mardi 20 juillet 2010

Sex Pistols by Etat Libre d'Orange: Your Future Dream is a Shopping Scheme



I’d moved out on the sidewalk where the action was – the smoking and drinking. One baby hipster standing outside the gallery was sporting a Ramones badge. “God, why are you wearing that?” I chuckled. “You weren’t even born. In fact your parents were probably not pubescent yet at the time.” Baby hipster didn’t snarl or spit in my face. He looked a little hurt. Don't think I didn't feel a bitch: I did, a little. So I told him about the teeshirt I owned a tee-shirt that was worn by Joey Ramone onstage, as well as several of the band’s guitar picks, courtesy of one of their roadies who was cuter than Joey, DeeDee, Tommy and Johnny put together (may they rest in peace [corrected 21/07: Tommy's still alive!]), Danny with the all-consonants Polish name I could never remember, though I fooled around with him quite a bit. I wasn’t a groupie, see? I was a journalist, though I couldn’t even access the venues legally at the time.

Yes, sweet readers, I knew the punk era first-hand in New York and Montreal, though by the time I got to London Sid was already dead. I was dating a singer who’d formed a band with the Damned’s ex-drummer, Rat Scabies, and vaguely hung around with John Lydon for a couple of evenings.


So I can tell you what the punk era smelled of: stale sweat (all that pogo-ing), cigarettes and beer (also used by the boys in lieu of hair gel, though I personally favored a mixture of sugar and water), leather and latex because of the bondage gear. It did not, most emphatically not, smell of metallic lemon and grey pepper, rendered somewhat sickly by the addition of heliotropine on a vague patchouli base (guys who wore patchouli? We used to spit on them).


The new Sex Pistols fragrance distributed by Sephora’s for État Libre d’Orange is a skinny, jumpy masculine signed by Mathilde Bijaoui (who also did the lovely Tilda Swinton-fronted Like This), but who'd hold it against her that she wasn't yet born when it all unfolded? She can't help it. The juice screeches with the trademark neon aldehydes stamped on the house style by Antoine Maisondieu, who's been working them since Gucci Rush, but it has very little else to commend it as “the scent of anarchy” or “revolution in [a] bottle”: ELd’O’s own ferocious, burnt-leather Rien could eat it for breakfast and still feel a bit peckish.


You needn’t have read Greil Marcus’ Lipstick Traces cover to cover to realize that Malcolm McLaren’s bid to reduce the Sex Pistols to a product entirely fabricated by him is pure buffalo crap, rest his soul. The proverbial monster escaped its maker: if you didn’t feel a pure rush of energy from spine to toe listening to “Anarchy in the UK” for the first time at the time, you must’ve had turnip juice for blood. That the surviving Sex Pistols themselves openly displayed their cynical exploitation of their legend when they reunited for their Filthy Lucre tour in 1996 is a moot point. During their brief, messy life, The Sex Pistols were more than Bay City Rollers with safety pins and green teeth: Johnny Rotten's spat-vomited-howled vocals were the worst assault on the human voice every committed to vinyl.


I wouldn’t say I’m shocked to see the Sex Pistols’ name stuck on a perfume bottle to be sold to baby hipsters with a nostalgic bent in LVMH’s cosmetics emporium. It was a foregone conclusion that if there was one brand that would have a go at monetizing them in fragrance, it would be the so-post-dada-it-hurts ELd'O: zombie are back in style, after all. Anyway, punk was commoditized within months of its birth though it survived much longer than subsequent pop countercultures as a street-level, DIY movement, and I’ve come to terms, if just barely, with seeing a revival of stuff that was fresh in my teenage years. Back in 1976, Johnny Rotten growled “I am an anti-chrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrist”. Now LVMH is taking a shot at the title. Your future dream is a shopping scheme and Lydon is scaring little kids all the way to the bank.

As for the “No Future” bit, BP & co. are taking care of it for us.


33 commentaires:

  1. I'd also say that scene smelled like bergamot hair gel and oil paint/turpentine. excellent review - what the f*&( were they thinking by using aldehydes for chrissakes!

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  2. It just isn't _interesting_ is it? Such a surprise to me, since it comes from enfant terrible Etat Libre (although did you notice their name is not on the box? Credited to a spin-off company "Editions des Sens".) Plan to send a bottle of Sex Pistols I picked up at French Sephora to my sister who works in rock radio in the US. She'll display it in her office, as it's all about the packaging.

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  3. Ce commentaire a été supprimé par l'auteur.

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  4. I graduated high school into the Summer of Punk, although in Chicago.

    I agree with beer, cigarettes, and sweat as what that world smelled of.

    For years I avoided patchouli like the plague because of the creepy way Al Stewart sang the word in "Year of the Cat"! Thinking about that song still gives me the willies! Anyway, patchouli was not punk.

    Tommy Ramone is still alive, btw.

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  5. I'm not terribly disappointed because I didn't expect much, frankly. I thought it would be some lame leathery, spittle-y thing. But lemon?? Lemon is the smell of furniture polish, not anarchy. Oh, Sid. They besmirch your already-pretty-damned-besmirched memory. Never mind, it's bollocks.

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  6. Frida, remember when they said Gucci Rush smelled like poppers? Maybe that was the idea with aldehydes...
    The bergamot hair gel, wasn't that some Roger & Gallet stuff that was, like, THE only gel existing? I remember spending lots of time tracking down the stuff for the boys...

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  7. GGS, I was wondering why you'd bought it... Makes sense now!

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  8. Furriner, yikes about Tommy! I'll amend that right away. And double-yikes about that Al Stewart song! I'd mercifully pushed it back in the furthest recesses of my memory, from whence it has sprung forth as an earworm. I'll have to sing Sheena-is-a-punk-rocker real loud to counteract that, and I'm sorry for my neighbours.

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  9. Amy, if there's one thing that can't be bottle, it's that era, and that band, not because they're sacred in any way, but because neither smelled purty. There *was* supposed to be a leather note, but I think the bouncer must've kicked it out.

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  10. As someone who was a) too young and b) in the wrong geographical location to appreciate the punk scene, I found your review highly entertaining, although it's a shame you didn't much like the scent.

    Maybe ELDO have paradoxically tried to follow the anarachic vibe by trying to make an anti-anarchy scent... hence the decision to go for something as conservative as lemon...?

    ...or maybe it just isn't a terribly exciting scent...?

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  11. Sex Pistols fragrance???? This is so wrong. And the scent itself? It should smell of evostick, the chemical skin smell after a weekend on speed, cheap cider, with notes of leather, unwashed denim and Elnette hairspray. Remember the Sniffin Glue fanzine? That was the smell of punk!!

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  12. Persolaise, I don't think the reasoning got as far as opting for "anti-anarchy" -- the press release is all about rebellion! Grey pepper and aldehydes is about as raunchy as it goes but no, I wasn't terribly excited. Perhaps under another name...

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  13. Anonymous, how could I forget all those smells? I guess the aldehydes could stand for Elnett spray. And glue, of course! "Now I wanna sniff some glue/ Now I wanna have somethin' to do-oo".

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  14. I agree. This is just wrong. Malcolm McLaren is dead but John Lydon is still alive -- I wonder who has/had the licensing rights to the name?

    And anyway the notes were: beer, sweat, vomit. Lemon? Maybe the perfumer thought that it was a bathroom spray? Nobody ever sprayed anything in those bathrooms that I can remember. Well not from a can or a bottle anyway.

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  15. Olfacta, I don't know how the royalties work out but I'll wager both John Lydon and Malcolm McLaren's estate will be getting their share (as well as Paul Cook and Steve Jones, don't know if Glen Matlock fits into the equation)...
    And, yup, vomit too. Though I sailed through the era wearing Chloe and First, it wasn't quite the sweetest-smelling time...
    Oh, and blood, from all those razor blades.

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  16. What I remember about patchouli was that it was worn by pot smokers because it supposedly camouflaged the smell of pot... which was crazy because when you smelled patchouli on someone, you just automatically figured they were smoking weed.

    Very in-depth review... but I was a disco bunny and I still miss it sometimes... the retro rhinestone jewelry, the satin, the fake glamour.

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  17. Normand, I'm afraid to say we were in totally different... camps?
    Of course the hippy thing was why we spat (well me not so much, but I hissed) at the patch-wearers. It's taken me years to get over the aversion.

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  18. oh carmen, yes poppers - that may be the tie-in. here the cheapest gel was in the african-american section at Woolworths and it feature bergamot.

    Patchouli - well I did/do like it, but yes, "never trust a hippy' (laughing about Al Stewart!)

    Never did get to see them play - they cancelled their Cleveland show. Did get to see Lydon in PiL - he threw the deli tray into the audience, so perhaps a hint of bologna would be good.

    also we all must remember that this is from FRANCE - did you hear any French "punk" from that time? yikes! ;)

    Cleveland had a great scene, btw!

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  19. Was a smidge too young to see the Pistols something I regret since I honour the spirit of punk. How refreshing (kind of) to not smell patch everywhere and see maxi skirts dragging around on the pavement. I guess this perfume will appeal most, if not entirely, to those too young to remember the era first hand. Nice try but no banana? Nicola

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  20. Frida, well the punk scene was pretty lively in Paris in 1977 when I was there the first time -- my parents thought I was going to get mugged/raped/murdered by a bunch of boys in leather jackets when all they wanted to know was where I got some of my badges and find out about the scene in Montreal...
    All the bands starting playing gigs in Paris around 75 (the New York Dolls came in 73). The Sex Pistols played in 76. One of the best French bands was called the Stinky Toys.
    Yup, there was quite a scene, really!

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  21. Nicola, this is designed to sell to the 20 or 30-somethings who'll buy cashmere sweatshirts with "Blondie" or "Patti Smith" jacquard motifs from Zadig & Voltaire. Which makes me want to start spitting and hissing all over again.

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  22. ahhh, I was there in late '79-early '80 and didn't see much (but then again I was 20 and accompanying some college kids on their study-away program) Glad I am wrong! I was looking for music and the only album I found which now I cannot remember the name of was quite lame. Wish I knew about the Stinky Toys!

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  23. I don't think I ever actually spat at anyone.. but I may have "accidentally" sprayed a punk rocker or two in the early 80s with YSL's Paris. Gotcha!

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  24. Normand, by the early 80s it didn't count any longer: punk was dead. Though Paris is still something of a Kryptonite for me (not dissing it, it's a classic, but the only Grosjman fragrance I can stand is Champagne/Yvresse)...

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  25. Frida, by that time the scene had become totally recuperated by the golden bohemia! It was still quite a bit of fun... but the 80s in Paris, which I lived through full-tilt, were quite another story.

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  26. By the time punk got to LA in the 80s it was already posing and I was already a Goth- we wore perfume, the punks didn't. Actually, we wore icy greens, frankincense, rose and lily, that was about it! Then punk went surfer and we all sort of merged.... Not real British punk, I know, but there can't be a "Punk" perfume, because they hated perfume! So I knew this was a scam from the start....
    -Marla

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  27. Marla, in a way it's not even a scam, just a non-event that's getting us to dredge up memories of misspent youth (is there any other kind?)...

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  28. Hee hee hee...no regrets!
    -Marla

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  29. Patchouli is sexy, a bit flirty. I like it! One more sexy perfume with Patchouli essence I must remind you... Eau Fling!

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  30. Does this last comment sound like a shill or is it just me? Since the name was trademarked in May 2010, I'd opt for the former...

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  31. Yes D I'm pretty sure this is a shill. Very similar comments with the same perfume name on all the blogs I read regularly - and no real link to the subjects of the various posts.

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  32. Maggie, what strikes me is the asinine heavy-handedness of this type of shill. I might, if you're going to bother spamming manually, going through the captcha, etc., why not try to sound like you're not some robot copy-pasting stuff in a language you barely understand?

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