Irreverent is a word that’s used a lot when describing Etat Libre d’Orange. You’ve got to be a bit careful, though, about how you try to sell perfume when your motto begins, “Le parfum est mort” (perfume is dead). Of course, the rejoinder is, “vive le parfum!” (no translation necessary we assume). The brand was launched by Etienne de Swardt as therapy after he was briefed to develop pet perfumes for Givenchy (yep, that’s perfume for your pooch), and while ELdO intends to subvert and satirize, it does it with some incredible products, expertly composed.
A few of those products, such as the deliberately provocative Secretions Magnifiques (don’t google it), are creative in a way we wouldn’t recommend wearing to the office, but collaborations with celebs like Tilda Swanton, and odes to the likes of Josephine Baker and Tom of Finland have produced some truly beautiful scents, free from supermodel marketing campaigns. Iconic releases like The Fat Electrician, while it might have a name inspired by an aging porn star, actually smells like a sophisticated vetiver and whipped chestnut that fans of Angel Muse should definitely check out.
These days, a bit like Ben Gorham of Byredo, Swardt acts as an editor, inviting influencers into the fold to do their thing, unfettered by marketing budgets or control groups. Respected critic and author Chandler Burr finally jumped over to create the breezy-minty-rose, You or Someone Like You (a perfect entry to the brand), or try the gorgeous marshmallow floral mélange of I Do, almost innocent but with one hell of a wink.