Growing up in deepest Yorkshire, our founder’s grandma used to have a garden; a little strip of soil that she kept meticulously weeded. The soil was grey and vaguely industrial looking, like the surrounding town. From this dour bit of land grew the most magnificent crop of garden mint, just outside the door to her cottage. The plant sprang up every summer and was vivid green, fragrant; long stems of perfect oval, fuzzy leaves. It was the job of the children of the family to pick the mint to be snipped into salads and on to new potatoes or peas. The juice would stain fingers green but scent them with the most amazingly tangible smell, a magical smell that has the power to punch through the intervening years and takes you right back to that exact moment, the sun on the back of your neck, the leaves crushing between your fingers.
That’s what Etat Libre d’Orange have managed to conjure up with this fragrance; familiarity and excitement, the old twisted together with the new to form something else, something wonderful.
Eucalyptus, green leaves, mint, shiso, violet leaves, bergamot, grapefruit, cassis, hedione, rose, white musk.
Etat Libre d’Orange don’t actually list the notes for this fragrance on their website, and other sites claim they are keeping them a secret, so we have amalgamated this list from various sources including Bloom’s website and Fragrantica.
Etat Libre d’Orange (ELdO) were founded by Etienne de Swardt who had previously worked in luxury fragrance, but wanted to do something less constrained and more rebellious. The resulting fragrance house now boasts 34 scents in its line, and one of the most gloriously perfumy nonsensical websites we’ve ever seen.
We’ve previously reviewed another of their daring scents, Marquis de Sade, but if you like mint in a fragrance, you might want to check out Fragrance number 21 by Nikkos-Oskol.
This perfume, like many of the EldO range, isn’t the easiest or most accessible fragrance in the world to pick up and just chuck on; you’ve got to have an open mind and be into slightly unusual things to ‘get’ what they are trying to say. This doesn’t mean that this perfume isn’t a delight to wear. It is. It’s just slightly puzzling too.
An initial spritz of You or Someone Like You opens with a citrusy sourness. It’s fleeting but a grapefruity note does come through quite strongly. In the best possible way, this has a slightly cat urine like quality, but don’t worry, it mellows into something far less challenging quite quickly thereafter.
After the citrus, the mint quickly and smoothly unfurls, like it was there all along and you just didn’t notice it straight away – the transition is that smooth. The mint is zingy, refreshing, mouthwatering, and delightful. It’s a really true mint smell, not at all synthetic or mouthwash like. It has clarity and purpose about it, further bolstered by the gentle coolness of eucalyptus.
Interestingly, Bloom say this about the scent: “The perfume is freshness itself created from molecules one finds in mint, shiso, violets and citruses but not from essenses corresponding to any particular plant.” That blew our minds a little bit, because it does smell so natural. Just like you had picked a handful of mint leaves and crushed them right there in your hand. Utterly fascinating and very clever stuff indeed.
For us, this was one of those fragrances that left us wanting to sniff our wrists until our heads turn inside out.
As the scent warms, the mint becomes more nuanced and less hard. An almost alcoholic note creeps in and You or Someone Like You very strongly reminded us of a Summer cocktail with a sprig of mint garnishing it. It’s got that lovely juxtaposition of cool and refreshing sitting alongside warmth and sweetness. Largely, the cool and refreshing notes win out, but the warmer, sweeter notes are there constantly, just to remind you that there are two sides to every situation, and two sides to this perfume.
In this scent, the warmth and sweetness are brought by a delicate underpinning floral note; sometimes this comes through as rose, and sometimes it seems to be more like something fuzzy like a geranium or geranium leaf. Either way it gives the scent an interesting nuance and moreish quality. The floral sweetness is never very strong, but you’re left wanting to fully catch what it is. This perfume is a tease though and it never quite lets you, obscuring the floral picture with veils and layers of minty herbals and green leaves. It’s a bit like trying to peep through a hedge to see something on the other side but never quite managing to see the picture clearly.
Even the name of this scent is fitting. The more we wore it, the more those seemingly opposing sides of the scent fit its name; the you, or the someone like you. They seem contradictory elements, but they don’t have to be, they can be harmonious in an unusual and interesting way. That’s what this scent has managed to achieve.
The sense of clarity that You or Someone Like You has continues through into the base, just mellowing into something which is almost sticky in quality. The perfume becomes almost like one of those spearmint sweets that you get given on long car journeys; minty, yes, but also sweet and chewy.
There’s also something a little bit surprisingly sexy about this scent, it has you going back for a little sniff all the time, and it keeps you on your toes. It’s not an easy scent to pigeonhole into a neat category. We really liked those things about it.
The other stuff
Sometimes it’s very easy to imagine the sort of person who would wear a particular scent and that’s the case here; edgy, sophisticated, cool, creative but grounded, someone with a side that they maybe keep hidden. They probably work in the city, have lovely shoes, subtle coats with contrasting silk linings, and a French bulldog. That’s the sort of people we can imagine wearing this scent.
In terms of gender, ELdO do refer on their website to it being created for a female character, but we could see it working on anyone gender persuasions. The florals aren’t strong enough for it to come down heavily on the female side of the spectrum, nor are the minty notes mouthwash like enough for it definitely to be a man’s fragrance either.
The longevity of the scent isn’t the strongest, neither is the projection or sillage. In terms of longevity, the scent lasted until around lunchtime before reapplication was needed. And similarly, the projection was good once it was first applied but it quickly diminished.
This scent would wear best in Summer, when you can sit under the trees on a riverbank and sip that cocktail with a mint garnish tucked into the ice.
Etat Libre d”Orange’s You or Someone Like You is available from Bloom Perfumery London, priced at £115 for 100ml EdP, or £82 for 50ml. Bloom very kindly provided us with a sample of this scent to test.
You can also buy this scent direct from Etat Libre d’Orange.
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