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!

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Scenting the Characters of Studio Ghibli
Scenting the Characters of Studio Ghibli

“The Scent a Celebrity Series is my vain attempt at picking perfumes for those who don’t know any better, yes I mean celebrities. Let’s face it, most celebrities are incapable of choosing decent clothing, boyfriends, girlfriends, movies, (insert-celebrity-mistake-here) let alone having the ability to make decisions about something as important as their scent – that’s where I come in. Never fear my dear schlebs, I will ensure that you are appropriately scented, all you need to do is listen.”

It occurred to me the other day that it had been a long while since I put together an instalment for the Scent a Celebrity Series. In fact, a quick search of the blog tells me that it was way back in February when we last took a dive into the world of scent selection for celebrities. That is too long, if you ask me. How else are the celebrities and fictional characters of this world expected to navigate the perplexing domain of fragrance? They can’t scent themselves, surely not? No, they can’t. So let’s remedy that with a brand new instalment of some long overdue celebrity scenting.

For this edition I am heading into the magical, mystical and ever fascinating world of Studio Ghibli. Creating some of the very best Japanese animation ever, Studio Ghibli has entertained children and adults across the globe, breaking language and cultural barriers with their stories of love, childhood fantasy, strength and suffering. Director Hayao Miyazaki has created iconic characters that are loveable, loath-able, and all that’s in between. In this piece you will find some of my favourite Ghibli characters from a range of my favourite films – all of them scented to perfection.

I is For ‘I Do’…

I have weddings on the brain at the moment, mainly for two reasons: firstly, this week’s Escentual post (click on the image above to view) takes a look at some fragrances suitable for rocking on the ‘big day’ for both brides and grooms; and secondly, because after what seems like a million years being engaged, Nigel and I have finally set a date for our big gay wedding.

We are both incredibly excited about exchanging our vows next May and are finding ourselves to be surprisingly organised in terms of planning everything – we’ve picked our outfits (matching, obviously), the theme, the best man and woman, the cake, the venue and pretty much everything else. There is however, one small detail that we have not been able to agree on as yet – the wedding scents.

We have just under 11 months until the big day and I think we’re going to need most of that to make a decision. Do we go for something old? Something new? Something blue? OK, maybe we won’t go for anything blue (there will be no Bleu de Chanel at my wedding thank you very much) but there is an interesting decision to be made in terms of whether the perfumes should be new – in order to create a scented association with the day – or whether they should be old and already hold a significant amount of sentimental value.

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?