Super Scent: The best of Etat Libre d'Orange
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18th January, 2016

We have once again teamed up with Candy Perfume Boy and Persolaise for Super Scent. A semi-regular series where we each run down the best fragrances from a particular brand. Where my colleagues will judge based on their own opinion, Basenotes' Top Scents are based on the opinions of Basenotes users.

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This time the brand is: Etat Libre d’Orange

I was first aware of Etat Libre d’Orange in late 2006, when our then Paris correspondent, Michael Connor, submitted a piece about an exciting new french niche brand, where he wrote:

Yes, it’s all about sex. Now you could argue that all perfume is about sex, anyway, from Guerlain’s carnal Jicky via Caron’s gender-bending Tabac Blond right up to the sworn belief of many young men that the merest whiff of Aqua di Gio is enough to transform the primmest fresher into a lust-crazed Maenad.

However Etat Libre d’Orange believes that lowest common denominator marketing and the need for prude-appeasing cross-cultural appeal has sucked the sex out of the perfume industry.

As far as this house is concerned, the perfume industry needs a big, throbbing injection of lust to get back on its feet (or back on its back) again.

And sex is how pretty much the rest of the world came into contact with the brand, with Secretions Magnifique: A perfume described by Katie Puckrik as the ‘World’s Most Disgusting Perfume’, and is reminiscent of blood, sweat, sperm and saliva.

In late 2007, Marian Bendeth described founder Etienne de Swardt as a “fragrance buccaneer”, though in 2014 de Swardt was feeling it was time for a change at ELDO telling Persolaise:

I think that I have to reinvent Etat Libre D’Orange a little bit,” he says. “I want to move the brand to a new era. I’m trying to find a new way to extend the brand’s visibility without corrupting the philosophy. I have 28 perfumes and I cannot add a 29th or a 30th. So I think this is the end of a cycle. And La Fin Du Monde is the final point of Etat Libre D’Orange 1.0, in a way. I want a new leap of faith for the brand. I don’t know how to express it.”

2016 celebrates the tenth year of Etat Libre d’Orange, and the company show no sign of stopping. Their most recent launch was Hermann à Mes Côtés Me Paraissait une Ombre, which was launched at the end of 2015.

So without further ado, here are the Five Super Scents of Etat Libre d’Orange based on the votes of Basenotes Members…

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About the author: Grant Osborne

Grant Osborne is the founder and editor of Basenotes. Grant has two children, and a dependence on tea, haribo and bacon.



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      • furrypine | 18th January 2016 18:25

        Heyy, my favourite from ELDO made number one!

      • Trilby Lark | 18th January 2016 18:51


        Mine too! It's the only only I own. The descriptions in the article are so well done that I want all five now.

      • hednic | 18th January 2016 18:52

        Happen to have all five that made the list! Good choices.

      • Persolaise | 18th January 2016 20:34

        I'm so glad we had the idea to do this series together. It's always such a great read. And I'm so pleased that my list has FOUR scents in common with the Basenotes list :-D

      • cacio | 19th January 2016 02:21

        Excellent article. ELdO is one of my very favorite houses. Good choices too; not a fan of the vetiver, nor Like this, but I own the others (and many others).

        I am one of those who were always a little sad that the ELdO people didn't have the guts to put the logos on the bottle. And that they axed such candles as Entrecuisse.


      • donna255 | 19th January 2016 07:41

        I have just blind bought two from the ELDO range, half price online.

        Rien and Antiheros so very timely for this article to appear. it anyone is interested, UK shipping only.

        I did want The Afternoon Of The Faun I phoned the store and they did have this one though not online.. So ordered in their sale. Since my icon is Nijinsky from this ballet it was fate to own it Dithered over Tom Of Finland as well, but since I am a big lavender fan went with Antiheros.

      • cornishlee | 19th January 2016 14:09

        Well, that was a surprise. I was expecting another designer house after Dior but I'm not sad about it. This was another fun read.

      • Candy Perfume Boy | 19th January 2016 14:34

        Oooh, aren't we matchy-matchy.

        Great list, Grant. I was so tempted to add Fat Electrician to mine!

      • Kaern | 19th January 2016 14:35

        Je Suis un Homme should have been in the top 5 imo

      • donna255 | 19th January 2016 16:10

        So I received my order and loads of samples which included The Afternoon Of The Faun. Loved it, so chanced phoning the store and yes they had it in the sale at half price 100mls only though. Bought it and shipping today. Happy Dance.

      • cacio | 19th January 2016 16:30

        Congrats on your purchases. Yes, the newest ones unfortunately come in 100ml only. The old 50ml bottles were really useful.


      • Persolaise | 19th January 2016 19:15

        Ah, I'm so pleased we've found another fan of the Faun :-)

      • Cylob | 25th January 2016 20:34

        Rien is a masterpiece.

        Still amazed every time I spray it on.

        And so are the people in a 1 mile radius around me the next few hours... ;-)

      • jujy54 | 15th February 2016 04:16

        I picked up Rien at the flagship store on my first ever European trip, which culminated, most fittingly, in Paris. What a scent memory I have made for myself. Also a huge fan of Afternoon of a Faun. It is "old man" in a cigar smoke and liniment sort of way, but stylized, and alluring, if that makes any sense at all.


        OK, not so much cigar smoke as the wet end of a cigar that was smoked over the course of a day (my late grampa's habit). There's some pencil shavings in there, too. I once said my ideal scent would be wet cigar, pencil shavings, and bass rosin. AofF might be just that!