Sunday, December 19, 2010

Etat Libre d'Orange- Putain des Palaces


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

13 comments:

  1. I have never tested even one of these due to the names and illustrations on the bottles. I know I'm surely missing out, but I see testing fumes as rehearsing them for a role in my collection, and none of these will ever get there, so no point wasting time.

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  2. Vinery, I know exactly how you feel. I'd never ever buy sveral of them because of the names. It's just not my style and not what I'm willing to support. Yet there are several perfumes in the line that have reasonable names and nothing offensive about them. Incidentally, they are also very good- Like This, Rien Josephine Baker are my top choices and worth your time.

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  3. "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?"

    Yes, no doubt. I might be willing to sniff something like Putain de Palace, but I'd never buy it. The whole thing sounds like it was done by some geeky teenager who thinks talking dirty is some kind of huge liberation.

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  4. Fernando, you're spot-on. The names are just half the issue. The illustration on the bottles of Putain and Secretions (just the testers, but it's more than enough) are right out of middle school.

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  5. I was just chatting with eaumg and ScentHive tonight about ELDO. I have not had any luck with their fragrances so far, but I've only tried Like This and Divin Enfant. I personally have no problems with racy names or imagery (and think the Tom of Finland idea is actually pretty cool), but my impression of their products so far is that they put more thought into the design, packaging and names of their products than the products themselves. So, truth be told, I will probably pass on most of their perfumes unless one sounds outrageously good to me.

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  6. Carrie, I agree about Tom Of Finland. I like both the idea and the fragrance in that case. Don't get Enfant, either, and Fat Electrician might be the only vetiver in the universe I dislike. Do try Josephine Baker (it's the newest one, not yet in Luckyscent but Bendel has it). I only tested it once so far but really enjoyed this one.

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  7. Just looked up Josephine Baker, the "curry jungle essence" definitely sounds interesting. Do you see it as a fragrance that may be troublesome for folks who in general don't do jasmine very well?

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  8. I've just never found one of these that made me want to buy. Not only because the names and the imagery is puerile, but almost all of the scents seem like they need second or third drafts. The scents match the packaging: like a precocious pre-pubescent did them.

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  9. Carrie, I have issues with many a jasmine, but really liked JB. Worth a try, I guess.

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  10. Tom, the first time I saw the Secretions bottle I thought "didn't I go to school with the idiot who doodled that?".

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  11. Thank you, Gaia, I think it will be worth a try.

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  12. I'm with Tom, and would like to add that I find it all too gimmicky to be won over by the line. I do however have a decant of Jasmin et Cigarette that I wear on a rare occasion, but I'm not hankering to have a FB in my collection.

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  13. I dunno ... you kinda sold me on the cheap Eurotrash hotel imagery alone. I may just have to buy it, scent unsniffed. But then, you kind of had me with the too-sweet Violet notes. I'm Cuban-American and I grew up with that plasticky violet aroma as perma-backdrop so perhaps I can be forgiven.

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