Orange You Glad? Serge Lutens Mandarine Mandarin, Demeter Sweet Orange, and Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Sweet Basil Mandarine

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.


  • Portia says:

    “Because sometimes a beach tote makes more sense than a Birkin.”
    How about a Birkin as a beach tote. Tres amusant, n’est pas?
    Well, I laughed.
    Portia xx

  • Maya says:

    I enjoy the smell of citrus in real life but never really bothered with citrus-centric perfumes. Then I sampled Mark Buxton Sleeping With Ghosts – because of the name, lol. Then I bought a bottle. On my skin, the quince and the vanilla are the most prominent. The quince is so nice and it lasts. Then Verano Porteño by Frassai, citrus and jasmine on me. Fits the descriptive write-up of it and I want a FB too.

    • cinnamon says:

      Is the Buxton like a creamsickle? That name is incredible. Really could see buying a bottle just for the name.

      • Tom says:

        Ha! I was just typing the same..

      • Maya says:

        LOL. I still love the name! A creamsickle is orange/vanilla, so it’s very similar in type, but the quince makes it somewhat different. It’s expensive but I was able to find one for a great deal at a reputable discounter. Also, the original collection was released by Buxton’s partners, then discontinued. He bought his partners out and re-released the perfumes but changed some of the names. Sleeping with Ghosts became Dreaming with Ghosts. Says no reformulations but to make sure I got the original.

    • Tom says:

      I think I would fall for that one just for the name..

  • Alityke says:

    Oh I pine for Mandarine Mandarin. I’m not mad about musks but MKK I adored so you’ve just upped the ante on MM even more!

    I did own G Orange but sold it on, that weird old basil wrecked it for me.

    Excuse me cutting & running… off to search Amazon UK for the Demeter

    • Tom says:

      MM was one of the ones that I totally jumped through hoops to get- and it was worth it. Of course now you can get it directly from SL, which is a blessing.

      G Orange’s basil didn’t work for me. It was like dried when I was expecting fresh. Mine was just a beensy sample.

      Hope you can find the Demeter as cheaply as it is here- really at that price it has to be a win..

      • Alityke says:

        Only found one of the Demeter on Amazon UK and the cost plus shipping was ridiculous for something that can be fleeting. Think I’ll have a mooch round for other orangey colognes

  • carole macleod says:

    I’m a citrus lover. My fave orange is
    Bond’s Little Italy-I love the cheerful orange bottle, and this fragrance lasts. It has jasmine in it, too, which is beautiful and unexpected. I got 100 ml on clearance at a discounter-I know sometimes Bond has dubious customer relations. But it’s an excellent citrus.

  • VerbenaLuvvr says:

    I get annoyed when a fragrance is billed as ‘orange’ (love) only to find out they really meant ‘orange blossom’, about which I am far less excited, in the same way that all fig tree parts are sometimes referred to as just ‘fig’. I am on the fence about blind buying up D&G’s Orange as their Lemon was a big downer, and there really is nowhere to pick up a sample first. As per G scents, they have an Orange Soleia which on the handbag scale is probably further down into the grocery tote range–more like a simple body spray–but sometimes that’s what I want, too.

    • Tom says:

      I like Orange Blossom, just don’t tell me I’m getting orange and then try to sell me that. Pretty, but not the same thing.

  • Musette says:

    Orange is mah JAM!! (heh). Seriously. I love the lemon but something about a well done orange scent just thrills me to the bone!
    Christopher Brosius has climbed into your head, many times, I’m sure. Sweatergawd, he has his own suite of rooms in mine. It’s a gift.

    Other than Sweet Orange, which I adore, I also adore Agraria Bitter Orange, with that fabulous hit of clove and tea. I have it in room spray, candle, perfume, bodywash, body lotion…. obviously it’s a beloved scent. It always reminds me of this NYC bistro, after a short Summer rain – dunno why.


    • Tom says:

      Switching to my phone since my work computer decided to have a disagreement with the site. A “cookie nonce?”

      I’m going to have to look that one up. Orange room spray. Yum!

  • Dina C. says:

    I don’t think I have any scents where orange is the star player, just in a supporting role. I’m more of a bergamot fan I think. I do enjoy the smell of real oranges. I remember my brother and I drinking Tang as little kids in the 70s (like astronauts!) and its artificial orange flavor. Thanks for the reviews, Tom!

    • Tom says:

      Thank you! I’m glad someone else remembers Tang! We thought it was the coolest thing ; we only got frozen in our house.

  • Valerie says:

    Tom, such a great line: “…Because sometimes a beach tote makes more sense than a Birkin…”

    The citrus crown jewel in my collection (my Birkin, if you will) is a bottle of Chanel Eau de Cologne from the Le Exclusifs collection – – a blast of gorgeous mixed citruses that lasts three minutes (but what a 3 minutes it is!). I literally spritz it right in my face when an olfactory slap is needed to get me through an afternoon of office drudgery. Or sometimes, (my beach tote)
    I flex the peels of a recently-eaten orange over my wrists to get those tiny puffs of orange oil onto my skin.

    I have several Demeters that are great: Violet, Baby Powder, New Zealand, & especially a petrichor one called Thunderstorm that’s amazing. Need to check out this Orange one…thanks for the tip!

    The Guerlain MB sounds a bit like Chanel’s Deauville from le Eaux, but in Deauville, the basil is green & fresh, not dusty; the mandarin in the top is juicy-bright, as I’m sure it is in the Guerlain MB. (Clash of the Titan Houses!!)

    Thanks for a wonderful read! Love, NohoVal

  • March says:

    Oh how I love orange scents (and I agree with you that the blossom is a completely different thing.) I’ve tried and liked all of these, although didn’t feel the need to own a bottle of them. Your descriptions are wonderful. My favorite cheap orange scent is called Arancia Dolce I think, a bottle from the iPdF store in Florence, purchased … almost two decades ago? Whoa. Orange in a bottle.

  • cinnamon says:

    Citrus is not hugely my thing. I do have a few but each of these has something that is something … something. This post sent me to Ninfeo Meo, which generally doesn’t come out till hot weather. Citron, lemon, bitter orange, among other things. It definitely has that ‘something’.

  • Tara C says:

    I love Mandarine Mandarin, thankfully I don’t get the celery. As for other orange scents, I like Orange Sanguine by Atélier Cologne and 4160 Tuesdays The Orange Tree.

    • Tom says:

      I know it’s odd, but I think the celery in MM totally makes it.

      Orange Sanguine was a total hit for me, but I just couldn’t justify the price. I liked it enough that I’d go through that bottle in about 15 seconds..

  • Kathleen says:

    You have me looking on Amazon for Sweet Orange! I love perfumes with orange blossom, not sure I’ve tried a perfume so orange, but I am intrigued. My sister just visited from Arizona and bought me some oranges from her tree. They are the sweetest, juiciest and most fragrant I’ve ever had. If Demeter’s Sweet Orange are like those oranges!