You may love your Fracas, celebrate your Carnal Flower, or inhale the indoles of Jasmine, but I give most white flower perfumes - especially soliflores - a miss; the gardenias, freesias, tuberoses, and jasmines others adore, I abhor. Instead, I reach for fragrances that bring out the aromatic perfection of the "other white" flower: orange blossom. The fruit of the bitter orange tree (Citrus bigaradia) produces bitter orange oil, the leaves give the sparkling grassiness of petitgrain oil, and the flowers are the source of both orange blossom and neroli. The resulting oils have differing type and olfactory characteristics caused by different methods of extraction; ORANGE BLOSSOM, a white floral with a sweeter aroma is extracted with unstable solvents, while steam-distilled NEROLI is heavier, greener, and spicier. However, both have a special, unique quality making it worth trying as many fragrances as necessary to find one you love:
THE LIMITED EDITION: Fashionistas love Prada, especially Infusion de Fleur d’Oranger, the luscious, summery debut fragrance in the Ephemeral Infusion Collection: a family of yearly, limited edition fragrances launched in 2003 and derived from Prada’s Exclusive Scent range. Orange Blossom Absolute and Neroli are amplified through dazzling Mandarin Oil, and mixed with lavish Jasmine and voluptuous Tuberose. This distinctive blend of exotic ingredients gives this delightful perfume a delicate but irreverent edge. The art deco print of the perfume box inspired a trip down the Spring 2009 catwalk. Available at NeimanMarcus.com.
THE TOUR DE FORCE: If you can afford to buy more than one, Serge Lutens Fleurs D’Oranger deserves an heir and a spare. The most unabashedly feminine of the orange blossom fragrances I tested, orange blossom and the barest hint of those other white flowers are enhanced with traces of warm spice. A floral fantasy. Available at LuckyScent.com.
THE ORGANIC: Bloom de Nuit, created by Jane Hendler, the owner of Ajne, is a soft spoken orange blossom pure perfume, complimented by the subtle addition of green leaves and orange fruit. As an added benefit, it contains essential oils known to calm and balance the nervous system. I gaze at the gorgeous gold filigree bottle, and feel rather Zen (despite its steep price), and a drop or two lasts for hours. Available at Ajne.com.
THE PERFECT PRESENTS: Who wouldn’t welcome something gilded from the world’s oldest producer of wax candles? Cire Trudon's Odalisque is scented with pure orange blossom woven with notes of bark and vanilla. Available Outblush.com & First-in-Fragrance.com. And for any naysayers you know who believe - "I DON'T LIKE ORANGE BLOSSOM. NO! NO! NO!" - have yet to experience the pure pleasure of Redflower’s Intensely-Scented Organic, Demeter-Certified Orange Blossom Diffuser that wafts continuously throughout my apartment. After three months, the scent is as distinct as the day I placed the palm reeds into its recycled Spanish glass spherical bottle, making it one of the best I have tested. Available at Redflower.com.
THE COLLECTIBLE: When L’Artisan Parfumeur creates their limited edition Exceptional Harvest Series, trust me, they are must-haves. In 2005, Fleur D’Oranger was the first of this new series of outstanding perfumes to celebrate a sublime harvest, from the Nabeul Orchards in Tunisia. 2007 was also a year that yielded an extraordinary harvest, one that was used to create another limited edition of orange blossom perfume (the first edition was exhausted in just a few weeks). Although 2005 was THE year (I have a trace left of the original), 2007 is certainly bottle-worthy, embodying that fleeting moment in time when the orange blossom was at its peak. Lush and honeyed, it is amazingly fresh; this freshness is emphasized by other parts of the orange tree (neroli, orange essential oil, the seed, extract of the twig, the bud and the leaves). Everything in this fragrance is near perfection. A luscious and giddy scent with its hint of almond sweetness, it is a favorite, and I hoard it. At LuckyScent.com.
THE UBER NICHE: From the fragrance scientists and artists at Le Labo’s, Neroli 36 (the number next to each fragrance is the number of ingredients used for each scent) includes rose, musk, mandarin orange, jasmine and vanilla. Its drydown is so fresh and clean, I would like to smell this on the back of a man’s neck, but it is somehow "greener" and not quite as beguiling as the very different Fleur D’Oranger 27. This blend of fresh florals, musk, bergamot, petit grain and lemon is the more "honeyed" of the two and very feminine; composed of natural and extremely rare Orange Blossoms, it took over three years to cultivate. It is my personal favorite of the two. Each scent is made to order, personally labeled for you, and available at LeLaboFragrances.com.
THE CLASSIC: For those who mourn the passing of several Diptyque fragrances into the dreaded Never Never land of DISCONTINUED, the company serves up Diptyque Eau de Neroli, a nostalgic, straightforward neroli based cologne with notes of bergamot, petitgrain, verbena, tarragon, neroli, orange blossom, geranium, beeswax, white musk and cedar. It is a sunlit and cheery citrus, eminently wearable and not overly complex; nuances of tarragon and beeswax are of special interest. This is the perfect "Neroli for Beginners." Available at Amazon.com.
- Michelyn Camen
Camen is the New York City based global fragrance expert and the owner of FifthSense N.Y.C. where she consults for luxury perfumers and fragrance companies, and provides personalized fragrance consultations based on body chemistry, psychology, fashion, and lifestyle. She is a Senior Contributor for Fragrantica.com In addition, she is the Fragrance Columnist for UptownSocial.net, the former Senior Contributing Writer for Sniffapalooza Magazine, New in Niche Columnist for Basenotes and Editorial Director/Fragrance Editor for Beauty News NYC & LA. Email her at Michelyn AT Fashiontribes DOT com.
(bitter orange illustration: source)
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