I recently got interested in finding out more about fragrance. As someone who spends a lot of money and time on beauty products, I like to think I know quite a lot about them and the industry -- but perfume was a whole different ballgame.
That's not to say that I didn't possess a lot of fragrance already -- my dressing table has always been a revolving surface of beautiful bottles, each with a memory attached to it, a person, a date. There's the bottle of YSL Baby Doll that I've had for years, alongside the wonderfully trashy bottle of Juicy Couture's eponymous debut, beside my nearly empty bottles of Chanel Coco and Coco Mademoiselle, all very different but equally as special to me.
Perfumes that I have loved and that have since been discontinued, such as Cacherel's Gloria (anyone remember it? I loved it!) are a constant niggle in the back of my mind. I recently caught a whiff of the most gorgeous scent on a colleague -- she smelled like a warm beach, suntan lotion, spices.
When I asked her what it was, as I was ready and poised over my keyboard to get myself 100ml of it RIGHT THERE AND THEN, I was heartbroken to learn it was a one-off special edition Kenzo that, after much hunting, I was never able to source. #PrayForNatalie.
This got me thinking. What about that fragrance was it that I was so drawn to? What notes? I knew that I liked it, but why?
After a little Googling, I came across the website Fragrantica.com -- "an online perfume encyclopedia." You essentially type in a perfume you like and it tells you the main accords and the notes it contains, and what other perfumes are similar.
I discovered, by entering in a number of scents I have at home, that nearly all of them are white florals with tuberose notes. I also like woody undertones. By clicking through a few times, I was able to see other perfumes that might appeal to me and BANG, a couple of new bottles were hurtling their way to me from cyberspace. Not great for my bank account, but good for making me smell delicious!
A little more digging and I was intrigued to see some notes I hadn't heard of before. Opoponax, anyone?
ANYWAY. Etat Libre D'Orange, or ELd'O, is a French perfume house which has been delighting and confusing noses since 2006 and has a reputation for the controversial names of it's fragrances ("Putain des Palaces," "Philippine Houseboy") and the packaging (an ejaculating cock, you know, the usual). Obviously I had to get myself some, and that I did.
One of their most famous fragrances is designed to smell like blood, sperm and sweat. People, I present to you SECRETIONS MAGNIFIQUES!
The notes on this are amazing, so I've included them in full for you so you can really try and get into the spirit. Enjoy.
"Like blood, sweat, sperm, saliva, Sécrétions Magnifiques is as real as an olfactory coitus that sends one into raptures, to the pinnacle of sensual pleasure, that extraordinary and unique moment when desire triumphs over reason. Masculine tenseness frees a rush of adrenalin in a cascade of high-pitched aldehydic notes. The sensation of freshness is gripping. Then the fragrance reveals a metallic side, precise and as sharp as unappeased desire. We are on a razor-edge… skin and sweat mingle, and tastes of musk and sandalwood. The slightly salt marine effect stirs, arouses, and sets your mouth watering. Tongues and sexes find one another, pleasure explodes and all goes wild. Confusion reigns supreme. A subversive, disturbing perfume. It’s love or hate at first sight. Sensuous jousting is rarely satisfied with half-measures…In between Don Juan and the Woman who offers herself, arms are laid down…who will be the first to surrender?"
Told you they were good. Essentially, it smells like dirty bodies and disco fanny. I dabbed the tiniest amount on and knew automatically that it wasn't for me. SUCH A PRUDE!
It is milk, and cheese, and the metallic blood in the air after a car crash. But that's not to say it isn't interesting, and a real triumph in fragrance -- it's a scent that can repulse. Some will love it, some will want to forget that they ever smelt it. For a fragrance to have that kind of power is important.
A lot of the other fragrances are utterly lovely. A favorite of mine that I sampled was Rossy de Palma, a dark, exciting rose that became smokier, and spicier as it dried down. I'll definitely be making a space for it on my dressing table. I am excited by the brand -- I WANT MORE.
ELd'O has opened up my eyes (and my nose) to niche perfumes and I am on the look out for more, slightly insane fragrances to try. Have you got any recommendations? Would you want to smell like spunk? Have you tried the ELd'O range? And which other niche perfume houses should I try? Hit me up in the comments, ladies of the frag!
I'm keeping it foolish over on Twitter: @Natalie_KateM.