Product Review: Etat Libre D’Orange Nombril Immense Fragrance

by Gio

Nombril Immense Etat Libre d'Orange

Name: Nombril Immense
Brand: Etat Libre D’Orange
Size: 50ml
Price: $80.00

What I liked:
– clean, easy to wear patchouli scent
– longlasting
– the packaging

What I didn’t like:
– patchouli lovers will find the patchouli here too tame and clean
– stays too close to the skin

Every perfume line must have at least one patchouli scent. And when that brand is Etat Libre D’Orange, the niche house famous for its unusual, controversial and daring creations, you expect the patchouli to shine in all its earthy, dirty, and raw glory. I sure did. And I was disappointed. The patchouli in Nombril Immense (which means giant bellybutton in French) is clean, tame, and demure.

But let’s start from the beginning. When you first spray it on, your nose is hit by a dollop of patchouli enriched with black pepper accents. According to the official notes, it is supposed to contain bergamot too, but I can’t detect it. Not even a whiff. Boo!

After about 20 minutes, patchouli, which remains the dominant note throughout the scent, is joined in a warm embrace with balsam of peru, which gives the scent a creamy, milky vibe. Every now and then, I can catch a whiff of something vegetal that reminds me of carrots. Finally, in the drydown, patchouli lies on a bed of musk and amber.

Because all the rawest, dirtiest facets of patchouli have been stripped away, leaving only a sanitized core behind, Nombril Immense is easy to wear, even by those who dislike patchouli. This musky, creamy version will, however, appeal more to women than to men, who may find its lack of edge too boring and dull.

But my main problem with it is the sillage. Nombril Immense is a lovely scent, but you have to stick your nose to your wrist to smell it. The opening is somewhat loud, but, after 20 minutes, it turns into a skin scent. It is so subtle that, at first, I thought it had incredibly poor staying power. But nope, it lasts more than 10 hours on the skin. It’s just that after 20 minutes you’ll have to work hard to smell it.

Etat Libre D’Orange Nombril Immense is a clean and tame patchouli scent with creamy, milky facets and a woody drydown. Easy to wear, it lacks the raw and dirty intensity of patchouli. Staying power is good but the scent stays too close to the skin.

Rating: 3.5/5

Disclaimer: the review contains an affiliate link. For more information, please see my disclaimer.

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Allison May 1, 2014 - 10:06 pm

Gio, what a beautifully written fragrance review! I was just discussing with two sales associates at Barney’s in Boston how difficult it is for me to write a decent fragrance review. Unfortunately, I don’t have the lingo down, or the imagination, I guess. And I’d love to write about my fave, Musc Ravageur. Too bad that the Giant Bellybutton didn’t work out. At $80 a bottle, you want to love your fragrance. Sometimes with those, “close to the skin” scents, I spray my hair and also a Kleenex and stick that in my bra and it helps a bit.

Gio May 2, 2014 - 12:27 pm

Allison, thank you! I had the same problem too and I can’t say that I’m skilled at writing them as perfume bloggers are yet, but following some of them has helped a lot. The more reviews I read, the more comfortable I get with the lingo. Also, smelling everything you come across daily, such as flowers and foods, helps a lot in learning how to distinguish the various notes. 🙂

I think this is a lovely scent, but for $80 you’d have to be able to smell it! There is staying close the skin, and there’s being so subtle you’ll hardly smell it unless you press your nose to your wrist, and sadly this falls in the latter category. I will try your tips, thanks!


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