Life’s a Peach!


A review of Etat Libre d’Orange’s ‘Vraie Blonde’

Scandinavia, any red-blooded male will tell you, is the natural habitat of The Blonde. Tall, short, silver, bronze, amber and every shade not even L’Oreàl has discovered yet. Pixie blondes, mermaid blondes and suicide brunettes with fair roots.

Blonde may be a state of mind or just a moment, and blondes have more fun, right?

I doubt it, but bear with me. I’m having a moment and I am…a blonde.

There are even perfume blondes…Daim Blond, Bois Blond, Tabac Blond, or even Chanel no. 5 by way of association with one of the world’s most famous ever (bottled) blondes, which is beyond horrible on this particular blonde. Scents of suede, woods, tobacco or aldehydic florals, they’re not really about being blonde at all.

Which is not something you could ever say about Etat Libre d’Orange’s Vraie Blonde.

Etat Libre is a line that tends to make a lot of people, well, nervous. Nervous to have their scented bubbles burst, their preconceptions challenged by whatever true-crime movie ELdO bottles up and unleashes upon an unsuspecting planet.

If that’s your idea of Etat Libre d’Orange, stop right there. Vraie Blonde isn’t one of those.

Instead of distance and glacial perfection à la Grace Kelly or Catherine Deneuve (my all-time favorite blonde), this blonde is flirty, peachy, utterly and completely approachable. Instead of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this is the best kind of Thirties screwball starring Carole Lombard. Blonde, yes, kooky, yes, but smart and sassy too, and if all she wants is to have a good time and let her hair down, who am I to argue?

I was…surprised, and that’s a good thing. I like surprises. I like knowing that there are knock-your-socks-off, opulent Orientals, I like knowing about immensely complex perfumes that are never the same from wear to wear, I like instant sex appeal and I like happy-go-lucky florals, too. I like don’t-mess-with-me leathers and chypres. Help me, someone, I love them all.

Do you know, sometimes I just want to let my own hair down, drink slightly too much champagne and be…well, blonde, too! Certainly if champagne is involved. Among other things.

Out of the bottle, Vraie Blonde is a bubblefest of aldehydes and a hint of champagne. Rose and white pepper are in the mix, too, says Fragrantica, but what I get is…peach. Not too sweet, definitely not canned, but sun-warmed, perfectly ripe and right off the vine, ready to slice into the chilled glass of bubbly on that golden summer evening when your most pressing intellectual concern is to savor the moment and dish all the off-color jokes unfit to print.

Later, the bubbles fizz and soften to a slightly smoky finish where I can detect a suggestion of patchouli and a hint of myrrh that stays close to the skin, but not so close someone else can’t appreciate it. On my skin, it lasts about three hours, which is just right for two bottles of champagne, a pound of peaches and my repertoire of dirty jokes.

Vraie Blonde makes me laugh. Laugh at the absurdities of life and the seriousness of love, laugh at myself and laugh in good company. Laugh because this is a good night, and great champagne, and peel me another perfect peach, would you, darling? You are a peach of a guy. There’s more champagne and life’s a peach, and did I ever tell you about the time I pulled a Lady Godiva by accident when the horse rode off with my clothes one day at the beach, so I had to chase after it, right, which was when these two dishy police officers showed up. So I said to the horse, and whoever says that horses can’t laugh is dead wrong…

What did you expect? I am a blonde, after all, ornamental topiary included!

Thank you, Etat Libre. I shall henceforward never write you off as gimmicky again. I didn’t expect to like this so much as I did, and I certainly didn’t expect this reminder of one very important fact.

Sometimes, life’s a peach!

Thanks to Dee who sent it…tongue-in-cheek and with a wink!

Notes according to Fragrantica: Aldehydes, Champagne Cognac Liqueur, Rose, Vine Peach, White Pepper, Myrrh, Patchouli

17 thoughts on “Life’s a Peach!

  1. I am a textbook brunette, dark eyes and pale skin, and that's just always suited me so well. But I've always wondered what it would be like to be a blonde. Not just have blonde hair (heck, anyone can do that), but BE a blonde, with eyes and skin and personality to match. I will say this, as a recent devotee to Tabac Blonde, I've not been brought any closer to that mystery of knowing. It is all snappy, rich leather, carnation and spices- not evocative of any type of hair color, but the tobacco itself, made pale by the sun.

    ELdO always manages to capture my attention, and although I can do without the gimmicky names, the concepts are usually sound and worth investigating. For example, Tom of Finland is one of the finest vetivers I've ever smelled. It's too bad that many people can't look past the pornographic illustrations to find that out. I suppose that's ELdO's way of weeding out the faint of heart.

  2. LOL, your review is much more interesting than my one word assessment of the fragrance—which I believe was:”cookies.”

    I'm a simple gal. 😉

    The edgy/gimmicky aspect of ELdO was a challenge for me to get past, but the fact is, as you've so well demonstrated, they're producing interesting, fun, and quality stuff.

    Bravo! I loved this little peek into Blonde-dom!

  3. oh love this!! Thanks Tarl – and although I never yearned to be blonde I did yearn for straight hair in the mid-70s when my hair was a hormone-disaster-curliecue!

    I'm just beginning to not shake at the mention of EdLO (although Putain does smell like me!heheee)

  4. I think this particular vial started its way over the world with me, a true blonde myself. I am glad it has been put to great use in your hands.
    I am a prude at heart maybe, but EldO's aesthetic is just not for me, and I have to like the entire concept, at least a little… 😉
    Beautiful review!

  5. I am an AldeHo of the highest order, and I thought I'd like Vraie Blonde: aldehydes, peach, rose, myrrh, yum.

    Nope.

    There is a sour-milky thing (so precise, “thing” – well, perhaps it's all my dark blonde head can manage) in the base that just killlllls me. Aargh. The rest of it was pretty great, though to be honest it wasn't a patch on, say, Guerlain Vega for light-hearted champagne moments.

    I'm generally not a fan of the ELd'O market angle. It's as if they're saying to me, “You're conservative, we don't want you, take your business elsewhere.” So I do. Hotel Slut (Putain de Palaces) is very good, but Citizen Queen was better, and JHaG's packaging doesn't annoy me. Rossy de Palma was good, too, but completely eclipsed by L'Arte di Gucci, which I already own.

    But it's always good to have a good champagne-and-smutty-jokes fragrance around… (Ha! my word verification is “streess”! has somebody from Blogger been following me around lately?)

  6. Carrie, I'm not sure whether being a true blonde means that blondes have more fun. If anything, sometimes, it's a distinct liability! 😉

    The more I think about the ELdO concept, the more their unique brand of iconoclasm begins to make sense. I'd go so far as to say…their brand IS iconoclasm! Iwth the heritage of houses such as, say, Guerlain and Caron, to name but two, perfume in the collective consciousness has evolved to something refined, elegant, luxurious and above all else…Really Serious Stuff. All fine and good, but I also think it's healthy to remember that sometimes, perspectives can be gained by turning that concept upside down – and making it irreverent – Vraie Blonde being the perfect example of that, or even Tom of Finland, come to that! (Not that I've tried it, but I've read about it)

    More than anything. I was glad to be surprised – in a good way!

  7. Frida…who'd have thunk it…you and Putain…;-)

    I always suspected there was something naughty going on beneath the hair and the hat…;-)

    I've read good things about Putain. Me, I'm dying to try…'Don't Get Me Wrong…'

    For research purposes only, you understand…:-D

  8. B, I rather suspected this might not be for you, but that's OK, too! There's something for everyone nearly everywhere – the Epic-ally Elegant and the nowhere nearly enough alike! 🙂

  9. Muse – this might not be for everyone, but I was very surprised! As for the off-color jokes – they're always the best kind…bottled or not! 😉

  10. For some reason, this line is one that I don't even think about…I'm not sure why. I can't say I take offense to their packaging, but it's so adolescent and cartoonish that when I see them (the images on the blogs and Internet stores), I laugh and then move on, not paying them much mind, as if they are not really a serious perfume company. The only one I've ever considered (but still haven't sampled yet) is the Tilda Swinton inspired one, “Like This.”

    But I enjoyed your review — and as a not-true blonde, I'll have to sample this sometime just for kicks. Of course, it will probably have to find me first before I go seeking it out.

  11. Tarleisio,
    I enjoyed reading your review but I doubt I will be actively seeking the sample (for all the reasons mentioned by others in the comments above).

  12. Suzanne, I do see your point. Sometimes, it's hard to see the intent simply because the hype gets in the way! Having said that, I wouldn't dismiss a line entirely on the grounds of their marketing approach, because I could be missing something, and that alone can be enough of a spur to my (relentless!) curiosity.

  13. Undina – as I said to Suzanne above, I do see your point, too! And something tells me – call it a hunch! 😉 – that might be a topic for another blog, right there! Watch this space!

  14. This just confirms what I've always known: I should have been a blonde! Blonde perfumes appeal way more to me than brunette perfumes do. And my father was blonde – so there! But no, brown hair, blue eyes, pale skin. Odd mixture. But I'm going grey, so I'll get my wish eventually, however in an unwanted manner, but isn't that often the case?

    Vraie Blonde sounds delish! I've only tried Putain des Palaces, liked it, but relieved that I don't own it in the sense that I'd probably hate revealing the name of my scent. Apart from that, I do find the names too gimmicky, but I should probably be less shallow and just sniff my way through the selection. Tom of Finland sounds really nice!

    Incidentally, I did once try to convince my hair stylist that I should go blond. She ignored me for a months. When I persisted she lent me a blonde wig (a good one) and say: “OK, so go home and try this on. We'll talk the next time you have an appointment”. Full of anticipation I went home and tried it on. Horror!!! My porcelain skin tone had turned pink and I now had the skin tone of a pig, a very clean pig, but a pig nonetheless. I called a friend who lived in the same building and had her come and see the disaster. She couldn't stop laughing. I returned the wig and promised not to bring up the subject again. “I'm relieved”, she said. “Otherwise, I would've had to tell you to find a new hair stylist. I don't want you to walk around town and tell people that I was responsible for your blonde hair”. I can respect that.

  15. LOL, Marie! I'm so glad you liked my review! Serendipitous occurrences have conspired to make it possible for me to review more ELdO's in the future, something I very much look forward to, and frankly, I don't care what they're called. If anything, the names make me laugh! And if nothing else, they're great conversation starters! Although I could see 'Putain' might give a few…ahem…wrong impressions! 😉

    Strange how that blonde/brunette thing works, isn't it? I've dyed my hair every shade including blue (back when I had a Mohawk, long story), although I'm naturally a amber-blonde. (Blame my red-headed mother and the nine generations of redheads before her!). But when I tried to dye my hair brown – and black – I looked…dead. Much deader than any George Romero zombie, and that says a lot. For some reason, brown and black sucked out every vestige of color in my face and eyes. I can go a dark red, no problem, but…just..no!

    Of course, like you I'm going gray in all the wrong ways (more white, actually), and I'm not quite ready for that just…yet. So I stick to what works…with a little help from L'Oreàl!

    Meanwhile, Vraie Blonde is lovely. Don't we all need a ditzy blonde in our collection? 😉

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