eyeliner on a cat

eyeliner on a cat
beauty, scent & style scrutinized for pleasure

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Magnetic Art: Etat Libre d'Orange Archives 69

The latest fragrance from free-thinkers Etat Libre d'Orange is Archives 69, created by Christine Nagel. I will admit that the ad copy for this perfume had me a little puzzled; not because of its semi-explicit erotic prose and artwork (par for the course for this house), but because I don't exactly make those associations myself when wearing the scent.

from the Etat Libre d'Orange website:
"She can dance on your grave, awaken you with a blood kiss, and you will join her in this feverish whirl, to the tempo of a tango, until you are one with her, in mind and body."

While I do agree that there is a sensual component to this perfume, any fragrance built around incense is sensual to me. A beautiful incense perfume makes me feel most at home, at my strongest and most centered best. Archives 69 does not disappoint, in fact, I believe it's one of Etat Libre d'Orange's best fragrances to date that I have tried. 

notes: tangerine, pink berries CO2, pepper leaf, orchid & prune JE, incense, camphor, benzoin, patchouli, musk

I've had a love affair with Antoine Lie's Tom of Finland for some time now; it is an all-time favorite perfume of mine. I will get into the specifics of that torrid affair in a future post, but I bring it up now because for me, Archives 69 has that same addictive thread running through it. There is a nascent magnetism in Archives 69 that permeates every molecule; the potential for connection is always hovering close enough that one can reach up and snatch it at any time. 

It has a cheerfulness about it that is apparent from the outset; the bright tangerine and berry CO2 sets the stage for the spices that quickly emerge from behind. This isn't the sort of perfume that wears in distinct stages, everything meshes together at once, perhaps mirroring the racy premise of the art concept. The patchouli and camphor are particularly wonderful together, but this isn't the intense, unrelenting camphorous quality that Le Labo's Santal 33 has, this is much more subtle. 

The drydown reveals one of the most delicious renditions of musk I've come across. It reminds me of civet, a full-bodied but not overwhelming one, and it works beautifully with the dry, thin incense notes, providing the exact contrast needed. This is exactly the kind of sunshine-jolted, spicy incense perfume that is appropriate for warm weather, and I'll be looking forward to procuring a full bottle of it. 

A 100ml bottle is available at Escentual.com in the UK for 105 GBP, and a 50ml bottle is available for pre-order at Luckyscent.com in the US for $99. 

[sample was provided by Escentual.com for review]


  1. Fascinating. I'm not big on incense so this probably isn't for me, but the name, the description and picture made me smile. Sounds perfect for a sexy librarian type. ;o

  2. This one would probably surprise you, Liz. It's strangely refreshing because of the fruits and never feels heavy. I'm not telling you to ignore your gut and omgyouhavetotrythisnow, just don't count it out until you try a sample. ;)

  3. I think this sounds like one for me. Incense is always a joy and in the summer too it can really heat up on your skin amplifying the other qualities in a perfume.

    Another one to add to the list! Thanks ;)

  4. "sunshine-jolted, spicy incense perfume" you say? I'm intrigued!

    You try so many interesting perfumes, perfumes that are off my radar because I'm stuck in a rut. I'm comfy in my rut at the moment, but when I need something new that'll blow my socks off, I'm coming to you for advice!

  5. Liam: You need to treat yourself to a bottle of Archives 69 for your birthday! I promise that you won't regret it. At least try a sample. :)

    Joanne: Luckyscent is offering samples of Archives 69, but if you message Escentualdotcom on Twitter, I'm sure they'd send you one to review! They popped into Euro fumechat a couple weeks ago and offered them up.

  6. Here is another brand I've yet to try out :) I don't understand the "Archive 69" name though, is the scent supposed to have something retro about it? I suppose patchouli is kind of "69-ish", but there seems to be so much more to it.

  7. It has a double meaning- the 69 refers actually to the address of Etat Libre d'Orange's original shop, but also has sexual connotations. If this is a nod to decades past, it's not about drugs and rock n' roll, just the sex. It's worth clicking forward to ELdO's official website for the full story.

  8. I've tried Archives 69 just once but my first impression was very favorable. I will be testing it more. But I really wish they chose a different ad strategy. In my opinion their rivalry is juvenile. It doesn't effect the quality of their perfumes but it effects my (and probably other people's) perception of them.

    Undina (I still cannot login to post comments using Google account!)

  9. Hi Undina, I hear you about the image that ELdO projects, it's a common opinion these days. I don't know, I got my Tom of Finland bottle today with the racy box, and I thought it was sort of beautiful, I appreciate the art, so maybe that's why. The BOX has a 21+ rating on it, so the perfume can't be sold to anyone under 21 because of it. Interesting, right? I'll have to explore this idea further when I review Tom of Finland.