État Libre d’Orange Putain des Palaces

Putain des Palaces from État Libre d’Orange seeks to be a boudoir fantasy involving a high-class courtesan. In French, the perfume’s name essentially translates to “palace whore,” which is quite in keeping with the whimsical, often satirical, and always provocative style of the French perfume house. I’ve usually found that their attempts to shock or titillate don’t match up to the actual scent in question, and Putain des Palaces is no exception.

Source: Luckyscent.

Source: Luckyscent.

Putain des Palaces is a feminine, powdery floral eau de parfum with animalic streaks that was created by Nathalie Feisthauer, and released in 2006. État Libre describes the scent and its notes as follows:

In this fantasy of the boudoir, the powdered top note evokes the sophisticated woman who dresses for seduction, and undresses for profit. She is the temptress who awaits her prey in the hotel bar, and leads her lucky victim to unimaginable delights…

Composition : Rose absolute, violet, leather, lily of the valley, tangerine, ginger, rice powder, amber, animal notes…

Source: Allposters.com

Source: Allposters.com

Putain des Palaces opens on my skin with the floral, powdery scent of a lipstick infused with a lightly fruited rose and a metallic violet accord. It is following immediately by the very distinct whiff of sweat and musky body odor. It reminds me of underarm aroma when a floral powder deodorant is struggling to keep the sweat in check, but has not yet failed. The rose note fluctuates in strength on my arm, appearing more noticeably in a distinct, individual, powerful way if I apply a larger quantity of the scent. At a lower dosage, the florals are much more abstract, especially the violet, and they all swirl into one overall, generalized “floral” accord that is heavily dusted with powder. Interestingly, the latter tends towards baby powder or talcum powder at a smaller dose, but is more akin to makeup powder at a higher one. In both instances, however, there is a lot of powder.

"Powder Palace" painting, ARTbyKristen on Etsy. (Website link to her Etsy shop embedded within.)

“Powder Palace” painting, ARTbyKristen on Etsy. (Website link to her Etsy shop embedded within.)

There isn’t a lot more to Putain des Palaces on my skin than floral makeup powder with fluctuating degrees of body odor. A subtle fruitiness appears after 10 minutes, but lurks on the edges and never translates to “tangerine” on my skin. For the most part, it feels merely like a subset to the rose, providing a certain, nebulous jamminess at first, before the note fades away completely after 20 minutes. There is no ginger or leather whatsoever on my skin.

The musky underarm aroma waxes and wanes, depending on the how much of the fragrance I apply, but it generally recedes into the background after 10 minutes. There, it continues to pop up once in a blue moon, but it’s not a major or substantial element on my skin. Still, subtle or not, fleeting or not, I’m not keen on even its momentary appearance. I don’t mind animalic notes or things redolent of sex, but armpit sweat and sweaty muskiness are most definitely not my cup of tea. 

George Seurat: "Young Woman Powdering Herself."

George Seurat: “Young Woman Powdering Herself.”

Everything feels incredibly abstract and nebulous after a mere 15 minutes. It actually astonishes me how quickly Putain des Palaces turns into a hazy, blurry, indistinct blur of florals and powder. Even the jammy rose, the most dominant of the notes, loses its shape, while the violet vanishes entirely by the end of the first hour. Putain de Palaces turns more and more faceless, gauzy, soft, innocuous, and bland. By the 90-minute mark, there is absolutely nothing to the scent, but clean, sweet, floral makeup powder. That’s it. After a few hours, there is a subtle impression of warmth that hovers about, but it’s not amber in any recognizable form. I almost wish for the underarm muskiness to reappear, simply to add some interest to the scent. Almost, but not quite. In its final moments, Putain de Palaces is a mere wisp of makeup powderiness infused with a vaguely floral aspect.

All in all, Putain de Palaces lasts between 7 and 8 hours on me, depending on how much I apply. It is always a light, airy, thin scent with initially moderate sillage that soon turns quite soft. Using 3 big smears amounting to 2 good sprays from an actual bottle, I had roughly 2-3 inches in projection. A smaller quantity with 2 small dabs gave me 2 inches. However, in both cases, the sillage dropped after 90 minutes and the perfume hovered just an inch above the skin. Putain de Palaces consistently became a skin scent on me by the middle of the 3rd hour.

Source: onekingslane.com

Source: onekingslane.com

I thought Putain de Palaces was a disappointment, but I fully recognize that I’m not its target audience. I dislike powder, while amorphous, indistinct, hazy florals do nothing for me. Combining the two together into boring floral powder is even less likely to appeal to me, especially when the scent in question lacks nuance, complexity, or body. When you throw in musky body odor — minor or not — the final result is almost guaranteed to be negative. The best thing I can say about Putain des Palaces is that it is vaguely pretty, I suppose. It wasn’t the synthetic bomb of Frederic Malle‘s Lipstick Rose, it didn’t give me a migraine, and I wasn’t compelled to scrub it off. Putain des Palaces is simply too innocuous, banal, and tame to arouse any strong feelings whatsoever. 

That said, I think the perfume will appeal to those who love both extremely powdery, feminine florals and, in addition, don’t mind a touch of skankiness. Both things have to apply, because some people seem to experience quite a sexual fragrance. If you have a lot of experience with civet or animalic scents, I highly doubt you’ll find the note in Putain de Palaces to be major in any way whatsoever. I certainly didn’t, and it wasn’t merely of how ephemeral the note was on my skin, either. For me, there is a distinct difference between “sweaty body odor” and the smell of sex. Yet, judging by what I’ve read at various places, those unaccustomed to skanky perfumes seem to feel Putain des Palaces is very raunchy indeed.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, "Femme enfilant son bas." Source: toile-photo.eu

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, “Femme enfilant son bas.” Source: toile-photo.eu

On Fragrantica, the reviews are very mixed, with a slight majority tending towards the negative. Interestingly, though, it is for wholly different reasons. A number struggled with the sweaty, body odor aspect of Putain des Palaces, while others had the opposite experience and expressed disappointment with the perfume’s safe, powdery, floral innocuousness. A few detected a substantial amount of dirty skank — even “aroused male genatalia [sic]” — though not everyone enjoyed the sexuality and one person had to scrub. A sampling:

    • Mugler with balls. Literally. Take the deliciousness and addictiveness of angel but add freshly washed and aroused male genatalia. Its THAT musky. Horny as f***. A beautiful experience that I’ve never smelled in anything else. Plus it’s a beast for sillage.
    • i really can’t understand!! allot of reviews states it is powdery, lovely, and feminine!! but what i smell is nothing but a woman who had intermediate cardio workout and then sprayed flower fragrance while she was sweating!! exactly like trying to hide the smell of a sweaty armpit using a flower perfume! nope, i don’t like the Curry smell sorry.
    • don’t feel any temptation, probalby I should… Mandarin orange note is not sexy at all. Very powdery, theatrical, false. Suits to Drag Queen or horny old lady. 🙂 Nothing crazy. It is original, but I’m disappointed. Maybe Putain tried to seduce, but it didn’t work.
    • More like Escort des Motel really. I mostly get leather and a fecal/indolic note (similar to that found in Goutal’s Songes and Penhaligon’s Amaranthine) [¶] The two notes aren’t married together with any sense of harmony so to me this is a very literal idea of a sweaty woman wearing a nylon dress sitting on a leather sofa
    • Today I tried Putain de Palaces, and I say now with no reservations that this is one of the most awful, overtly sexual, stomach turning scents that I have ever encountered. The animalic note in this scent is overbearing to me, so much so that I couldn’t pinpoint or sense any other note in the whole composition. I’ve smelled and worn some very disagreeable and/or strange scents before, but very few have ever been so bad that I would literally scrub them off with hot water, soap, and a wash cloth.
Source: totallylayouts.com

Source: totallylayouts.com

  • All I get is powdery violet. I like violet, but I expected more umph
  • Putain des Palaces is possibly the softest and most inoffensive fragrance from Etat Libre d’Orange. The question on everyone’s lips, “will Putain des Palaces make me smell like a hotel whore?” The answer is no. [¶] I don’t consider this fragrance sensual or suggestive in any way. It’s a somewhat clean and powdery floral, heavy on the iris and rose. The drydown is comprised of musk and amber, and it must be said that the leather note is not particularly dominant on my skin.
Toulouse Lautrec, "The Sofa," via art-kingdom.com

Toulouse-Lautrec, “The Sofa,” via art-kingdom.com

It’s the opposite story on Luckyscent, where the vast, vast majority of the reviews are completely adoring, though a tiny minority had issues with the powderiness and “old lady” aspect of the scent. Some of the raves — which range from “old French ‘ho,” to head sweat under wigs, genital unmentionables, courtesans, Charlotte Corday murdering Marat, and lots of talk about sex and makeup powder — are very amusing:

  • It is extremely sexy and …not to be vulgar here…can only be described as the best smelling p***y in the world. ‘Nuff said.
  • I’ve never smelled a french whore before but I would say if this fragrance is reminiscent of one, they must use a lot of powder. It gave me a headache as soon as I put it on. I waited for it to mellow but I ended up taking a second shower, (like a french whore) to wash it off.
  • I had to have a full bottle of this. It reminds me of a powdered wig, which has acquired the head sweat of its wearer. It’s not overly powdery though, because it is tempered with salty notes. I find this fragrance very intriguing, noble, comforting, and sexy. I wear this during the day at work, as its sillage is mild and light. I don’t get any animalic notes from this. The lasting power is about three hours.
  • Soft, powdery florals and the slightly sweaty inside of a man’s thigh, near his unmentionables. Not horrible; actually, it’s pretty sexy. I’d be afraid to wear it in public, though, hehehe.
"Portrait of Marie-Louise O'Murphy," Louis XV's mistress, by François Boucher, 1751. Source: Wikipedia

“Portrait of Marie-Louise O’Murphy,” Louis XV’s mistress, by François Boucher, 1751. Source: Wikipedia

  • Whoa, full-frontal baby powder top note, old French ho fo’ sho’. Then it dries down. It becomes Chanel #5 on a three-day bender, lipstick smeared, slip showing, broken heel, and the beginnings of a epic hangover. There’s a nice dark heart to this that’s worth waiting for.
  • I have to admit that it was the reviewer that described this as, “ol’ French ho, fo’ sho'” that inspired me to try this perfume. And there’s no doubt about it, there is a certain “ol’ French ho'” aspect about this perfume, but that French ho is one of the great courtesans. She is powdered, bewigged, dressed in silks and her dancing slippers are of new leather. She is radiant. She’s drunk on champagne that was specially ordered for her and she’s ready to party- that’s Putain des Palaces. The woman wearing this: she’s not the queen at the party, but she’s going home with the king and he’ll let her make some minor foreign policy changes if she’s into that kind of thing (it was that kind of night). This starts with a very buttoned-down lipstick rose-violet that quickly leads into an incredibly soft, sexy leather. The smell- it’s a Chanel lipstick that’s melted into the lining of a Birkin; it’s the smell of inside of the Louboutin stilleto that the woman you love has been wearing; its the perfume of the woman you love, but can’t bring yourself to admit that you do. It’s beautiful. Putain des Palaces is a scent for the man-killer, but she must be the revolutionary kind. I imagine Charlotte Chorday wore this when she strangled Marat.
Photo: Pinterest. Original source unknown.

Photo: Pinterest. Original source unknown.

As you can see, those who love powdery florals, makeup accords, and a touch of ripeness think the “palace whore” is the best thing ever. But I have to think skin chemistry plays a role, as it will determine just how safe or how naughty a scent you get. The Fragrantica reviews indicate that a number of people experienced a bland, innocuous scent with clean, powdered florals, and nothing else.

In almost all cases, women are the main fans for Putain des Palaces. With only one exception, all of the reviews I have quoted or have seen appear to be from women. I simply cannot imagine a man wearing this fragrance unless he really was passionate about floral powderiness. If that is your bailiwick and love, give Putain des Palaces a sniff.

Cost & Availability: Putain de Palace is an eau de parfum that comes in two sizes. There is a 1.7 ml/50 ml size which is priced at $80, €69, or £59.50. There is also a 100 ml bottle available in some places for $149 or €125. In the U.S.: Putain de Palace can be purchased from Luckyscent for $80 for a 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle, and in both sizes from Brooklyn’s Twisted Lily. As a whole, the Etat Libre collection is also carried at MinNY, and SF’s ZGO. Outside the U.S.: In Canada, I believe Holt Renfrew is the exclusive distributor for Etat Libre’s perfumes. In Europe, you can purchase Putain des Palaces directly from Etat Libre’s website in both sizes for €80 or €125, with samples available for €3. (There is also a Discovery Set or Coffret of 18 Etat Libre fragrances, all in 1.5 ml vials, sold for €39. Putain des Palaces is included.) The perfume is also available from Etat Libre’s London store at 61 Redchurch Street, as well as from its Paris one located at 69, rue des Archives, 75004. Elsewhere in Europe, the Etat Libre line is available at London’s Les Senteurs (with samples available to purchase), the Netherlands’ ParfuMaria (which has a wide sample program), Germany’s First in Fragrance, Italy’s ScentBar, and Russia’s iPerfume. For all other locations or vendors from Switzerland to Lithuania and Sweden, you can use the Store Locator listing on the company’s website. Samples: Several of the stores above offer samples. Surrender to Chance has Putain des Palaces starting at $4.75 for a 1 ml vial. 

26 thoughts on “État Libre d’Orange Putain des Palaces

  1. omg, this made me laugh SO hard! It sounds like you had the same experience I did with it…. I really wanted to like it, and am probably a bit more tolerant of powder but the whole thing was just one big sweaty meh for me. Someone will probably give me a hateful internet look for this comparison, but honestly, if a person likes this sort of thing, I think that Kenzo Flower, Rochas Tocade, and Oriza Jardins d’Armide are all much better crafted variations on the powdered rose-violet (never mind Tocade doesn’t have violet in the notes, it’s full of ionones) old fashioned floral fragrance. Without the failing deodorant effect… which is going to make me start laughing all over again. 😀

    • You have such a higher tolerance level than I do, my dear. LOL. Jardins d’Armide is so hardcore and extreme. Total floral powder bomb! That one was too, too much for me, and a total scrubber due to the lethal quantities of powder, and the added extra hell of soapiness. 🙁

      As for the “failed deodorant” effect… I suppose it could be worse. :\ I could have gotten the musky testicles described so happily (???! WTF??!) by what I think was the lone male commentator on Fragrantica. God, my reaction to reading that….

      • Jardins was never soapy on me or I would have scrubbed it too. The powder reduced after a while but it IS very powdery lol

        Mmmm, musky testicle perfume….. eh, no, I think I’ll stick with my civet, thank you very much.

  2. I don’t like the name at all and your description – floral lipstick, underarm body odor, and it seems to be one rung above :::: shudder ::::: Lipstick Rose – means this perfume is dead to me (I’m channeling Kevin O’Leary).

    • I have to admit, I’m disappointed. I was SURE that you (you, in specific) would comment on the sweaty male testicles recounted so happily by one Fragrantica commentator, or the “best smelling” female … er… p***y discussed by a Luckyscent reviewer. I certain that either of those descriptions, the motel escort, or perhaps the “head sweat” under a wig description would get you. I was so looking forward to your reaction, you have no idea. 😉 😀

      • Well, I was going to say something about the sweat under the wig but I was already all skeeved out about the armpits that I did not want to torture myself further about what others thought 😉

        • I had attributed it to the horror of Lipstick Rose trumping all else. 😉 (Frankly, it rather does for me as well. I shall have to block out the traumatic memory all over again.)

  3. Well… I never.
    I never have gotten any of the sweat or sexy bits people talk about. It’s just a pretty cosmetic powdery floral. Lots of nice violet and rose. The smell reminds me of my aunts pocketbook. When I was little she’d sometimes ask me to go get it and get her glasses or something out of it. It had that aroma of well worn leather, makeup, and remnants of perfumes. I loved the smell. I haven’t worn this in a bit so I’m going to have to try it again and see if I was just overlooking something but I don’t recall any sweat, testicles, or p***y. It’s pretty on me but sounds much more interesting on everyone else.

    • LOL! So funny. I’m glad you enjoy it and that it brings back such wonderful memories. That’s one of the best parts of perfume, the trip back memory line to happy times. I’m also glad that you don’t experience any of the sexual or body aromas that some people talk about. It wasn’t significant on my skin, and it was far from sexual, but I’m afraid the rest of the scent wasn’t my cup of tea regardless. Then again, I’m obviously not in the target demographic.

      Do let me know if any testicular sweat shows up on you….. rofl. *grin*

  4. I liked your review, but the name makes me wince. I had a lot of sexism thrown at me this week at work and it could be that by now I just don’t want to hear anything about palace whores:) I really hate some of their marketing. I want to try Jasmin et Cigarette, but i am not sure I want to part with my cash to support this firm.

    I am probably not their target audience either. Today I am wearing Annick Goutal’s Nuit Etoile (much more my speed).

    • If it makes you feel any better, Carole, a number of people have problems with Etat Libre’s marketing and approach in general. I even know someone who boycotts the brand and refuses to even buy samples. So, you’re not alone in having issues. I think the company tries too hard to push buttons or to be provocative, but I do find some of the names to be amusing. Others, not so much….

      By the way, as a side note, I’m sorry to hear about your week at work and what you have to sometimes face. I truly hope next week is better.

  5. Why, why, oh WHY would (with respect for those of you who DO…) want to smell like armpit sweat? I thought that was bad… Then there’s the smell of a sweaty head percolating beneath a wig. Just. Gross!! But to knowingly, willingly apply a scent that will make you smell like the steamy undercarriage of a man in rut, or perhaps lonely ladybits looking to hook up… I’m TRULY speechless!!! When I can get up from the floor where I’ve collapsed from laughing so hard, that is!! Oh, my God, this was all just too funny!
    Just what I needed this morning! 🙂

    • HA, such a hilarious comment. Truly, though, I think some of those comments must be aberrations or the persons don’t have a lot of experience with animalic elements, and so even the SMALLEST amount turns into some big, sexual overdose. For the most part, 96% of this fragrance is just a soft, very powdery, nebulous floral scent, and that’s it. The skanky bits are truly just the tiniest whiff, imo, though skin chemistry can be a funny thing, so who knows.

      I think skin chemistry AND one’s baseline for what one is used to are the driving forces behind some of this. If one is accustomed to super clean, fresh, commercial scents OR if one normally sticks to really sweet, Angel-like perfumes, then perhaps Putain des Palaces will be something shocking. For everyone else, though, I suspect it will just be a hyper-feminized, powdery floral that is largely innocuous and same, but with only a light whiff of something…. er.. more.

  6. I have not tried this one or indeed any ELDOs, which is silly, because for niche, they are quite reasonably priced. The high school humour is maybe one thing that has put me off. If you have smelled Piguet’s Baghari, could you say how it compares with Putain des Palaces? Baghari may be more aldehydic – and I’m sure less sweaty! – than Putain des Palaces but the core idea of retro powdery florals may be the same. (Of course the original Baghari was not retro in its day, it was of the moment.) Anyway, Baghari is never going to embarrass its wearer. It doesn’t have a point to prove; it’s just supremely well done.

    • I have tried Baghari and its opening is indeed filled with aldehydes. That part makes it very different from Putain des Palaces. Other differences: it is warmer, more golden, not very powdery on my skin, and with a different vibe for the floral bouquet. It was also not skanky on my skin.

      However, I can only talk about the opening 15 minutes or so of Baghari. I’m afraid that one is a constant scrubber on me, and I’ve never lasted very long with it. I find it very synthetic with incredibly harsh, white musk. I can’t bear that, so the combination with the aldehydes (which is something I find difficult in extreme amounts) means that I’ve had to wash it off. Baghari gives me a big headache, too. The aromachemicals are simply too much, and the white musk is too sharp for me. While I have a sensitivity to synthetics that most people don’t, it takes a lot for me to get to the point of scrubbing.

      I’m sorry. I realise you like the scent a lot, so I hope you will accept my apologies.

      • Oh golly, don’t apologise ! You gave Baghari more than enough skin time for a fragrance you dislike. With strong aldehyde and musks, it’s always going be divisive.

  7. This one is nice, but definitely not my favorite from the line by far. I thankfully don’t get a lot of sweatiness, but the powderiness would keep me away anyhow. Big fan of the line as a whole, though!

    • Do you get any sweatiness or touches of something a little bit naughty? 🙂

      • Just a touch (as far as I recall) – though truthfully, it’s been a while since I’ve tried it. I like some skankiness in moderation, though. Hmmm, maybe *I’m* the palace whore! LOL.

        • I laughed OUT LOUD at your “maybe *I’m* the palace whore!” Absolutely hilarious. God, what I would do for you to smell some vintage Bal à Versailles! 😀

  8. I rather like this one – I am generally a fan of powdery rose and violet – but the Hotel Whore was very tame on me. No BO. In fact, it reminded me of a similar yet less sexy version of Juliet Has a Gun Citizen Queen, which has a distinct undercarriage of musky suede under its powdery rose-violet. I *like* musk, so long as it doesn’t remind me of either laundry or locker rooms, and Citizen Queen doesn’t. In fact? that’s my surefire Gettin’ Some Tonight frag, as it’s almost guaranteed to put my husband in the mood for love. (TMI? sorry. 🙂 )

    Anyway, I was surprised to see a review of this from you, as I wouldn’t have called it your sort of thing at all in any case.

    As for my skank tolerance, it depends… Parfums de Nicolai Maharanih smells distinctively and literally of ball sweat to me. (Actually called my spouse over to double-check… “Oh, honey? Can you come here a minute?” Oops, more TMI.) Fascinating, but I ain’t wearin’ that outta the house. And Patou Joy is just unwearable to me. My *vintage* split of BAghari EdC (the rerelease is tame) caused a grocery store clerk to back away from me, during that dirty-diaper bit in the middle, so now I’m cautious of where I wear that. But I can manage castoreum and costus root very well. Parfum Sacre has civet, but I like that. So does Ubar, but I like that one too. I can just never tell what’s going to trip the Filthometer.

    With regards to that, I was JUST NOW at the grocery store and found myself visiting the same shelves as an older lady – I’m guessing in her late 70s – with impeccably done hair and makeup. Jewelry, nice short-sleeve sweater, painted toenails… and she was wearing perfume that was putting off some serious sillage. It was both richly floral and almost sickening. How can I put this? okay, here: it smelled of butt. Not baby diaper, but six-weeks-unwashed fecal outlet. Not simply the feces, but also unwashed human. I mean, truly truly filthy. I was horrified, and at the same time, the florals, smelled through that veil of filth, were ripe and glowy, and I kept following her around trying to get up the courage to a) get close to her without passing out and b) ask what she was wearing. Unfortunately, circumstances intervened and I didn’t get the chance to talk to her so I don’t know what it was. It was something like the kitchen-sinky florals of Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds (but it wasn’t that, I’m familiar enough with that) and something like Joy (but it wasn’t Joy either). And I was both horrified and fascinated enough to want to keep sniffing her… from a distance. Wow.

    • Hilarious, especially the TMI parts. 😀 “Gettin’ Some Tonight”… rofl. I cannot believe you called your husband over to double-check the…. er… never mind. Thanks for the huge smile and much laughter. I needed that today. 🙂

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