There are several reasons to be excited about La Fin Du Monde. Firstly, it's this year's only release from Etat Libre D'Orange, a house which consistently manages to combine quirkiness with quality. As per usual, the scent's name suggests that it's a reflection of founder Etienne De Swardt's anarchic streak. But its inspiration is much more than some vague, playful notion of the apocalypse. According to the ELDO press release, it is, in fact, a Blaise Cendrars book entitled The End Of The World Filmed By The Angel Of Notre Dame, in which the death of the universe is a movie (of sorts) depicting a cosmic cataclysm, followed by a rewind to life as it was pre-oblivion: "Back in Paris, the buses and cars are moving. Crowds bustle around the Square of Notre Dame." A curious narrative, ripe for olfactory interpretation.
Secondly, the perfume itself is wonderful, although it isn't quite the scent ELDO would have us believe it is. Much of this creation's pre-release publicity has focussed on a so-called popcorn accord and whilst I do detect a buttery sweetness in the composition - which could be read as an allusion to the smell of your local multiplex - it isn't as true to life as, say, the confection facet of Encens Et Bubblegum, and it certainly doesn't dominate. Instead, FDM borrows a few ideas from ELDO's own Like This and shines jagged shafts of orange (the colour, not the fruit) into a cloud of fibrous, gently powdery iris... like a projector beaming an image onto a screen, if you care to indulge in the brand's cinematic analogy. Somewhere, in the distance, a barely perceptible inkling of smoke (a blown out candle? a cap fired by a toy gun?) suggests the aftermath of some catastrophe and prevents the whole from becoming too cute. And hovering above everything, almost beyond detection, is a cold, impassive, mineral-like note which could, if we're feeling fanciful, represent the aforementioned angel. As a portrayal of the destruction of the world, it's all absolutely fascinating, because it's so very surprising. Yes, there are fireworks, but they're miles away and therefore unlikely to be threatening. The foreground is more concerned with unflappable, inscrutable elegance, a carefree, innocent response to a world that has plunged into oblivion.
And thirdly - and I confess this is the factor I personally find the most thrilling of the three - La Fin Du Monde has been made by Quentin Bisch. Those of you who watched Ian Denyer's perfume documentary will recognise him as the teary-eyed student at the Givaudan School. Regular readers of this blog may recall my interview with him from December 2012 as well as the fact that Jean Guichard singled him out for particular recognition. His entry onto ELDO's impressive roster of perfumers is a testament not only to his talent - which would appear to be considerable - but also to the instincts of Etienne De Swardt. By selecting the submission of a young perfumer at the beginning of his career, ELDO's provocateur-in-chief once again puts his cash in his bouche and proves that his brand remains one of the edgiest, most humorous and most intelligent players on the niche scene. Long may he drive us towards Armageddon, if he can make it smell so compelling.
[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Etat Libre D'Orange in 2013.]