The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Orange Blossom

Orange Blossom

Orange Blossoms in Watercolour via Watercolours With Life

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.

Orange Blossoms

Orange Blossoms

Orange Blossom

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.

The Smell

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:

Orange Blossom by Gorilla Perfume

Orange Blossom by Gorilla Perfume

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…

APOM Pour Femme

APOM Pour Femme by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

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.

APOM Pour Homme

APOM Pour Homme by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

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 Tenor: Fleur du Mâle by Jean Paul Gaultier

Fleur du Mâle by Jean Paul Gaultier

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.

Fleurs d'Oranger

Fleurs d’Oranger by Serge Lutens

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.

Séville à L'Aube

Séville à L’Aube by L’Artisan Parfumeur

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.

Elie Saab Le Parfum

Elie Saab Le Parfum by Elie Saab

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.

Orange Star

Orange Star by Tauer Perfumes

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!

— — —

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!

Disclaimer
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).

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88 thoughts on “The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Orange Blossom

  1. Yummy, Yum Yum! Perfect for Aussie Summer.
    I would add Neroli Portafino by Tom Ford, I know it says neroli but the heart is pure Orange Blossom. Also Grad Bal, though not a soliflor I love the soft sweet Orange Blossom there too.
    Portia xx

  2. This is a wonderful guide and we must be on the same wave length: I have reached for SL Fleurs d’Oranger twice in the last week, desperate for some hint of sunshine! It isn’t THAT dirty on me, but I am now slightly concerned about my personal skank-o-meter… I have completely overlooked the Elie Saab, but I will put this right quickly, it sounds beautiful. Thank you and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    • Never fear, high readings on the skank-o-meter are positively encouraged here!

      Elie Saab is an easy one to over look but it is most definitely worth a sniff.

      Happy new year! I hope to see you at an event soon 😀

  3. Elie Saab and I do not play nicely together. I’m also glad I don’t get the dirty hair note in Seville. There’s a woman I work with who smells that way often enough and I can assure you, it’s not from perfume. I love orange blossom and you’ve given me a few more I want to try.

  4. Nice post! Hmmmm. I didn’t know Lush had an orange blossom. I’ll have to stop in for a sniff and one of those fresh masks. I do like their Lust (jasmine-scented) bath items. They tend to disco stuff though and that frustrates me – they used to have a delicious violet soap and I’ve never found anything comparable. The Bermuda Perfumery makes a pretty, soapy but heady orange blossom called Petals. It’s kind of like a cleaned-up version of Serge’s (without the cumin) and it has a friendly price tag. If you haven’t tried their scents, there are a few winners in the line (I love their men’s Cedar). Although, it’s more fun to actually go to the perfumery in Bermuda!

      • You’d love it there. They’ll take you on a little tour and show you how they make the perfume. The woman who owns it is lovely. I didn’t even realize I was speaking with the owner when I picked up Petals (it was new at the time and she was working in the shop). The primary notes are orange blossom, jasmine & honeysuckle. I have another one called Pink which note-wise is not very ‘me’ but for some reason it works and I get a lot of compliments when I wear it. I love the Lust soap from Lush the best. It’s obnoxiously pink and makes the whole bathroom smell great when used!

  5. Lovely guide to one of my favourite notes. What’s not to love about orange blossom (except when it’s super soapy)? This post is also the perfect antidote to the January blues. Just what I needed.

    I think I’ve tried all except the Gorilla one and Fleur du Male, which I really need to rectify as you make the latter sound so good and it’s readily available. My faves are the 2 by L’Artisan, Seville a l’aube and Fleur d’Oranger. They really are bottled sunshine.

    • Agreed, SUPER soapy orange blossoms can ‘do one’ 😛

      I shall bring a sample of Fleur du Mâle to the next meet up, it’s definitely worth trying. What I love about the Gorilla Perfume Orange Blossom is that it’s so darn cheap and the solid perfume they do is pretty good.

      Bottled sunshine indeed!

  6. Great list! I’m with you here on the ones I have or have tried – and as you know, OB and I are, well…best friends, maybe? 😉 Elie Saab and I did NOT get along well – on me, it turned screechy, plasticky and just. Plain. Horrid. My orange blossom Gold Standard is (always) Fleurs d’Oranger, it’s one of the closest to a signature scent I have, and it always makes me happy to wear it! Seville à l’Aube…has to be right next to it. Just. That. Great. But I would also add a few others…Hermès 24 Faubourg – one super-classy, super-elegant OB, Jil Sander no. 4 – which edges in more of a chypre direction – and the stunning Azemours L’Orangers by Parfums d’Empire. True, it’s not just orange blossom, but orange blossom is front and centre of something truly spectacular.

  7. I like orange blossom a lot and your Guide is much helpful for me.
    I need to try both APOM scents since I don’t know them. Orange Star smelled like a plastic toilet cleaner to me and I didn’t like Seville a L’Aube at all, sorry.
    From SL Fleur d’Oranger I much prefer Fleurs de Citronnier.

  8. Ruby EDP. Although orange blossom is only one of the notes, to me is the sexiest, warmest and at the same time elegant orange blossom accented fragrances.I have yet to try Serge Lutens Fleurs d’ Oranger on skin, and I have only briefly sniffed Seville a l’Aube(seems too happy and sunny for my taste, too clean) but so far Ruby is my queen.

  9. Great list! I love me some orange blossom and two of my favs are on your list: Seville à l’aube and Fleur du male. My mom is currently working her way through a pile of Elie Saab samples. She seems to like it, but it’s not for me. I don’t seem to have as negative of a reaction to it as others though . . .

    To this list, I would add Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom. Jo Malone is not normally my cup of tea, but my neighbor’s mother wears it and it smells lovely on her.

  10. Oh boy! It’s another “Guide To”! I thought I didn’t like orange blossom until I tried Seville a l’Aube and fell head over heels in love. Now it’s time to make my way through your list and give the others a chance, or a second chance. Thanks for the list. I enjoy your writing very much, by the way. I don’t always comment but I read all your posts.

  11. Having grown up in the orange groves of Southern California orange blossoms really have a special place in my heart and memory. Most of the groves are gone now. But on sniff of orange blossom and I am running barefoot through the groves in high summer and diving into the Gage Canal to cool off. Great Post!

  12. Great guide ! Orange blossom is my favorite note in perfume and I am always looking for ones to try. Did not know Ob was so prominent in Ellie Saab Le Parfum. My own favorite orange blossoms are Seville a l’aube and Penhaligons Castille. Fleur d’oranger is too much about tuberose for me, too bad really as I am not a tuberose fan. Fabulous for this grey weather, Orange blossom !

  13. Thanks so much for this. I’ve been doing my own investigation of orange blossom lately, so your article comes at just the right time. I need to smell APOM soon!

      • After a bit more investigation, I picked up a FdM and the Lush Orange Blossom, so hopefully that will satisfy my craving. Still haven’t tried APOM yet, though.

        But I wanted to mention: A Lush SA in London told me that they’re discontinuing the OB fragrance. And then I was in Florence last week and an SA at Lush there said the same thing (in fact, I bought it there half price because of it). If people like it it may be time to buy an extra bottle.

  14. Since I’ve gotten over my fear of white flowers, I’ve gotten quite fond of orange blossom. I’ve managed to try most on your list, apart from APOM and that one sounds like quite my thing.
    The current OB favorite is Sweet Redemtion

  15. I’m a bit hit and miss with orange blossom myself, although I haven’t explored the note much. Elise Saab was a hot mess on me, and I ran into a weird phenomenon with Seville a L’Aube, where it smelled fantastic as long as I didn’t press wrist to nose, up close something was definitely off. However, I own a full bottle of 7 Virtues Afghanistan Orange Blossom, a relatively straightforward soliflore, and love it for its sunniness.

  16. FK is definitely the Master of Orange Blossom, I love FdM and also both APOMs! Seville de l’Aube doesn’t play nice with my skin at all, it turns Fruity Pebbles and migraine….I love the basics of orange blossom perfumes, particularly, Petigrain Bigarade, Brazilian Orange Essence (based on the juice, not the rind), and Tunisian Neroli. I have little bottles of all 3 and sniff them when I’m in need of a mood lift….

  17. Hehe – “filthy orange blossom” had me chuckling out loud. I like most of these, APOM and Seville a L’Aube in particular, also Elie Saab. Orange Star stays on the bizarre level for me, owing to its insane levels of soap. (Though it is always possible that I am manufacturing bubbles in my nose.)

    • Orange Star is definitely quite soapy. I have a small decant that I rarely wear because it’s something that you really have to be in the mood for. That said, when I am in the mood for it I adore it.

      You might need to see a Doctor about those bubbles… 😛

  18. Oh, cool, another CPB Guide To!

    (As an aside, I find myself craving tuberose in January. Something about the cold weather, no doubt.)

    Orange blossom is a tricky note for me, and while I usually do fine with it in a mixed-white-floral composition, as a focus it often goes wrong – flat, sullen, soapy. I can’t even name the number of scents that have gone all creamy Dove lather on me. Bleargh.

    It was a real delight to finally run across a few OB scents that I enjoyed. First? Elie Saab. I was all OH FK MAKE ME THIS DIVINE SPARKLY WHITE TULLE PERFUME BUT IN TUBEROSE INSTEAD OF OB PLEASE PLEASE… and then the drydown showed up, all clean patchouli screech, bleargh, but the OB was so pretty. And I tried SL Fleurs d’Oranger, and got no cumin, just a gorgeous ginormous white floral bouquet, at least as much tubey as OB (it’s been suggested to me that this one has been slightly reformulated to tone down the cumin). Then Sweet Redemption, aka “Kilian does Vamp a NY in OB instead of tuberose,” and I fell really hard. Love the stuff, it’s like crack. Seville a l’Aube I like too, even though it ventures dangerously close to Musty Basement Duchaufourade from time to time.

    I can wear orange blossom now. Yay!

  19. Have you ever tried the infamous ‘old’ L’Occitaine Neroli edp? It is dark and sweet and rich and unlike any orange blossom I have ever experienced.

  20. Great post CPB! I have been turned onto orange blossom in a good way. I love, love, love the orange blossom in Fleur du Male. I can’t get enough. I bought it blind a few months ago and I’ve been addicted ever since. The overripe honey sweetness of the flowers combined with hay-like coconut essence of coumarin is wonderful. I’ve been looking at a few of the Guerilla perfumes and they seem very interesting. I need to try that Orange Blossom soon. Fleurs d’Oranger by Serge Lutens, is one that was suggested by Victoria from BoisdeJamin, where she described it as a dirty and heady orange blossom. I know I will enjoy this one. I need to sample all the other ones you mentioned as well.

  21. I love these guides. (Especially your tuberose one.) I’ve been meaning to get more into orange blossom. I love the bright tanginess and unabashed joy it has. I’m going to make it a point to find samples of Fleur du Male and Orange Star.

    Btw, have you tried Scent Blossom by 88 Orange? They make organic clothes that smell like oranges. Scent Blossom is supposed to smell like the clothes, and it’s awesome.

  22. Orange blossom has never been a favorite note of mine, as I’ve usually found it too soapy or bland. However, there are exceptions to every rule, and I love Hermes’ 24, Faubourg – so elegant – and the summery Neroli by Annick Goutal.

  23. Francis Kurkdjian is an amazing perfumer! Now I need to actually go and get a frag or two of his! Now Orange Star by Tauer Perfumes sounds fab. Gotta check that one out too. Thanks for an awesome post!!

      • I really dislike Orange Star. I give two samples to three coworkers and they hated too.

        Last night I tried Aqua Universalis Forte and oh, my… I’m in love. I already love Aqua Universalis so I didn’t expect ‘forte’ to be even better. The incredible thing is that after 9+ hours I can still smell the perfume on my skin, a citrus scent after 9 hours!!

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  25. Good to see a review about Sege Lutens ‘ Fleurs d’Oranger’ stating that the tuberose and jasmine are prominent notes. Because when I say that I get hateful responses, but that’s basically what I smell, tuberose and jasmine.

    Now for orange blossoms and orange fragrances, I like Ramon Monegal’s ENTRE NARANJOS, Atelier cologne ORANGE SANGUINE and Fueguia 1833 NARANJO EN FLOR.

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  27. I am an orange blossom fan, and like it in many incarnations, from the soapy ‘Pledge’ fest of Orange Star, through the resins of Sweet Redemption to the zesty warmth of Azemour les Orangers. Azemour surprises me with its awesomeness every time I wear it, but I think my favourite orange blossom scent is the super floral Houbigant Orangers en Fleurs.

  28. Just so you know,I do revisit your blog regularly to refresh my memory on perfumes,and for some research too!Like this helpful guide,as I stumbled my way towards an Orange Blossom from Lush in a long-forgotten drawer,and wondered what you would think about it!Glad I paid a visit!;-))

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  33. There’s an orange tree in my parent’s house in Spain, close to an olive tree, and both smell like heaven in full bloom, or in summertime, when the sun of South East Spain heats the leaves. Unfortunately, I never found a scent that equals them. It’s amazing how perfumes give us an idea of the reality, but not reality. That’s why I prefer roses, a flower that we have tried to grown but we never succeed…

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