Wandering around on a recent rainy Sunday, a friend and I stepped into Una, a tiny shop on the working class side of town. The clothing was tremendously chic, all Italian fabrics and clever design. In a different life, when my womanly figure turns gamine and my penchant for nipped waists and rhinestones fades, I’ll have one of each on the rack. The jewelry was fabulous, too, and I’m saving up for a bronze Monica Castiglioni ring. But what really pleased me, was that in this shop — this little shop that could fit inside my living room —was a row of Etat Libre d’Orange perfumes.
Forget the rain, I was ecstatic. They didn’t have my two favorites, Jasmin et Cigarette (“We could never sell that here, people wouldn’t get it,” the owner told me later) and Like This, but Vraie Blonde sat in front, and several fragrances I wanted to get to know better lined up behind it. One of them was Fat Electrician Eau de Parfum. I took home a sample.
Perfumer Antoine Maisondieu developed Fat Electrician, and Etat Libre d’Orange released it in 2009. The accordian-folded insert with the sample calls it a “semi-modern” vetiver and mentions notes of vetiver, vanilla bean, myrrh, and opoponax. The brochure describes the fragrance as both “white, metallic, and silver like the ancestral green of olive trees” and “sweet, demure, addictive like a chestnut cream.”
Of course, the brochure spins one of Etat Libre’s stories in Prix Eau Faux winning style. This story involves an innocent but alluring young American man who breaks hearts and steps out with women “of a certain age” (in Palm "Peach” as the English translation charmingly misstates). Alas, his beauty and sexual prowess fade, and he ends in New Jersey as a — you guessed it — fat electrician. Fat Electrician is meant to be beautiful but “flawlessly unrefined.”
(I once worked at a construction site for a few months. One of the foremen gave me the lowdown. He said the real intellectuals on any construction job are the electricians. Plumbers come in second. Framers and sheetrock hangers are partiers, he said. And you always have trouble with the hardwood floor and tile people because they’re flaky. I feel fairly certain none of the electricians at my site knew anything of ancestral olive trees or chestnut cream.)
Fat Electrician is robust. It kicks in from the start with sharp, rooty vetiver backed with enough opoponax and medicinal myrrh to make it smell as resinous as incense. Vetiver incense. It isn’t the elegant mega-vetiver of Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Route du Vetiver, but is more raw, although equally intense. No noticeable citrus gives it familiarity. After a few minutes, a child-like peek of vanilla comes through.
From then on, Fat Electrician doesn’t change much. The hint of vanilla softens and sweetens the composition slightly, but it remains an uncompromising vetiver. It quiets a little over time and lasts a good eight hours on my skin. I’ve only dabbed it, but I imagine sprayed it has hearty sillage.
I’m happy with my bottle of wet-woody-lush Lalique Encre Noire (wow, you can really smell Encre Noire's blackberry right next to Fat Electrician), but hardcore vetiver lovers might want to sample Fat Electrician. And you electricians out there, corpulent or otherwise, it does sound like a must try. Let me know what you think. And keep those pants hitched up tight.
Fat Electrician Eau de Parfum is available in a 50 ml bottle. For information on where to buy it, see Etat Libre d’Orange under Perfume Houses.