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.