Charogne’s name and promo are both as unique and as controversial as they come. I doubt there has ever been another perfume touting a name as tasteless as one that literally means “Carrion” nor has there probably ever been a promo as disputatious, eyebrow-raising, or disdain promoting (Although Tom Ford admittedly did a mighty good job of producing the most polemical advertisements of 2007). Both Charogne’s name and promo have come under a lot of fire for being offensive, and for some, even vulgar. I feel a little sheepish, thus, admitting that I didn’t really care. Yes I did want to smell Etat Libre d’Orange’s interpretation of a cadaver. And yes, even though I was aware their official description was perverse, its gimmicky nature left me rather cold. It was all about the juice for me and I felt otherwise completely emotionally uninvolved. Charogne’s opening is very sweet, almost candy-like, teetering just a step away from being cloying. Slowly, the jus calms down to reveal less sweetness, less intensity, more nuanced softness. Even though violet is not among the official listed notes, the lasting impression is that of fragrantly aromatic violets and roses left in a vase to rot. This smell of decomposing, aromatic vegetation is at once prevalent and subtle. This is, surprisingly perhaps when taking the last two sentences into consideration, a very wearable fragrance: there’s absolutely no need to fear that you’ll be going around smelling like a rotting beast that just emerged from a swamp! The aforementioned, dark decadence seems to be a thick vein, running, or rather snaking its way down the middle of this composition, surrounded by vanillic goodness, lightly perfumed with soft leather - soft kidskin, like a shiny, buttery glove. All this is weighed down by heavy musk that is felt deep within – it goes straight to the stomach, if that makes any sense. There is incense: a certain beautiful smokiness, tenderly placed, harmonious and unobtrusive – detectable when smelling close to the skin. The marketing doesn’t do this perfume any good, other than giving it a perverse controversy value meant to stir emotion... “Blissful pestilence” is the most unfair description of this perfume I’ve come across, in fact. The fragrance itself is neither blissful nor pestilent. It is deep, sexy, thoughtful. It is at once almost gourmand with its rather candied sweetness, yet at the same time serious and sophisticated. The heaviness, the darkness of the perfume needs to be counterbalanced with ethereal fabrics and romantic jewelry. The only gothic aspect that befits it, is perhaps a dark red lipstick on dewy skin, the lips quietly mouthing poetry under candlelight at midnight. All in all, I find the much-maligned Charogne to be interesting, deep and addictive.
Rossy De Palma:
The first, fleeting impression is soft rose on a canvas of freshly turned, rich soil. Soon though, the earthiness almost completely disappears, giving way to a thornier, spicy rose. The spiciness tingles the nose, while a strange, green accord keeps it fresh. This greenness is almost a sensation, or perhaps an image – like a powerful green vine, gripping the thorny, spicy rose in its tangling embrace. Adding to the fresh spiciness, a very interesting ginger accord that veers away from the sometimes soapy “aftertaste” I’ve come to associate it with, and instead gives a surprising far-eastern feel to the fragrance. Unfortunately all this does not last long. Half an hour or so later I’ve completely lost trace of everything green and spicy, as well as –most regrettably might I add- any trace of the beautiful, surprising ginger note I fell in love with. Rossy de Palma becomes all about the rose and a light, fragrant patchouli that manages to be woody and leafy at the same time, but unfortunately lacks depth and sensuality. If you are a rose lover, go ahead, smell this one, it is not bad. But chances are you won’t find something to fall in love with in this one: the rose is rather flat and the patchouli uninteresting – there are others that do the rose-patchouli theme much, much better. For a combination that could have been toe-curlingly good, Etat Libre d’Orange missed the mark with this one. One interesting thing I do have to mention though, is that hours after application, the drydown takes you by surprise: It is a lovingly soft combination of cacao and benzoin that leaves you with a warm, gentle vanillic impression that is oh-so-comforting.