Orange blossom perfume – Noooow we are talking!
Talking about Orange blossom perfume is like My Birthday and Christmas all rolled up into one.
Orange blossom, when done right, is joyous, like a ray of sunshine that is almost too bright. It has that slightly rich orange citrus feel on top of a beautiful white flower. It shouldn’t turn soapy. I like either dense, chewy orange blossom that’s funked up in some almost profane way or ethereal lilting orange blossom. In other words – a tramp or a saint.
I do feel a need to divulge my practical biases. I am not anti-mainstream or low-end perfume – I love things that are dirt cheap and great. When I’m hunting down the things I love the most, because of the quality and budget allowed for a lot of mainstream perfumes, it is difficult to find things interesting enough to talk about beyond – yeah, smells okay. Writers can bear anything but boring themselves in their writing. If there’s nothing I can find to say about a perfume, I just skip it. I do have some major loves in the mainstream and low-end perfume area, so I absolutely believe they are there and it’s possible, which makes it even more of a disappointment that so few get close to being great. That doesn’t mean that all niche perfumes are great. They can be as big of a yawn, and they disappoint me even more because I expected better of them.
It’s the Perfume version of “You’re not living up to your potential.”
The Kills “Cheap and Cheerful fully express my boring perfume irritation with the lyrics –
“I’m bored of cheap and cheerful. I want expensive sadness. Hospital bills, parole, Open doors to madness. I want you to be Crazy cause you’re boring, Baby, when you’re straight.”
Cheap and Cheerfully Damn Hot
Narciso Rodriguez for Her (EDT) is orange blossom swimming in musky sex. Perky orange blossom brightness floats in lust and desire. The orange blossom didn’t have to be great in Narciso Rodriguez; it just had to be present. The great news, you can pick up this gorgeous Nagel/Kurkdjian creation for $50 or less. You’ll thank me later if you haven’t tried this. I would tell you to just go all in and get the musc oil, but IFRA sent that to the Perfume Graveyard. March covered Narciso Rodriguez, and she noted Luca Turin’s comments that basically it seems boringly unoriginal, but put it on a woman and let her walk by, and you will change your mind.
I would have sworn that somewhere in my past was a review of Gucci EDP (2002 – the brown juice in the heavy square bottle), and I’ve found it nowhere. Notes of heliotrope, orange blossom, orris, vanilla, citrus, cumin, musk and thyme. This siren crawls out of the bottle dragging cumin after it, all kinked up with thyme and a velvety vanilla underbelly. Suspended over that bed of smut is orange blossom, the brightness gets an intermittent snuff job from the heliotrope. Discordant on the open, it keeps that weird tension far into the journey. I think Gucci EDP is one of the sexiest perfumes made. It’s skanky, but not vulgarly trashy. It handles orange blossom in such naughty, naughty ways, it takes my breath away. Gucci tore a
piece page from the Caron Narcisse Noir Playbook when they abandoned any pretense of orange blossom being innocent.
Gucci leads us to the Not always Cheap (it is in EDT!) and Cheerfully Damn Hot Caron Narcisse Noir. For this piece, I used vintage extrait, but Caron Narcisse Noir is fabulous in all iterations. The most sensual and intense iteration is when it’s a little older and a little less innocent – Cougar Narcisse Noir vs. Sex Kitten Narcisse Noir. It is mostly a narcissus perfume, but because this tramp drags the orange blossoms around through the dark mud of crazy, it deserves a place of honor with Orange blossom perfumes. You can catch whiffs of Orange Blossom frolicking through the night on the far side of propriety and the near side of insanity – cheerfully unhinged. I’ve seen reviews noting fear upon opening the bottle and getting the first whiff of demented orange blossom/narcissus. It made me laugh when I smelled it the first time. Caron Narcisse Noir doesn’t waste a second trying to look innocent, sane or normal, and I find the lack of pretense refreshing.
If you haven’t done it yourself, you can’t possibly imagine the effect of havine Gucci EDP, Caron Narcisse Noir extrait and Narciso Rodriguez EDT floating up off your arms in tandem. It’s an experiment I would have never, ever done but for this. I think I have the vapors and need to lie down.
Intoxicating and slightly maddening.
In the spirit of cheerful unhinging, might as well just lock the doors and finish this off with…
Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles is feral orange blossom – a leopard in heat covered in orange blossom that doesn’t want to eat you, at least not until after you die from sexual exhaustion. Then it will eat you. Listen, I’m not entirely crazy, I didn’t put the parfum on – I used the vintage EDT.
This experiment is required for every newly minted perfumista who wants to earn her
From the orange blossom trampy guttersnipes to the
Big Bright Rays of Orange Blossom Sunshine
We are moving out of the affordable into the niche ranges, but these are those in that range that are bright sunshiny and ethereal. Jo Malone Orange Blossom is exactly that – bright, uncomplicated, slightly citrus and orange. Of the straight-up orange blossom scents, it’s quite perfect. The new 2012 Houbigant Orangers en Fleurs is stunning, and it is not simple – cheerful with some green, buttered tuberose and a charming little nutmeg note. Seriously, this is a great rendition of orange blossom – taking an angle that’s not weird, but lends interest.
Hermes 24, Faubourg picks up its orange blossom/amber accord, wraps it in Chanel couture, throws it in a great apartment on Park Avenue with a closet full of Birkin bags, accompanied by a couple of overbred dogs costing upwards of 5k… um, apiece! 24, Faubourg is moneyed orange blossom, but this is money that didn’t forget it grew up in Da Bronx.
L’Artisan Fleur d’Orangeur
is was luminous. I mean, I know I’ve had that bottle with the 3 mls in the bottom since 2005, but did it really go bad? :: cries ::
It used to be amazing, and I’m sure some people still have some that hasn’t turned yet. I am bereft, I thought I’d always have a little of this. (next morning) Oh, wait! Hallelujah! I found a decant of the 2007 version! Ah, bliss, it is exquisitely bright and beautiful – I need sunglasses to wear it.
Dior Grand Bal is a white floral accord,, but it has a bright, sunny elegant orange blossom. You are walking on a crisp Fall day, a gentle wind blows, and feminine falls from the trees like leaves – that’s feminine coming out of Dior Grand Bal. Santa Maria Novella is straight-up slightly soapy orange blossom, sharp on the open. Pretty enough, not deeply interesting, but if you just want something to make you feel happy that you can splash on every hour or two and not think about, this is your go-to orange blossom.
As we ratchet up price tags a bit, don’t weep? they get prettier?
Thierry Mugler Dis – Moi, Miroir is a sweet orange blossom mixed with lily. It surprises me that I really kind of like this, more so after the initial open that’s a little cotton candy toothachey. This is a hard one to hate. You may not find it that interesting, but on the Orange Blossom That I’d be Happy to Wear Scale, it hits an 8.
Parfumerie Generale Louanges Profane is so freaking pretty with such a gorgeous creator, Pierre Guillaume. Perfume notes list neroli. It feels like orange blossom, so it gets tossed in.
Pierre and I broke up during his vanilla cereal phase, and it appears I should have been paying closer attention, I missed this somehow. Added bonus! It has hawthorn in it. No wonder I like it.
Oh, all of you just wait until we get to hawthorn.
Hawthorn lends an, um, morbidity to a composition, and I suspect it’s difficult to get the level of decay exactly right. Step too far into the graveyard, you’ve got perfumed road kill. Not enough, it just makes it weird. without a reason
Guerlain Mon Precieux Nectar is orange blossom, jasmine and heliotrope swirled into that pluxe Guerlain vanilla base. There is nothing complicated or exhausting about wearing this; it is just pretty, incandescent, plush orange blossom.
That leads us straight to the doors of one of my top three orange blossom perfumes ever –
L’Artisan Seville a l’Aube. Orange blossom and lavender, this thing lilts for 30 minutes, and then drydown is exquisite. When I say that, I mean it with my whole heart. Sometimes, late at night, when I’m in the middle of a nightmare about having to choose just one perfume for life, I think that Seville could be the one, it might make me happy forever. Then I wake up and toss that bit of perfume fidelity nonsense back into the mists of sleep where it belongs. Only one perfume, piffle. When I wear it, I get tons of compliments – and not just from myself. What, you don’t walk around telling yourself how great you smell? You should!
I believe every Bride would be well-served to finally ditch the Vera Wang and Ralph Lauren Romance and wear this instead on their Wedding Day. If you’re a bride, just do what I say – you’ll thank me for it later. Unless you’re not 100% on the groom. In that case, go with the Vera Wang. You don’t want to spoil your pleasure in wearing Seville in the event of an ugly divorce. What!? You have to be practical about these things.
L’Artisan la Chasse aux Papillons could/should have been a pick here, but I went with just one L’Artisan since Chasse is more of an orange blossom/lime blossom/linden blossom blend – gorgeous, worthy, but sacrifices must be made.
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Fleurs d’Oranger opens a skosh soapy with a nice vanilla base. It’s not as optimistically bright as a lot of the orange blossoms I love, but it’s interesting and a nice way to go for a more natural take on orange blossom. Andy Tauer Orange Star is a complex, veering off into strange orange blossom, but I’m staying with the bright, sunny beautiful orange blossoms by putting it here because it is beautiful. Opening with the orange fruit and the flowers, and growing a little gnarly as cistus and amber pluck a few blooms off. This has the lasting power of a “helpful” mother-in-law.
Orange Blo$$om Ballers
Arquiste Infanta en Flor is leather, cistus and immortelle swirling among the orange blossom. I’ve puzzled greatly over where this orange blossom should go. It’s leather, but not carnally animalic. It’s expensive, but sorta on the cusp. It’s beautiful, but the leather keeps it from being heartbreakingly beautiful. I’m hoping a stroke of insight will assist me before I have to hit publish. Nope, got nothing, so it’s landing in this category by default.
Caron Narcisse Blanc is the Americanized version of Caron Narcisse Noir. If you like some aspects of Narcisse Noir, but you recoil every time you smell it, try Narcisse Blanc. It’s sunnier, a little more friendly – okay, a lot more friendly, like a pet gerbil is more friendly than a wild viper. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Apom Pour Femme is going in, and I’m just putting in a reference to the less expensive Francis Kurkdjian creation – Jean Paul Gaultier Fleur du Male. Both are worthy, depends on your price point.
Strange Invisible Perfumes Fire and Cream pairs orange blossom with hay. I mean, if you’re wondering what to get Patty for Her Birthday, just think a truckload of orange blossom and hay. This also works if you are going natural perfume. It’s a beautifully done orange blossom with some unique kicky quirks.
Profumum Acqua e Zucchero earned a spot in the vanilla perfume post and in this one. It twines about the orange blossom, making it sugar-crusted orange blossom. Charming.
By Kilian Sweet Redemption has people that don’t like it! Okay. I’ll try and wrap my head around it. No, really, I get it. The End of the L’Oeuvre Noire series is made of orange blossom, vanilla and incense. This one almost got a spot in the vanilla perfume post. There are long moments in this perfume’s drydown that make my lip curl – discordancy set against the “should be” lovely orange blossom and vanilla. Powering through the difficult parts like a good perfumista should, some days I wind up loving it, and some days I am pegging over to loathing. What tips me back to love – it is interesting, and that’s a hard thing to do to the ever-cheerful orange blossom. Montale Highness Orange Blossom is really pretty and linear, which is what it’s meant to be. A good place to try some orange blossom without a lot of extra fluffing-up.
Tarted-up Orange Blossom
Vero Profumo Rubj always takes my breath in the EDP – it is so audaciously skanky, laced with cumin. I’ve reviewed the parfum in the past, and it’s not cumin – well behaved civet and indole skank instead, and the extrait feels nowhere near as dirty as the EDP. March reviewed the EDP
“now the drama centers around cumin. And when I say ‘centers around cumin,’ I mean Rubj EdP showcases cumin the same way the dancing hippos in Fantasia tend to take up a little space on the stage. The new Rubj is definitely for hardcore cumin freaks, and most likely hell for everyone else.”
Exactly. It would have never occurred to me to pair the lilting, sunny, innocent orange blossom with this level of armpitty cumin, but the effect is brilliant. Oh, just power through it and outlast the cumin, for God’s sake, you’ll survive. Angela at Now Smell This called it a “ravished ballerina. Victoria at Bois de Jasmin said “Rubj is underpinned by such a fleshy animalic note that it makes Serge Lutens Musc Koublai Khan seem straight-laced.” I think it is a pillaged orange blossom straight out of one of those “The Rose and the Saber” bodice rippers. That is a great thing.
Speaking of orange blossom and cumin – if someone had bet me that we had never done a proper review of Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger on the Posse before, I would have taken that bet and doubled it. Googling around for that cumin-laced wonder on our site yielded –
Lots of references, lots of mentions, made it into Top 10 lists, but no real review. Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger is fleshy, dense orange blossom, cumin’ed to within an inch of its moral limits just on the open. Hang with it, that cumin plumps the orange blossom up, the armpitty aspects cool off pretty quickly, and it becomes a spectacular, lush, sensuous orange blossom.
As we wind up this orange blossom extravaganza – I can’t believe I’m even thinking this – I’m just a little sick of orange blossom.
We save the best for last. There can be only one. In orange blossom there is. Of course, it is also no more. Shalini. Created by Maurice Roucel, they seem to have only made a certain number of bottles, and those bottles are gone. From an interview with Maurice Roucel on CaFleureBon, he notes the differences between making Shalini and Hermes 24, Faubourg:
Michelyn – “Which fragrance took the longest to create? The shortest time?
Maurice Roucel – “Hermes 24 Faubourg took five years and Shalini fifteen minutes. This was due to the conviction of the respective creative directors, and to their briefs.”
Shalini is orange blossom taking flight after an initial onslaught of an amazingly well-behaved tuberose. There’s some quibbling in the few reviews I could find over what is the dominant note. For me, it is the neroli/orange blossom that is dominant, though I certainly feel the tuberose lurking in the only shadow Shalini casts – slightly green. What is magical about it is that you think it disappears quickly after you put it on – but it’s not gone. It wasn’t until my sister put some on — Wait, when I say “put some on,” she grabbed the sprayer I had put it in and spritzed it all over herself. I yelled at her, she ignored me. Every time she would walk by me that day, there was a floating, lilting reminder that she had probably sprayed out about $100 worth of Shalini on a whim. Shalini has the most gorgeous sillage I’ve ever encountered.
I don’t really want to talk about it anymore.
But I have Seville. And the new Houbigant. And Gucci EDP. The world is full of some great orange blossom perfumes, I’ll probably get over it.
Posse says –
Musette – Not a huge fan, as it tends to make me anxious and the soapy notes get on my nerves. But Denyse’s Seville au l’Aube grabbed my heart and squeezed it TIGHT! It has none of the soapy and all of the sensuality of a blossom amongst emerging fruit. I can wear this all day without feeling anxious and I so enjoy its sultry beauty. The other massive OB love is this little beauty that Masha introduced me to: Noora, by Swiss Arabian. It does tend to inflame an already anxious moment but if I’m feeling calm that day, it’s a beautiful, bright orange blossom with a hint of warmth. Best of all? I bought this little beauty for $12 on Amazon. It really is a beauty!
Tom – Uncle Serge’s Fleurs d’Oranger. because of the touch of cumin that gives all that white floral innocence a touch of carnality. Second up is smell bent Monaco Dependent because its so very green and so very happy.
Ann – Ava Luxe Neroli Blossom (takes me right back to the citrus groves of my elementary-school childhood), Le Labo Tubereuse 40, for as we know, despite the name, there’s a whole honkin’ lot of Orange Blossom in there, and last, but not least, Jo Malone Orange Blossom. And although I’m sure everyone’s already raved about it, who could forget the wonderful L’Artisan Seville a’Laube?
Portia – LUSH Orange Blossom,,Estee Lauder Brasil Dream, Hermes Eau d’Orange Vert, Narciso Rodriguez for Her, Arquiste Infanta en Flor, Caron Narcisse Noir, DIOR Grand Bal, Tom Ford Neroli Portafino, Sweet Redemption by Kilian, Seville a l’Aube L’Artisan Parfumeur
Okay, your turn. I keep reading people telling me orange blossom hates them, and I keep thinking – orange blossom hate someone?!? Can that be? Yeah, Narcisse Noir has a bad little spiteful hating habit, but the others? Love orange blossom? Hate it? What did I miss? Where did I get it wrong?
Orange blossom samples for this review and for the giveaway were provided from my personal collection and Surrender to Chance