It took me a while to figure out Archives 69, the newest perfume from Etat Libre d'Orange, and I'm not entirely sure I'm fully there, yet. So far I've gone through nearly 5ml of the juice and the one thing I can tell you for sure is that Archives 69 must be sprayed and not dabbed. There's very little going on there if you dab it; I nearly bathed myself with a sample on the second testing and beyond a vague idea of fruit and pepper there was very little that made any sense. I decanted the rest of my samples into a spray atomizer and that was a start of a nice relationship.
Etat Libre d'Orange perfumes tend to smell very modern. There's no danger one would mistake them for something classic in a blind testing. There's usually a note or two in them that sends people clutching their pearls, and I'm not even talking about the obvious, Secretion Magnifique.
Archives 69 was named after the address of the brand’s flagship store in Paris, 69 rue des Archives, but also to send your mind straight to the gutter, as this is what Etat Libre d'Orange does best. The introduction to the perfumes says
”This is a perfume designed to free the senses, to open the heart to all the possibilities. It is an invitation to pleasure, an ode to seduction. It comes without restrictions, rules or regulations. It is yours to do with as you wish. This is the scent of sensual liberation.”
There's also a reference to being seduced by a hermaphrodite vampire, some babble about a female character who represents the usual suspect dualities: the sacred and the profane, heaven and hell, pleasure and pain.
Whatever. This is a perfume. And it opens up smelling like a mostly chewed fruit bubblegum. It's a bit low-brow at first, but oddly appealing.
Archives 69 smells incredibly nice, actually, playing a "hide the incense" game with various cheerful notes. Every once in a while I get a whiff of a very attractive and just a little sweet incense note- sometimes cold and piney, other times woody and almost vanillic. Etat Libre d'Orange are being quite wicked, making me stick my nose into my clothes, décolletage and various body parts, so I appear a bit demented and perverted.
The thing is, Archives 69 behaves very well. It's a low key perfume, the sillage is below modest and really requires that skin-sniffing I described above. There's nothing aggressive in it, but when you're at skin level it's incredibly fun. A little sweet, very cozy, quite intimate. And have I mentioned one needs to get very very close to smell the whole thing? Yes, that's exactly why Archives 69 is a wicked little thing.
Man can wear this perfume and no one would be wiser that it came in a pink box, women can wear Archives 69 the way they wear a piece of Agent Provocateur lingerie to the office or a PTA meeting just for themselves. Let this be our own little secret.
Notes (via Luckyscent):
Mandarin, pink pepper CO2, pimiento leaf, orchid Jungle Essence®, prune Jungle Essence®, incense, camphor, benzoin, patchouli, musk.
Archives 69 ($99, 50ml) is available from Luckyscent in Los Angeles and Henri Bendel in NYC. While the latter doesn't sell online, if you're on the East Coast and don't like the idea of having a perfume shipped all the way from California in the summer (or in general), you can call Albert at the NYC store (212-904-7990) and place your order directly. Most of the samples I used for this review were purchased by me, one came free from Henri Bendel.
Art: Daniel Sannwald Photography.