Don't Get Me Wrong Baby, I Don't Swallow by Etat Libre D'Orange {Perfume Review & Musings} {New Perfume}


By now, the Parisian niche perfume house founded by Etienne de Swardt, Etat Libre D'Orange, have become infamous for their love of dubious plays on words (very French!, the playful part, not the dubious part necessarily) and their carabin* type of  humor. In fact, the most provocative aspect of all this enterprise does not lie in the unbridled, slightly feverish - in appearance at least - imagination displayed in the stories around the perfumes, but rather in the discrepancies (except for Sécrétions Magnifiques) between the story lines, the names, and the scents themselves. If the copy of Don't Get Me Wrong Baby, I Don't Swallow is a feat in Kitsch writing and assemblage of cheesy lines that is voluntarily cultivated, the fragrance itself is one of the loveliest muguet scents one could hope for in this "world of brutes" as we say jokingly in French to emphasize the welcome appeal of something soft and gentle.......


One can wonder whether Etat Libre D'Orange has invented a new way to maintain the relative prestige of selective perfumery by creating a barrier of representations both attention-catching and repellent. If you can step further into the concentric circles of hell that they have prepared for you, walk past a penis in erection that vaguely looks like a bald public fountain or a leaking fountain pen, a gallery of sexual organs (Vraie Blonde, Messe Rose, Entrecuisse), even the suggestion of a decomposing cadaver (Charogne), you will reach a place that is pretty, lovely, and even seems to whisper "politesse française oblige", not one word uttered louder than the others.

Etat Libre D'Orange likes to play with our expectations. They have inserted several insiders' jokes in the line, one of them being that, for example, Rien (Nothing) is the name given to the strongest-smelling perfume in their line or so it was in the beginnings of the house. Perfume historian Octavian Sever left a comment earlier today to say that Charogne (Carrion) is in fact one of their most delicious-smelling scents.

Don't Get Me Wrong etc.... takes on a new meaning as one finally sniffs the fragrance. Indeed, they literally said it, don't get her wrong. You thought she would be a bit osée, even vulgar perhaps, but she is nothing of the sort. She is as charming, feminine, and lovely as the muguet soliflore hidden underneath the description and the notes is.

The perfume for me evokes the luminous presence of Grace Kelly in the movie To Catch a Thief  by Hitchcock often dubbed "Hitchcock Champagne" for its sparkling, light quality just like Don't Get Me Wrong. I especially think of the scene in which the heroine courts the international burglar played by Cary Grant and literally pulls him by his bow to kiss him in a hotel corridor (did this scene really take place or something close?). It is an innocent-looking, yet potentially smoldering dewy lily of the valley scent, as it oozes femininity, directly reminiscent of its great predecessor Diorissimo but with a younger feel. The aldehydes in the fragrance and the juicy jasminey nuances make it appear forever young and fresh over the course of its development. It does not become more animalic like Diorissimo. It does not play on the theme offered by Diorissimo and add different green grass nuances to it like in Del Rae Debut. Don't get Me Wrong is like a re-colorized still image of Grace Kelly's beautiful classic yet modern face in that hotel in Monaco. The discreet solar amberey accord further pulls us back in memory along the roads by the sea of the Mediterranean and reminds us of Grace Kelly's cabriolet and of her course in life arrested much later on in that same area while driving. Between these two moments, there is a little bit of muguet-scented eternity and just plain Kellyan loveliness.

The perfume was created by Antoine Maisondieu and has notes of jasmine, aldehydes, lily of the valley, orange blossom, solar amberey accord, patchouli, cacao, musk, and guimauve.

The scent is available at Barneys in the US. 

*A "carabin" is a medical school student.

Images from Etat Libre D'Orange and

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10 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. I was really interested in trying this one- except for SM (which I think of as "CSI-Coney Island") I found the line to be a lot better than the rather childish names. (I might even get a bottle of Rien when I'm in New York again)

    Your descriptive powers make me want to smell this one as well, athough I don't think it's me, it sounds truly lovely.


  2. Hi Tom,

    I think that this scent could have been summarized as being a sparkling, light, lovely, and happy lily of the valley soliflore, but I felt I should engage the imagery of ELO and play with it a bit:)

    "Lovely" best describes this perfume in my mind. It would certainly add a touch of femininity to your personality if you wear it (be one a woman or a man by the way). If you love muguet, and I think it's a good muguet scent, you could maybe layer it with some more masculine notes. I think it would be easy to layer because it's a simple-smelling muguet.

  3. I only sampled "Don't get me wrong" once when it first came out... Your review brings to mind the Cole Porter song "Love for sale", for the lyrics: "Love that's fresh and still unspoiled/ Love that's only slightly soiled". To me, DGMW was that: the freshness of muguet, slightly soiled by the suntan lotion accord. It's the one I liked the most in the line - Octavian's comment might make me want to try Charogne. He and you are right: there is a marked contrast between the compositions and the marketing. But I'm still loath to hand over money to a brand that sells itself that way. On verra.

  4. Hi Carmen,

    I think that this is a case where knowing the people behind the scents might change one's perspective on their marketing strategy. Maybe the cartoonish aesthetics and the provocations are used with much distance and with a lot more personality than it appears. On the other hand, you might decide that they are simply too lame:) It's not that easy to assess where they are coming from.

  5. Actually, I do think they're using this with a distance. And I am curious to speak with Etienne de Swardt, the line's founder. There's a conceptual stance going on here, I'm sure: after all, this is a Marais company (it's the gay/ artsy neighborhood of Paris, for your readers who might not know). Knowing that Etienne also launched the canine perfume line Oh My Dog, I'm just wondering about the proportion of conceptual (as in art), as opposed to pure shock marketing (not interesting).

  6. Well, they seem to have a lot of fun. I have Oh My Cat!

  7. And how does the cat like it?

  8. The cat does not like it:) We have two cats and the furry one, who appeared to me to be a prime candidate for the scent, was reluctant to let himself be smeared with it. I did not try very hard I must say. Not that he does not enjoy perfumes in general. He loves to sniff me in the neck when I wear a musky, animalic scent.

  9. Dear me, the names these people choose for their products. I am no prude, trust me, but I would feel rather silly telling people that I smell like a palace prostitute, or like someone who doesn't, well, you know.

    Like tmp00, I consider this a too juvenile. It's like they try way too hard to be shocking and controversial, and merely succeed at sounding coarse and immature.

    (shrug) Sign of our times, I guess.

  10. Hi, I'm wondering, who is the logo designer of "Don't Get Me Wrong Baby, I Don't Swallow"?



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