance of the brand’s back catalogue. These aren’t the only changes though and in just a few short years we’ve seen Etat Libre d’Orange release flankers, nice fragrance, remixes and mash ups. It seems that they are now shocking us with how on-trend they are. Click here to check out my thoughts on five of their recent launches!

Shadow Play

“By my side, Hermann seemed to me like a shadow” – that’s the name of the latest fragrance from rebellious niche brand, Etat Libre d’Orange. A long, pretentious name in French is no real surprise from a brand that shot to fame by marketing a fragrance using the icon of a spewing dick, but much like all things Etat Libre d’Orange, this particular scent, with its particularly long name is absolutely fascinating, albeit without any erotic influences. Not that sexual innuendo, naughty hijinks and a healthy sense of humour are bad things, mind you!

Etat Libre d’Orange have moved into a new phase. Gone are the hilarious, shocking and hyper-sexualised names, and cartoons, all in favour of concepts inspired by Nijinsky’s ballets and poems by Victor Hugo. They seem to be treading a more serious path and elevating their olfactory art to a higher level. I think it’s a good move, one that will prevent them from being pigeonholed as the antisocial abuser of good taste. That rebellious and crass streak still exists – the spirit is very much alive in the brand’s back catalogue, but for now, Etat Libre d’Orange want to stand out for being innovative, not for being innovative and rude. I say power to them.

Hermann à Mes Côtés Me Paraissait Une Ombre, or ‘Hermann‘ for short, is inspired by Victor Hugo’s poem ‘What Two Horseman Were Thinking in the Forest’ and was created by Givaudan perfumer Quentin Bisch (La Fin du Monde & Ambre Imperial). The perfume plays with the idea of shadows, with shade serving as our companion or even our fragrance. They call it your alternate self – that side of you that is always there, whether it can be seen or not. Perfume too, can be a second self – a character we wear to send a message about who we are and who we want to be. But what happens when that second skin talks back? Etat Libre d’Orange seems to want to find out.

Super Scent: Etat Libre d'Orange
Super Scent: Etat Libre d’Orange

Super Scent is back, people. Let us rejoice! If you’ve not encountered the series before, please let me fill you in. Essentially, for each instalment of Super Scent, Persolaise, Basenotes and I (please click the links to view their pieces) pick out our top fragrances from a particular brand. In the case of Persolaise and I, these are our personal favourites, whereas Basenotes offers a round-up of reader favourites using the data found within the fragrance directory. Now that you’re filled in, we can get on with this edition of Super Scent which is all about the most punk-like and pop art perfume brand of them all: the dastardly dirty and downright devilish Etat Libre d’Orange.

Etat Libre d’Orange (The Orange Free State) climaxed onto the scene in 2006 with a collection of 10 fragrances. Founded by Etienne de Swardt, who is described on the brand’s website as a “troublemaker and perfumer” (although he is more of an art director than an actual perfumer) the brand shook up the fragrance industry with fragrances inspired by, amongst many other things; cum, high-class hookers, belly buttons and nothing, and with a battle cry that shouted “perfume is dead, long live perfume”. They are a rebellious purveyor of perfume that doesn’t take itself to seriously, but most importantly they like to challenge our preconceptions of what a fragrance can be. Is it unwearable art or is it a marketable consumable? Eat Libre d’Orange seem to think that perfume can be anything one wants it to be.

This was a tricky one, I’m not going to lie to you. At the time of writing, Etat Libre d’Orange has an extensive catalogue consisting of 32 fragrances and the rules of Super Scent dictate that I must pick a top five. I’ve narrowed down my selection to those scents offered by the Orange Free State that I enjoy the most, but there are many not included here that I love, admire and respect, scents such as; Rien, Charogne, Jasmin et Cigarette, Eau de Protection and Fat Electrician to name but a few. So, without any further moaning about how hard this has been, let’s take a delve into the risqué world of Etat Libre d’Orange with my all-time top five!

"The Reality of Love" - A Blend of Putain des Palaces and Dangerous Complicity
“The Reality of Love” – A Blend of Putain des Palaces and Dangerous Complicity

Serendipitously following my review of Putain des Palaces today, rebellious perfume punks Etat Libre d’Orange have announced the launch of their latest fragrance entitled, ‘True Lust Rayon Violet de ses Yeux‘. Launching 01 February online at Etat Libre d’Orange, True Lust is a blend of two popular fragrances within the brand’s collection, namely Dangerous Complicity, and the aforementioned Putain des Palaces. Bearing the tagline “the reality of love”, the fragrance is described as a “sweet and shocking folly”.

“When the Putain des Palaces enters into a Dangerous Complicity, a relationship is born. It is a marriage of mystery, an uneasy merger of hearts and minds and flesh. A blend of Putain des Palaces and Dangerous Complicity, a union of temptation and peril.”

– Etat Libre d’Orange

This launch comes hot on the heels of Etat Libre d’Orange’s big shift in direction, which saw them launch their first Cologne (and it really was a cologne) as well as their first flanker (Rien Intense Incense). All of which came after the brand launched a fragrance called La Fin du Monde (The End of the World) and stated that they may start doing things a little bit differently. Who knows what will be next? But for now, further details on True Lust are below the jump.

Selling Sex - Etat Libre d'Orange's Putain des Palaces
Selling Sex – Etat Libre d’Orange’s Putain des Palaces

When I started The Candy Perfume Boy, I didn’t really have much of a plan, I simply wanted to talk about perfume. Since my first post way back in July 2011, the way I write and the subjects I write about have evolved. Nowadays I tend to focus more on reviewing new launches, with ancillary series such as Desert Island Sniffs, The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to… and the Scent a Celebrity Series as supporting materials. Series have come and gone (due mainly to my short attention span) but this year I’d like to spend a bit more time looking back, as well as forward, by reviewing some scents that aren’t brand spanking new.

So to start, I want to look at a fragrance that has always been on my mind, but never in my collection, well up until recently, that is. Those of you who have read this blog for a while will know that I’m quite partial to the intriguing olfactory output from rebellious perfume punks, Etat Libre d’Orange. I own about seven or eight of their 32 fragrances, with the latest addition to my collection being the tricksy Putain des Palaces – a perfume I’ve always liked but have been reluctant to buy, for no reason other than the fact that I’m indecisive.

Putain des Palaces was released in 2006 as part of Etat Libre d’Orange’s initial crop of fragrances. Composed by perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer (Hermès’ Eau des Merveilles, Van Clef & Arpels’ Gardénia Pétale & Amouage’s Honour Man) the fragrance, which is roughly translated as “Hotel Whore” (racy, huh?), is described by Etat Libre d’Orange as “the temptress who awaits her prey in the hotel bar, and leads her lucky victim to unimaginable delights…” So yes, Putain des Palaces is a perfume about sex, specifically the transactional variety, and you know what? It does exactly what it sets out to do.