Etat Libre d’Orange is a French niche perfume house established in 2006 by Etienne de Swardt. From the very beginning the brand was gathering a lot of interest due to giving their perfume interesting, often ambiguous, suggestive names with a sexual context. Ingredients and notes used for creating the perfumes are pretty eccentric when they imitate, blood, saliva or sperm. That’s an extravagance. In 2012 they launched a perfume of a poetic name – The Afternoon of a Faun.
The Afternoon of a Faun, or in original L’après-midi d’un faune is a title of a ballet choreographed for The Ballets Russes by Vaslav Nijinsky. This ballet was performed for the first time in 1912. Fauns flirting with nymphs became the direct inspiration for Etat Libre d’Orange to create the perfume of such a name. While looking at the dates one can easily notice that the perfume was introduced in the year of 100th anniversary of this ballet. Shall we step into the world of mythical creatures and see how fauns were spending their afternoons?
The opening of The Afternoon of a Faun is created with immortelle accord. It smells balmy, spicy and a little bit burned. I would compare it to a hot sand on the desert, somewhere in Africa. After a minute the note gets thicker, with a definite syrupy feeling and the tiniest hint of some plastic put on fire. You probably know that immortelle isn’t a note that I love. I don’t fancy it here either but I think it’s better than in Annick Goutal Sables. It’s not so dry here.
Shortly a citric quality of a zesty bergamot joins the composition. Because of the note immortelle gains the approachable smell. All burnt plastic nuances flew away and the mix of spicy immortelle and bergamot zing kind of smells like an oriental salad seasoning or a blend of spices used to cook chicken tikka masala. So far The Afternoon of a Faun is a funny fume. Within another few minutes the immortelle accord almost disappears and you get to experience the juicy bergamot with spicy undertones. It’s much much nicer than immortelle in a solo version.
One hour forward lets the bergamot and immortelle disappear almost completely. Etat Libre d’Orange now has a rooty, slightly buttery smell. No mistake that it’s an orris root. Too bad it doesn’t smell like a couple of orris perfumes that I love. I wish the note was pronounced more intensively. That would probably make The Afternoon of a Faun nicer to me. The iris root note is followed by incensy tones. The incense is smoky, but not much, and it smells quite cold to me.
Leather is another note that appears close to the second hour of wearing this fragrance. It smells quite smooth, a little bit dirty with some animalic touches appearing once in a while. It’s not any close to my two favourite leathers: Parfum d’Empire Cuir Ottoman and Carner Barcelona Cuirs but it’s not bad at all. I know worse leathers, that’s for sure.
Pepper makes quite a big entrance when The Afternoon of a Faun reaches its drydown. The smell is intensively spicy, paper dry and it has that cold, metallic flavour which is not exactly what I like in my perfume. But the worse thing to my senses is that its followed by myrrh which on my skin gives that weird, plastified and cloying sensation that I find incredibly hard to go through. Benzoin doesn’t make it any better to me. I like benzoin but only when it’s used in good quantities (=small quantities). Plus a nice company of a favourite note would do the trick.
All in all Etat Libre d’Orange The Afternoon of a Faun is an interesting perfume and it definitely grabs attention of the person who wears it. It has a proper dose of eccentrism signature to the brand. A lot happens here, the perfume is not boring and I bet many perfumistas will enjoy this composition. My personal feelings about it are mixed, mostly because of the presence of couple of notes that I tend to dislike. Without pepper and myrrh I would be much more impressed.
Does this perfume represent Faun’s afternoon well? If Mr. Tumnus from The Chronicles of Narnia wore perfume would he reach for The Afternoon of a Faun from Etat Libre d’Orange? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. That’s a mystery. According to ELd’O website this fragrance is available in 100 ml bottles. Samples available. Creators are Justin Vivian Bond & Ralf Schwieger.