The releases by pop-art fragrance phenomenon État Libre d'Orange ever since Like This (fronted by Tilda Swinton) have been lacking, belying the enthusiasm on discovering credible and artful compositions behind rather gimmicky names. Simply put, they are not at all challenging or unique as I've come to expect from the ground-breaking house. Archives 69, named after the address of the brand in Paris (69 rue des Archives) but at the same time deliciously hinting at the racy sexual position through the iconography on the site, doesn't deviate from this disappointing path. It's not that it is not pleasant or wearable (because it certainly is), it is that it is rather contrived given the history: sampling their scents is like blind-foldingly tasting Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans.
Upon spraying Archives 69 from État Libre d'Orange there is a smidge of that nauseating, sterile note (supposedly a nitrile) that makes Sécrétions Magnifiques so vile for so many. Allied to a musky note, midway between clean and dirty, it soon dissipates (blink and you'll miss it), paving the way for a much smoother, crowd-pleasing warm, spicy woody cluster of notes with overripe fruity nuances, reminiscent of the accord in Like This; plus warm, fuzzy fur. But not that kind of fur! It's more of a piney incense trail on a furry animal that cozed up by the fire, with spicy accents and the hint of dirt in good patchouli. There is a sweetness to its animalic fuzziness, a little bit salty sweet from one angle, more creamy sweet from another. But it never deviates from its mould of oriental spicy.
The composition overall is much too tame to conjure images of depravity and Baudelairian debauchery, but that does not mean that lovers (men or women) of snuggly, warm, skin scents won't like it. On the contrary.
To capture the full effect it's best to spray, since dabbing is akin to putting on sourdine on it; in that regard I agree with what Gaia of the Non Blonde points out. Still, in anycase and any way of wearing it, it's a low-hum fragrance that needs the proximity of intimacy to be best detected, much like other woody muskies such as Gaiac 10 by Le Labo or Escentric 01 (Escentric Molecules).
Notes for Etat Libre d'Orange Archives 69:
Mandarin, pink pepper CO2, pimento leaf, orchid Jungle Essence®and prune Jungle Essence®, incense, camphor, benjoin, patchouli, musk.
A sample out of my personal stash is available for a lucky reader. Please respond to this question to be eligible: Do you equate spicy, woody, snuggly scents with the autumn & holiday season or are you panseasonal? (And do you have a favourite among them?)
Archives 69 by État Libre d'Orange is available in 50ml and 100ml Eau de Parfum. The 100ml bottle is a limited edition in a collectible box. Archives 69 can be purchased from Escentual.com in UK and Henri Bendels and Luckyscent in the USA.
Still from the film Last Tango in Paris, photo of presentation from Elements Showcase NYC exhibition