Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Etat Libre d'Orange- Delicious Closet Queen

Seven years after it launched, Etat Libre d'Orange has gained quite a bit of respect as a solid creative line that offers interesting and original perfumes with a modern flair and a classic structure. The early antics and provocations are nearly forgotten, and every new release is anxiously anticipated. It's a good time to look back at one of ELdO's first perfumes, one that has always made me cringe because of its name: Delicious Closet Queen. Too many of my friends have heartbreaking stories about the days before they felt safe to come out, and believe me, there's nothing delicious about that. The only delicious queens are the fabulous and lively drag queens who celebrate gender-bending  and take pleasure in what they do. Let this perfume be about them, instead.

Delicious Closet Queen marries traditional men's cologne notes (violet leaf, geranium, leather) with the scent of powdery sweet makeup products. When you first spray it seems like you're in Grey Flannel territory, and I mean it in the best vintage way. The violet leaf note is the most dominant, sheer and green, looking at the mirror and finding a 70s mustache. But this Queen is more than that, and soon you smell warmer creamy notes, powdery iris, sweet rose scented lipstick, cold cream and buttery leather. It really is delicious, though much lighter than these notes could have been. As a matter of fact, the fragrance has such a clear pitch and a clean feel that you could easily wear it to the office without offending anyone.

I wish Etat Libre d'Orange would create an intense a Nuit version of this, that would take the adorable Queen all the way over to dark side. But I guess that not doing it is exactly the point. It's what makes Delicious Closet Queen so subversive and fun. I still hope they'd at least change the name at some point.

Notes: violet leaf, citrus, geranium, iris butter, cedar, patchouli, vetiver, strawberry, rose absolute, sandalwood, leather, tonka bean, benzoin, opoponax.

Etat Libre d'Orange- Delicious Closet Queen ($80, 50ml) is available at Twisted Lily, Luckyscent and MiN NY.

Photo of Danny La Rue by James Jackson, 1970, via The Guardian.


  1. This brand has just launched in a department store in London and certainly seem to be still on the provocative of the scents they were promoting is called putain des palace....

  2. I agree with Wanderlusting -- at the Shoreditch shop opening last year they had a big banner with "Smell Like a Slut" on it (yup, first thing I think of with Tilda Swinton). So not really "early antics" I'd say, but in spite of their puerile marketing the perfumes are good and still reasonably priced.

  3. It takes a lot to shock or offend me and ELdO names don't even come close, but I do remember initially ordering samples out of curiosity and assuming they'd most likely just be a novelty line, low in quality. I was wrong. Very. Brilliant line - have several scents I've stockpiled I love them so much. And I love Delicious Closet Queen, but it was the one name that actually did provoke a reaction from me - a sort of reflex reaction of discomfort and profound sadness. Hit way too close to home for me as my father's two best friends came out back in the late 50s and not only had their careers completely destroyed for doing so, but both were also banished from their families - one of them permanently and the other only eventually (decades later) accepted by a couple of family members. My father, whom I loved with all my heart and soul, watched this, ended up getting married and never did dare to come out himself - which breaks my heart more than I can say. But what also leaves me in a state of despair is that this insane prejudice is not over and one of my husband's closest friends (who was in his late 40s and from the US) shot and killed himself just three years ago rather than ever come out and face his family. Still weep over this every time I think of him.
    Anyway, the floral notes, soft leather and wonderful vetiver in the base of this perfume ended up really winning me over, although I think of it by its acronym, DCQ - just can't quite deal with its full name.


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