Rein is one hell of a beautiful fragrance - it takes elements of oft loved genres that should go together, but rarely find themselves in the same composition, and at long last weds them. Leather as if from knize ten, churchy incense of avignon and aldehydes (with oakmoss, patchouli and floral accords) and like that of many vintage "man-chypre"s like Korous and Antaeus. The result? A powerful masculine fragrance that wastes no time revealing how classic men's fragrances can join hand in hand with modern perfumery.
It is helpful for me to think about this fragrance when it comes to the three primary to break it down as best as possible as to what each of these three are doing, and then in summary discuss how they work in harmony.
The leather is quite impressive in Rien for it changes between two impressive and historic advents of leather based perfumes. It starts as many sweetened and powdery leathers do (think of Knize 10, Cuir Ottoman and the like) with a great deal of spices keeping it herbal and dry while it still maintains its inherent sweetness (which primarily comes about by way of a balsamic amber accord,) and gets a boost of powdery affects through what I'm taking to be the iris and its mingling with the aldehydes.
As the fragrance dries down, it takes on a far more smokey appearance with the cumin and black pepper adding to it, bringing out a far more butch and aggressive Cuir de Russie style of leather (represented more clearly in Sultan Pasha's Cuir de Russie, but also present in vintage Chanel's.)
The incense stays pretty linear throughout the whole of the fragrance - it is quite a churchy incense, somewhat less woody than avignon, and perhaps quite close to full incense by montale. This incense itself is quite peppery (the primary bearer of this note) and comes across quite smooth and smokey. This could easily be an immaculate fragrance on its own - a wall of spicy smoke with slight herbal undercurrents.
The aldehydes here are big and bold up front, with, the oakmoss, patchouli, rose and iris creating what I have already called a classic man-chypre feeling. The aldehydes are loud intitially, giving a huge fuzzy feeling to the overall composition with a thick earthy base composed of mousse de chene and patchouli, as well as some sweetness from the rose. It's classically gorgeous, and one that gives the perfume diversity and depth beyond the leather genres that it seems to fit into so smoothly.
Conclusion: The fragrance in total has one hell of a series of progressions, and one that is hard to be found anywhere else - it leads one through classic men's monuments of fragrance, and yet, never feels out of place as a modern fragrance - it has the typical avant-garde flair and twists that one comes to expect from the more 'out there' ELDO fragrances, but never feels excessive or extreme by classical standards, and only by modern standards if you've gotten your understanding of fragrance from Sephora. It's one that occasionally smells like you have bottled the essence of a luxury mechanic, or a dark perfumer who wears all luxe leather attire. As with most ELDO, it is in fact quite synthetic, but that honestly doesn't take away from the work in general, but is an area that could be changed to take it to the next level, if any indie perfumers would be up the challenge. ;)
Rien is a bonafide masterpiece, a tremendous tour-de-force composition of leather, aldehydes, musk, spices, patchouli with everything finely interwoven. The perfumer Antoine Lie has mentioned that this is the costliest formula in the whole Etat Libre d'Orange portfolio.
Abstract, complex, perfectly proportioned, wonderful balance between the different elements, and yet there is always a tension. The result is a novel accord, hard to describe because it's so different, nonetheless smells great and is something that would probably make Guy Robert proud. Definitely it's a bold perfume with wonderful silky sillage and lasting tenacity to match, so naturally it was never meant to please everyone.
This is definitely in the musky leather category for me, and would likely appeal to fans of Kouros, Christopher Street (Charenton Macerations). Rien is the quintessential leather perfume of the 21st century - unique, iconic, and yet indelibly evocative of the best vintages in its glorious depth and richness.
Harshly spicy at first, then the spiciness mellows down a little bit and incensy leather appears. Incense is very sharp. Spices are very spicy (well, duh!) and remind me about the top notes of YSL Opium a bit, just a bit more bitter and more peppery. It's an interesting scent, and the parts of it seem to clash instead of blending and joining each other - it's like you smell all these different aromas all at once instead of smelling one perfume. After a while all the clashing aromas kind of start melding into one, but by that time the scent is very quiet on my skin.
It's interesting for sure, but do I actually like it? I think I need more time to decide, as I do like those notes/accords separately, but I'm not sure I dig the whole chorus here. Honestly, I think I'd rather just wear Opium for the spice, or something by Comme de Garcons for the incense, or Chanel's Cuir de Russie for the leather, or... you get it.
This, for many reasons, takes top honors as my least favorite fragrance of all time. (I'm sure there are other possible contenders for this title, but I have yet to sample them.) Rien is everything I don't want to smell or smell of: synthetics that simply won't quit, sharp and (yet cloying) notes of cumin and civet, peppery incense that smells heavily industrial, and something that smacks of burning glue/plastic.
For a brief period of my life, I worked as a finish carpenter, specializing in installing carpet, tile, and laminate. Rien instantly takes me back to that dreadful year of wrangling buckets of toxic glue, underlayment, and rolls of rebond. The smell is so similar that it's uncanny.
First smell of Rien and I for a moment thought I would like it. Out of the bottle and onto the skin, a different story unfolded. Based on the notes listed, this one should be right up my alley...however it took a different turn.
While sitting on the sofa after wearing Rien for about an hour....my husband asked me if the cat peed in the room or if the cat box needed to be cleaned. I said he hadn't and I had just emptied and refilled the litter box with fresh litter earlier that morning. He left the room and walked in again and asked if one of the boys had accidentally peed in the room or hid their wet clothing (as one not quite totally toilet trained child of our is apt to do - hide the accidental incidents). After looking around the room for the potential source, he stated it was me and didn't realize it until he got close to me. I thought it might have been my clothing or who else know.
Yes, I smelled like pee thanks to Rien. I figured I might as well ride out the storm and see where the fragrance would take me. After a few hours the urine smell did finally diminish and instead was taken over by...you know how around mid-January when you finally decide to take down the once-live Christmas tree and it still has the faint tree sap residue with a slight tinge of mildew...that where Rien decided to leave itself for the remainder of the ride.
Strangely other Etat fragrances I've quite like, not passionately, but admire them for their qualities even if they aren't for me, such as Fat Electrician. Most of the Etat range I've tested has short longevity on my skin, but not Rien....Rien defends it's territory, sinks its teeth into my skin and refuses to let go. I'll give it kudos at least for that as it is the only admirable quality about it.