Charogne by Etat Libre d’Orange

Some flowers, like the lily, smell the most intensely rich when they approach death.

As the lily flowers progressively decomposes, it loses its vibrant hue and starts to wilt limply. From something bleak comes something beautiful – the buttery intensity with its sweet floralcy moves between unctuous yellow and radiant white, projecting with a palpable and pleasing air-filling thickness redolent of tropical flowers and humidity. It retains an intoxicating cutting quality – with whispers of a briny salinity, and an almost tannic bitterness.

Etat Libre d’Orange beautifully exploits this floral note. As some perfumers play with only certain and singular facets of complex florals, the complete lily in Charogne is built on.

To demonstrate my point: Tauer’s Sotta La Luna Tuberose is a narrowed study of tuberose and its spicy elements. They are built upon with a classical array of spice by the way of clove and pepper. Through isolation alone, one thinks of classical floral & carnation works.

The same point can be demonstrated with Tauer’s earlier Sotto La Luna Gardenia. The illusionary gardenia note is constructed, rather masterfully I must add, but then two facets are subjected to the Tauer-touch. The buttery intoxicating facet, and the metallic hot-copper wire aspect. Together – a scent that teeters between photorealism and mystical abstraction. A gardenia covered in an intriguingly bizarre cosmetic space dust note.

Shyamala Maisondieu takes a unique approach by doing something similar, but achieves unique end results. All facets, in my view, are considered – and the end result achieves a variant of classical perfumed maximalism. A spherical work, Charogne retains balance and realism; a soliflore perfected.

© Victor Wong, 2013

© Victor Wong, 2013

In discussion with Nick Gilbert[Twitter], he described Charogne as a lily with its stems made of rubber.

I am particularly fond of that descriptor. What I took out of it was a duality of natural and unnatural. What smells realistically floral in Charogne is cut with something that bizarrely, albeit brilliantly compliments the work.

To expand on Gilbert’s descriptor, I will add a comparison to the unashamedly brash Rien by the same house. The rubber that constitutes the stems is Rien. The sleek BDSM fetishistic vinyl leather of Rien is used to compose part of Charogne’s base, with a dampened take on gasoline leather (in the same vein as Dior’s Fahrenheit without the violet leaf emphasis). What is characteristically ripe and fleshy about the floral note is transmuted to something fizzy and deep. The floralcy is not only introduced to a striking leather-incense-animal accord à la Rien, but a wave of resinous fizziness. The clean albeit disturbing briny salinity present is tempered with a mellowing note of sparkly root beer and a fizzy ambery tang mingled with ginger and cardamom.

This pushes and pulls Charogne – up with effervescence and down with the incense leather base. To give further complexity, a brisk tannic astringency exalts the buttery flower; counterpoint, and the flower itself is fused with a wave of candy sweet vanilla and oily ylang ylang.

Charogne evolves for me into less of a lily-centric scent, but a more imaginative Etat Libre d’Orange take on a scented Venus Flytrap: vicious and enticing. The name, which means carcass in French, is very appropriate too – considering how increasingly scented lilies become on the verge of death and decay.

By carefully orchestrating emphasis on the complex facets of the lily flower, at different stages Charogne displays slight modulations. At one stage I was taken aback by its use of incense and its clean muskiness, contrasting the lily built up with vanilla and a hint of ripe fruit. Even the ambery-leather base suspends a note of hesperidic and tannic bergamot. Despite this maximal approach, the overall composition is well placed as a work in this postmodern perfume style. It pays a demented respect to classicism that Etat Libre d’Orange does so well.

Alternative: Vanille Galante by Hermes

Augmented Lily.
To say this smells of death, is, well, somewhat accurate. 

Subjective rating : 4/5

Objective rating: 4/5


2 thoughts on “Charogne by Etat Libre d’Orange

    • Hi Portia.
      The way Charogne treats vanilla reminds me of V. Galante. That is, as if the vanilla were a delicate floral. Charogne certainly has more oomf, but there are thematic resemblances.

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