Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I love you when you give me things.

Etat Libre d'Orange Tilda Swinton Like This

"The real science is discovery, Charles, not invention. The truths are there, whether we find them, or not." - Peter MacNicol as Dr. Larry Fleinhardt, NUMB3RS

I heard this said on a tv show I watch recently, and of course, like everything else, it made me think of perfume. Do we ever ‘create’ scent, really? Or is the creation of perfume really just a matter of discovery? Out there lays a vast ocean of scent, and we just wander around in it, waiting to happen upon a new sensation or old memory. So when it comes to the new Etat Libre d'Orange scent, Tilda Swinton Like This, I have some discovery related intrepidation. You see, the Rumi poem that supposedly inspired the scent? Also the poem from whence my husband’s wedding vows to me came from.


He took it from an illustrated book of Rumi poetry I gave him early in our courtship.  So, basically this scent had a lot of very specific things it had to live up to in order to please me.

According to Etat Libre d'Orange , the scent came about like this:
I have never been a one for scents in bottles.

I have always located my favourite fragrances at the doorways of kitchens, in the heart of a greenhouse, at the bottom of a garden. Scent means place to me: place and state of mind – even state of grace. Certainly state of ease.

My favourite smells are the smells of home, the experience of the reliable recognizable after the exotic adventure: the regular – natural – turn of the seasons, simplicity and softness after the duck and dive of definition in the wide, wide world.

When Mathilde Bijaoui first asked me what my own favorite scent in a bottle might contain, I described a magic potion that I could carry with me wherever I went that would hold for me the fragrance – the spirit – of home.

The warm ginger of new baking on a wood table, the immortelle of a fresh spring afternoon, the lazy sunshine of my grandfather’s summer greenhouse, woodsmoke and the whisky peat of the Scottish Highlands after rain.

I told her about a bottle of spirit, something very simple, to me: something almost indescribable, so personal it should be.

The miracle is that Mathilde made it.

The great Sufi poet Rumi wrote:

If anyone wants to know what “spirit” is,
or what “God’s fragrance” means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.
Like this.

This is possibly my favourite poem of all time. It restores me like the smoke/rain/gingerbread/greenhouse my scent-sense is fed by. It is a poem about simplicity, about human-scaled miracles. About trust. About home.

In my fantasy there is a lost chapter of Alice in Wonderland – after the drink saying Drink Me, after the cake pleading Eat Me – where the adventuring, alien, Alice, way down the rabbit hole, far fro m the familiar and maybe somewhat homesick – comes upon a modest glass with a ginger stem reaching down into a pale golden scent that humbly suggests: Like This…
My goodness! She does go on, doesn’t she? Well at least she had some ideas about what kind of scent she wanted her name on, distinguishing her from a lot of celebrities.

The purported notes are “yellow mandarin, ginger, pumpkin, immortelle, neroli, rose, vetiver, heliotrope and musk.“ Other reviewers have described it as a non-foodie pumpkin, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, etc. scent. Me? Here are, unedited, my immediate stream of consciousness reactions:

Wow. This is weird. What the hell do I smell? Celery smoothie, a fresh box of crayons, cantaloupe juice spilled on a silk tie, and day old instant coffee all at once. Or...pumpkin bread with an overwhelming dose of coriander, if it were left in the sun on the sidewalk for three days in a plastic baggie and is now covered in that whitish mold. And then taken and covered in maple syrup and served for Sunday brunch. Or maybe someone made you a pumpkin latte with soy milk but the flavor syrup they used was cantaloupe?

Despite all those food words I just used, I agree with everyone who said it isn’t foodie. The scents I can think of that Like This reminds me of are SJP Covet and Bvlgari BLV Pour Homme. I tried all three together after my first go with Like This on it's own so that, like the bear who went over the mountain, I could see what I could see.

Like This is a more muted version of both, making it better than Covet (which is the weakest of the three) and making it less rich than BLV Pour Homme. While Covet is sharp like astringent, BLV Pour Homme is savory like a main course and Like This is sweet like a fancy dessert of fresh fruit poached in dessert wine. At this point, about 30 minutes in, Like This is the best of the three if you're trying to find a feminine in this vein. Around the two and a half hour mark Like This and Covet are completely indistinguishable on me, and neither is a particularly likable experience.

And I hate that. I do. I hate it when a scent everyone else seems to love just fizzles on me. And I really can't believe no one else noticed the similarity to Covet, as far as I can tell.  Of the three, I'd be most inclined to buy the muscular BLV Pour Homme for about a fifth of the price of Like This instead. But when I think of the Rumi poem, this is, in no world of mine, what it smells like. Ah, well. On to the next scent.

And with that, I leave you with this: The song David and I had our first dance to, five years ago this October.

"The book of love is long and boring
And written very long ago
It's full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
And things we're all too young to know but
I love it when you give me things and
You ought to give me wedding rings."

- "The Book of Love," Magnetic Fields (You can listen to the song here)

You can buy Tilda Swinton Like this in 50ml for $99 from Luckyscent. However, I strongly recommend trying before buying on this one. You can get samples from either Luckyscent or The Perfumed Court.

Want more reviews? Try...
~ a review from Angela at Now Smell This!
~ a review from Perfume-Smellin’ Things
~ a review from the Non-Blonde
~ a review from Perfume Posse
~ a review from The Scented Salamander
~ a review from 1000 Fragrances
~ a review from Perfume Shrine
~ a review from London Makeup Girl
~ a review from peredepierre


ScentScelf said...

Oh, dear. I fear that your thoughts, and the gatherings of Tilda's thoughts and Rumi's poem, are going to be much more rewarding than Like This will be.

So, I'll not go out of my way to find it. I am curious to try it at some point.

But for now, I have my garden, and my dog, and the t-shirts of each my my family members. Woods nearby, and never far from a rainshower, at least this summer. Vanilla pods in the kitchen, lavender wands about the house. I'm doing okay. :)

Diana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diana said...

ScentScelf -- Yeah and after so many rave reviews I really can not believe how not all that great it was on me. I suppose if you liked Covet, which I admittedly did not, this is a marked improvement on that, so you probably love it. For my money, the BLV scent is just as distinctive (though admittedly more masculine) and available at a much better price.