#WCW: Tilda Swinton, And The Fragrance She Inspired

GQ's Woman of the Year is eccentric, warm and unexpected. So is her perfume.
Publish date:
December 10, 2014
perfumes, tilda swinton, Etat Libre D'Orange, luckyscent, pumpkin, celebrity fragrances, GQ, #wcw

Last week, GQ named Tilda Swinton its Woman of the Year. I never thought I’d say this, but RIGHT ON, GQ.

If you haven’t read the interview yet, you must. Our Lady Swinton is charming and slightly off-center in a way that is distinctly her. I perhaps enjoyed this story more than most because I love Tilda Swinton. I had a problem writing this story because every time I'd look at a picture of her, I ended up hissing “I. LOVE. YOU.” like an unhinged weirdo.

She chooses amazing roles and vanishes into every one. She gives an interview like nobody else (her "Draw My Life" vignette remains one of my favorite things on the Internet). She always makes the most interesting red carpet choices. And her email auto-response?

"Hello, I am away until 01/01/2070 and am unable to read your message."

Tell me you don’t want to use that verbatim.

Tilda Swinton has had a hell of a 2014, which I will now recap with a beauty review: The Grand Budapest Hotel (in which she played the octogenarian Madame D, a role that required her to spend five hours a day in the makeup chair), Snowpiercer (fake teeth, prosthetic breasts), and (glory of glories) Only Lovers Left Alive (long platinum blonde hair, pale skin, Tom Hiddleston).

Oh, and she’s the new face of NARS. Tell me that is not a match made in beauty heaven. In fact, let’s just stare at some photos of her amazing face for a minute.

But one thing I didn’t know about Queen Swinton is that she’s designed a perfume.

It’s called Like This, inspired by the poem by Rumi and released by Etat Libre d’Orange. (You can listen to her recite the poem in the video below. It's glorious.)

Launched in 2010, I somehow only heard about it last Monday. I was immediately intrigued and ordered a decanted sample from Lucky Scent.

In an interview with The Cut, she said “I thought about how great it would be if I could have a smell that would keep me at home wherever I was. So I started to think about my home smells, and the principal ingredients became ginger, baby carrot, pumpkin.” These are generally not things you’d find in a perfume. Delicious baked goods, sure. But a fragrance? Hmm.

Like This is as eccentric a fragrance as Tilda herself, and my overall impression is that it smells like the color orange.

It starts out very fresh and citrusy, with lots of mandarin and neroli, but this lasts only a moment as the pumpkin comes in and really sticks around.

Pumpkin is definitely the dominant opening note. From there it opens up into what I can only describe as a gourmand-floral with lots of warm cacao, ginger, rose and what I could swear is hyancinth. It’s very heady, like a winter bakery inside the world’s most beautiful greenhouse.

Finally, it dries down into a musky, almost coffee-like smell on my skin--immortelle must be in the mix, as that always makes me smell vaguely like a fresh latte. It’s cozy and warm and home-like, a distinctly feminine winter fragrance. It stayed close to my skin and lasted around six hours before fading completely.

This perfume is NOT what I was expecting. I suppose I expected Tilda Swinton to smell like immortal forests, androgyny, blood and magic. But smelling this, I’m reminded that she’s not the character created by the (hilarious) Twitter account.

She’s not The Winter Witch. She’s a real person with unusual interests who loves the comforts of being at home. That’s an interesting facet of her personality, and an unlikely one to explore in a perfume.

One would imagine it would have been much easier to play off her public persona and market an icy, androgynous scent. But as home-and-hearth as she (and this perfume) is, Like This certainly doesn’t smell like anything else. It’s unexpected. It’s slightly strange. It’s likely pretty polarizing. In the world of standard celebrity perfumes (big, “sexy” florals), I salute SWINTON and Etat Libre d’Orange for creating something as unique as the woman herself.

I’m not sure how much I particularly like smelling like the color orange. I enjoy the perfume as an intellectual exercise, but I don’t think it works as well as it could with my skin chemistry. I did quite like trying on a piece of Tilda, though. Wearing this perfume was like borrowing a little of her magic, and I’ll always keep the little vial to smell when I need to channel her magnificence in my life.

  • So tell me: How much do you love Tilda Swinton?
  • What is your favorite celebrity fragrance?
  • What is your favorite Swinton-y look/movie/art installation/quote?