So much of the perfume I receive is designed to be a pleasant companion. Which is why when the few provocateurs in perfumery choose to go a different direction it is welcome. One of the premiere creative directors practicing this type of creativity is Etienne de Swardt of Etat Libre D’Orange. There are many things to say about the 15 years and 45 perfumes overseen by him. One is the belief that perfume can challenge the way you see the less pleasant pieces of the world. He has balanced this collection between the utter confrontation of Secretions Magnfiques to the modern gourmand standard bearer of Like This to the idea of the scent of popcorn heralding the apocalypse in La Fin du Monde. From the moment I received the press release for Etat Libre D’Orange The Ghost in the Shell I was expecting something equally interesting.
M. de Swardt is inspired by both the Hyperion novels of Dan Simmons which were the basis for the Japanese Manga of Masamune Shirow where the name comes from. The Manga version focuses on a cyberpunk world of the near future following a law enforcement group as they do their job. Ghost in the Shell was one of the first crossover successes in the US ad Shirow-san’s art painted in equally vivid hues paired to the dialog. For the perfume he asked Shirow-san to assist in the creative direction. Julie Masse was the perfumer who would work with both.
When I read the description, I was kind of hoping for a fragrance of chrome and electricity. When I read cyberpunk there is the scent of heated wiring and hot metal in my mind’s eye. When I sprayed it on I received a different vision. It made me think of the sci-fi concept of long-haul travelers exploring new planets. My imagination took me to the return of one of the explorers to the airlock as they re-entered their ship. The transition from sterile space suit back to the environment of the ship.
It begins as you break the seal on your helmet. The sharpness of aldehydes honed through tart fruits stings your nose on first breath. Mme Masse uses the synthetic Aqual and its slightly aquatic aldehydic profile along with a tart yuzu and the synthetic green apple of hexyl acetate. It marks the beginning of the transformation back to human.
As you peel the suit off the stretchy material clings to your skin. The scent of clean sweaty skin mixes with the jasmine soap you used. The material always has an odd scent of milk as you hang it to dry. Mme Masse uses jasmine as the floral focal point. It is in a higher concentration than my fanciful imagination intimates. What she does is give it an artificial sheen through Mugane along with some freshness. The set of skin musks and the milk accord slide pleasantly into the jasmine forming the heart accord.
As you pull on your regular clothing before re-entering the interior of the ship. The sweet scent of your body greets you. The base accord flows in a soft comforting construction of the slightly vanillic Vinyl Gaiacol, the dry musky woodiness of Orcanox, and the soft green of moss. With that you open the second door and walk into the ship.
The Ghost in the Shell has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
While it wasn’t what I expected what I received was better. I enjoyed imagining the way a futuristic explorer might smell after an expedition. I didn’t get Eau de Cyberpunk. I got something like Eau de Airlock, which I found more engaging.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Etat Libre D’Orange.