Etat Libre d’Orange Vierges et Toreros, 2007

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vierges et toreros

(image Ruven Afanador)

Perfumers Antoine Lie and Antoine Maisondieu

Vierges et Toreros is supposed to be a twist on a floral leather. Floral leathers juxtapose the hard and the soft to create interesting blends. Witness Tabac Blond, Jolie Madame, Cuir de Russie. I’m not sure if it’s blend here or just a contrast. The ‘tuberose’ doesn’t last long, but it makes for an interesting opening, and leaves behind a smooth sweetness that sets up the dominant accord of the perfume that lasts through the basenotes: plastic/vinyl. I’ve seen Vierges et Toreros called animalic a number of times. Nothing could be further from the case.

Forget the leather, this is plastic, plain and simple. The inanimate, plastic quality is what allows this perfume to fly around and suggest so many possibilities. Plastic smells like a lot of things combined, and so does V & T. It smells like shellac, pineapple, honeysuckle, musk, Juicyfruit, and shoe polish. Let’s see some marketing that tells you that.

I know Etat Libre d’Orange is the pixie of the perfume world. They challenge our notions of olfactory beauty. But this doesn’t really seem like a challenge. It’s more that they’ve decided to use an accord that simply appeals to the nose. It’s really a play on tromp la nez. Plastic can smell good. So can gasoline and paper for that matter. I know we don’t usually point these things out when we discuss the art of perfumery, but here’s the evidence.

In this case, though, and using the ridiculous gender distinction of the virgin and the toreador as a red herring, we’re distracted from the plastic by a description of florals and leather.

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