Despite allusions to Messianic status and references to a Far Asian dish full of endemic ingredients, Fils de Dieu is neither incense-based, nor is it foody in smell. Instead it shoots clarity, modernity and prized complexity into an age-old structure, the classic oriental perfume, making it shed its abundant sunshine like a golden ray shimmering onto yellow butterflies flying over the spring blooms in the balcony. Forget the controversy factor and scare-the-horses impact of the niche brand's infamous Sécrétions Magnifiques. This one is instantly (and easily) likeable stuff you will get serious milleage off; which I'd think defeats the brand's "perfume is dead, long live perfume" manifesto, but there you have it: they need to make wearable stuff too I suppose. Fils de Dieu is among their most approachable.
|Biko rice cupcakes from the Philippines|
That is the effect the new Etat Libre d'Orange fragrance has: uplifting, inviting, alluring, radiant. Despite the lack of heft its vanilla background has (forget thick, "burnt" too foody vanillas, this is nuanced and sophisticated), the tenacity of musk, the crushed flower petals and the profusion of leathery castoreum (reminiscent of a FarEast massage parlour) accounts for a composition that will get you noticed throughout the day. If the equally inviting Etat Libre d'Orange Archives 69 and their universally liked Like This is any indication, the French brand is following a certain kind of compositions quite purposefully lately.
But the interesting thing about Fils de Dieu is the masterful playing of contrast and the injection of herbal into the classic oriental motif: the ginger (in itself having a citrusy facet) pairs with other hesperidic notes, notably sharp lime, starting with bracing, mouthwatering freshness (not unlike the bergamot-rich head note of Cologne Bigarade in the F.Malle line). There's the subtle and brief fennel-like note of shiso and then the perfume swims confidently into plush comfort through the milky-rice note of coconut-milk steamed rice. The zen-like effect of savoury rice cooking on the stove was perhaps most famously explored by niche brand Ormonde Jayne in Champaca: there's something home-bound and soothing about that smell and Linda Pilkington had revealed to me in an interview that she had envisioned it inspired by her Chinese neighbours cooking rice at their appartment every evening. Etat Libre had injected a rice note as a hint in their previous Putain de Palaces. But in Fils de Dieu the progression melds effortlessly into an intimate, gourmand aftertaste with lots of coriander (orange-saffron like, almost), a metallic nuance and suede, sultry leathery notes which retain the fragrance deliciously on both skin and cloth.
Etat Libre d'Orange Fils de Dieu, du Riz et des Agrumes is available from Henri Bendels, MiN New York and online from Luckyscent and Les Senteurs.
Notes for Etat Libre d'Orange Fils de Dieu:
Ginger, coriander leaves, lime, shiso, bergamot, Jungle Essence coconut, rice note, Jungle Essence cardamom, jasmine, cinnamon, French May rose, tonka bean, vetiver, musk, amber, leather, castoreum.
photo via cupcakeproject.com