First, some news: smell bent, the fun, cheeky company specializing in fun, cheeky, and inexpensive scents is shuttering it’s store after 12 years. I believe that nose and proprietor Brent Leonesio is moving on career-wise to a different direction and may simply not have time for smell bent. As you may know, I have been a fan from the beginning and will be sad to see it depart. They will be having a super garage sale at the end of the month, so stock up while you can -TP
Orange is not what I would call my “go to” citrus in scents. I love the lemon, like the lime, crazy about citron, even Koo Koo for kumquat (okay, I’ll stop now.) but Otange? Having received a sample of Guerlain’s Aqua Alllegoria Basil Mandarine (henceforth written of as G-Orange) I went through and dug out a couple of mine that were orange centric.
Not orange blossom, mind you. A lot of online lists will toss in orange blossom in to round out lists of “best orange scents” but to me, that’s like listing pâté as a chicken dish: yes, the blossoms and the fruit come from the tree, but they aren’t really the same thing as far as I am concerned.
Mandarine Mandarin was a 2006 release from Lutens, one of the exclusives and concurrent with the export Chypre Rouge. I wrote back then on PST about how it had that fresh Satsuma opening that is the whole deal with G-Orange: being a Lutens at the height of the Lutens-ness this is immediately joined by spices and celery. Yes, celery. Once you smell it, you can’t unsmell it. Once it starts to go on its journey (he way Lutens’ are wont to do) the citrus mellows with the spices, smoky tea, and finally the musk joining the party. Oh, that musk- I’d forgotten how much there is in there. The fresh-as-paint opening doesn’t really prepare you for it. There’s a healthy dose of MKK under all that fruit salad. Maybe that’s part of the reason I love this one so.
It used to be available only at the Palais Royale, and I jumped through some major hoops to get a bottle, used that bottle up and re-purchased at Barneys in the brief moment all of them were available there. It’s available now directly from Lutens at $290 for a bell jar, and I will likely some day be replenishing from there.
Demeter Sweet Orange is from the aughts, but I do not know if it was from at the time that Christopher Brosius was working with them. From the opening it certainly could be. Most of you are likely familiar with his work- work that sometimes feels uncomfortably like he climbed into my head. His Burning Leaves, Memories of Kindness, In the Library, Winter 1972, and At the Beach seem, to me anyway, almost olfactory sense memories of my youth. Rather like the wistful line the (soon to be) Second Mrs. DeWinter mentions about stopping up memories in a bottle, where it would never get stale, and you could just undo the stopper when you’re old and grey and relive it. And Max’s response to her.
There’s a bit of that in Sweet Orange, in the opening: it goes through the most marvelous ride through all things orange. The tangy tang of Tang, the almost metallic aspect of frozen juice (which we had all winter), the slight bitterness of Tropicana, and finally the sweet orange itself. A big, fat, juicy one. One that would take pride of place in the fruit basket your friends in Florida sent you at the holidays to relieve your winter drabs. A great, big Disney Orange, perhaps with a top hat, spats, and it’s own musical number. It’s a hoot. It’s $20 for 4oz at Amazon as I type this. Oh just go buy it.
G-Orange was written about at the end of April by our own Cinnamon, and I have to quote her here because she says it best about this 2007 release: “This is a big, juicy fruity thing .“ It reminds me of the Satsumas we get out here in California around the holidays. It’s all there in the opening: the pith and the juice and the spray of the oil from the tearing the peel. It’s delightful. I even swear there’s a little grapefruit in there. Pink grapefruit. It gives it a slightly sepia toned feeling to it, like having brunch at some older hotel: brunch at The Coronado, bottled. The promised basil comes in later, but oddly doesn’t really smell much like fresh basil- it’s more dried. Maybe brunch in 1946? The drydown is.. nice. So, it’s nice. Do I need it? No. Do you? For a scent from a storied house it’s fairly inexpensive at $145 for the 4.2oz bee bottle, so that’s up to you. Personally there are a few of the “Cheap and Cheerful” ones I’ve even written about recently that fill that bill far less expensively, if less luxuriously. Demeter Sweet Orange in this very post does.
Because sometimes a beach tote makes more sense than a Birkin.
My bottles of Demeter Orange and Mandarine Mandarin were purchased by me as mentioned in the text. The Guerlain sample was a gift with purchase. Photos of the bottles are mine.