A new release from anarchic brand, Etat Libre d’Orange, showcases a gentle side to their range which is not normally afraid of being bold and brave. But with this latest composition have they strayed too far into the softer side of scent?
Bergamot, incense, pink pepper, orris, rose, suede, vanilla, sandalwood, Georgy wood.
If you’ve come to Soul Of My Soul expecting big and bold then you might want to think again before you blind buy a whole bottle. This is a soft, gentle and delicate fragrance which has a transparent texture and structure which feels almost crystalline.
Soul Of My Soul opens with the sourness of bergamot but this isn’t the face-slapping assault that bergamot is capable of, instead it is a watery, gentle type of sourness which feels more like some sort of bergamot cordial than it does actual bergamot juice at full strength and flying solo. The surface of the bergamot is flecked with tiny speckles of pink pepper and spices to give it a hint of warmth and movement.
In the background, faint whispers of incense wheedle their way into the picture and there is an interesting moment where the sour citrus butts up against the incense accord. An unexpected juxtaposition which would have been fascinating if the volume had been significantly increased on both elements.
Although pleasant and very wearable, the opening is quite unmemorable, feeling too quiet to really make its mark.
It’s not really accurate to say that Soul Of My Soul really gets going as it opens up. There is movement in the scent for sure, and it does change as it wears, but it is more meandering, a gentle bimble rather than a full throttle charge into the next phase of the scent’s development.
At the scent hits its stride (okay its toddle) a really pretty rose mingles with a lovely soft, gentle leather. This phase of the fragrance’s development is where it is at its radiant best. The leather is pliable, buttery and soft and the rose is fleshy, fresh, delicately captured, riding on a current of cool, late spring air. The bergamot is still wandering about in the background, gazing at its shoes, and after a while the lingering (albeit gentle) sourness becomes a bit distracting. I wanted more leather and more rose heaped up in a grandiose pile of luxury, or at least in a slack handful of indulgence. The elements present during this phase are really lovely, they just feel rather gauzy, transparent and airy. That said, if you like much quieter scents then this is perhaps one for you to try.
There’s a bit of woodiness in the base, a bit of resinous vanilla, and a powdery, dry, facet which feels at times like it is akin to oakmossy. The last vestiges of the scent are as mild mannered as the earlier phases though and it mutters its way to a close quietly and gently.
Soul Of My Soul is a strange fragrance to understand in the context of the Etat Libre d’Orange line. It isn’t as gutsy as they can be, which isn’t a problem in and of itself, but where it’s really hard to understand is this odd lack of intention with the composition. It doesn’t lead us anywhere we haven’t been before. The fragrant phrases it uses to tell its story are pretty, arranged – at times – attractively, but it is like they’re being mumbled rather than sung aloud. With absolute certainty it is fair to say that not all fragrances need to be loud and brash, and often it is much better when they are not, but there is something about Soul Of My Soul which feels unrealised rather than just polite.
Whilst you may indeed find that you love this scent – and we hope you do – approach it with caution in the first instance, definitely worth getting a sample before you buy because this isn’t a typical Etat Libre d’Orange scent.
The other stuff
The sillage, or projection, of Soul Of My Soul is discrete, reaching to somewhere akin to hugging distance or thereabouts. The longevity of the scent is on the low side of acceptability – lasting about three to four hours or so from initial application.
Soul Of My Soul is marketed as a unisex fragrance, and it is likely to appeal to those who want a quiet, comfortable scent which is unobtrusive and won’t offend coworkers or people who may get close to you.
Etat Libre d’Orange are a fascinating French brand with around 30 different fragrances in their line now. These range from the legendary Secretions Magnifiques to the bold yet fascinating Fat Electrician to the lush, memorable greenery of Herman. We’ve also reviewed I Am Trash, Eau de Protection, You or Someone Like You, and Marquis de Sade by the brand.
Generally speaking, Etat Libre d’Orange are an eccentric and provocative brand. They make scents which often feel left-of-the-middle if not downright transgressive. They’re known for being interesting, avant guard and out there, which is why Soul Of My Soul feels like an outlier given how polite and mild mannered it is.
We were very kindly gifted a no-strings-attached sample of this scent by Bloom Perfumery, and we thank them for their kindness.