Ask any human behavior expert about the real purpose of cosmetics, and it all comes down to sex. Blush mimics the flush of sexual excitement in the cheeks, and a lipstick-rouged mouth is a pretty good stand-in for an engorged vulva. The beauty industry prefers to put a euphemistic gloss on lipstick’s base intentions with flirtily allusive names like “Passion Fruit Squeeze” and “Sensual Rosebud”. After all, “Engorged Vulva” comes a little close to the bone as a name for a product designed to create that very scenario. I mean, you want to cloak your intentions with a little bit of mystique, right?
Wrong -- at least as far as frisky indie perfume house Etat Libre d’Orange is concerned. This provocative French line includes concoctions like Secretions Magnifiques (listed notes of blood, milk and sweat), Delicious Closet Queen (fruity leather) and Don’t Get Me Wrong, Baby, I Don’t Swallow (sterile floral). While Etat Libre d’Orange delights in shattering hollow propriety, it also makes an effort to ensure that a number of their vulgarly named scents actually smell, well, decent.
My current favorite from ELO is Putain des Palaces, composed by Nathalie Feisthauer and gleefully translated on the packaging as “Hotel Slut”. Putain des Palaces is a powdery rose, violet and leather combo that teeters just on the edge of day-after mustiness. It’s the dirty musk of a femme fatale with funk in her trunk. This olfactory hologram of "unwashed Pretty Woman” is assisted by the alchemy of milky rice powder and ginger notes. Something about their creamy sharpness really puts the beast in the bouquet.
But if you banish the name “Hotel Slut” from your mind, you can experience the eau de parfum in a positively wholesome way: an almost-gourmand; a spicy rice pudding. This fluctuation between edible and f*ckable is what makes Putain des Palaces so fascinating.
Fumeheads, what are your favorite "glamorous hooker" scents?
"16th Arrondissement" by Helmut Newton