31st October 2013

Etat Libre d’Orange La Fin du Monde Perfume Review

Etat Libre d'Orange La Fin Du Monde

Re-Branded Signature (Thomas) copy

Extra! Extra! Read All About It! The Apopcornalypse is Nigh!

The end of the world. Doomsday. The Apocalypse. Judgement Day. Armageddon. The end of days. No matter what one calls it, one cannot deny that the human race has a morbid obsession with predicting, envisaging and romanticising the end of life as we know it on Earth.  Poets have written about it, musicians have sung about it and directors have brought their visions of apocalyptic destruction to the big screen.  Now it’s time for this most final of events to be captured in the transportive medium of perfume – so if one isn’t quite content with merely reading about or watching visions of the apocalypse, it’s now possible to smell the end of the world.

It will come as no surprise then, that the brand behind this olfactory representation of death and destruction is none other than Etat Libre d’Orange – the very same people that bottled the unforgettable (no matter how hard you try) smell of bodily fluids (Secretions Magnifiques); the squeaky clean, leather-clad bear (Tom of Finland); and the odour of filthy hotel sheets (Putain des Palaces) – so in reality, scenting the apocalypse is rather tame for our good friends over at the Orange Free State.

The perfume is called ‘La Fin du Monde(The End of the World) and is intended as Etat Libre d’Orange’s olfactory take on the most final of all events – the apocalypse.  But what exactly does it smell like? Well, as with anything these punky purveyors of perfume pop art do, this smelly doomsday isn’t what one would expect and the signature ingredient the brand has opted for is surprising, intriguing and more than just a little bit baffling – popcorn.  That’s right folks, in the weird and wonderful world of Etat Libre d’Orange and the mind of perfumer Quentin Bisch, the apocalypse smells just like popcorn.

La Fin du Monde

[The Notes: Pop-corn accord, carrot seeds, cumin seeds, sesame, black pepper from Madagascar, freesia, vetiver from Haiti, sandalwood, kernels of ambrette absolute, orris absolute, styrax and canon powder accord.]

Popcorn is an odd choice and one that the brand doesn’t really explain.  For this blogger the link appears to be inspired by our love for apocalyptic movies.  From the high octane disaster action of Armageddon to the dream-like manic depression of Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia, us willing movie goers have spent many an hour glued to the silver screen, scoffing down bags of popcorn and watching the world burn.  This is La Fin du Monde.

The popcorn accord in La Fin du Monde is immediately recognisable.  The stale, sweet and musky smell of cinema snacks is omnipresent but abstract enough not to be entirely evocative of bags and bags of popcorn.  The most surprising thing about it is its overall subtlety, in the sense that it is both quiet in volume and in statement, meaning that one can wear it without feeling as if one is covered in sickly sweet kernels of savoury goodness.

In terms of death and destruction though, La Fin du Monde doesn’t entirely deliver.  One will find no blood and guts, no catastrophic explosions and a distinct lack of adrenaline-pumping fights for survival.  It does however, have a flinty, mineral aspect to it that feels like cold stone, almost as if the key image created here is of piles of cold grey rubble.  Lurking amongst this rubble is solitary blades of vetiver, softly burning in the embers of what used to be buildings – monoliths of the old world.  Carrot and orris add a rooty and vegetal sense of cold that floats free of the popcorn and rubble, creating an added sense of depth and hinting at something rather unsettling.

La Fin du Monde definitely isn’t as bold a statement as many of Etat Libre d’Orange’s other scents, instead opting for a warm, understated and autumnal vibe similar to the one found in Like This (Tilda Swinton in a bottle) rather than the shock value pop art of the brand’s many other offerings.  It’s also relatively linear with a slow burning development that wears very close to the skin, meaning that what one has when one first sprays is pretty much what stays throughout the fragrance’s lifespan.

Popcorn Apocalypse: An introduction to La Fin du Monde

All-in-all La Fin du Monde is an interesting little curiosity.  The popcorn accord, despite already being used in Serge Lutens’ Jeux de Peau, is joyfully novel and surprisingly wearable when combined with the fragrance’s more flinty aspects.  That said, it doesn’t quite convey the promised vision of the apocalypse, instead merely hinting at doomsday carnage.  But perhaps that’s the intention, and one would be a fool not to note the subtlety of hand here, and subtlety from a brand that is not used to such an approach lest we forget is definitely intriguing and refreshing.

Whatever their intentions with La Fin du Monde, Etat Libre d’Orange continue their reign as one of perfumery’s most renegade brands.  They do not fear the weird and unpleasant, in fact they actively embrace it, and it’s this fearlessness that makes for such enjoyable, thought provoking and wearable perfumes.  So if you’re not content just watching the end of the world on TV, why not grab a bottle of La Fin du Monde, spritz on a healthy dose and let the perfume take you on a journey.  Whether you’ll find chaos and destruction or a popcorn oddity is all down to your nose’s imagination.

Competition Time!

The competition is now closed. Thank you to all who entered and join us in congratulating Susan, Ali, Kristen, Caleb and Freddie!

We have 5 x 50ml Etat Libre d’Orange La Fin du Monde Eau de Parfum sprays to give away ahead of next week’s launch, simply let us know your favourite fragrance note in the comments below to be in with a chance! Competition ends on Friday 8th November.

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  • Tangerine, fig, caramel, honey, patchouli – there’s simply too much to choose from! :)) I love perfumes. I’m a real olfactory freak and it would be a first for me to sniff that pop-corn accord. I’m actually really intrigued by it!

  • Julie Boccara

    Black Pepper …would love to try this

  • Vickie

    In this one ‘popcorn’ but normally pumpkin or ginger!

  • kimberleyjohnson

    Patchouli such a warm smell to say welcome

  • Jan

    I really, really like tuberose, especially when it gets blended with other unexpected notes. It is such a versatile flower! I also like to get wrapped in a cozy layer of amber or benzoin…

  • ariane

    Orris butter-have high hopes for this,as I really like Like This,but my favourite one of Etat’s is Rossy de Palma

  • Jen Sunderland Meade

    Sandalwood, my dear.
    Great review, Thomas. Looking forward to trying another new one from ELdO!

  • Paula Lane

    the tangerine lush.

  • Monique Verhaegh

    Wow sounds like a great fragrance! I love vanilla and amber!

  • Azra Noir

    Sandalwood… Rich,sweet,balsamic…The classic oriental woody note & profoundly spiritual.

    I ♥ it.

  • stefan

    vanilla ftw

  • Mal

    patchouli…

  • Irina

    ambergris, if well made
    thanks for the draw

  • Aidemoi80

    Ambrette absolute! Absolutely!!!! I love how brave they are with perfumes!!

  • Diana Cotter

    Anything citrussy, but orange is a perennial favourite

  • Freddie

    Awesome review Thomas
    Popcorn was a weird choice for sure, and it’s tame texture is kind of what I was dreading – but then you sold me with the flint 😉 haha. They have to have metallic in there somewhere right?!
    As a major fan of Jeux de Peau, it’s still a must try for me <3
    Favourite note? Erm. Well O'Driu list "a bath in the water" for Ladamo, which is a great scent, so we'll just go with that :') haha

  • Dimitrios

    Patchouli as in Nombril Imense and Iris as in Nirmal.

  • Dimitrios

    Patchouli as in Nombril Imense and iris as in Nirmal.

  • Eric Love

    Saffron!

  • Alityke

    At the moment it’s tonka

  • Gvillecreative

    I haven’t tried this— but I’m reserving hope that popcorn will be my FAVORITE note. Why not? “Like This” made me love ginger and immortelle. Cuir de Russie made me love iris and leather. Why can’t popcorn be my next love? Dying to try this. ELdO never disappoints.

  • Eduard

    tobacco is definitely one of my favourite notes

  • Ed. C

    I adore Vanilla!!!

  • SANDHYA VORA

    Sandalwood is best and fragnance is superb

  • Dorothy

    Geranium on its lonesome or rather in the spotlight not partnered with the hackneyed rose

  • Mary P.

    incense, vanilla and ambergris – thanks!

  • Katherine Hahn

    I like Patchouli! I love that stuff!
    k_hahn69@yahoo.com

  • SapientOoze

    I’ve so many that narrowing down to a single fave note is rather difficult, if not impossible. But since pressed I’d probably have to go with Ambergris (when done ‘spot-on’ that is ! , or else probably a good Sandalwood instead.)

    As to the ‘why’ behind the use of ‘popcorn’ as a note, a little further research on the inspiration behind La Fin du Monde’s composition helps make it a little less ‘baffling’.
    Apparently the main inspiration for the composition & name was a 1919 surrealist protofilmic novel (tho’ first developed as a screenplay !) by Swiss/French poet & author Blaise Cendrars, with the full title of : La Fin du Monde, Filmée par l’Ange Notre-Dame (The End of the World, Filmed by the Angel of Notre Dame). An antiwar satire describing God’s decision to destroy life on earth due to human’s warlike nature. And in which this ‘end of the world’ is surrealistically depicted as a film (kind of) depicting a cosmic cataclysm, then followed by a reversal, or ‘rewind’, to life as it was pre obliteration.

    In this regard, the popcorn note makes far better sense, no !? 🙂
    AND much thanx for the giveaway !!

  • yin

    love this post, would love to try this interesting popcorn accord! my fave notes are sandalwood, iris,violet and tea.

  • Erin Pearl Keenan

    Coconut is my favourite note at the moment, but popcorn sounds intriguing 😀

  • Insensé

    Excellent review, as always!
    Any perfume with an incense note has all to be at least pleasant to me!
    Thank you for the giveaway.

  • David

    well i love fat electrician, i dont know which note in it I love. but there’s some sweet and dessert dry feel to it…. it might be the opoponax.

  • Paul Beavis Eland

    I love this house so much and have a few favourites, RIEN is my top one then Antiheros. But the fragrance note I can never get enough of is LAVENDER. Fingers crossed for the draw x

  • Jaakiem

    Hmmm… My favourite note is probably iris, when it’s buttery. Or cold and dark patcholy, or elegant and same time so rubust vetiver…

  • Smelly Vagabond

    Thanks for the giveaway! My favorite note is orris although I’m intrigued as to what popcorn accord smells like!

  • steven clinton

    greetings. a creamy sandalwood is my fav note in a fragrance. peace.

  • Anna Nemerova

    incense, labdanum, amber
    ,bergamot

  • Irma Tufek

    My favourite fragrance note Orange Blossom,Neroli and Arabian Jasmine and patchouli…. 🙂 🙂

  • Silvia

    I love musk notes – sensual and ageless chic

  • Anne

    At the moment I am into Vanilla.
    Vanilla can be so divine and nuanced, I love incense-y and balsamic compositions or just slightly spicy together with woods or – my favorite at the moment – with citrus at the top and a tonka drydown like in Vanille Tonka. But it’s interesting that i adore many of Etat Libre d’Orange’s fragrances (Fils de Dieu, Afternoon of a Faun, Like This and many more) and there is no vanilla in them…

  • yasmine

    vanilla

  • oaki

    Violet, amber and vanilla are my favorites, but I’m very curious about the popcorn accord. x

  • hotandbothered

    Sandalwood and vanilla are particular favourites of mine. My favourite scents at the minute are Ambre Sultan and CDG’s Kyoto. Eldo’s are not available in Ireland!!

  • Honeybucket

    Fig. Obsesssssed.

  • ellie_meehan

    at the moment it’s patchouli, I love it when the weather starts to get chilly, I find it very comforting

  • Anne

    At the moment I’m very much into Vanilla.

    Vanilla can be so divine and nuanced, I love incense-y and balsamic compositions or slightly spicy ones together with wood or – my favorite at the moment – with citrus at the top and a tonka drydown like in Vanille Tonka. But it’s interesting that I adore many of Etat Libre d’Oranges’s fragrances (Fils de Dieu, Afternoon of a Faun, Like This…) and there is no vanilla in them…
    Thanks for the draw!

  • breathesgelatin

    My favorite fragrance note is tuberose! Thanks for the draw.

  • Riikka

    Can’t resist vanilla, such a warm note

  • Patricia R.

    At the moment it’s iris, cream, milk. Other times lavender, incense, cocoa.

  • Christine Cody

    Vetiver is a longtime favorite accord; its grassy coolness hums. I am recently adoring it in DS & Durga’s Cowboy Grass, as well as in Josh Meyer’s The Soft Lawn (Imaginary Authors.) Diff Co’s Sel de Vetiver was an early love. Rei Kawakubo’s especially deft with it in CDG Black. And Dawn Spencer Hurwitz uses it brilliantly in her Cuir et Champignon.

    I would love to spend time with the warm vetiver in ELdO’s La Fin du Monde.

  • Mirsada Tufek

    My favorite fragrance note is bergamot,lemon,pineapple,papaya,nutmeg,violet,orris root,jasmine,sandalwood,amber,musk,cedar. 🙂

  • Clairebear

    Vanilla all the way…

  • I’m a bit of a mixed bag with smells…I love anything that smells good!! My favourites are probably more musky scents so I love Sandalwood, but I also love sweet scents so this weird mix of rubble and pop corn sounds right up my street! ♡

    ceejayell@live.com
    @ceejayell_

  • Caleb Reed

    My note preferences are constantly changing. I love the wet rose in Portrait of a Lady… the creamy vetiver of Fat Electrician… the sweet golden musk throughout Musk Kublai Khan… the smokey licorice lingering around CdG Black… it all depends on the day, how loud I need to be, how grey the sky is.

  • Melli Peakman

    I love Sandalwood best, a classic fragrance note

  • Diane Weissman

    Amber Gris is an all time favorite – I love its soft edges and hint of salt. I love almost all salty scents be they floral, green, aquatic or oriental. My other favorites are Tobacco, Leather & all things resinous, tolu balsam, peru balsam, elemi, I love the smell of of smoke from a fire and resins add that burnt scent

  • Mikael

    My group of favourite notes change and oscillate all the time but I’d say that the top ones are iris, musks, sandalwood, patchouli, cardamom, cumin, ambergris… Right now maybe musk as a singled out note. Thanks for the draw, count me in!

  • Kristen

    Thanks for the review! At the moment my favorite note is rose; I’ve been wearing Rossy de Palma for the past three days and finding it delightfully disturbing. Love ELdO.

  • marina

    really enjoying rose. still 🙂

  • AliThorpe

    Bergamot. It seems to pop up in so many of my perfume choices and I love the very fresh yet slightly sweet nature of it. I even bought a single note Bergamot to layer under some of my other perfumes, just so I could make them my own. xxx