Who Do You Want to be Today? | Etat Libre D'Orange X Tom of Finland

       June marks Pride month, the global celebration of the LGBTQ community. Historically oppressed, members are now celebrated with parades, festivities, and events of self-love. Participants dress in vivacious rainbows of color, glitter, ribbon, and all that serve to express the loudest, proudest, and most uninhibited versions of themselves.

       Similar expressions of loud and proud, nondiscriminatory self-love are encompassed by Etat Libre D’Orange. Etienne de Swardt, founder and owner of Etat Libre D’Orange, declares “who do you want to be today?” as the defining sentiment of the brand. Etienne understands that people are multi-dimensional and should be empowered to expand beyond their comfort zones in order to love all aspects of themselves. Etienne thus encourages all identities through the characters and emotions evident within his collection of unique unisex scents. Each fragrance encompasses a new, unabashed persona that the user can incorporate into their daily lives.

       One fragrance in particular, Tom of Finland, directly tributes the LBGTQ community. The packaging of the fragrance utilizes the artwork of Finnish artist Touko Valio Laaksonen, who adopted the pseudonym Tom of Finland. The artist became known for his influence on homosexual culture through the exaggerated depictions of homoerotic scenes of hyper masculine men.

       These depictions furthered the sense of community amongst such men. They were no longer isolated by their urges as these depictions were removed from the shadows and welcomed as art. To commemorate the profound and liberating artwork, Etat Libre d’Orange dedicated a namesake fragrance. This scent begins with the sparkling freshness of clean, bare skin. Lemon and Aldehydes to mark a pure love for the naked male body. The freshness is quickly darkened by the deep woods of birch, cypress, and an erotic fantasy of leather, suede, and musk. Finished by the sweet, sensual touch of vanilla, tonka bean and powdery iris – this scent becomes the ultimate fantasy of the masculine figure. Tom of Finland is considered beyond sexuality as a sex symbol within himself. This figure and this fragrance are unrestricted by the labels of gender and sexual orientation. It is simply a character of endless possibilities, unapologetically indulging in all desired. The indulgent freedom of self-love, of loving who you love, of Pride month, of Tom of Finland, and of Etat Libre d’Orange.

Film, Tom of Finland directed by Dome Karukoski explores the life and works of Touko Laaksonen, repressed by the hardships of WWII and his native Finnish society. His works inevitably prevailed, garnering a sense of unity and identity amongst gay culture. The film is a story of love and perseverance, initially accepted in the 1970s and continuously honored today. 

Who do you want to be today? 

Etienne de Swardt 

Get outside & march for pride!

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Claudia Morgan 

from The Modern Renaissance 

Arts and pop culture blogger exploring the world of niche fragrances and their relevant impact. 

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