Etat Libre d’Orange Vierges et Toreros : Fragrance Review and White Florals for Men

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Cassat

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

The idea of a masculine tuberose is fascinating, simply because my own view of tuberose is that of a lush, sweet and coquettish note. While it certainly has an unapologetically seductive facet, most modern tuberose treatments place it squarely in the feminine realm. Vierges et Toreros created by Antoine Lie and Antoine Maisondieu in 2007 for the renegade niche fragrance house Etat Libre d’Orange has set out to work against this stereotype. The idea behind the composition is a tuberose note made virile and masculine, lacking its common “sugar and spice and everything nice” connotations.

While the premise is fascinating and intriguing, the composition is somehow less so. Vierges et Toreros is a competent, well-crafted blend, where the accents fall on the vetiver and animalic notes. If I did not know that it was supposed to offer a different tuberose treatment, I would not have picked it out of the Etat Libre d’Orange lineup for there are certainly more interesting fragrances. The tuberose note unfolds under the brilliant citrus and pepper top note, but the heavy earthy and green notes stamp any life out of it.

So what would be some interesting white floral choices for those men who want something different? Serge Lutens Tubéreuse Criminelle with its wintergreen and diesel fuel top note is excellent. The spice dusted jasmine and roses of Agent Provocateur EDP are likewise worth trying. Gucci Rush with its mossy gardenia accord can easily make a transition from pour elle to pour lui. Or be truly macho and wear Robert Piguet Fracas. After all, you don’t really need to prove anything to anyone, do you?

Etat Libre d’Orange Vierges et Toreros includes notes of bergamot, orange blossom, cardamom, tuberose, ylang-ylang, nutmeg, pepper, costus, cedarwood, leather, patchouli, vetiver, and animalic notes. Available from Henri Bendels and online from Luckyscent.

Sample: my own acquisition

Image: Mary Cassatt (1844-1926), Toreador, Oil on canvas, 1873, The Art Institute of Chicago via abcgallery.com

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12 Comments

  • kurt: SL A La Nuit is my favourite white floral. A pure jasmin and oddly enough it feels quite masculine. Layering it with CdC Avignon adds extra depth and smokiness. Another floral I love to borrow is Hermes 24 Faubourg. June 29, 2011 at 6:45am Reply

  • Grusheczka: I love VeT! I agree that the floral notes take a definite backseat to the spicy, earthy notes in this blend, but I still love it. I love white floral fragrances as well as dirty, animalic ones, and I was happy to discover this perfume combined my favorite elements in one.

    On a side note, I recently acquired a house and therefore a beautiful garden, and I have been planting any white flowers in it that will grow in zone 6b climate (which limits me greatly when it comes to these types of plants). I told my boyfriend we’ll have to move someplace warmer, not that I enjoy hot weather, but because I want tuberose growing in my garden! Right now, only perfume can fill that olfactory void. June 29, 2011 at 8:33am Reply

  • Andy: The idea of a masculine white floral is fascinating, but I feel as if the concept must be highly planned, played with, and perfected by the perfumer before anything truly exquisite can come out of it. I imagine it’s difficult to manipulate such a note so that it is not feminine, while retaining the quality and clarity of the white florals. I’ve been following this blog for a little while now, and I love it! So insightful. I realize it’s unrelated, but I would love to see your take on some of the fragrances made by Pacifica (maybe just a review of a few in a single blog post? Please?) They are by no means fine fragrances, but I find that many of them are really quite interesting, pretty, and well-constructed despite the fact that the perfumer uses a very high percentage of naturals (80-90% supposedly). The French lilac was a surprise; to my nose it smelled very close to a real lilac. I would love to see your take on a few from the Pacifica lineup. June 29, 2011 at 9:13am Reply

  • Victoria: I can see how both of these would be great on a man. I myself love the idea of A La Nuit layered with a dark incense fragrance like Avignon. June 29, 2011 at 1:35pm Reply

  • Victoria: I have a friend who wears it beautifully too. It smells fantastic on her, and she gets lots of compliments.

    As for tuberose, I hear you! In my area, you have to start them early indoors in order to enjoy a full blooming season. Above all, I want to have a lemon tree! :) June 29, 2011 at 1:36pm Reply

  • Victoria: Andy, thank you very much! I will certainly review Pacifica. I very much enjoy their Lilac and Jasmine. They have been on my list to review for a while, so I will definitely plan to do it soon. June 29, 2011 at 1:45pm Reply

  • Lavanya: I haven’t tried this but it does sound like a lovely idea- pity the fragrance didn’t match up..
    I’m really loving the ones I have tried from this line- Rien and Rossy de palma. I briefly smelled Like This which also seemed very likeable..I now want to try Putain des Palaces. June 29, 2011 at 8:31pm Reply

  • Eric Brandon: I had to look back through my collection to see how many white florals I owned, even with samples. The answer is three (Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere and a mini decant of both OJ’s Champaca and Tubereuse Criminelle). I get comments every so often on TC, much to my surprise, though I don’t wear it often. It’s too hot and, to be honest, I wish the mothball scent never went away. THAT would be neat, I think. I’ve always loved the smell of mothballs. But OJ’s Champaca is great and interesting, with it’s lime and slight tea undertones. And Eau Premiere… though of course it is floral, it doesn’t really read that way to me.

    I don’t know. I find the subject very interesting and it surprises me that I have so few. I’ll have to dig deeper and see if there are any that I’d sampled but hadn’t bought. June 29, 2011 at 8:53pm Reply

  • Victoria: I am still on the fence about Like This. It is very interesting and unusual, but somehow it just does not sit well on me. June 30, 2011 at 9:27am Reply

  • Victoria: There is of course Fleur du Male, which is a jasmine-orange blossom blend, but it does not seem as interesting to comparison to the feminine fragrances a man can appropriate. At any rate, perfume does not have a gender. I loved smelling roses on men in India and the Middle East. Some men there also wear Opium, which certainly smells great on them and is close to the American masculine classic–Old Spice. June 30, 2011 at 9:29am Reply

  • Eric Brandon: Oh, I completely agree: perfume is by nature ungendered. Perception makes it so. Similarly, I wear “old lady perfumes” (found some vintage Miss Dior recently that goes nicely in the heat) that I wear proudly because my grandmother’s didn’t wear perfume. I don’t have that association. Thankfully.

    Now, when we open up to all florals, it’s not so hard for me to think of examples. I “inherited” several bottles of vintage Nahema from my mother when she moved. Thankfully it’s not a scent I associate with her. :P And not to sound like a vintage snob, but I had a sample of vintage Opium parfum that I blissfully wore… until it spilled all over my pants. That was a sad moment. June 30, 2011 at 6:37pm Reply

  • Victoria: Nahema would smell fantastic on a man as would many Guerlain fragrances. Shalimar is one of my elle pour lui favorites. After all, anyone who wears Habit Rouge should have nothing against Shalimar. June 30, 2011 at 9:22pm Reply

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