Etat Libre d’Orange: A Freethinking Formula

New French fragrance brand Etat Libre d'Orange has one aim, say its executives -- to freely create products without taboos.

PARIS — New French fragrance brand Etat Libre d’Orange has one aim, say its executives — to freely create products without taboos.

It’s a target they’re treating both figuratively and literally. The brand’s name (which means Free State of Orange, in English) refers to a former independent republic in what is now South Africa. Etat Libre d’Orange’s emblem is of a red, white and blue bull’s-eye, and its tag line reads: “Le parfum est mort, vive le parfum” (or fragrance is dead, long live fragrance), a take-off on “long live the king.”

The brand’s fragrance monikers are also full of suggestive dichotomies. They include Putain des Palaces (or whore of the palaces), Jasmin et Cigarette (or jasmine and cigarette) and Secretions Magnifiques (or magnificent secretions).

The brainchild of Etienne de Swardt (who was one of the founders of the Oh My Dog! scent for canines that came out in 2000 and is an ex-Parfums Givenchy executive), Etat Libre d’Orange and its fragrances (whose juices were created with Givaudan perfumers) will make its debut starting in mid-September in a new freestanding store at 69 rue des Archives in the Marais neighborhood here.

According to de Swardt, Etat Libre d’Orange is “an homage to olfactive freedom.”

He added the idea behind it is to amuse with fragrance.

“Fragrance had become too serious,” said Antoine Maisondieu, a fine fragrance creator at Givaudan, who concocted the juices for Encens & Bubblegum (or incense and bubblegum), Vraie Blonde (or real blonde) and Jasmin et Cigarette. “It’s like a presidential campaign.”

Nathalie Feisthauer was behind the Putain des Palaces scent and Antoine Lie created Je Suis Un Homme (or I am a man) and Secretions Magnifiques.

For each one of the six unisex scents comprising the first Etat Libre d’Orange collection, de Swardt gave perfumers carte blanche to use any ingredients they wanted, regardless of cost.

Inspiration for the fragrances stemmed from numerous realms, executives said.

For Jasmin et Cigarette, for instance, which includes a note of absolute jasmine mixed with a note of fresh cigarette, Maisondieu had an idea of combining the two smells for 20 years, ever since a particular love affair during which both scents figured. Also some photographs of film actresses, including a famous one of Marlene Dietrich smoking a cigarette — something now forbidden in many places — and the idea of the femme fatale from film noir, helped spark the creative process.

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For Encens & Bubblegum, images of Madonna in her “Like a Virgin” days were among the images inspiring the scent creation. And for Secretions Magnifiques, the body’s secretions were kept in mind.

The Etat Libre d’Orange fragrances come in streamlined clear glass flacons with silver-colored, brushed-metal caps. A paper tag with the scent’s name printed in script hangs from the neck of each bottle. The brand name is printed on the flacon.

The boxes holding the bottles are white with a vertical strip showing the fragrance’s name. And, like on the bottle, the words Etat Libre d’Orange are printed below.

De Swardt said he wanted there to be a stark contrast between the streamlined packaging and the brand’s more libertine character.

Each fragrance line in Etat Libre d’Orange will include three sizes of eau de toilette spray: 100 ml. for 59 euros, or $74 at current exchange rates; 50 ml. for 39 euros, or $49, and 30 ml. for 27 euros, or $34.

At the time Etat Libre d’Orange is introduced, there will be 5,000 units of each scent produced.

Photography students from the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris were asked to submit pictures illustrating the fragrances. Each picture that was chosen, such as the one for Vraie Blonde — a photograph of the back of a man with a blonde Barbie doll sitting on his shoulder by Sarah Balcon — and for Encens & Bubblegum — a snap of a scantily clad young woman wearing a cross and pulling a strand of bubblegum from her mouth by Lucie Pastureau — has been made into a postcard to be given out with purchases.

The brand’s logo is by designer Ich&Kar.

Along with the store opening, next up for Etat Libre d’Orange will be five more fragrances in November. Scented candles are to be added to the product offering, as well. Etat Libre d’Orange will have a Web site, which might ultimately become an e-tailer.

While de Swardt would not discuss projections, industry sources estimate Etat Libre d’Orange will generate 1 million euros, or $1.3 million, of total sales in the first 16 months.

“The idea is to bring something different — not to provoke to provoke,” said de Swardt. “Provocation is a vector of creation.”