lundi 28 février 2011

Archives 69 by Christine Nagel for État Libre d'Orange: Masculine Feminine



After working for several years with Givaudan perfumers Antoine Lie, Antoine Maisondieu and then the latter’s wife, Shyamala Maisondieu, État Libre d’Orange took its business over to Mane. The new partnership yielded a couple of flops under the sister label Éditions des Sens for products distributed exclusively at Sephora’s, Joséphine Baker by Cécile Matton and Sex Pistols by Mathilde Bijaoui – there was just too much dissonance between the latter’s name and its smell. In fact, it smelled like a compromise with Sephora. Sleeping with the devil is no guarantee for commercial success.
However, the ELd’O/Mane partnership did produce an unqualified success, the Tilda Swinton-helmed Like This by Mathilde Bijaoui. Archives 69, to be launched in March, is a further step in that direction. Named after 69 rue des Archives, the address of the État Libre d’Orange flagship store in the Parisian quarter of the Marais, it is slated to become the brand’s “institutional scent”. Of course, the very address can lend itself to something a bit stronger than innuendo, and Archives 69 does play on the fact: in the ELd’O boutique, the tester is presented alongside an erotic short story by the cult French author Boris Vian, featuring a succubus who may be female or male, or both, and the various acts the narrator performs with him/her… But the interesting point, to me, is the work Christine Nagel undertook on the idea of reversibility implied by “69”. 

With top notes of mandarin and prune – the latter reconstructed thanks to Mane’s “Jungle Essence” technique, a CO2 extraction of the odorant molecules of just about anything, which is meant to yield an accurate “photography” of its smell – on a patchouli and musk base, Archives 69 starts out as a transparent “fruitchouli” with a slight touch of tartness lent by the mandarin.
An orchid accord, also Jungle Essence, adds a slightly icy vanilla note that’s a bit reminiscent of ELd’O’s Charogne, a work on the sweetish smell of decomposition. Nothing as challenging as that is going on in Archives 69: so far, the creature may be a succubus but she wouldn’t raise an eyebrow between the aisles of your local Sephora.
The raw-edged waxy aldehydes which I’ve come to think of as a signature of the État Libre d’Orange style are apparent, bridging the gap between the tartness of the plum and mandarin and the mineral incense notes. As these start taking over, Archives 69 loses any hint of girliness and reveals its true nature: it is a sweet fougère directly descended from Canoe, another scent that straddled the gender gap, by way of Jean-Paul Gaultier Le Mâle. But is that the ghost of Womanity lurking behind the vanilla and musk? The latest Mugler is, after all, another Mane product, and its ozonic woody ambery base seems to have carried over into Archives 69, giving it a transparent, crackling texture.

Is Archives 69 as steamy as the buzz lets on? Only if you like yours soapy.


20 commentaires:

  1. I didn't even know about ELO's Tilda Swinton perfume! I love Tilda Swinton, here in the US we know how all those Fashion Police shows hate her because she has personality, she looks androgyneous and she's the most fashion-forward. She wears Haider Ackermann when american actresses play it safe with Versace and Marchesa. Gywneth Paltrow always looks "pretty" in Calvin Klein and that's why they like.

    I don't think ELO is doing too good here, last time I went to Henri Bendel's they only had four fragrances left somewhere in a corner of the store noone can find. You can't even find Shalimar anymore at Sephora, they never had Idylle either, I don't think they ever had ELO here.

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  2. Uella, I was just answering a comment about that in the French section. I think that independently from the undeniable beauty of Like This, the perfume was well received because ELd'O's visuals and names don't come across too well on the American market: there may be a real cultural dissonance at play (mind you, it's not that they're mainstream in France either).
    The ELd'O line is not commonly sold in French Sephoras: I saw a couple of them in the big Champs Elysées store. The two products I was referring to were put out under a different label.
    And Tilda Swinton is the essence of chic. I'd pick Haider Ackermann, one of the truest younger talents I saw in the Paris collections when I covered them, over practically any other designer.

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  3. Wow, how novel! A review on which I can actually comment straight away.

    I found quite a few links with Secretions Magnifiques, and I have to say this didn't become at all soapy on my skin, but it looks as though you and I both responded to a certain coldness.

    A weird release... but I guess 'weird' may well have been what they were aiming for.

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  4. Persolaise, I can't say I've ever given Sécrétions magnifiques any skin time so I can't compare. I actually found it rather tame for the house. Maybe the blood/metallic thing you get -- I suppose that's the common point you find with SM? -- is from the incense...

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  5. Haider Ackermann is also my favorite designer. I saw part of his spring summer collection at Saks and Barney's (they don't have everything here), terrific!

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  6. Uella, I haven't followed his work lately but in the shows I saw, I remember thinking he was creating costumes for the nomads of the year 3000...

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  7. Another interesting-sounding one from Nagel. (Angela wrote about Mauboussin on NST.)

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  8. Carla, Christine Nagel is not the perfumer whose work I know best but she's certainly credited with a few great successes. I haven't been over to NST yet -- always wait until I've smelled to read!

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  9. The only two ELd'O's I've tried are "Like This" and "Rossy de Palma's Eau de Protection", and I really enjoyed both, especially that dark, dirty rose! I didn't really like the whole over-the-top-sex-schtick, but since I'm an Almodovar fan going back decades, I gave them a try. Glad I did! I've never seen them in Germany and I doubt I'll see them in Florida, too bad, really. I'm just starting to appreciate aldehydes, only took 5 years....Love the photo on the French side, by the way!
    -Marla

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  10. Marla, your comment confirms the impression I've had that the brand's names and visuals didn't cross over well into the Anglosaxon culture. I find them hilarious and sweet, well in the Dada tradition of Francis Picabia or William Copley, and a welcome change from the pouet-pouet poetry of the rest of the industry...
    I forgot to credit the picture, the one on the French side is by Vanessa Beecroft. I've used it before but it worked well with the... tongue in cheek 69 theme!

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  11. Ack! I'm blushing! OK, it's true, we Anglo-Saxons are a tough lot....My mother is still scandalized I've even watched one Almodovar movie....
    -M

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  12. Marla, I had a few hilarious encounters with Almodovar back in the days of La Movida, including one where we were both invited on a late-night French talk show and lapsed into frantic Spanish much to the host's dismay, and there was the time I interviewed him and all he did was narrate his next film about a one- legged flamenco dancer ( never got done), the whole thing interspersed with the swish of our fans and "ay que calor!"
    But to get back to Etat, humour is notoriously translation-resistant... Not to say that many French people wouldn't be shocked. But it's no surprise to me that the two products linked to edgy actresses rather than erotic themes were the ones that garnered the most praise in the English-language blogs.

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  13. I think those of us who were still semi-scandlized but loved the actresses realized, "This brand is OK...." And yeah, I'm envious you met Sr. Almodovar!
    -Marla

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  14. All part of my disorderly and occasionally drunk life! ;-)

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  15. Sounds like ELdO should make a perfume named after YOU! ;-)
    -M

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  16. The partnership with Mane sounds very interesting.
    Despite I don't like the whole line of Eldo I think there are some interesting parfums, I try Tilda Swinton and enjoy.
    But also in Italy in some shops i saw the tester with cancelled images.

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  17. Fragrancescout, the idea of those testers with the visuals crossed out is both funny and pathetic! What will the world thing of the land of l'Amore?

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  19. The fact is that la terra dell'amore is a funny and pathetic place, it is surreal to think that the label of a perfume can shock anyone, for me the parfume have to shock me, and noone of Eldo has shocked me.
    Italy shocked me every day :D

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  20. Ce commentaire a été supprimé par un administrateur du blog.

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