Product Review: Etat Libre D’Orange The Afternoon Of A Faun

etat libre d'orange the afternoon of a faun

Name: The Afternoon Of A Faun
Brand: Etat Libre D’Orange
Size: 100ml
Price: €119.00

What I liked:
– beautiful spicy chypre
– if you love the smell of damp and resinous old wood, this is for you
– good sillage
– it never becomes too heady or overpowering, but it still manages to make a statement
– unisex

What I didn’t like:
– if you don’t like chypre scents, this is not for you
– staying power could be improved

The Afternoon of a Faun is the name of a French poem, written in the second half of the nineteenth century by Stephane Mallarme, that tells the story of a faun trying to seduce nymphs. The poem has inspired several ballets, including one by Vaslav Nijinskiy in 1912. This ballet caused a big scandal at the time as it was considered vile and indecent. The perfume inspired by it, The Afternoon Of A Faun by Etat Libre D’Orange, caused a bit of controversy too. If you google for reviews, you’ll find out that people either love it or hate it. Me? I wasn’t a big fan at first, but it has really grown a lot on me to the point that I’m thinking of purchasing a full-size bottle.

I guess what disappointed me at first was discovering that The Afternoon Of A Faun wasn’t the sensual and erotic scent you’d expect from a brand like Etat Libre D’Orange (a brand famous for giving outrageous and naughty names to their fragrances such as Putain Des Palaces and Secretions Magnifique), especially when you consider they drew inspiration from a scandalous ballet. Instead, The Afternoon Of A Faun is a spicy chypre that smells like a forest after a storm, or an antique shop. That damp woody smell of something old, but still beautiful.

When I first sprayed it on, it smelled kinda liquory, but that didn’t last long. It opens with a burst of bergamot, accented by spicy pepper and immortelle. In the background, you can smell a light rosy incense accord. Soon, the scent deepens into a chypre concoction dominated by immortelle, which adds a spicy warmth to it. The Afternoon Of A Faun intensifies even more in the drydown, becoming richer and deeper. This is my favourite stage of the scent. It is a dark and rich, but not overpowering blend of myrrh, leather, bitter resins and mossy notes. A touch of benzoin adds the most delicate powdery feel.

The Afternoon Of A Faun is very well-done and well-balanced. The spicy immortelle is present throughout the scent but never takes over; the woods are splashed with rose to reduce their sharpness; iris and benzoin provide a powdery touch; and incense adds a sense of mystery and sensuality. The result is a scent that’s rich but light, dark but without any sharp edges, aloof but seductive. But albeit beautiful, The Afternoon Of A Faun, because of its incense, immortelle and leather notes, is not easy to wear.

The Afternoon Of A Faun is a classic chypre (how they managed to achieve that with all the restrictions on oakmoss, which is a fundamental part of this accord, is beyond me but I’m ecstatic they did), so if you don’t like this sort of scents, this is not for you. Although the fragrance has good sillage and requires just a spritz, it never becomes overpowering or heady. It will make a statement but not one that’s too loud. It is unisex so it can be worn by both men and women, and is best suitable for cozy autumn nights. I only wish it lasted longer. I get only 7 hours of wear before I have to reapply it.

Available at: and

Etat Libre D’Orange The Afternoon Of A Faun is a spicy chypre scent that makes a statement, although it never becomes too loud and overpowering. It is well-crafted and has good silage, but staying power could be improved.

Rating: 4/5

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    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Ana, it is. It’s definitely one of the most interesting perfumes I’ve smelled this year. :)

  1. says

    Oh Gio your description makes me want to try it, badly! Although the bottle looks rather plain, I love that they used a portion of Leon Bakst’ illustration for the ballet on it. :)
    Icaria´s last blog post ..Taking A Day Off…My Profile

  2. Janessa says

    I don’t even know what chypre is! Both the box and bottle packaging looks very modern and unisex and I thought of that even before reading the “What I Liked” portion. Wow I must check out more fragrances from this brand!

    Hmm, a faun I guess could be considered its own gender haha thus unisex.

    A sparkle catches your eye, by the first patch of light you’ve seen since wandering into cloudy forest grounds. The translucent object catches your eye and it is obviously a rectangular bottle filled an amber liquid. A human, man or woman, sits on the moist forest floor. Shoulder length hair covers the jaw of the lit profile and you can’t distinguish more than just a face. The dark body disappears into the massive roots of the grandest oak tree you’ve ever seen. During the occasional poofs of wind that allow sunlight to penetrate the canopy above, you see glimpses of the mossy floor. Lonely bright roses scatter about the floor so vivid you wonder how you initially missed them. Your attention returns to another glimmer. Is that a hoof you see?

    😉 it’s not the beat description but I tried!

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Janessa, chypre is an accord based on oak moss, labdanum, patchouli and bergamot. Unfortunately, all the silly restrictions on oakmoss (which is restricted simply because it can cause allergies) make it very hard for perfumers to create a true chypre scent these days.

      And that’s a great description. In fact, I think it’d make a great opening for a novel. Now, I wanna know what comes next, I’m intrigued!

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