État Libre d’Orange True Lust Rayon Violet De Ses Yeux must surely be in the running for one of the longest perfume titles around. I think it is also one of the most gobbledygook names with its mix of Franglais that essentially translates to the meaningless mish-mash of “True Lust [The] Violet Ray of Her Eyes.”
True Lust, as I shall simply call it from this point forth, is allegedly a “satanic union of temptation and danger, jeopardy and passion” stemming from the marriage of two prior Etat Libre fragrances, Dangerous Complicity and Putain des Palaces (or “Hotel Whore”). A “satanic union” of the hotel whore with Adam and Eve’s “carnal energy” resulting in “temptation and peril” — kill me now. Etat Libre has finally exceeded the limits of my tolerance for PR hyperbole, finally ceased to be amusing or “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” whimsical with its intentionally provocative marketing, and has finally descended into obnoxious ridiculousness where marketing seems to trump all else.
I would be less irritable if the perfume itself were something interesting and distinctive. Instead, it is a tired retread that deliberately mashes up two earlier fragrances to create a virtually identical flanker to one of them with only small nuances differentiating it in the secondary notes. It’s tiresome, particularly since the resulting flanker feels like a commercial, mainstream scent with only a moderate improvement in the quality of its ingredients. It’s an average scent but it is most definitely not distinctive — let alone “satanic,” lustful, or “shocking” — and none of its notes feel “explicitly seductive” with “implicit perils.”
True Lust is an eau de parfum that was released at the start of February and that État Libre describes as follows:
A blend of Putain des Palaces and Dangerous Complicity, a union of temptation and peril.
When the Putain des Palaces enters into a Dangerous Complicity, a relationship is born. It is a marriage of mystery, an uneasy merger of hearts and minds and flesh.
We have taken the best of two exquisite formulations, combining the explicitly seductive powers of rose, violet, and powder with the implicit perils of rum and patchouli.
What emerges from this satanic union of temptation and danger, jeopardy and passion, is a sweet and shocking folly. She sips her rum through rose-red lips and wonders what beast she must adore tonight, what hearts she must break. She is Rimbaud’s Beauty, and the man who takes her in his arms may find her bitter, but desire conquers fear. She dazzles him with the violet rays of her eyes that hold the memory of her vices, and he cannot escape. Because lust is in the eyes of the beholder.
The official note list doesn’t include the patchouli that is mentioned in the description and that is such a part of Dangerous Complicity. The list is merely:
Rum, Ginger, Rose Absolute, Violet, Coconut, Osmanthus Absolute, Lily Of The Valley, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, Tangerine, Rice Powder, Amber, Leather, and Animal Notes.
True Lust opens on my skin with abstract florals, fruitchouli syrup, and ginger, followed a minute later by cumin and a slighty dirty, sweaty musk that feels like ambrette. It clashes with the clean, white musk which soon appears, overshadowing the dirty sweatiness and only leaving traces of the earthy, somewhat stale cumin. On the sidelines lurks the tiniest suggestion of violet which, together with the cumin and rose notes, is a clear nod to the central theme of Putain des Palaces.
Still, for the most part, 90% of True Lust’s opening bouquet on my skin is Dangerous Complicity‘s heart and drydown phase, mixed with a few pinches of cumin. There is no osmanthus, no boozy rum, no muguet (lily-of-the-valley), no jasmine, no ylang-ylang, no coconut, no tangerine, and no woodiness. In fact, the first few times when I tried True Lust, I only applied a small amount and the entire opening scent consisted merely of a pale pink rose with a few sprinkles of cumin and a fleeting, completely ghostly wisp of violet. That’s was it. An increased quantity brings out more nuances — but not by much and not for long.
With the larger amount, the cowering violet that huddles on the sidelines is joined by a spectral suggestion of something that may be leather or may be smoky. I suspect it’s the same Lorenox aromachemical that was in Dangerous Complicity but, frankly, it is too hard to tell here, partially because the note is so minor and partially because the dominant accord of girlie pink roses, white musk and fruitchouli syrup is pulverizing everything in its path. It even blows to the cumin to the wings where it waits next to the violet and that indecipherable suggestion of darkness for a chance to breathe.
15 minutes into its development, True Lust shifts. There is a creamy awakening in the base, similar to what appeared in Dangerous Complicity around its 4th hour. It is richer here, and very pretty with its soft smoothness. Once again, it is not like coconut, vanilla, or sandalwood but, this time, it actually feels like cashmerean with its Shea butter facets. It’s far more readily identifiable here than in Dangerous Complicity where everything but a handful of elements were completely faceless and shapeless.
Around the same time as the cashmerean woods turn the base creamy, the violet finally creeps onto center stage. There, it dances with the rose, both weaving their way around a long totem pole of clean musk as if they were girls dancing Ring Around The Poesy. Speaking of which, the rose once again feels as though it’s been infused with peonies, just like the main accord in Dangerous Complicity. The difference here is that the supporting notes are better balanced and less out of whack. There is more ginger, less fruitchouli syrup (and, as a result, less extreme sweetness), and less clean musk. True Lust is the furthest thing from a dirty scent, but it’s not quite as clean and fresh as Dangerous Complicity. It’s creamier, the notes feel a hair deeper and smoother, and its synthetic white musk is not as aggressively pointed in nature.
Still, True Lust is an incredibly simple scent right from the very start. In essence, it is primarily pink roses infused with creaminess and fruitchouli sweetness, demurely laced by shy violets, and sprinkled with a teaspoon of ginger and a few specks of cumin. The whole think is then covered by synthetic white musk to create that fresh, clean profile so beloved by the commercial sector.
For a brief period of time, there is some activity on the sidelines as new elements appear. There is a pop of sourness from tart fruit that is just barely decipherable as tangerine. It goes after a few minutes, replaced by an infinitesimal dot of muguet (lily of the valley) which flits about for a few moments before passing the baton to the fruity osmanthus. Then the cycle begins again and returns to the tangerine. In all honesty, I had to work extremely hard to detect any of that, and only managed the 3rd time I tried True Lust because I applied a large amount of the scent. (Three extremely generous smears that wet my entire forearm and roughly equal to 3 sprays from an actual bottle.) It took that amount, in addition to closing my eyes, and focusing like the devil because, otherwise, all that was really noticeable was a distinct sourness, a fruited sourness that momentarily took the place of the stale cumin on the sidelines. I’m not a fan of citric acidity in fragrances, even if it is only a secondary or tertiary note. Here, I find it really weird how True Lust is simultaneously fruity sweet and very sour.
In any event, none of that lasts for long. About 30 minutes into its development, the ginger returns and, not long after that, the relay race of irrelevant notes (like the cumin, muguet and tangerine) ends completely. Once again, we’re back to what is primarily a creamy fruity-floral rose with varying degrees of violet, ginger, and clean musk. It’s basically Dangerous Complicity with the tiniest of additions. But, just like Dangerous Complicity, there is a period of time when the Lorenox’s smoky, woody leather joins the mix. It happens at the 90-minute mark, lasts roughly 30-45 minutes, and consists of small flickers of singed woods with slightly tarry leather. The Lorenox mix is only a shadow of the note in Dangerous Complicity, though it was hardly a driving force there either. It also lasts significantly less time in True Lust than it did in the original, and was barely noticeable when I applied only a tiny amount of the scent.
The Lorenox singed woods and leather bow out 2.5 hours into True Lust’s development, and we go back (yet again) to the main theme of simple creamy roses with clean musk. The violet and ginger fluctuate over the next few hours, waxing and waning in terms of both their prominence and their order. Once in a blue moon, they make way for a vague suggestion of something cumin-like and spicy. Generally, though, everything blurs together into a haze, completely shapeless except for the sweet pink rose. From afar, even the creamy and clean elements are blurry, and True Lust is merely sweet florals with a synthetic vibe of white musk. In its final hour, that’s really all there is: sweetness that is vaguely floral in nature.
True Lust had good longevity and projection, though the numbers varied depending on the amount of scent that was applied. Using a large amount of 3 very generous smears equal to about 3 sprays from an actual bottle, the perfume had initially strong projection in its opening moments of about 4 inches that quickly turned much softer and dropped to 1 inch after 45 minutes. True Lust became a skin scent after 3.75 hours, and lasted just under 9 hours in total. Using a smaller quantity of 2 small smears equal to 1 spray from a bottle, True Lust opened with 2 inches of projection, dropped to 1 inch after 30 minutes, turned into a skin scent after 2.75 hours, but only lasted 7 hours. Honestly, I think my numbers are impacted by the fact that my skin not only projects clean white musk and patchouli like crazy, but also holds onto them for longer than what is normal. That may account for the fact that the lone longevity vote on Fragrantica right now puts the scent at “Weak” (1-2 hours). For sillage, though, there is 1 vote for “Heavy,” 1 for “Moderate,” and 2 for “Enormous.”
In terms of review, there are no comments yet on Basenotes and only two people seem to have actually tried the scent on Fragrantica. For one of them, “Meama,” True Lust was essentially the reverse of what it was on me because it was primarily Putain des Palaces with only a modicum of Dangerous Complicity:
ok, mostly a kind of intensive version of Putain Des Palaces pimps discretly with the good side (the sweet osmanthus) of Dangerous Complicity. I really appreciate Putain and I appreciate as much this new whore :-).
The other review is in Italian. According to Google Translate, it seems to say that True Lust is primarily a muguet (lily of the valley) soliflore with delicate, bridal sweetness and innocence:
The name of this fragrance is more just : True Delicacy . [¶] Delicate bridal bouquet of lily of the valley and osmanthus on which it was vaporized coconut milk and rice powder . [¶] An innocent sweetness . Totally absent leather, amber and sandalwood. [¶] This maybe a molecule of rum , which vanishes immediately . [¶] Fiorito bright but monochromatic . Off White. [¶] Mughettissimo soliflore .
Bridal innocence is miles and miles away from the alleged dangerousness, lust, and vice of Etat Libre’s description, let alone satanic unions. One can only laugh (or cry?) at how much Etat Libre seems to value provocativeness and making waves over creating an actually distinctive product. Certainly, they seem to be dipping their toes into mainstream commercialism with what is essentially their second flanker now. (Rien Intense was the first.)
It’s a shame, because I think the line is losing its character and originality. I may not have liked all of them for myself, like Tilda Swinton Like This, Rien, Tom of Finland, Putain des Palaces, or Secretions Magnifique; I may have found Nombril Immense to be pleasant but ultimately bland; and I may have only really enjoyed Fils de Dieu; but, in almost all cases (with the strong exception of Dangerous Complicity with its designer-like, commercial profile), I respected the scent, as well as Etat Libre’s vision, creativity, or intentions. Now, it seems as though the founders’ background in marketing has overwhelmed creative development, there is a paucity of original ideas, and the actual olfactory profiles of the scents are taking on a mainstream quality.
On a positive note, True Lust has a lovely bottle.