Secretions Magnifiques by Etat Libre d'Orange {Perfume Review & Musings} {Men's Cologne of the Week}

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Sécrétions Magnifiques (Magnificent Secretions) seems to have the words "Hazardous Biological Material" written all over it. It tends to provoke a gag reflex in you if you smell it from too up close. My first impression of it was, I must say, like receiving an olfactory punch in the stomach. Each subsequent inhalation I would take would be followed by an exclamation and deep exhalation to recover from the experience.

The perfume is repulsive - especially in the first stages - but interesting also because it is a perfume that obviously goes against the grain of perfumery and society conventions and for that reason alone should be experienced. It makes two important statements: 1) that no notes are taboo 2) that a perfume does not necessarily have to be nice and smell good, be a "sent-bon" (a smell-good) as the French say in a bit of a familiar or even derogatory manner regarding fragrances that lack any artistic ambition, soul, or complexity...

We have at least one precursor in that direction of olfactory research with Philippe di Méo who created three perfumes meant to replicate the smells of our tears, saliva, and sweat. I also know of a perfume that replicates the smell of a woman's genitalia that I should perhaps review on TSS out of equity.

We already knew that certain traditional notes of perfumery can smell disturbingly biological and appear anti-social like the urine-y notes of musk or the fecal smell of civet, yet these were used for so long in perfumery that we have come to accept them as sublime excrements. Sécrétions Magnifiques therefore is taking this route, trying to educate us into appreciating other smells originating from the body.

Sécrétions Magnifiques was composed by Antoine Lie (Magic Garden, Parfum d'Eté, Crystal Noir, Brit Gold, Armani Code for Men...). The scent is made of an iodized accord (fucus, azurone), adrenaline accord, blood accord, milk accord, orris, coco, sandalwood, opoponax etc. Seeing milk mixed with sex so to speak is not that surprising if you come to think of it as we elaborated earlier on. The perfume is described playfully an dliterally as it turns out as a "veritable olfactory coïtus".

To our nose, Sécrétions Magnifiques smells of albumen and sperm in a magnified way. The blood and ozone accords are not that distinctive but serve to reinforce the general impression of a provocative raw biological accord. The perfume tends to develop a metallic edge to it. As the fragrance unfolds some faint perfumey accents emerge, but barely. The dry-down is more subtle and almost sensual yet remains cold and metallic. We are left with two main impressions: rawness and coldness. The latter evokes a seducer rather than an authentic amorous exchange. The perfume could have been called Don Giovanni and reveal the inadequacy of its wearer to experience love. We do not see why a perfume could not express neuroses and define people's personalities in a less than flattering manner. We are so used to conceiving of perfumes as idealized constructions of ourselves that it is certainly refreshing to take a different approach to them. Certain mental and physical illnesses have characteristic smells, so we could also bottle these potentially.

Etat Libre d'Orange is of course aware that Sécrétions Magnifiques is on the revolting side, but since extremes touch, they think that the scent is at the same time capable of generating an unconventional kind of attraction. I am guessing that what they might have in mind is to have created a scent that is something like Thierry Mugler Aura that is, a personal charisma-enhancing perfume albeit one that is much more difficult to love or even like in this case.

We were told by Etat Libre d'Orange that their perfumes will be available in the US at Henri Bendel at the beginning or in the middle of February 2007.

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17 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. Do I want to smell like I've been on a two-week non-stop shagfest and have since forgotten to take a shower and change my undies? Yeah, baby, yeah, if the scent will warrant me a real, unimaginary two-week non-stop shagfest with my girlfriend (Bellucci and/or Jolie are welcome to assist if she needs a respite). But otherwise - no. Would love to smell it, but not wear it! Plus I don't like metallic notes in a perfume.
    Great review, M-H!

    Dusan
  2. I was trying to suppress my own gag reflex reading this blog!!

    But I do love the idea of fragrance that doesn't necessarily smell like a fresh bouquet, but rather evokes a reaction. It's amazing how revulsion can be even more pronounced from what you can't see, and having to rely on your other senses--touch, sound, and in this case, smell. One story I read somewhere Robert Piguet's inspiration behind Bandit was that of brothels and that of the smell of a prostitute's panties and then bind it all in leather. I suppose it's the perfect compliment with the aura of Secretions Magnifiques...errr, maybe not!

    I'm still curious what it smells like though. If it scared me as much as Bandit did, they did a good job!

    iMav
  3. LOL, Dusan! Actually, my hubby tried it this evening and he says....gasp! that he likes it! We might need your manly perspective on this I think.

    Marie-Hélène
  4. Oops sorry iMav if we're misbehaving a bit with SM. I promise you'll have nicer things to imagine smelling soon:)

    I personally love Bandit and find it elegant so I don't know how you would react to SM since I can hardly tolerate it. The smells of brothels and prostitutes' undies? I'll have to keep that in mind next time I wear Bandit:)

    Marie-Hélène
  5. Reminds of the mens fragrance "Cumming" by the actor Alan Cumming - yes...to me it smells like...well...the name. Define 'bodily fluids' notes in it & as soon as I sprayed it on myself at Sephora I went looking for a sink to wash it off, in embarassment & dare I say fascination too, that someone had actually had the courage to bottle up that smell.

    Mike P
  6. Mike,

    I'll need to test Cumming, which I have been meaning to try for a while.

    I didn't know some Sephoras carried the line. I can understand your reaction -- if you don't espouse SM then it feels really like too much and embarassing on top of that!

    Marie-Hélène
  7. So your hubby likes it... Hmm, than I should definitely test it. Another fragrance that I remember had a spunky smell is Be Delicious for Men. Its name now seems hilarious;)
    I wouldn't have noticed it myself but for my cousin who frowned at it.

    Dusan
  8. Clearly, you have my attention.

    Anyone who wants to send me a sample, be my guest...

    I love the general idea of it.
    SO unsavory- or perhaps, VERY savory.

    chayaruchama
  9. Ida,

    I could send you a few drops because as you might have guessed, I did not get a bottle of that one and only kept a sample. I'm going to have to send a few drops to Dusan too so there won't be much but it's potent enough you can have an idea about what it is all about.

    Marie-Hélène
  10. I just happened to stumble upon your blog Googling something else and I am so glad I did! I am a fragrance HOG! I have a ton of colognes that I barely get to wear before I am purchasing something else.
    Your description of this fragrance had me wincing and fascinated at the same time. Now I GOTTA go toHenri Bendel to get a whiff!

    PS Great site! Bookmarking it right now!

    soulbrotha
  11. I just smelled this at Bendel's this weekend and I have never before had a perfume make me gag. I'm fascinated that someone would make and sell this - it really just smelled disgusting in an immediate and gag-inducing way. (I like your review, however!)

    DavisMcdavis
  12. Davis,

    Thank you for your kind words.

    It is hard to avoid the gag reflex with this scent. But it certainly offers a fresh perspective on what perfume can be! I think it is one of those fragrances that I'd recommend smelling although wearing it might be a tad more difficult.

    A great Punk perfume in a way.

    Marie-Helene
  13. I must speak in this perfumes defense. I absolutely adore it. Whether it is my skin or my character, I think I am one of the fortunate few with whom this perfume mannages to smell good on.

    Karlissa
  14. I almost threw up but my husband likes it. Hmmm.

    bloody frida

    • Yes, men seem to want to like it more. It's a good one to test your gag reflex :)

      Chant Wagner
  15. So, I just sampled it today at a fragrance store. It smelled of blood, adrenaline~fear and sex mixed with faint floral/sandalwood accord in the background. It smells EVIL! You may say, I am biased because this is the smell when as a medical student, I stood with my Professor to do an autopsy on a male just murdered ( body brought in, covered with blood. It was a 'crime of passion') with the murderer sitting on the opposite side waiting for his injuries to be taken care of. I never thought I would encounter that smell again. This should be banned. I have never said it before in context of any perfume no matter how awful, but I HATE it with a capital H. I think it will be sometime before I can even go near any Ed'OL products again.

    Ash H.

    • Wow, that's some powerful testimonial and reason to stay away from the scent. In a strange way though, I'm sure the ELd'O people will be thrilled to know their perfume has captured that kind of atmosphere.

      Who knew Sécrétions Magnifiques's middle name is Crime Scene at the Morgue?

      Chant Wagner

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