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Thursday, March 17, 2011


Two From L'Etat Libre D'Orange

After Tuesday's adventure with the Green Irish Tweed, Jeff and I decided to break out two samples from L'Etat Libre D'Orange, a French perfume house that makes scents with goofy names, and also has a limited line of celebrity scents. But art-house celebrity scents. No Kardashians here.

The first one we tried, "Like This," was one of these – it was created in conjunction with Tilda Swinton. It has pumpkin accord in it, and the reviews I’d read suggested that it smells quite autumnal and rather gourmand-y. Here are a few things that were actually said in my living room last night as we sprayed it on a piece of paper and sniffed:

"It smells like I'm THIS close to a person . . . like I’m reaching in to do the clasp on someone's necklace."

"It doesn't remind me of anything, but I like sticking it right up to my nose and smelling it."

"It’s getting this sort of cinnamony potpourri smell, like a cheap & nasty wreath from the Xmas store – but good."

We didn't really smell pumpkin, although there was spicy quality to the scent. What really struck us was the sense that it comes with the smell of live person in it. It smelled warm, and maybe with just the teensiest bit of perspiration. Not dirty or pungent or anything. Weirdly alive. Like actually wearing it might turn you into two people.

I took a whiff this morning, and the scent was still there, so it doesn’t dissipate very quickly. However, it had taken on a sort of bookish, dusty quality, rather like what I associate with my old piano teacher, who collected flamenco dancer dolls. A very personal scent. As if "Like This" were MADE OF PEOPLE. The Soylent Green of perfumes!

Our experience with Scent #2 was less alluring. This was "Jasmin et Cigarette," supposedly a tribute to 30s screen goddesses, with their long, tapered cigarettes and big flowers behind their ears. More direct reactions:

"Guy must have had a pretty low opinion of those silver screen stars."

"It smells like sick bay on a naval vessel – iodine and rubbing alcohol."

"It’s changing . . . it's getting worse!"

"And yet, you keep putting it up to your nose."

"Only because I can stop anytime. Ooh, it's intolerable!"

So, clearly not a favorite for us. It really does smell like jasmine and cigarettes, but instead of a Marlene Dietrich allure, we wound up with a hospital disinfectant plus mentholated secondhand-smoke thing. It's not a very big scent, which is probably in its favor. I imagine it wears very close to the skin. By this morning, the scent had mostly evaporated off the test strip, leaving just the faintest hint of "the last person in this rental car was a smoker."

We have a couple more samples left, and some more on the way, so expect further reviews. Huzzah!

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