I’m a bit of a fragrance snob. And rarely impressed with new scents, In fact, I’ve been on the trail of a new signature scent for years, but have come up empty handed—until now, that is. Enter The Afternoon of a Faun ($149), a new launch from Paris fragrance house Etat Libre d’Orange.
Now, you have to admit, The Afternoon of a Faun is a bit unusual for a fragrance name. But just as enticing as the actual smell of this fabulous blend of notes is the story behind it. The Afternoon of a Faun is a famous…and scandalous…ballet choreographed and performed by the legendary Russian ballet star Vaslav Nijinsky. A poem by Stéphane Mallarmé inspired the ballet as well as the score, which was written by Claude Debussy. The climatic ending of the Nijinsky portrayal of the faun caused quite a scandal at its Paris debut in 1912, and the ending was ultimately changed for performances in the U.S.
With The Afternoon of a Faun fragrance, Etat Libre d’Orange challenges us to invent scandals of our own. Created by perfumer Ralf Schwieger of Mane, the fragrance includes notes of bergamot, pepper, cinnamon, incense, rose, immortal flower, orris, jasmine, myrrh of Namibia, moss, leather, and benzoin. The individual notes don’t even begin to express the beauty of the final composition.
For me, this is a very warm, slightly smoky scent; I like the incense, myrrh, and leather. I also identify a touch of something green—perhaps the immortal flower or moss. Others have described it as having a fresh-mown hay vibe. It’s a tiny bit floral, suggestively spicy, and warm, warm, warm. The company calls it unisex, but I think it has definite feminine tendencies. It’s somehow sexy and sophisticated but not loud, on me, at least. On some of my colleagues, The Afternoon of a Faun is too big of a fragrance.
Thankfully, Etat Libre d’Orange has a fragrance for my colleagues as well. Equally seductive, Dangerous Complicity ($149) is inspired by Adam, Eve, and the forbidden fruit. It conjures up complicated relationships, like those of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, and Sid Vicious & Nancy Spungen.
The fragrance is meant to juxtapose innocence and carnality and Etat Libre d’Orange says it is a “scent of skin on skin – or should that be sin on skin.” It’s powdery and floral, with a rich yet subtle woody dry down.
Created by perfumer Violaine Collas of Mane, Dangerous Complicity includes the following notes: rum, ginger, coconut, bay essence, calamus, osmanthus absolute, Egyptian jasmine absolute, ylang ylang, lorenox, patchouli, leather accord, sandalwood, and cashmere woods.
The osmanthus flower and its white blossom are known for their power of seduction. Jasmine too has lusty overtones as an aphrodisiac. Rather than conflict, opposing notes like rum and ylang ylang, osmanthus and leather, meld together in a powdery, floral, and fruity harmony.
The Afternoon of a Faun and Dangerous Complicity are available now at Parfum1.com.