I don’t know about you but I am most definitely suffering from the January blues. Christmas and New Year have gone meaning two things; 1) the weather is just going to get worse (boo); and 2) we all have to go back to work for the foreseeable future (double boo). It’s at times like this that one looks forward to summer, when things seem that little bit more joy-filled and fancy free.
If there’s one ingredient that speaks the words of summer it’s orange blossom. To me it is the smell of the elements of summer, It is the olfactory depiction of the air filled with life; the pollen on the breeze, the flight of the bees and insects, and the hot sticky skin of all humans and animals that live for the sun’s warmth and sustenance.
As a continuation of my ‘Guide To‘ series, and to give you all some much-needed Vitamin C, I would like to share with you my list of reference orange blossoms. These fragrances are the ones that I feel that any person exploring the note of orange blossom should pay attention to. It is by no means a conclusive list and as with the other guides in the series (see Tuberose, Lavender and Oud) it is very much a work in progress with new discoveries to be added as an when it is deemed necessary.
As the name suggests, orange blossom is the white fragrant flower of the orange tree. Its most popular use is in perfumery, however orange blossom water is often used to scent marshmallows and other foody things.
Orange blossom has an incredibly complex scent, with many nuances that vary depending on the type used. I would describe it as having the following facets; citrus, honey, bright floral, indole, orange, sun, green (as in stems), beeswax, clean, soapy, plastic and earth.
It is best used in the following fragrances:
The Straight Up Orange Blossom
Orange Blossom by Gorilla Perfume
Tucked on to the shelves in Lush, next to the likes of the Ladyboys, Cocktails and surprisingly clean Dirty boys, is a rather unsuspecting orange blossom fragrance that serves as a good starting point for anyone interested in the note.
Gorilla Perfume’s Orange Blossom plays out each nuance associated with the note; it’s a little bit clean and soapy, there’s an enjoyable degree of feral skank and it has a warm, sunny disposition, but the majority of the emphasis is placed firmly on the depth and bitterness of honey and beeswax.
Orange Blossom is a beautiful essay on the conflicting forces of nature, of the dark and the light. It’s the summer sun beating down on the flowers but it is also the swarm of killer bees…
The Effervescent Orange Blossom
APOM Pour Femme by Maison Francis Kurkdjian
If there’s one note that Francis Kurkdjian seems to have a natural talent for it is orange blossom. Out of the eight orange blossoms on this list he has composed half, proving that even for a single perfumer orange blossom is an incredibly versatile note that can be utilised in many different ways.
For the feminine half of his APOM (A Part of Me) duo (both inspired by the Lebanese and centred around orange blossom and cedar), Kurkdjian has created an airy and effervescent orange blossom that evokes delicious treats such as Jordan Almonds whilst simultaneously harking back to classic Guerlains such as L’Heure Bleue. It’s incredibly powdery, and sweetly so, but there is an underlying bitterness that prevents the whole thing from becoming too gourmand. Wonderful stuff that is not to be missed.
The Butch Orange Blossom
APOM Pour Homme by Maison Francis Kurkdjian
APOM Pour Homme is an entirely different beast from its feminine counterpart. In fact in comparison it comes off rather butch. For a start it’s much warmer and where APOM Femme could occasionally be seen as classic and aloof, Homme is much more personable and is more in line with masculines from the 80s than the Guerlains of the early 20th century.
The opening of APOM Pour Homme showcases the harmony between orange blossom and its more common floral cousin lavender. This gives the scent an almost cologne-like feel that is instantly familiar but when viewed as a whole, with the warmer base notes in mind, also appears new and surprising.
Cedar and amber in the base warm things up considerably and make for an incredibly robust scent that suits any occasion; work, dinner, date night, anything. APOM Pour Homme is one of Nigel, my partner’s, favourite scents and more importantly one of my favourite scents on him.
APOM Pour Homme is quite manly, yes, but I do think it would also work really well as a feminine. On the right gal it could come off as rather androgynous and powerful.
The Barbershop Orange Blossom
Fleur du Mâle by Jean Paul Gaultier
For Fleur du Mâle Kurkdjian takes the retro barbershop blend of lavender, coumarin and vanilla put to very good use in Le Mâle and shoves in a huge (read: HUGE) powdery orange blossom that, at once, smells like white flowers in the sun, hay and car tyres.
Not only is this one a damn good orange blossom it is also one of my all-time favourite masculines. It is perhaps the cleanest interpretation on this list but it is clean in an almost novel way, smelling like a steamy bathroom filled with the lotions and potions of a well groomed (and rather dashing) modern gentleman.
By law all boys should smell like this.
The Filthy Orange Blossom
Fleurs d’Oranger by Serge Lutens
Serge Lutens’ and Christopher Sheldrake’s ode to orange blossom ‘Fleurs d’Oranger’ is very often regarded as the reference fragrance within the genre. I can definitely see why it’s a cult classic, for in true Lutensian style it is anything but simple and unsurprisingly for Uncle Serge it is easily the dirtiest, most erotically charged orange blossom around.
Firstly it’s important to note that in addition to the orange blossom, Fleurs d’Oranger also has generous slugs of tuberose and jasmine which work together to create a heady, narcotic cocktail of plasticky white flowers. The whole thing would be blindingly bright and sunny if it weren’t for an impolite dusting of cumin that amps up the predatorily erotic nature of each of the flowers. Wear it if you have the balls.
The Hot and Steamy Orange Blossom
Séville à L’Aube by L’Artisan Parfumeur
In my review of Séville à L’Aube I may have said that, in my opinion, it was the greatest orange blossom of all time, or words to that effect anyway. Now that I have had a few months to reflect on this statement I can quite happily confirm that I stand by my initial proclamation, for it is the most full and euphoric orange blossom I have ever encountered.
Inspired by a particularly hot and steamy night spent in Spain and created by super-talent Bertrand Duchaufour along side blogger Denyse Beaulieu, Séville à L’Aube uses orange blossom as a central core from which a whole variety of notes, such as; lavender (a dark, earthy variety or Luisieri lavender), incense, beeswax and benzoin, all swirl, interlocking their matching facets with the centre.
Séville à L’Aube has a beautifully dewy and mediterranean feel to it but it also has a remarkably potent human element to it, partially due to the addition of costus, which adds the impression of warm skin and unwashed hair. You cannot say you’re an orange blossom aficionado until you have tried this olfactory postcard from Seville.
The Golden Orange Blossom
Elie Saab Le Parfum by Elie Saab
The premiere perfume outing from lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab could have been a typical pale, musky floral in line with many other designer offerings, but thankfully it is nothing of the sort. Having teamed up with the exceptional Francis Kurkdjian (see above) Elie Saab has created a shimmering, golden orange blossom that puts many other mainstream fragrances to shame.
Like Kurkdjian’s APOM duo created two years earlier in 2009, Le Parfum is a pairing of orange blossom and cedar. On top of this, sticky sweet fruit gives the fragrance a mouthwatering, almost piquant tone that works wonderfully with the orange blossom to create something tart, tangy and nearly tasty (but not quite).
Kurkdjian then amplifies everything with the addition of a massive skyscraper-esque dose of musk that lifts Le Parfum up and off into the stratosphere. Not only is it an entirely joyful experience but it also does what so many designer fragrances fail to do; it perfectly fits the brand for which it represents. Take a look at Elie Saab’s designs whilst sniffing Le Parfum and you’ll understand exactly what I mean.
The Down-Right Bizzare Yet Ultimately Amazing Orange Blossom
Orange Star by Tauer Perfumes
This one isn’t strictly an orange blossom, in fact it’s pretty difficult to determine exactly what it is. What can be easily determined about Orange Star though, is that is most definitely unique and whether it is to your taste or not it cannot be denied that it is, above all, a fascinating piece of work.
For Orange Star Andy Tauer has used the juice, pith and peel of an orange, mixed it with a rather rough-around-the-edges orange blossom note and then finished the whole thing off with an über creamy and delicious rendition of his sour yet plus Tauerade base.
As my title suggests, Orange Blossom may be plain freaky but boy is it fantastic stuff!
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Join the Discussion!
How do you feel about orange blossom?
What are your ‘reference’ orange blossom fragrances?
Have you tried the fragrances listed above, what do you think of them?
What would you add or change?
Please leave your thoughts in the comments box below!
Image 1 watercolourswithlige.blogspot.com. Image 2 scent.penhaligons.com. Image 3 lush.co.uk. Image 4 sahling-duefte.com. Image 5 thescentedhound.wordpress.com. Image 6 dutyfreeshops.gr. Image 7 nocibe.fr. Image 8 rarecosmetics.com. Image 9 theperfumshop.com. Image 10 persolaise.blogspot.com (cropped).