Skip to main content

You or Someone Like You – A visit to La-La Land – May 19, 2017

You or Someone Like You web banner  -

There’s always music in our house. Live or recorded it’s coming from one room or another, could be jazz, rock, classical, or country but it’s always really good music. Music by artists, music with soul. I’m a hard critic when it comes to most mainstream contemporary music, but it’s easy to admire a huge talent like Adele, for example.  Her first huge hit Someone Like You was on my playlist last month when I was doing “what’s new in niche” fragrance research. And there it was: You or Someone Like You, announced by Etienne de Swardt from Etat Libre d’Orange, a new scent launching in April 2017 and art-directed by Chandler Burr. Coincidence or what?

Chandler Burr. He’s a VIP in perfume circles, for several good reasons:

-   Former scent critic for the New York Times

-   Curator of olfactory art at the Museum of Art and Design in NYC

-   Collaborator with Luckyscent on Chandler Burr: The Untitled Series , which presents samples of famous scents “untitled”, identified with numbered codes only so they can be experienced as they actually are, free of all marketing or visual references which distort and change personal perceptions of how they truly smell.

-   Author of two excellent non-fiction books, both of which I own and can recommend as great reads. One is the story of the creation of the scent Lovely by Coty with Sarah Jessica Parker, The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York; the other is about biophysicist and extraordinary perfume writer, Luca Turin, and his theory of how we smell, how the nose works: The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession.

-   Author of a 2009 novel, You or Someone Like You, which is set in Los Angeles and is about an Englishwoman Anne Rosenbaum who lives in Los Angeles in the Hollywood Hills and is married to an American, Howard, a movie studio executive. I haven’t read You or Someone Like You, but now that I’ve experienced the fragrance, I’m definitely buying a copy.

You or Someone Like You is not a scent about a place, about the smell of Los Angeles. It’s much more about internal experience, about living in a place and being part of it. I’ve been wearing it exclusively for the past few days, and I love its polished presence. Green cool and crisp at first with a brief fruity accord, then minty earthy vibes which soon burn off, it warms on my skin becoming more floral – rose? jasmine? - then musky. At times sensuous, then retreating behind glossy shiny aldehydes, the scent is a chameleon, an actor, a performer.

There are no published notes apart from mint and rose and grasses, so I definitely recommend that you go to the Etat Libre d’Orange webpage for You or Someone Like you, and read about how it was inspired and conceived. Like all ELDO scents, this scent is perfume as art. Here are excerpts:

Etienne de Swardt – Etat Libre d’Orange

"Does Los Angeles have a scent?... Chandler Burr knows Los Angeles….and perfume... so we decided to collaborate on a fragrance that an LA woman might wear. And we gave it the name of Chandler’s novel, set in Los Angeles."

Caroline Sabas – Perfumer

"You or Someone Like You is a welcoming fragrance: neither off-putting nor strange. It is a contemporary creation built around timeless materials. It embodies the women of LA — someone like Anne Rosenbaum: cool and crisp; once foreign but now indigenous…the perfume invigorates the senses with its fresh, inviting appeal. One feels good wearing it."

Chandler Burr – Art Director

“It is, on the other hand, stylistically and in its technical construction what a Los Angeles woman would wear….Caroline and I discussed this at each step during the creation process. It is contemporary, 21stcentury. It is LA, whatever that means… 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.”

So what is You or Someone Like You to me? Chandler Burr is right, the notes really don’t matter. The scent to me is familiar but dynamic, very wearable by anybody, and the feeling I get is one of energy and optimism, overlaid with confidence. It is definitely an ELDO scent, with the same kind of emotional weight as Tilda Swinton Like This, which is about the scent of spirit, of home and family, a timeless scent that’s tethered to a well-loved place where one closes doors and shuts out the world.

You or Someone like You is the opposite - open and airy with a look-at-me attitude, very contemporary, very now and in the moment. It too has heart, but it’s about reality and artifice. Make-up perfect, body beautiful, smile ready, flowers in bloom, planets aligned, brain engaged, a sunny day in LA.  Feeling good. How to stay real in in La-La Land.

You or Someone Like You is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.