Strumpet Voluntary: Etat Libre d'Orange Putain des Palaces
Anyway, you're not here to read about etymology, you're here to read about perfume.
Once upon a time, and not that long ago, not even a century, nice girls in North America didn't wear makeup and they didn't wear perfume. They might pinch their cheeks to bring up the colour, and they might wear a little eau de toilette in some innocuous lilac or apple-blossom scent, but to wear makeup or actual European perfume, the kind with a musky, animalic base that suggested sex, meant you were easy, and there was no middle ground. Virgin or slut: those were your choices. (Based on their perfumes alone, you could tell that the sluts were the ones having all the fun.)
A friend of mine had a delicious family saying that was dredged out whenever Mother or one of the girls was perfumed for a night out: "You smell like a whore's handbag." Etat Libre d'Orange's Putain des Palaces smells like a whore's handbag, in the best imaginable way.
After a bright, cheery mandarin-orange opening laced with aldehydes, PdP reveals itself to be a midcentury rose-and-violet perfume (it recalls vintage L'Interdit by Givenchy) with a heavy dusting of face powder. To some people, this will read as "old-fashioned" or even "old-lady", but they're not paying attention, they're not sticking around, because lurking just underneath is a slightly sweetened leather — could be the handbag, could be a well-used whip for all you know — and an ambery animal dirtiness with a decidedly sexual connotation: if this is old-fashioned, it's old-fashioned hussy. The only thing missing is a postcoital smoke (and Etat Libre d'Orange already has you covered there with Jasmin et Cigarette).
Putain des Palaces is so ineluctably feminine that there is something irresistible about the idea of a man unapologetically wearing it, someone stylish and masculine like English rugby player and all-around excellent human being Ben Cohen
or American actor Shemar Moore
because we expect men to smell like citrus and ozone (if they are under 35) or tobacco and barbershop (if over), and how terrific would it be to encounter a man confidently smelling like he'd teleported from the 1950s after having just spent some bedsheets time with a brazen lady?
Labels: Etat Libre d'Orange