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Brief Published: 24 Jun 2013

London Store for Cult French Fragrance Brand Etat Libre d’Orange


Etienne de Swardt, French perfumer and founder of scent brand Etat Libre d’Orange, expanded his mission “to liberate fragrance” to London last week with the opening of a debut store in the hip East London district of Shoreditch.

Etienne de Swardt describes himself as a “developer and a seducer”. Assuming a position as the enfant terrible of the perfume world, the brand has seduced Parisian consumers since 2006 with taglines including the provocative “Be a Slut – or Just Smell Like One” and “Our Pleasure is Business”.

The intentionally trashy and decadent sentiment also extends to its fragrance names. Current scents include Fat Electrician, Delicious Closet Queen and Putain des Palaces (Hotel Slut), inviting consumers to rethink what constitutes olfactory elegance.

The store was created by London based architects SHED – the agency also responsible for the Level Shoe District shoe department store in Dubai (see Redefining the Department Store), and the spectacular London department store Harrods’ Shoe Lounge.

According to the architects, the space has been imagined as a “lab for personalities”– expressed through clinical white tiling that lines a somewhat sterile interior. Science stands display the products with rigid uniformity while the mural on the back wall titillates shoppers with the slogan “Be a slut – or just smell like one”, referencing the brand’s signature sexual undertone. SHED told Stylus that the design was inspired by Etat’s playful catchphrase, “Who Do You Want to be Today?”

The company occupies a space in the fragrance market that has stood vacant for almost a decade – since French fashion brand Comme des Garcons produced its scent series titled Synthetics series in 2004. That range was inspired by the materials of urban everyday life – and included unconventional titles such as Tar and Soda.

For more on store concepts and brand strategy for scent designs, see Alluring Perfumeries, Avant-Garde Perfume Packaging, Fantasy Modern Fragrance and the profile Rare Perfume: Jovoy Paris.

For more on the wider powers of scent as a key tool for a more immersive take on brand storytelling, see Directions in Scent.