Here we are, over four years after Etat Libre d'Orage burst onto the perfume scene with their provocative names and juvenile illustrations on the tester bottles. I wonder if all that hype served them well in the long(ish) run- did they lose any potential customers who might have liked the juice in the bottles of Delicious Closet Queen or I Don't Swallow but refrained from even testing them? Who knows. I tested most, liked some, loved others, recoiled from the metallic blood note in Secretions Magnifiques (but I still sniff to torture myself every single time I'm at Bendel). My relationship with Putain de Palaces (hotel hooker, for lack of a better translation) can be described as "it's complicated".
Putain des Palaces is a dirty rose perfume. I've discovered that dirty roses have less of a chance to turn sour and rancid on me, so I quite like the opening. The really dirty part doesn't show up right away, though- it took me several rounds of testing before I found the cumin in Putain and it isn't bad at all- it's spicy, but not like a samosa. What comes next is a way too floral heart thing- (too) sweet violet body spray and cheap cosmetics in a pleather tattered handbag. I presume this is the hooker part. It reminds me of this blog post from Boomtown Boudoir (utterly NSFW, beware). Do we/I want to smell like that?
The thing about this Etat Libre d'Orange perfume (it might also be true for several other fragrances in this line) is that it tries too hard. When I put nose to wrist and sniff Putain up close it's actually a lot more beautiful and interesting than the synthetic watery violet sillage I'm getting from it most of the time. It feels too forced, like it's pushing some clichéd imagery. Yes, when you actually smell the animalic musky leather it's a lot of fun, but why do I have to walk through the sleazy lobby with its plastic flowers and cheap air freshener to get to the good parts?
Putain des Palaces ($80, 50ml) by Etat Libre d'Orage is available from Henri Bendel in NYC and Luckyscent in Los Angeles.
Art: Red Hat by Fabian Perez