The first time I wore Rien by Etat Libre d'Orange was in Paris. It fit right in, just as it does in NYC. This Antoine Lie creation was launched in 2006 as part of Etat Libre d'Orange's original lineup, and was the one fragrance that made me get what ELdO was about. There was no doubt that Rien was edgy. It's dirty, animalic, leathery, and smoky. There's a hint of hot asphalt and burnt rubber, the kind you get when notes of black leather, cistus, and cumin come together. But Rien is also directly connected to Robert Piguet's Bandit, not just in the smoke, leather and uncompromising oakmoss, but also in the softening that happens when the fragrance unfolds and gives a peek at its floral heart (more apparent in Bandit's extrait concentration).
I used to think of Rien as very butch. I'm not so sure nowadays, though it is completely gender neutral. Rien is urban, has a distinct and deliberate synthetic twist-- rubber, smoke, and some metallic parts, but also very human and warm. Wearing Rien is like taking a whiff of skin warmed under the biker's leather jacket. Rien, like many Etat Libre d'Orange perfumes, suggests an adventure. This one is less of a boudoir experiment and more outdoorsy.
Rien can be downright dangerous in large amounts. I've noticed it the very first time I tried it and I maintain this view to this day. It's one of my favorite perfumes from ELdO, but its non-perfuminess and the medicinal quality it takes when sprayed lavishly can be a major turn-off for those who don't appreciate its style and heavy dusty leather boots. Applied responsibly (dabbing is better, by the way, the fragrance last forever anyway), Rien is seductive and daring, like the road-trip you still dream of taking.
See also Victoria's review on Bois de Jasmin.
Notes: Incense, rose, leather, cistus, oakmoss, patchouli, amber, cumin, black pepper, aldehydes.
Etat Libre d'Orange- Rien ($80, 50ml EDP) is available from Luckyscent, Twisted Lily, and Parfum1.com.
Photo: Elspeth Beard in London after completing her solo ride around the world on her bike 1984, by Peter Orme.