Los Angeles is a concrete paradise drawing in thousands of transplanted souls who have migrated in hopes of manifesting their sought-after dreams. The promising city is of beauty, both natural and synthetic as well as possibility, both real and imagined. The natural wonders of the city such as its beautiful beaches, infinite hills and cloudless skies perfectly contrast the endless roads of cemented highways, heavy traffic, and sturdy skyscrapers.
The allure of the city is thus both a reality of natural appeal and constructed conceptions molded by its inhabitants. Etat Libre D’Orange honors the city through its namesake fragrance from the novel You or Someone Like You written by Chandler Burr. The novel and fragrance have collaborated in the spirit of a common conception of Los Angeles as a city of angels—risen and fallen. You, may aspire to be one of the few who accomplish what is sought after in this city.
In this journey, there may be a withering sense of optimism, yet there a continuous drive stemmed from the glimmer of hope that someday it may be you. Until then, it may just be someone like you.
The fictional novel features the protagonist Anne, a transplant from London. Anne and her husband, a movie studio executive, moved in order to fulfill the dream of so many who enter the city. As she becomes more local, her awareness of the city is heightened. Like the rest of the diverse public and even the transplanted palm trees, she is now indigenous and has adapted to her surroundings.
The fragrance personifies the city for all it is—the good and the bad, playing into stereotypes and engaging with its contrasts. The Oscar Award winning film, La La Land also plays into the city’s stereotypes and captures the contrast of a fantastical Hollywood narrative and its harsher realities.
The following is an analysis of the film in relation to the fragrance with minor movie spoilers ahead. The movie opens with the couple, who have yet to meet, in seemingly endless traffic -- one of the less charming aspects of the city. The plot is then carried by their whirlwind romance with whimsical moments only experienced in film. The two share their Hollywood aspirations of success within the music and entertainment industry. The film continues and the two eventually achieve their aspirations, but at the cost of their relationship. Towards the end, the film presents an idealistic Hollywood ending, reflecting all that could have been within their relationship. The song of their first meeting transports the two to a rewriting of their story in a typical Hollywood film fashion, where both their personal and professional desires are accomplished. The two are then brought back to reality, affirming that their perfect manifestation was merely an imagination. The two part ways with a slight smile showing their support for the other and the acceptance of their reality.
The scent maintains the allure of La La Land and embodies the city’s lavish stereotypes. The brightness of the scent through sweet optimistic floral tones is grounded in the hope many maintain. The crisp blue skies of the city and the inspired drive for all desired is apparent in its airiness. Upon usage the individual is transported to the city embodying these sentiments through the light floral aroma. Chandler Bur worked closely with his personal perfumer Caroline Sabas to create a scent that specifically Anne would wear.
The coolness of the scent reflects her reserved English nature transplanted in the land of sweet dreams. A scent of Anne’s story, reflecting her experience and self. The fragrance appropriates the character Anne as a representation of how senses and experiences, both real and imagined, impact our stories. The scent to Anne is for her to understand, and the fragrance is now for you define.
“My fictional Anne wears it; so presumably do thousands of other women. It represents her only in the way all such choices represent us. What it will be to you is for you to decide, obviously.”
from The Modern Renaissance
Arts and pop culture blogger exploring the world of niche fragrances and their relevant impact.