By a coincidence, the first time I wore The Afternoon of a Faun, the latest perfume from Etat Libre d’Orange, was to a ballet performance. I applied it earlier in the day and by the time I sat in the darkened theater it already melted into my skin. My companion leaned in and whispered, “I love the smell of theater, the mix of wood and floor polish… Oh, wait! It’s you!” And she was right, Faun smells like worn wood, or something antique and patina covered.
Created by Ralf Schwieger, the same perfumer who authored the brilliant Fils de Dieu, The Afternoon of a Faun is inspired by the ballet choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky for the Ballets Russes. It was first performed in 1912, with Nijinsky dancing the main role. Set to the score by Claude Debussy, L’après-midi d’un faune told the story of a faun who meets and teases a group of nymphs. The erotic subtext of the plot and the archaically styled dance ran so counter to classical dance that it caused a scandal, and Nijinsky could barely escape the angry fans.