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.”
Dangerous Complicity from État Libre d’Orange is a fragrance that would be more aptly named “Generic Simplicity,” in my opinion. In my experience, the company’s edgy or provocative names (and marketing) rarely match the scent in question, and Dangerous Complicity is no different. It’s a shame, because the perfume’s notes looked pretty damn spectacular.
The original company description for the scent was all about Adam and Eve: “By eating the forbidden fruit, complicity took on another dimension, and became dangerous. They lost their innocence and their paradise. The door was opened to carnal energy, they were liberated from restrictions, and they could now create their own version of Eden. That forbidden fruit became a one-way ticket to Etat Libre d’Orange.” Press release are frequently over the top but, in this case, for this particular scent, I find the description not only ridiculous but absolutely laughable. If my eyes rolled back in my head any more, they would fall out.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
“Baby-soft creaminess” might be one way to sum up Nombril Immense from État Libre d’Orange (hereinafter just “État Libre“). In French, “Nombril” means belly button, so the perfume’s name translates to “Immense Belly Button,” or “Enormous Navel.” It’s a name wholly in keeping with the whimsical, playfully avant-garde, often satirical, always provocative style of the French perfume house. I’ve frequently found that their attempts to shock or titillate don’t match up to the actual scent in question, and Nombril Immense is no exception.
Nombril Immense is a unisex, patchouli eau de parfum that was created by Nathalie Feisthauer, and released in 2006. État Libre describes the scent and its notes as follows:
With ‘Nombril Immense’, the accent is on the exceptional quality of the patchouli. Exotic and precious, this fragrant wood from India literally captivates. ‘Nombril Immense’ is an invitation to introspection, to discover new emotions and open the mind to a new spirituality. Patchouli is a sacred wood in Hindu temples; it inspires meditation and leads the way to the shedding of one’s mortal coil in the effort to access timelessness. ‘Nombril Immense’ is an authentic piece of nirvana and it smells like bliss.
Composition: Patchouli, balm of Peru, vetiver, black pepper absolute, opoponax [Sweet Myrrh], bergamot, seed of carrot, kernels of ambrette absolute…
Nombril Immense opens on my skin with crisp, fresh bergamot and patchouli, followed by a gentle dose of sweet, nutty myrrh, all ensconced in a creamy, warm, slightly musky embrace. It’s very smooth, and is an extremely close copy of the drydown in Guerlain‘s L’Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme (which is a wholly unisex fragrance no matter what its name may say). Both fragrances have the same lemony, patchouli, creamy Chai tea accord, though Nombril Immense’s thinness and lightness renders it closer to L’Instant eau de toilette (or LIDG) than to L’Instant Eau Extreme (LIDGE).
Nombril Immense feels extremely sheer, gauzy, and weak. This is no dense, chewy, molten patchouli with dark smoke, serious spiciness, leathered or toffee’d nuances. There is no cognac booziness, no earthiness, and no intensity either. A hardcore patchouli lover like myself might uncharitably call it an anorexic, socially tamed, submissive, and demure patchouli that is more suitable for a dainty tea on the Upper East Side. It certainly isn’t the rollicking, boozy patchouli of Jovoy‘s Psychedelique or Oriza‘s Horizon. However, I’m sure that those who despise actual patchouli would find Nombril Immense to be an extremely refined take on the note, and they wouldn’t be wrong. This is a baby-soft patchouli whose true, defining characteristics have been stripped out and replaced by creaminess. So much creaminess that, later on, the fragrance almost verges on the milky with the feel of a baby’s lightly musky sweetness.
Ten minutes in, new notes emerge on the scene, albeit in the most muted, muffled form imaginable. There are microscopic hints of toasted nuts, stemming in part from the sweet myrrh and the peru balsam, along with a stronger element of something vegetal that vaguely resembles carrots once in a while. The light touch of citrus remains, but there is no black pepper, vetiver, or spice. As a whole, the main bouquet is of creamy, milky patchouli with a touch of lemon in a bed of musky sweetness.
That’s really it for Nombril Immense. The perfume never veers from its core essence in any dramatic way, and the only substantial change is in sillage. Nombril Immense seemed to evaporate off my skin almost within minutes, with the weakest sillage imaginable after a mere 20 minutes. It feels like a baby scent, not only in terms of its cloud-like softness and milkiness, but also in terms of that sweet muskiness that hovers all around. Something about it really calls to mind a baby for me.
Less than 90 minutes in, Nombril Immense is a skin scent, and I felt sure it had vanished an hour later. To my surprise, however, extremely intense sniffs with my nose plastered right on the skin turned up a tenacious smear of scent. I essentially spent the next few hours looking like a crazed bloodhound as I attacked my arm to detect it, and I was consistently taken aback to find Nombril Immense was still there, chugging away as a wisp of milky patchouli with weirdly vegetal, warm muskiness. All in all, Nombril Immense lasted just a hair over 7 hours on my skin with 4 gigantic smears, but only 4.25 hours with a more normal application.
On Fragrantica, others report similar trouble with Nombril Immense’s sillage and longevity, but a few people really adored the fragrance. Let’s start with the numbers:
- The votes for Sillage are: 11 for Soft (no skin trail at all); 6 for Moderate; 1 for Heavy; and 1 for Enormous.
- The votes for how long Nombril Immense lasts on the skin break down to: 3 for Poor (30 min-1 hr); 5 for Weak (1-2 hrs); 3 for Moderate (3-6 hrs); and 5 for Long-Lasting (7-12 hrs).
I think the absolutely terrible sillage is partially responsible for some people thinking Nombril Immense has only 30 minutes to 2 hours of longevity. It takes a hell of a lot of work to detect it after the 2nd hour. Is it worth it? Not in my opinion.
Yet, a number of people on Fragrantica seem to really like Nombril Immense. Amidst all the talk about its total lack of sillage, a few people found the fragrance to be “soft, feminine and very comfortable,” or a “[v]ery sexy, decadent patchouli[.]” One person wrote that Nombril Immense was “patchouli, patchouli, and more patchouli,” which is correct as there really isn’t much to the scent besides that one core note. Another found Nombril Immense to be the essence of innocence:
so unique, simply innocence. A baby. That’s what I have in mind. It just so motherly to me and it reminds me a lot of my childhood, I smell like this!! LOL. A bit of baby talcum powder and a hint of sun and sweat from playing outside for 5 hours and power nap time. LOL. I love this smell, I’m wearing it mostly night time though.
Others weren’t so excited. One commentator thought that Nombril Immense was pleasant, but had “that Etat drydown that IMO a number of their scents have that doesn’t thrill me – something too powdery about it (and ‘dirty’ at the same time).” A few others mentioned experiencing a baby powder note in the drydown as well. For one man, Nombril Immense took refined patchouli too far: “While some softness in a patchouli frag is appreciated by those of us who don’t want to smell like we slept in the woods for a few days, I do want some earthly edge.” In the eyes of one female commentator, Nombril Immense was a “more expensive version of Jessica Simpson‘s ‘Fancy Nights‘,” which hardly seems to be a positive endorsement.
I think how people react to Nombril Immense will depend largely on how much they love or hate hardcore patchouli. I find it hard to imagine that a true patch head will actually approve of Nombril Immense, though they may like it as a creamy, woody musk. In contrast, those who associate patchouli with dirty, sweaty, earthy hippies reeking of a head-shop aroma will probably think Etat Libre has created the best version ever. In my opinion, the average person nowadays doesn’t actually like patchouli in its true, original form, so this sort of denuded, de-fanged, baby patchouli is a much more approachable construct. However, that softness might also make the scent a little feminine in some men’s eyes, as it lacks any sort of edge.
At the end of the day, Nombril Immense is an affordable scent that’s pleasant, but has a lot of flaws. If you’re looking for a more complex version of creamy patchouli Chai Tea, I’d suggest the Guerlain L’Instant Pour Homme in eau de toilette. It has a light floral (jasmine) component which makes it wholly unisex; it’s an equally refined, creamy patchouli with discreet sillage; and you can find it for much less than Nombril Immense. If you want a more intense, serious, spicy, smoky version, then there is the superior L’Instant Eau Extreme eau de parfum version (which is also covered in that same Guerlain review). On the other hand, if you’re looking for something creamy and feminine, with a baby sweetness, milkiness, and softness, then Nombril Immense might be your comforting cup of tea.