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Remarkable People – A joyful discovery….. – August 31, 2015

 Josephine Baker, Paris, 1927 by Walery - wikimediacommons.org

From: Lisa [mailto:Lisa@gmail.com]

Sent: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 10:15 PM

To: gwen@perfumeniche.com

Subject: Finding josephine baker

Hello!

I was given your info from a friend when I asked her to look out for a fragrance for me. I have been nursing my sample of the discontinued etat libre d'orange Josephine Baker. I have no clue how to track down fragrances as I am very new to the hobby. Any information that would lead me to my beautiful lady would be so very appreciated. Have a great night!

 Lisa

(NOTE: Lisa is not her real name)

Over the years we’ve had more than one request for this fragrance but I must admit that when I received this first enquiry, I had never heard of it so I was of little help to Lisa-not-her-real-name. But my curiosity was piqued and so the hunt was on. Here’s what I found out: Joséphine Baker was a small batch fragrance made exclusively for European Sephora stores by French niche line Etat Libre d`Orange in 2010. It was extremely popular and sold out fast. These limited edition frags can be hard on the heart when they are discontinued – a love lost never to be smelled again. But every once in a awhile, the perfume gods listen to our pleas and sometimes a cult fave is brought back and put in a line’s permanent collection. This is what Etat Libre d`Orange did with Joséphine Baker - to some extent. The original frag was reworked and renamed ‘Remarkable People’ and launched in 2015.

But let’s back up it a bit, to Josephine Baker. She was the St-Louis-born French dancer, singer, and actress born in 1906. Here parents had a song and dance act, often bringing baby Josephine on stage with them. Her father and mother spilt with she was a toddler which lead to an impoverished childhood. She often slept in cardboard shelters, foraged for food in garbage cans and danced on street corners for money. By age 15, her street-dancing was getting plenty of notice from people who counted and she was recruited for the St. Louis Chorus vaudeville show. She was an immediate sensation and soon moved on to New York – Harlem first and then Broadway.

As a black woman living in the US, she knew her options were limited, so 1925 she went to Paris and opened in "La Revue Nègre" at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. She conquered Paris with her erotic dancing. When she performed her "Danse Sauvage", she wore nothing but a skirt made of a single string of artificial bananas. She played the oversexed, nubile, native girl, manipulating white people’s ideas of race, sexuality and the role of women but always with un clin d'œil.

It didn’t take long for Baker to became the most successful American entertainer working in France and and a muse for contemporary authors and artists including Langston Hughes, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, and Christian Dior.

Josephine Baker was a remarkable woman who succeeded by breaking the rules, just the perfect inspiration for a perfume house that thrives on provocation and has a reputation for not taking it all too seriously, while making some of my favourite fragrances, including Remarkable People.

It opens bright and lively with a note of tart, citrusy grapefruit along with a fizzy effervescence from a champagne accord. I close my eyes and hear a champagne cork pop and smile. This is fun. A note of cardamom adds a little spicy warmth that’s the perfect foil for the grapefruit and champagne. It also leads to the heart of the fragrance where I smell a light note of luscious, indolic jasmine - just enough to thread an exotic floral dimension through the fragrance. Then, I smell a gentle note of aromatic curry, its spicy warmth intensified with black pepper. It smells delicious. The base is resinous from labdanum and woody from sandalwood. The notes list something called ‘lorenox’, which research (courtesy of the Scented Salamander) tells me is an aromatic molecule developed by the Research and Development Department of MANE in 2009 that has woodsy, ambery and leathery facets. In Remarkable People, it’s the woodsiness and leather aspects I smell the most on me.

The drydown is aromatic, light and joyful. It’s such a pleasure to wear, that it’s hard to resist spritzing it on every day, just to experience it, which, from what I read, seems to have been the essence of a Josephine Baker performance.

I have emailed Lisa-not-her-real-name to tell her about Remarkable People. Having never tried the Joséphine Baker, I can’t speak to the differences between it and Remarkable People. I will say this however, both frags have the same notes listed and both were created by nose Cécile Matton, so let’s hope they are similar enough to satisfy all the Joséphine Baker-ophiles out there.

I can tell you that Remarkable People satisfies me beautifully. And, like all Etat Libre d`Orange fragrances, it’s perfectly unisex.

 

Remarkable People is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $4.00 for 1 ml.