Etat Libre d’Orange Rossy de Palma : Perfume Review



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

Not all celebrity scents are made equal, but then again, not all celebrities are either. I would be glad to back any Pedro Almodóvar’s actress, but Rossy de Palma, the striking and charismatic Spanish beauty, completely wins me over whether onscreen or with her perfume. Her eponymous Etat Libre d’Orange fragrance is as a perfect fit for her dramatic image as it is for me when I want my perfume to make a statement. For such a dark, smoldering rose as Rossy de Palma, making a statement is an easy task.

Rossy de Palma was created by perfumers Antoine Lie and Antoine Maisondieu, and while the composition is based on rose, the impression is much more abstract and surprising. While the initial spicy freshness is quite bright and cool, things get dark and mysterious very quickly. As the rose unfolds, so does the intensely dark oriental accord. Although there is a fair bit of honeyed sweetness present in the rose, the earthy notes of patchouli and leathery balsamic notes keep it balanced. The dark woods and ambers further lend Rossy de Palma an appealing dry facet. The late drydown of Rossy de Palma is a classical amber note, dark and animalic, which takes me to my favorite ambers like Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan and Tom Ford Amber Absolute. The fragrance has a good sillage and an incredible tenacity, lasting well over 12 hours on my skin.

It is a seductive fragrance, yet it is devoid of the cloying oriental triteness and “harem odalisque” exoticism. The latter often plagues the opulent oriental roses, which have been explored widely recently, whether successfully by Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady or less so by Armani Privé 1001 Nights Rose d’Arabie. Rossy de Palma occupies the same realm for me as Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit and Frédéric Malle Une Rose, the earthy dark roses that, despite their lush floral hearts, nevertheless have a masculine aura. For a man who loves patchouli and dark orientals, the prominent rose notes in Rossy de Palma should not be too difficult to handle. On the other hand, a woman who wants to eschew the cliches of “sweet and pretty” would find it very appealing.

Etat Libre d’Orange Rossy de Palma includes notes of bergamot, cardamom, black pepper, geranium, jasmine, Bulgarian rose, blood accord, patchouli, benzoin, incense, chocolate. Available from Henri Bendels and online from Luckyscent.

Sample: my own acquisition



  • Marla: I love Rossy de Palma, her character in Women on the Verge of Nervous Breakdown was unforgettable. So I simply must try her perfume. A fragrance created for such a firecracker can’t be dull. February 24, 2011 at 8:39am Reply

  • jen: Hmmm, sounds interesting! I love Une Rose, because it’s so earthy, sounds like I might like Rossy de Palma too.
    What other ELDO fragrances do you like, V? February 24, 2011 at 8:54am Reply

  • Carla: I had some Rose de Nuit still clinging to my tee-shirt, and when I picked it up I was wondering to myself, did I spray some man’s fougere when I was at the shopping mall the other day? Tania Sanchez mentioned in the Guide that there’s some Paco Rabanne pour Homme in Rose de Nuit, and that’s spot on. I should give Rossy de Palma a try. February 24, 2011 at 12:59pm Reply

  • angie Cox: I think this will be a must for me. February 24, 2011 at 11:45am Reply

  • manon: V, how does it compare to Agent Provocateur? The notes are a bit similar. February 24, 2011 at 4:47pm Reply

  • Victoria: It is certainly anything but dull! I liked it very much the first time I tried it, but it was this winter when I completely fell for it. February 24, 2011 at 11:59am Reply

  • Victoria: I also like Jasmin et Cigarette, Like This and Vraie Blonde. Like This is the most intriguing to me. February 24, 2011 at 12:00pm Reply

  • Victoria: If you like dark roses, you will enjoy it very much. February 24, 2011 at 12:00pm Reply

  • Austenfan: It’s nice to see someone whose looks are not so “polished” – for want of a better word- have a fragrance named after her.
    The only Almodóvar film I ever watched was Hable con ella. But I have been wanting to explore his films a bit more. Thanks for another excellent review. February 24, 2011 at 5:34pm Reply

  • Olfactoria: I love the woman Rossy de Palma, the perfume – not so much. But I have since come to love many rose fragrances, maybe I should give my sample another go. February 24, 2011 at 12:48pm Reply

  • Victoria: Rose de Nuit is definitely more of a rose fougere than a rose oriental, and it is certainly quite masculine (in a traditional sense.) I do like it time to time as well. February 24, 2011 at 1:45pm Reply

  • Victoria: Perhaps, you will see it differently now. I love dark, balsamic roses like this one. February 24, 2011 at 1:45pm Reply

  • Elisa: I’m glad you used the word “bright,” as this one always feels bright and gleamy to me when it goes on, as though it had a tactile, smooth surface like the hood of a car. It’s one of my favorites. I love the bottle too.

    Katie Puckrik pointed out to me the similarity between this and TF Noir de Noir. I find NdN darker and heavier, but they do have a lot in common. February 24, 2011 at 1:56pm Reply

  • Victoria: Your comment on the smooth sensation is so spot on for me, because I find it this way too. The metallic notes really give it a nice sparkle.
    I remember Noir de Noir as a much heavier oriental, closer to M7, but I admit that it has been a while since I’ve smelled it. Must revisit! February 24, 2011 at 2:04pm Reply

  • Violaine: I’m happy to read you like it & so i can understand more clearly the structure. I am still unable to “read” the notes of a perfume I like so thank you for this xcellent article. I loooove this perfume, my sample is almost finished and yes, Rossy de Palma is addictive ^_^ February 24, 2011 at 7:43pm Reply

  • Victoria: They have very different characters to me. Agent Provocateur has a strong rose-moss-patchouli core, while Rossy de Palma is really accenting the patchouli-oriental notes. February 24, 2011 at 5:29pm Reply

  • Victoria: I agree! I love the fact that her beauty is not the cookie-cutter standard prettiness, but something so bold, so dramatic.
    I am a big fan of Almodóvar, with Talk to Her, Bad Education and All About My Mother being among my favorites. February 24, 2011 at 7:38pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you for your nice words, I am so glad that I could help. I also find Rossy de Palma quite addictive, and I enjoy its different stages, whether the early rose phase, the patchouli or the leathery amber. Very alluring. February 24, 2011 at 8:33pm Reply

  • sweetlife: Must revisit this one. Love Amodovar, and de Palma–the first time I saw her face I thought, oh look! A Picasso! February 25, 2011 at 12:14pm Reply

  • Victoria: I thought so too! She has been called “a Picasso come-to-life” by many. February 25, 2011 at 12:23pm Reply

  • Violaine: I am sincere!
    The very first time i did not like it; the first “whiff” that got to my nose i could not understand so i categorized “not like”. In fact, in the notes zone, what I do not know is something to be discovered, not rejected. February 26, 2011 at 6:21am Reply

  • Victoria: I love your philosophy–“what I do not know is something to be discovered, not rejected.” That’s what I usually follow too. Sometimes, it is very rewarding! February 26, 2011 at 8:43am Reply

  • Luxelvr: You’ve described this fragrance so beautifully that I am tempted to try it. It seems really unique and I’d be curious as to how it would smell on my skin. I love the femininity of the rose and jasmine mixed with the sensuality and depth of amber. Thank you Victoria! March 18, 2011 at 9:27pm Reply

  • Victoria: It is really unusual and beautifully made. I love rose notes when they are made this dark and sultry. March 21, 2011 at 12:32pm Reply

  • Tanya: I fell in love with this on paper, but on my skin it is incredibly faint. I was given a tester at the shop to try out, but no one noticed I was wearing anything yesterday. This morning I doused the remainder of the tester tube on me and I simply don’t smell it. So strange. May 9, 2016 at 1:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: Very strange, indeed! Have you tried wearing it on fabric? May 10, 2016 at 11:16am Reply

      • Tanya: I will try that… also perhaps on my hair? I wonder if seasonal allergies has something to do with this, perhaps it is a problem of the nose at this time of year as opposed to the perfume itself. It is so beautiful I’ve decided to purchase it regardless, will keep you updated! June 12, 2016 at 4:15pm Reply

  • Tourmaline: Hi Victoria,

    Peter told me that he loved this fragrance, and he sent me the link to your review. I’m intriqued by the notion of a “blood accord”. What is in it? Does it have notes of metal and salt, for example? As far as I can recall, this is the first time I’ve ever heard of a blood accord in a fragrance.

    With kind regards,
    Tourmaline August 2, 2020 at 6:43am Reply

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