I once heard perfumer Thomas Fontaine say he considered orange blossom an American note. (Iris and galbanum were French, he said.) Right away, I thought of bars of soap, brides, and piles of white laundered towels. Is that what Americans are about — cleanliness and innocence? Maybe I should have asked, is that what orange blossom is about?
Orange blossom is a lot more expressive than its association with laundry detergent would have you believe. Here are five relatively easy-to-find1 orange blossom-centered fragrances that explore a variety of non-Girl Scout takes on the note:
Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger: Fleurs d'Oranger kicks off as bright and juicy as a grove of Florida Ambersweets in spring. Just when you anticipate a hit of clean musk, Fleurs d’Oranger serves up skank. The skank gives way to a far-off spicy murmur, but the overall effect is that Tinkerbell needs to take a shower. (If you like this one, you must try Vero Profumo Rubj.)
Hermès 24, Faubourg: In 24, Faubourg, the orange blossom is served up with a bouquet of hundred dollar bills in a gilded vase. It’s a dense, high-society floral infused with elegance and the kind of smile that focuses more on beautiful dental work than real warmth. Still, I cherish my decant for days I want to feel expensive.
Elie Saab Le Parfum: Elie Saab Le Parfum is orange blossom whipped into a dervish-like frenzy to a pitch that shatters glass. I do imagine brides wearing this orange blossom, but not the blushing type. These brides have glossy lips, unseasonal tans and red carpet heels.
Thorn & Bloom Orange Blossom: Here’s a spicy oriental orange blossom made from all-natural materials that’s deep and rich. I wouldn’t call it gourmand, exactly, but it wafts cinnamon and cardamom along with its floral heart. Something about Orange Blossom feels old fashioned to me and brings up a vision of Maureen O’Hara baking snickerdoodles while her Hollywood garden’s orange tree blooms outside.
L’Artisan Parfumeur Séville à l’Aube: This is the orange blossom I wear the most. It kicks off with tart green orange blossom tinged with lavender. Over this lays a veil of incense, beeswax and animal notes. Under it is a velvety bed sweet with benzoin. Séville à l’Aube has the body and persistence to last the day on my skin. (Check out The Perfume Lover by Denyse Beaulieu if you want the story of how the fragrance was developed.)
Are you a fan of orange blossom fragrances? What are some of your favorites?
1. Except maybe Thorn & Bloom Orange Blossom. My sample came from Potion.