Monday, November 1, 2010
Etat Libre d'Orange Secretions Magnifiques: fragrance review
I'm in the attic of an old video store downtown. Stuffy and with the permeating smell of hot, new plastic from the inner jackets of DVDs with questionable material. The seedy sales assistant is dressed and "groomed" like Ian Lamont in the disastrous remake of The Jackal, only he utterly lacks any charm Jack Black naturally possesses. He's oggling female customers with a roving eye, but it is actually the shy, low-browed "help" with the upstraight collar that is really a sexual offender. That attic smells of dried up semen and surreptitious impositions on unwilling females, of threat and defilement, of a sense of panic where your trachea closes as if you can't breath and no voice can come out...no matter how many primary colours change hues beneath your shut eyelids.
I'm in the operating theatre of a hospital, lying supine and cold. The ceiling above me has the listless greyish white of ashes in a crematorium and I feel like I should belong in one. Lochia is oozing off me, the burden of having my guts torn out, hatched job of 20 weeks when the air was still pregnant with hope. There are no salty tears falling off to the edge of the ears making the familiar plonk sound, only the buzz of the fluorescent lights atop. Nothing moves save the mops across the corridors spreading another layer of bleach on the floors.
I'm in a small African camp where Action Aid is volunteering. A teenage mother of no more than 13 is sitting back up the wall of a thatched cottage, as the weather is taking a turn for the damper, her baby infested by a thousand flies, in the same position as it last had grabbed her breast in an attempt to draw life-sustaining liquid. Liquid which trickles down still under her expresionless face, stale, and mixed with sweat and the scent of famine; whitish liquid on black skin, so agile, so puerile, you think you could take this mother and lull her to sleep herself.
Sécrétions Magnifiques rather amazingly smells like all of these places. I just don't want to be in those places...ever.
Definitely out of the Guy Robert perimeter of perfumery standards ("perfume should smell good") and into avant-garde in earnest, this is a fragrance that acts like Duchamp's Fountain (Urinal); it serves as a springboard for discussion more than an art piece to put and enjoy in someone's home. Smelling aquatic-metallic with an algae note and a lot like sweet floral notes and coconut blanched in bleach (featuring Azurone, a Givaudan trademarked "clean" note), with a spattering of spoiled condensed milk and pure bile in the mix as it "opens up", Sécrétions Magnifiques by État Libre d'Orange is a scent not to leave anyone indifferent and is both totally original and undoubtedly a technical feat (the demonic notes reverberate into eternity opening up with gusto). Supposedly it's trying to replicate scents of saliva, milk, blood and semen, these magnificent secretions for which humans are known (if you were hoping for Eau de Merveilles though, forget it) but there is absolutely no animal hint or human intimacy, rather a sterile Alien accord that is a study on every female fear.
Its perfumer, Antoine Lie, has been known for his work at Comme Des Garcons (888, Lime and Grapefruit from the Energy C series, Wonderwood as well as Daphne), as well as others in the État Libre line (Tom of Finland, Rien, Divin Enfant, Je Suis un Homme, Don't get me wrong baby). Sécrétions Magnifiques by État Libre d'Orange is available as Eau de Parfum. Its fame precedes this bête noire; approach with a sense of respect.
Notes given for Sécrétions Magnifiques:
Iode accord, adrenaline accord, blood accord, milk accord, iris, coconut, sandalwood and opoponax.
For a funnier take with less drama, watch Katie's review on Youtube.
pic originally uploaded on mua by mzterrim sent to me by email