Oriental Lounge. What an evocative name for The Different Company's latest fragrance, an Eau de Parfum by perfumer Celine Ellena. When I think of an "oriental lounge", I picture a Tretchikoff painting come to life: black enameled wood, cocktail glasses, candles in red glass casting flickering light, sultry women parting beaded doorways.
My first impression on trying Oriental Lounge was that it was Guerlain Shalimar without the best parts. I smelled Oriental Lounge's citrusy top folded into a tonka-tinged amber, and it felt flat and linear. After trying it a few more times, I figured out Oriental Lounge shouldn't be experienced by the drop, but that a good half tube of a sample vial — or ideally a spray — is needed to get a full impression of the fragrance. It turns out I was wrong. Oriental Lounge may not be a slenderized Shalimar, but it isn't exactly the dreamy, complex 1940s Chinese restaurant cocktail lounge of a scent I had hoped, either.
Oriental Lounge's notes include bergamot, curry leaf, pepper, red rose, labdanum, tonka bean, amber, and satinwood. Denyse at Grain de Musc wrote an illuminating interview with Celine Ellena about Oriental Lounge in which Ellena confessed to not being a big fan of oriental fragrances. Ellena said she wanted to create an oriental that stripped out some of the genre's clichés while still sending the signal that this was an oriental (I'm paraphrasing here, please read the original interview).
Unlike Ellena, I do like oriental fragrances. For instance, I love Shalimar's not-for-debutantes, sweet-dirty ride through lemon, vanilla, blown flowers, smoky wood, and civet. While Oriental Lounge does offer an interesting (and not at all food-like) spicy heart with curry leaf intriguingly paired with cool, fresh rose, it isn't long before sweet amber takes over and flattens the experience. I do smell wood, but just the tiniest bit. After ten minutes, Oriental Lounge is all about a sheer but sharp amber.
Imagine biting into a ripe cherry. The cherry's skin is firm and satiny. Its flesh resists your teeth, but is drenched with juice. You feel the juicy pulp and taste a little of the acrid pit. Now imagine sucking on a cherry-flavored Jolly Rancher. Sure, it tastes like cherry, but it's not the same as eating a cherry. For me, Oriental Lounge is the Jolly Rancher of oriental fragrances. Nice and an unexpected way to smell an oriental, but somehow lacking the body and complexity that comprise the real thing.
If you tolerate sweet fragrances and find traditional orientals thick and cloying, Oriental Lounge might be perfect for you. As for me, I'm moving Shalimar to the front of the shelf.
The Different Company Oriental Lounge comes in 50 ml and 100 ml Eau de Parfum. For information on where to buy it, see The Different Company under Perfume Houses.