Perfume Directory

Archives 69 (2011)
by Etat Libre d'Orange


Archives 69 information

Year of Launch2011
GenderShared / Unisex
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 51 votes)

People and companies

HouseEtat Libre d'Orange
PerfumerChristine Nagel

About Archives 69

The fragrances is names after the address of the Etat Libre d’Orange flagship boutique, at 69 Rue des Archives in Paris.

Archives 69 fragrance notes

  1. Top Notes
  2. Heart Notes
  3. Base notes

Reviews of Archives 69

Archives 69 by Etat Libre d'Orange (2011) is loved by some close friends, so please forgive my reaction to this stuff because evidently you see beauty where I cannot. This is one where the ELdO Quirk-o-Meter is swung full to the peg, with a mashup of disparate things that I can only guess symbolize the brand as a whole since this is partially named after the company address. The perfumer of Christine Nagel was here just before her assuming the mantle as house perfumer for Hermès, and it's clear she had a lot of fun here even if the final product is so bizarre as to be unendearing. For the record, I like camphor as a fragrance note when used in ways where it makes sense, but not here, and not like this. Holy moly is this stuff just a whole lot of nope, with a tiny bit of light at the end of a very painful tunnel I shan't be going down again.

The opening smells straight out of a Vicks 44 bottle or Vicks vapor rub jar. Full medicinal camphor blast that will slay your men, enslave your women, burn your vilage, and salt the earth when it leaves Attila the Hun style. From there, you get some scant citrus notes, juniper berries, and acetates buzzing around ionone green floral notes until something like tangerine and orchids emerge in the heart. Pink pepper also zips around but things stay pretty nightmarish until some dark fruity notes show up to guide us by the hand into the base of muscone and cedar-like woody notes. The shrill battle-cry of the camphor and green florals becomes faded glory, and only hours in is there something wearable underneath, although still not really good. Wear time is moderate, as is sillage after things calm down, and don't ask me when to use this.

Etienne de Swardt did his usual mondo bizarro bait and switcho in the transition from opening to dry down like so many of the more notorious ELdO scents, but however avant-garde this may seem to the inner Warhol to me, the part of me that likes to enjoy a fragrance from tip to tail just screams no. If you enjoy this, more power to you, and you're probably someone who also likes Concrete Music and flash mobs too, but I'll just stick to my pedestrian fragrances that don't try to strum my brain waves like a Theramin, thanks. I most certainly won't forget the experience of this, and hats off to a brand that can stay sustainably profitable with fragrances like this and Sécrétions Magnifiques (2006) on the books. If nothing else, this makes a great way to enforce one's own personal space bubble when in public, because if I smell this on you, I'm sitting as far away or upwind of you as I absolutely can. Thumbs down.
11th June, 2021
Being a bear of very little brain I wish someone wiser than I would tell me why anyone would want to smell like Vic's vapour rub. Vic's that has gone ever so slightly off.

I can smell something peppery, something a little bit musky, something, even, a little bit floral. Every note showing the same ELDO care for the quality of its ingredients (hem, hem). And every note swamped in Camphor.
01st May, 2021
Singing in two-part harmony with Clockwork Alice - hard pass. If the fragrance is Tokyo then the camphor note is Godzilla.

* Fist bump to any 70’s kid who laughed at my corny Blue Öyster Cult joke/earworm.
18th April, 2021
This is SO pointless I cannot even wrap my head around it. Why would I pay €100 to smell like I just had a doctor appointment and I'm self-medicating warts, itches, painful joints or hemorrhoids with camphor oil if I can just buy a bottle of camphor oil for €1 and actually cure all my itches and sores along the way, while also smelling the part?
17th February, 2021 (last edited: 15th April, 2021)
Archives 69 opens with the kind of aldehydic whoosh that I have only previously experienced with some of the great, classic Chanel feminines, No. 5, No. 19., and especially No. 22. I don’t know what to think of the notes that the Free Orange folk give with this perfume, as it lists a lot of the usual fruitchouli/Modern Musky Floral suspects, but doesn’t smell like them. Pink pepper, plum, patchouli—that could be anything from Modern Muse to the 30 dollar Betsey Johnson fragrance we picked up at Walmart during Christmas, to Allure, and the Coco flankers that Luca Turin likes to describe as “grim.” But Archives 69 doesn’t resemble them in any substantial way, except perhaps a passing similarity to Coco Noir, another uplifting fruit-and-patch concoction, that I really like, and have already written a defensive review, explaining why I think it’s so good. But this is great in a different way from the Coco Noir, and everything else I have smelled from Etat Libre d’Orange.

For one thing, the aldehydes—they’re really something, here. Aldehydes (these aldehydes, anyway, I know there are otters that smell like fruit esters, and maybe some of those are in here, too) smell like a substance marketed as Ozium, that all the stoner kids I knew in high school, bought at the local head shop, and used to try and convince their parents that they weren’t smoking the devil’s tobacco in their bedrooms. That stuff confuses the nose—it smells like a weird combination of nothing, clean air, and the first seconds of a window-unit air conditioner as it rattles to life and starts to pump Freon. It’s also kind of like the New Car scent you can purchase in cans, those weird jars of rubbery stuff used for car scents, or at the hands-on car wash. They cause a special nasal tickle, almost like the feeling you get before you’re going to sneeze. I think they do something to overexcite the smelling apparatus, which I guess could exaggerate some scents. They last unusually long in Archives 69, which makes the perfume behave like fizzy, exploding Pop Rocks candy on the skin.

It’s an opening like an announcement that says “hang on, folks, this is going to be fun,” (which is, incidentally, what ELDO has been printing on their marketing materials lately), the kind of thing a crazed airplane pilot might broadcast over the speakers before executing a stunt roll, and scaring the hell out of the passengers. It’s one of the best openings in modern perfumery, and other reviewers have noticed it, too. What happens next, probably depends on your personal frame of reference. Salty plums, olives, overripe fruits, they’re all part of Christine Nagel’s perfume vernacular, and she gets them all in here. I think I, maybe, smell candied tuberose in a small dose, a little hairspray that is probably aldehydic rose, and they crackle and buzz like puffed rice cereal, with freshly poured milk over the top.

This salty-savoury and fruity-funky accord is the main business of Archives 69, and it speaks to the perfume’s mission statement, to capture the general olfactory atmosphere of the ELDO shop on the Rue de Archives. It belongs to a category, that I think has become an established niche perfumery trope—pick out the predominant scents wafting around one’s retail space, and name it after the street address where your main headquarters are located—L’Artisan Parfumeur did it, and so have Diptyque, and possibly some others that I am not aware of. All three of these, are, incidentally, really great perfumes, some of the best of each house, and all of them have an “organized chaos” personality, that makes them useful all-rounder sort of perfumes.

Christine Nagel borrowed quite a bit of her technique here, from the great Edmund Roudnitska’s penchant for funky overripe fruit accords, and his recombinant use of those accords, across perfumes he authored for Rochas, Dior, and, posthumously, Frederic Malle. It takes ... I want to say balls, but in Nagel’s case, ovaries (I suppose), to borrow from a legend like Roudnitska, but when someone is as great a perfumes as Nagel, they can do whatever the hell they want.

Archives lands on a still fizzing, popping base of patchouli and ELDO’s signature lotionesque musk, and with that, I think it accomplishes the mission statement. There are probably pieces and bits of other perfumes from this house, buried subliminally within, and as i work my way through ELDO’s boxed set. I am sure I will recognize some of them. The ELDO-ade coats the perfume’s patchouli base with a smooth finish that accents its cocoa-chocolate qualities, with a milky-lactonic and the final stages of the perfume finish with that. It is the final vapour trails, left in the sky, after the crazed pilot has performed his final, terrifying dive, and headed for the horizon. This is, so far, my favourite perfume this house has produced, and the only (so far) masterpiece I’ve found there, among some very good contenders. It definitely swings towards the stereotypical feminine side of the perfume spectrum, but it isn’t exactly girly—no talcum powder or apparent florals leap out, to give it ruffles or bows. It gives me about 8 hours, of very pleasurable wear. Five stars for originality, wearability, quality, interest, and the fact that I just love it, so damn much. Two glittering thumbs up. If you like great perfume (and that is, I assume, why you’re perusing Basenotes reviews, in the first place), you need to smell this. Close your browser, and go find a sample ...

03rd January, 2021
Have you ever sniffed a freshly-opened jar of olives packed in olive oil that had a lot of dried Mediterranean herbs in it? Add just a little fruity sweetness to that aroma and that's what Archives 69's first minutes smelled like to me. Such a great opening, it almost made me laugh out loud.

Just a few minutes in, I'm getting some berries, not too sweet, balanced with some truly delicious moldy plums and nearly-rotten citrus. (You know how if you leave citrus sitting out in a bowl it devlops that pale grey mold on it? That's what this smells like to me, and it's wonderful, with a faint whiff of metallic twang.) This stage is so fabulous I want it to last forever.

After about an hour, a little more sweetness develops, but fortunately not at the expense of the overripe plums and citrus, which are still enchanting me. The late stage of resinous patchouli kicked in at about the 90-minute mark, and is so well blended that the overripe fruits sort of float above those heavier elements.

This is a heavenly scent experience, and by far the best ELdO I've encountered. I've liked a few (Fat Electrician, Like This), but never enough to go for a FB. Archives 69 manages to be edgy, avant-garde, and wearable all at once, and is the first ELdO that made me say "I want a full bottle and I want it NOW."
26th April, 2018

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Etat Libre d'Orange - 2ml Samples

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Etat Libre D'Orange - ARCHIVES 69, 2ml Sample

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