Wij spraken met Etienne De Swardt
Senteurs d’Ailleurs nodigde een tijdje geleden een aantal high-end parfumcreateurs uit in hun boetiek, waaronder Etienne de Swardt.
Etienne de Swardt is de oprichter van Etat Libre d'Orange, een fragrance huis in Parijs waar hij parfumeurs uitnodigt om samen met hem niet-traditionele geuren te creëren. Wij waren super excited dat wij deze man met een neus voor geuren in levende lijve mochten ontmoeten en hem op de rooster mochten leggen.
How are you enjoying brussels? Is it your first time here?
"I travel like a suitcase most of the time, but I don’t know much of the city. I do still have beautiful memories of the city from a long time ago. I think it is the heart of Europe, and that it’s going to play a big role in the next decades. It’s kind of a point centrale of what’s going on in Europe. Somehow Paris is provenciale compared to Brussels. It’s a crossroad city where everything happens. I was trying to get my kids to study in Brussels and to see what’s going on. I told them: go and settle down in Brussels."
I know you started with perfume for pets, how did you come up with that idea?
"I like to walk the roads less traveled. I try to take that minimum step aside, and not duplicate things, but invent things. I call it the existentialism. That means if you really want to feel alive, you have to create things out of yourself, out of the mainstream. So when I was at LVMH - Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton -, I was in charge of developing new concepts. So then I proposed the idea of creating a perfume for dogs at Louis Vuitton. I thought it was going to be disruptive and funny. We had a lot of fun but in the end it was too risky for Vuitton, so I began my own fragrance house and I launched Oh my dog! And Oh my cat! Oh my cat turned out to be a mistake."
"Because it’s very difficult to perfume a cat. For Oh my dog! we worked with a team of vets, and it was very funny. We were trying to be out of the box, and I was very much in love with dogs, so it was legitimate to develop a perfume for dogs. That was my first entrepeneur attitude. I try to leverage emotion on people, and I think that perfume could be a beautiful leverage to generate emotion on the skin. Through the formulation and through the themes, the storytelling. I was born a storyteller, and I love to tell stories. A perfumer generates emotion on people, and from the emotion you can generate on the perfumer, you can bring something different into the bottle. I love to effect people on the roads less traveled."
What was the first perfume that you ever bought?
"Givenchy Gentleman. Because it was like diving into the past. It was the perfume of my grandfather."
"Somehow. The bouquet of patchouli was absolutely beautiful. I love qualitative formulations, and Givenchy was one of them. It was diving into the past. I think perfume is a beautiful timetraveler, and for that it was a blessing."
What inspires you?
"I absolutely love literature. And I think that Etat Libre d’Orange was born on a beautiful playground of literature, words and emotion. I was very much inspired by the film industry, comic books and poetry as well. I don't often get inspired by a fragrance house, in fact I was missing something in that specific industry. Something born on true sincerity and emotion. The idea with Etat Libre d’Orange was to go a step further and to be a kind of enfant terrible born in a land of radicality, emotion and nonsense with no taboo, no dictate. A true land of frivolity and sincerity was my vision. I think the perfume industry ten years ago was losing itself a little bit being too financial, too money-driven. And Etat Libre d’Orange was a response of purity and emotion, and a return to the basics of perfume, which is seduction and sensuality."
Can you explain the quote ‘It takes a dangerous man to create a dangerous perfume'?
"I think that if you do not take risks, then you do not exist. When I say dangerous I think that danger will create movement, and movement is life. Danger puts things into movement. With Etat Libre d’Orange we do take risks, we create danger. That means we do not duplicate or imitate, we are a true diamond in the rough, that’s the way it goes. So danger in the heart of creating movement by putting risk on the shelves and trying to exist and feeling alive by walking the roads less traveled. There’s no protection. Etat Libre d’Orange is a true land of fantasy and edgy, being at the crossroad of what does not exist. We believe that frivolity itself will save the world. The end is so tragic, so during that time let’s be dramatic and fun. That’s the brand’s philosophy."
You’ve seen a lot of places. Is perfume a way to make the world better?
"I think yes, there’s a positivity to perfume. It’s something that you wear for yourself and for the other. It’s a very open attitude towards the other. It’s a tool of seduction, so definitely it’s inclusive, and not exclusive. The attitude of the fragrance house is to include everybody, like a new citizenship of open minded people. So Etat Libre d’Orange is a true freedom given to the perfumers but also to the amateurs and consumers. That means that we are citizens of the world and we think by being frivole we can solve problems. So we are totally against obscurentism. That’s the reason we chose Markies de Sade to inspire us for this perfume, 'Attaquer le soleil'. We created a perfume based on his life together with his great grandson. He was in love with Etat Libre d’Orange and came to the house to say to us: "I love your creations and the spirit of the brand, so you belong to the same spirit of my great grandfather. So let’s do a perfume together." Etat Libre d’Orange is the land of enlightment, fun, imagination. Things that contributed also to the spirit of Markies de Sade."
Thank you for your enthousiastic and honest answers!
It was my pleasure.