Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Etat Libre d'Orange Like This Tilda Swinton: Musing on a Muse

Etat Libre d’Orange, the brand of interesting scents and provocative names, takes on another unusual muse; after Rossy de Palma, the cubist-looking Spanish actress renowned for her work in Almodovar films, the visually striking and fiercely talented Tilda Swinton is their next "muse". The enigmatic, ambiguous, eternally pale and socially provocative actress (living a polyamorous existence in Scotland) broke into the scene with Virgina Woolf's Orlando film adaptation in 1992 never to divert far from our attention span ever again. Even though Tilda is not exactly beautiful (or pretty, in the conventional sense of big eyes, round contours, flowing mane) she is arresting and compelling to watch, making the camera love her. Etat Libre d’Orange dedicates their latest fragrance, inspired by the verse of the Persian poet of the 13th century Rumi and named Like This to Tilda Swinton, rendering the most unexpected "celebrity scent" in a long while. Perhaps the choice wasn't really that unexpected: Several perfume enthusiasts in the online community when asked which celebrity should have their own fragrance mention her name, adding that Etat Libre would do her justice (that remains to be seen, but I am willing to test the theory out!)

So what is it with unusual, non silicone-friendly beauties that could be termed jolie-laide lately? We had noticed the phenomenon when Balenciaga had chosen Charlotte Gainsbourg a while ago for their new violet-laced steely scent Balenciaga Paris. Even though Charlotte, Gainsbourg's daughter by Jane Birkin, has known controversy since infancy (Lemon Incest is a hard act to follow!), somehow her contemporary profile minus Antichrist is rather tame. Her family life, married to director Yvon Attal, is steady, even bourgeois. Tilda on the other hand enjoys a much more controversial profile, a patrician background and her Celtic features and high colouring are unpredictable and more distinctive than Charlotte's. The White Witch part in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) was plenty memorable.

What is more interesting is that there seems to exist a brave new frontier in fronting fragrances through faces that communicate a certain intelligence (Tilda has been involved in installation art and cutting-edge fashion, notably for Victor & Rolf) and visual bravado. The audience has been tired of mainstream predictability and needs new "flesh". Is it also an indication of feministic streak that re-awakens through a bras-de-fer with the cemented ideals of Hollywood-esque attractiveness? Tilda is a creature of subtle and underground sexuality, which highlights the mystique that fragrance can inspire admirably. And perhaps the female buyers of fragrance long for it to be again -after decades when it was forgotten- a discreet game of mapping their own identity, intelligently and cohesively. In the words of Tilda herself: "I'm basically interested in identity, and I still find fascinating the question, 'How do we identify ourselves, and how do we settle into other people's expectations for our identity?' "

Like This was composed by perfumer Mathilde Bijaoui, including notes of yellow mandarin, ginger, helicrysum (everlasting flower/immortelle), neroli, Grasse rose de Mai, heliotrope, musk and vetiver, as well as the new synthetic Potiron Jungle Essence (Mane laboratories) reinforcing the smell of pumpkin. The word pumkin ~alongside its echolalia and the findings of Dr.Hirsch about its scent augmenting penile blood flow~ makes me giggle a bit when contemplating the polyamorous environment of Tilda. Is this intentional? It would be fun to think that it were!

Like This by Etat Libre d’Orange will be available in Eau de Parfum 50ml and is launching on 13th March 2010.
Photo of Tilda Swinton via papercastlepress.com/blog


  1. Loving that photo of Tilda! She is one of my favorites, ever since Orlando.
    Indeed, the identity question is so very interesting!

  2. R,

    she's unique, no one else is quite like her! I believe her identity is cut from a since destroyed mould.
    And yes, that photo is amazing! Had been meaning to use it for ages and here is my chance :-)

  3. Ah, dear E, I'm as excited about this as I have been about anything in a long time.

    I think Swinton is an amazing personage, and think of her most indelibly linked to the films of the late Derek Jarman, and especially her roles in Caravaggio and as Queen Isabella in Edward II.

    I am already well into planning a split of this fragrance. Note that I think the study of pumpkin smell had to do with pumpkin pie with the spices and such. I'm thinking the scent in this may be more vegetal and relate to the squash flesh itself? Just a guess. I did see the translation on one site given as winter squash.

    I really cannot wait.

    [Also, just a note: I think the launch date -- from ELdO website -- is actually March 13.]

  4. A) "Like This" is one of my absolute favorite Rumi poems, and I think the first time I heard it, I cried. It was that powerful.

    B) How can you not love Tilda?

    In conclusion, this is something I must try :) And it reminds me, yet again, to investigate more of the line. I don't know why I never think to. Rien was pretty cool.

  5. This sounds like a must buy to me. All note that I love with a twist, pumpkin nonetheless.
    I hope that the release month is March rather than May because I'm a March baby and this will lesson the guilt of the purchase

  6. It sounds exciting, different, and romantic. I love Rumi, I love Tilda ... I think she's beautiful, and I always love a face that doesn't look like anyone else.

  7. Anonymous16:03

    I'm afraid it's Orlando. :P

  8. Anonymous16:06

    I’m hoping Like This will take me to the edge of ineffable and shove me over!
    Love the photo, very provocative given the context at Tilda’s house. I’ll be waiting impatiently for your follow up!!!

  9. I love Tilda. I also think of her as Derek Jarman's muse. Etat Libre d’Orange had better do her right!

  10. Joe,

    I can see you're all hot and bothered!! LOL!
    Good for you! It seems like Tilda has a cult fan club around her, it's so fun to see it in action.

    You could be very well right into your guess on the note, I suppose we will find out soon enough. Yes, the study did mention pumpkin pie, very traditional American, which poses a few "doubts" as to the potential of the smell into triggering (ha!) similar actions in men of other nations. Well, we can rest easy this fragrance won't be presented with that "approach" ;-)

  11. Ooops, forgot to mention that you're right: in my enthusiasm I became careless.

  12. Jared,

    thanks for stopping by! Now isn't that wonderful, there IS something very powerful in Rumi's verse. I think Neil Morris has a scent named after the poet, it's a good one too! (Hope this inspires some sampling; enabler, who me?)
    Tilda is compelling, no other word about it. I don't what she does, but she gets my attention every time.

    And definitely the ELDO line has some good ones: I liked Charogne too! (and Rossy de Palma isn't half bad either)

  13. Cheryl,

    hope it fulfils the potential. Yup, March is right. I'm preparing for a trip and was very rushed. Strike May out!
    (and happy birthday for when it comes around the corner)

  14. Prox,

    I think she's beautiful too (in her own special way). It does sound very exciting, I can't believe I have been this excited about a 'celebrity' fragrance!

  15. Anon,

    not only it is assuredly Orlando, it is also Virginia Woolf with two Os! (missed that?) But as there is a lot of wrist-slapping around these days on typos even for people who write in a non-native alphabet, I think it's so good that I'm going to leave it be! :P

  16. Anon,

    who knows, there is a lot of potential for an unusual fragrance here and I hope they deliver.
    The photo is kinda naughty (hehe) and I had been longing to use it in connection with the blog for a long time. Great chance presented eh?

  17. Furriner,

    thanks for commenting, this is another of Tilda's muse roles, she's pretty prolific, isn't she? I have the highest expectations from the line on this scent, I assure you.

  18. I have always thought she was/is just so fabulous! I hope this fragrance does her justice.


  19. A,

    yup, I'm crossing my fingers too! She's intelligent, unusual, willing to take risks: tall order for a corresponding fragrance!

  20. She is one of my favorites.
    I hope this fragrance does her justice.

  21. Like This....
    What a unique fragrance....
    there are slightly Floral notes...
    and an earthy quality to it ...
    Creamy like a Mushroom or Moss...
    but not a dirty earthy feel ..
    it's far to cheerful.
    I guess the Rose helps with that ...
    The Musk gives it a wonderful
    leather-ish finish ..
    it all settles together ..
    quite nicely on my skin ..

    As I wore it I noticed that
    the Leather-ish notes settled into a very yummy "MAPLE SYRUP" fragrance ..
    strange ..yes..
    but Wonderfully Unique!


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