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“Blink” Retail: Etat Libre d’Orange à Londres Est

I’m a very sensitive-nosed person and so scents are a very important thing to me. I’m in a long standing love affair with Jo Malone‘s Red Roses and Diptyque‘s L’Ombe dans L’Eau (every lady has a day and an evening scent don’t they?). It would take something pretty spectacular to change what have been my signature scents for several years now, but I think perhaps I might have found a new contender!

When I was in Paris in September I came a cross a store that was new to me. I was first drawn in by the bold pop art style graphics and after crossing the threshold I was totally immersed into the world of Etat Libre d’Orange, avant garde French fragrance house. This is a burgeoning market and barely a week passes without us learning about a new brand of premium scenting products. Well, these guys have approached their craft in such a unique and innovative way, from the environment to the names, and of course to the scent themselves that I think this is a stand out label that will soon be as well known as that other French scenting institution, Diptyque.

The store in Le Marais (69 rue des Archives) is a quirky combination between vintage pieces and super shiny, glossy imagery. The scents are neatly arranged on a central table and the very knowledgeable staff are on hand to help you navigate through the varied and brilliantly composed scent offer.

Etat Libre d'Orange, Paris

Etat Libre d'Orange, Paris

Etat Libre d'Orange, Paris

Etat Libre d'Orange, Paris

The young man who was helping me understand whether I was feeling more ‘Fat Electician’ (vertiver, chestnut cream, olive leaves, vanilla, opoponax, myrrh…) or ‘Putain des Palaces’ (rose absolute, violet, leather, lily of the valley, tangerine, ginger…) happened to mention that the label had just opened their first outpost in London, so upon returning home I made my way over to Redchurch Street to have a look at the new store.

Etat Libre d'Orange, London

Etat Libre d'Orange, London

In stark contrast to the Paris store, this East London shop, designed by Shed, is quite clinical with a touch of the laboratory about it. It feels utterly appropriate for the area, and also the innovative and cutting edge nature of this brand. I love the simplicity and functionality of the space which utterly puts the perfumes at the centre of the experience. I met with Heba, who masterminded the brand’s arrival in London. She helped me to navigate around the scent options a little further and encouraged me to step away from my usual rose based choices. Heba described ‘Fils de Dieu’ to me and I was utterly entranced. It sounded more like a recipe for a wonderful Thai curry than the composition of a perfume, featuring ginger, coriander, lime, shiso, jasmine, rice, cardamon, cinnamon and coconut. I braced myself and allowed Heba to spritz me up.

Fils de Dieu, Etat Libre d"Orange

Fils de Dieu, Etat Libre d"Orange

As I carried on with my day, letting the scent settle with my skin’s chemistry (never choose on first sniff!) I loved this perfume more and more as it developed. The start was like the smell of tropical holidays with coconut mainly coming through, along with sweet floral elements. After about 20 minutes the coconut had stepped back to allow the deeper elements to emerge with musk and amber giving this a very sexy edge. I think I have found my new scent addiction so I will be back on Redchurch Street this weekend to make a purchase. I mean who could resist a perfume that’s described with the statement “de la confusion des genres a la theorie du sexe des anges” which translates as “the blurring of a theory about the sex of angels”. That is poetry in a bottle.

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