The End of the World.
It means different things to different people, but the graphic element on the bottle of La Fin du Monde, the newest perfume from Etat Libre d'Orange, takes us straight to the 1950s/1960s, the Cold War era, and the idea of well-stocked fallout shelters. And also the romanticized version of those years as we know from Donald Fagen's New Frontier:
What does the end of the world smell like?
According to Etat Libre d'Orange, it's buttered popcorn, buttered iris, buttered tzimmes. Oh, and cannon powder, which I completely and utterly don't get. More than anything, on my skin La Fin du Monde is a very abstract gourmand iris. The opening has a hint of the much-hyped popcorn accord, but this part of the salty buttery goodness disintegrates quickly in favor of orris-- buttery, carroty, earthy, and chocolaty (my poor brother-in-law smells a very cheap chocolate he remembers from his childhood).
There's something incredibly comforting in the soft butter of La Fin du Monde as it gains warmth and settles down. It melts and expands, creating a cozy yet airy second skin that's less perfumy and more atmospheric. There's a lived-in quality, like your most favorite pair of yoga pants, and I've found it incredibly sleep-friendly. I've worn this perfume to bed many times since I bought the bottle.
Speaking of which, La Fin du Monde was one of the rare fragrances that I bought on the spot, the very first time I tried it. It was the vague gourmand aspect that got me-- very soft, not too sweet, and loaded with that buttery iris that I enjoy very much, carrot and all. The dry-down is quite musky in the best possible way: fuzzy and a little animalic. On the Husband the whole thing is even softer and very very dry- less butter, more orris-vetiver. If I revel in the coziness of the perfume, for him it's actually a rather masculine thing to wear (I love it on him just as much). As for my long-suffering brother-in-law, he's long pronounced us insane when it comes to perfume, and I suspect that he scrubbed the whole thing vigorously, so perhaps La Fin du Monde is not as easy to wear and decipher for the non-fragonerd.
Etat Libre d'Orange perfumes tend to be full of contradictions. La Fin du Monde is no different. Between the nostalgic look at the Atomic Age and the various foody notes one may expect a retro fragrance. It's not. La Fin du Monde has a very modern sensibility, and a transparency that doesn't let the edible notes become too cloying or too obvious. The musky dry-down appears at first to be short-lived, but by the second or third wearing I realized that it's there for at least 10 hours, and also retains a lot of the iris and dry vetiver, so longevity is much better than it lest on. Also, the perfume seems to seep into sweaters and scarves, and has taken residence in my coat closet.
Notes: Popcorn accord, carrot seeds, cumin seeds, sesame, black pepper from Madagascar, freesia, vetiver from Haiti, sandalwood, kernels of ambrette absolute, orris absolute, styrax, canon powder accord.
La Fin du Monde by Etat Libre d'Orange ($80, 50ml) is available at Twisted Lily, Luckyscent, MiN NY, and Parfum1.
Images via gizmodo.com.au and dailykos.com.