The latest sign of the continuing trendification of London's East End is the opening of the Etat Libre D'Orange boutique (61 Redchurch Street, E2 7DJ; tube: Shoreditch High Street or Liverpool Street). A short walk from Bloom and just around the corner from Santa Maria Novella, there's no denying that the space is a welcome addition to London's perfumery scene, but I can't help wishing it was just a bit larger.
When I popped in for a visit, I commented - with no irony or sarcasm - that only ELDO would've decided to model one of their shops on the inside of a public toilet. I was told that this hadn't, in fact, been their intention... but I'm not sure what else I was supposed to make of the sight of white, square, floor-to-ceiling tiles and functional, industrial-looking fixtures. Maybe I should've ignored the walls and just focussed on the perspex display cabinets in the centre, containing condoms, a bondage mask and a large volume of Tom Of Finland illustrations. These were, of course, pure ELDO.
The fragrances themselves were arranged in two, rather frighteningly neat lines. Blotters weren't readily available. Empty surfaces were pretty much non-existent. There wasn't enough room in which to swing a g-string, let alone the proverbial puss. In other words, the brand's ethos came through loud and clear, but concessions to practicality - and, I dare say, to any awkwardness that might be felt by a newbie stopping by for an initial peruse - were pretty difficult to find.
Perhaps these are just teething issues. Maybe, with the passage of time, the shop's management will realise that you really ought to make potential customers feel some measure of comfort even whilst you're pushing their buttons. But you know what, even if these niggles aren't sorted out, I'd rather have a slightly uninviting ELDO boutique than a plush emporium from the likes of, say, Illuminum. After all, the brand boasts several wonderful creations in their portfolio - Rien, Like This, Vierges Et Toreros, Jasmin Et Cigarette, The Afternoon Of A Faun - so the fact that they've chosen London as the location for their first shop outside France is a cause for celebration. I just hope the sales assistants remember to open the doors when they spray Sécrétions Magnifiques.
[Scroll down for a YouTube video of the shop's launch party.]
UPDATE 4th October 2014: The boutique has closed for trading. It would seem sales were less than healthy.