Etat Libre d’Orange
Well that was the year that was! 2017 is finally drawing to a close and I think it would be fair to say that it has been a year unlike any other. Perfume-wise, it has been once again, an incredibly busy year, more so than any other in fact, with a big cohort of mainstream brands launching new pillar fragrances this year – the likes of MUGLER, GUERLAIN, CHANEL (all capitalised for some reason) and Hermès, just to name a few. There have been flankers, celebrity scents, and ridiculous bottles aplenty, making for an interesting and fragrant year.
Seeing as the blog had a total makeover in 2017, this year I’ve decided to rejig The Candies a little bit too. Normally I would pick my best feminine, masculine and unisex fragrances from the mainstream and niche arms of the industry however, year-on-year I have found it harder to fit my favourites into these categories. The problem being that nowadays, the gender lines have blurred considerably within the realms of perfume, especially in niche. Also, I’ve said many times that a fragrance has no gender so it seems silly to categorise my awards as such . So this year I’ve simply picked ten fragrances – five mainstream and five niche, that each take the title of the best perfumes of the year, presented in no particular order.
In terms of other changes, there’s now a ‘Top Candy’ which goes to my favourite perfume of the year (it will be a most coveted award, I am sure), and ‘Best Body Product’ has been replaced with ‘Candy Crush of the Year’ to reflect my Candy Crush posts that celebrate my fragrant obsessions throughout the year. Oh and there’s now a ‘House of the Year’ award which goes to my favourite perfume house of the year. That about covers it, so shall we get started then? Yes, let’s! A drumroll please…
“It’s the scent of your lover on your skin after sex.”
That’s how Roland Mouret described his debut fragrance to me at the launch this week, and when that is the first thing one hears about a perfume, there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the scent is going to be good. Roland Mouret is known for his use of draping and asymmetrical folds in his designs, but he’s also known for form-fitting sensuality. So with sensuality and sexuality in mind, it’s no surprise that he turned to Etat Libre d’Orange, the most x-rated (and cheeky) of perfume houses, to create his debut fragrance.
That fragrance is the unisex ‘Une Amourette‘ (‘A Fling’) and it is created by Perfumer Daniela Andrier, who has been responsible for all of the mostly iris-centric Prada perfumes. I’ll say now that Une Amourette smells nothing like any other Andrier perfume – so much so, in fact, that if you’re familiar with her style, you will second guess whether this is one of hers. A bubbling, suede-like iris this is not, no. Une Amourette is described as “seductive” and “powerful”. It’s a scent that “leaves it mark as you move” – a statement piece carefully crafted to accentuate your body and draw attention to it as you strut through your everyday life. Everywhere is a catwalk, never forget that, Dear Reader.
We often talk about ‘notes’ or materials in fragrances and how they come together to create a multi-faceted composition. But these materials are incredibly nuanced themselves and each one brings not one, not two, but a multitude of different things to a fragrance, meaning that there is always a lot to learn when one goes back to the source materials. I always think that the best way to understand a perfume material is to break it down into facets and that’s exactly what these olfactory deconstruction pieces are for – to dissect each material into little parts so we can really understand what makes it tick, and what makes it smell so good.
Perfume is like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Each fragrance is made up of specifically shaped pieces that lock together. Perfumers match up the pieces, locking them together facet-to-facet, tessellating each nuance to either enhance or contrast them, or in some cases, to create something entirely new. The great thing is that, unlike jigsaw puzzles, where there is one way of piecing things together, perfumery is open-ended and the perfumer can tie things together in whichever way they see fit. This means that the picture at the end can be whatever they dream up. There are endless possibilities and to me, that’s pretty damn exciting.
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.
A Mighty Spectacle of Action and Adventure – An Interview with Etat Libre d’Orange Founder, Etienne de Swardt
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]
I have no chest hair. I’ll just let you digest that fact or a second. Nope, none, nada, zilch. Not a speck. I know, Dear Reader, that this will be of tremendous interest to you, and I’m sure you now have a wonderful image in your mind of my pale, hairless chest (oh yes, I’m pasty too) so, once again, I shall allow you a brief moment to enjoy this thought. Done? OK, we’ll move on. Now, I share this fascinating tidbit with you because I often look to perfume (where else?) to give me what I lack and luckily for me, perfume answers with some impressively hairy-chested fragrances to provide me with what I so desperately lust for: spray-on chest hair.
This post celebrates six scents that could put hairs on your chest. They range from the machismo-classics of the 1980s – you know the ones where you can literally smell the testosterone emanating from their sprayers – all the way up to the more modern scents that just so happen to be so badass that they can’t keep their chest rugs tamed. So prepare yourself to spritz some scent and sprout some chest hair as we traverse the world of butch masculines – fragrances for men that could put hairs on the chest of the smoothest of guys. Put your trimmers aside and get set, folks, because things are set to get a bit hairy up in here.
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!
“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.
This post is inspired by Chanel’s Misia, a fragrance named after Misia Sert, the godmother of the Ballets Russes and Coco Chanel’s greatest friend. Smelling Misia properly for the first time over the weekend I was struck by how cosmetic it was, in the sense that it was strikingly evocative of blushes, powders and lipsticks, giving the impression of a gigantic cast of impeccably made-up performers about to burst onto the stage. My mind wondered, as it does, and I got to thinking about other fragrances in the Lipstick League. So here we are with ‘Spritz Me, Kiss Me! – a roundup of five lipstick-esque fragrances.
Lipsticks and fragrances go together like bacon and eggs, it’s true. Every perfume lover will tell you their story of how the smell of their mother’s goodnight kiss was peppered by the lipstick, blush and perfume that she wore, forming a core scented memory that would last far into adulthood. Cosmetics and their distinct smells – odours of violet power, rose blush and waxy lipsticks – have permeated the world of perfume and perfumers have attempted to capture these smells in liquid form so that those precious memories of childhood can be replayed with each and every spritz. Here is my top five.