Exclusive Interview with Etienne de Swardt, Founder of Etat Libre d’Orange4 min read
There is nothing like the house of Etat Libre d’Orange in all of perfumery. Their fragrances delight in displaying our surreal and confrontational sides, without losing their elegance and sensuality. The founder of Etat Libre d’Orange, Etienne de Swardt, is a man who lives his life in a self-made Wonderland of Scent, where confusion reigns and sublime creativity conquers all.
Scentbird followed Etienne down the rabbit hole to talk for a few minutes about what motivates him as an artist, the notes he loves most in perfume, and where Etat Libre d’Orange will launch their next revolution in scent.
What motivates you creatively? What inspires you first?
I was born a story teller, looking for tales that could leverage emotion on people, including perfumers. I love to take people on the road less traveled, celebrating dance, poetry, music, literature, sex…, the therapy time of consumerism. Take them out of the box in a land of pure freedom down the rabbit hole. I belong to the world of Lewis Carroll, Gary Larson, Ray Bradbury, Rimbaud, Frank Herbert, Pixar, Lawrence of Arabia, Thelma and Louise, The Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians… yes, eclecticism is our motto and vanity fair our method.
I love a generous land of plenty and joyful nonsense where you feel deeply alive. Here comes Etat Libre d’Orange! “Exister” in Latin means getting out of the groove, out from the replication, the duplication, the conformity. Let us breathe and take the bright side of life with a nice scent and a good glass of Chardonnay.
Do you have favorite notes or accords you enjoy working with most?
A land of plenty, inclusive of all freaks & ingredients, free of Orange, no taboo, no dogma – just one assertion: let us stay BEAUTIFUL, i.e. a permanent combination of qualities that delights the senses, and then I leave the crime scene with a nice letter on the piano, impostor, and gentleman cambrioleur oblige! But yes, I love a rose at dawn with a twist of leathery notes and the rest is pure fantasy + the memory of her kiss.
What do you feel the perfume industry needs most to stay creative and vital?
Sabotage and decadence, the eternal samsara of life cycles. Explore your fantasy and go out with a BANG! Insubordination shall prevail, follow the more risqué side of perfume, something like a king has his reign and then he dies, Prometheus quoi!
I bow to sinusoids, tides, the rising and falling, + “Thanks for the Memory” by the Platters -where music, taste and scent help explore time travel. I love the taste of crackerjack popcorn in 1979 at the premiere of Star Wars in Nouméa. Time travel is the best definition of a scent, meaning “Only Lovers Left Alive”. I love confusion everywhere, and especially on skin.
And concerning our industry? Survival of the fittest, Mr.Darwin, isn’t it?
What’s next for Etat Libre d’Orange ?
Something deeply gothic, disturbing, and seductive in the twilight of gender confusion, blending past centuries, postmodern romanticism, and Shakespearian attitude, killing me softly please! Knowing that there is no beauty without strangeness. Maybe you are strange, too.
Welcome to nonsense!
Scentbird is proud to offer selections from the Etat Libre d’Orange line, including Like This, a bespoke perfume created for actress Tilda Swinton – a perfume filled with the aromas of rich pumpkin and aromatic spices, and an excellent choice for a fall fragrance.