Atelier Cologne fragrances are stacking up. In 2016, they released 10 perfumes, and as of this writing, I count 32 fragrances for sale on their website (that's 32 fragrances released in under SEVEN years). Diptyque has been around almost 60 years and has about the same number of fragrances (not counting discontinuations) as Atelier Cologne. Frédéric Malle (10 years older than Atelier Cologne) has not broken the 30 mark (it sells 26 fragrances). But what a difference! Diptyque and Frédéric Malle sell some sensational, memorable perfumes. Atelier Cologne? Not really.
As the years have gone by, Atelier Cologne has developed a recognizable style: the perfume equivalent of the Lacoste polo shirt. Sure, you can get the polo in varied colors (even striped!) and there are classic and slim fits, but what you have is "more of the same." I own three Atelier Cologne fragrances: Trèfle Pur, Vanille Insensée (rarely worn) and Cédrat Envirant (a gift). I'm tempted by a small bottle of Philtre Ceylan, too (how did this pair of distressed leather jeans make it into Atelier Cologne's collection?)
Overall, Atelier Cologne's perfumes don't push boundaries; they're almost twee, especially compared to Diptyque's and Frédéric Malle's wild and varied "wardrobes."
Clémentine California was released last year and is a unisex fragrance in the Collection Originale. Its ingredients list sounded promising: clementine, mandarin, juniper, star anise, pepper, basil, vetiver, sandalwood and cypress. Clémentine California opens with juicy clementine/mandarin; what happens next is a very clean mélange of wispy notes: a hint of "green" (could be a combo of "basil" and "vetiver" or whatever chemicals represent them here) and sugary (almost caramel-dipped) citrus peel...and white musk. If this white musk were visible, you'd need sunglasses.
Clémentine California's sillage becomes pronounced when its laundry musk arrives. Clémentine California is one of the most basic/least interesting/inexpensive-smelling scents I've encountered from Atelier Cologne...or anyone else; it will probably sell like hot cakes (or should we say hot tamales?) We shouldn't say hot tamales...because Clémentine California has not a thing to do with California.
Citron d’Erable ("lemon-maple") is a member of the brand's Collection Azur and once more we are presented with an alluring mix of ingredients: lemon, mandarin, maple syrup accord (with sandalwood), pepper, eucalyptus, black currant, maple wood, sequoia and cedar. Ignore those notes! Citron d'Erable opens and closes with a gourmand aroma of warm, lemon-scented maple syrup, a sweet citrus scent. Though this is a simple (I don't need it) cologne, it did give me ideas: Meyer lemon or grapefruit marmalade flavored with maple syrup and maybe a splash of bourbon. (Could make a nice cocktail, too...with lots of vodka and maybe a drizzle of black tea syrup added to the maple and grapefruit/lemon juice). If you can't wear 'em, eat or drink 'em!
Neither of these Atelier Cologne citrus scents comes close to the "juicy and aromatic" artwork displayed at the top of this post. Atelier Cologne is now joining Jo Malone as a brand I will no longer pay much attention to (note lists — be damned!)
Atelier Cologne Clémentine California is currently available in 200 ml ($195); 100 ml ($130) and 30 ml ($75); Citron d'Erable is available in 100 ml ($130) and 30 ml ($85).
Note: top image of Citrus nobilis via the U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705.