The first time I ever purchased this clear, subtle beauty was around twenty years ago (she will agree that it almost seems like another lifetime), when Helen came to stay here for the first time. All in Japan was still new to me and to her; bewilderingly beautiful and revelatory; the light, the tranquillity of Kamakura, the sharp intake of breath when a Noh-masked performer entered the theatre stage left.  Slow and deliberate as a phantom, in awe-filling layers of fine-broidered, trailing kimono.



I left a bottle of Mandarine Pamplemousse under her pillow in the tatami room, light filtering through the afternoon so that when she woke up from the long jet lag the next day, this citrus would be the first scent of association she would have with a new day in Japan.



It was an anti-intuitive choice of scent in a way  – for someone whose favourite perfume is Après L’Ondée; this was more glassy and citric. If less rueful and melancholic than the Guerlain, there was still somehow a similar quality of homeostasis; a balancing, and calming, of the emotions.




Creed is often criticized by the cognoscenti (for various reasons I don’t entirely understand), and many people find this scent lacklustre, not close enough to its name. It is true that this cologne smells neither especially of mandarin, nor of grapefruit, but more of a fusion of clear, cleaning notes like a hair preparation for Aphrodite:  an Apollonian, fruited flower grove of the imagination (white flowers…clover? gentle wild jasmine? honeysuckle?) scenting the sunbleached clean stones of a gentle, natural ambergris. It is refreshing to the spirit: A perfume made explicitly for afternoon sleeps on cool white sheets. Unlike the more utilitarian citruses that I use on a daily basis for work, Mandarine Pamplemousse occupies its own special space now in the pantheon for me and is not a perfume that I will spray with abandon. Discontinued, instead, this bottle will be conserved in my cabinet as something precious.











Filed under Citrus, Flowers


  1. Robin

    The fragrance under the pillow. What a lovely gesture. And what post-flight pleasure for Helen. That’s a quiet beauty.

    For me, Creed is hit or miss, both in terms of the composition and freshness/batch variation. I’ve even had samples made for me fresh from the luxury department store in Vancouver and mailed out to me that had already begun to deteriorate. The sales rep said it was more common with Creed than any other line she’d worked with. I used to think they were a tad pricey, but with all the $$$ niche houses these days the playing field has certainly levelled a little. At its best — fresh, from a good batch — Green Irish Tweed just sings on Ric’s skin. I like wearing it as well. And I have a few I love myself. Fleurs de Bulgarie and White Flowers (in their Royal Exclusives line and really, terribly, astronomically priced, although I’d probably pay the $545 USD for 75ml if Ric loved it) have the Wow factor for sure. Some go too far for my tastes and are unwearably heavy-handed. Aventus for Her and Viking are a couple of offenders. And I really don’t like the clumsy, crude bottles of the main line. Call me picky, but. Ooh, that was too snarky! But I’m pressing Post anyway!

    • Not snarky at all. I agree with what you say. I am still yearning for a vintage bottle of Tubereuse Indiana which is the dreamiest beach ambergris bliss you can possibly imagine, I also like Bulgarie and my friend was obsessed with White Flowers; at least Creed don’t smell like anyone else.Strange that they deteriorate en route ..!

      • Robin

        Sorry, Neil, I didn’t explain that clearly. I meant that a sample made from a tester bottle and mailed direct from the store was in fact in poor shape before it left the premises. It’s true that testers can hang around awhile under less than optimum conditions, but still.

        Would love to try vintage Tubereuse Indiana.

      • It didn’t work on my skin; but on card, it was one of the best perfume experiences of my entire life. A salty floral sea breeze that felt like resting in a cabin on a cliff top of white azaleas. I adored it, but could never justify buying it as it went wrong on me. I always planned to get it one day just for the sake of it but haven’t seen it anywhere recently.

  2. bibimaizoon

    I recall when Creed first came to the US, I was still in uni & working the fragrance counter at a posh department store in San Francisco. My first purchase was Spring Flower with my store discount! The dubious and rather gimmicky story of Spring Flower being Audrey Hepburn’s bespoke scent from the House of Creed was how we were taught to start our sales pitch by the Creed rep. I suspect this sales tactic of Creed having made custom fragrances for long-dead celebrities (with no documentation or proof such as actual bottles) led to the demise of Creed amongst the cognoscenti.
    Nevertheless, Creed has produced some legendary perfumes over the years (whether bespoke or not). I’ve not tried Zeste Mandarine Pamplemousse but do enjoy the particular ambergris base Creed used to use & so shall have to seek it out!

    • A great way of looking at the house. Yes, Spring Flower being Audrey Hepburn’s…. I don’t think so, though Marlene Dietrich and her Creed do seem like a viable fit.

      Pamplemousse is part of that marigoldian 70’s shampoo type scent like Lauren : I really do like it, but can perfectly understand how others might find it rather dull.

      Creed have a fresh crispness I sometimes enjoy. And their embossed boxes are to DIE FOR

  3. emmawoolf

    Very beautiful. By which I mean, both the imagery in the review, and the beauty of that gesture to Helen. (It also has, dare I say, a cinematic quality). And I totally get the 1970s marigoldian shampoo reference above, because my mother possessed many such a bottle (often dusty due to her lack of cleaning prowess), and I remember the weekly treat/duty, of pushing the rubber shower attachments onto our butterscotch-coloured bath, and the glorious smelling tresses thereafter (until teenage grease reappeared). I have only possessed one Creed sample, Fleurissimo, and found it, to be honest, disappointing. But this does sound rather lovely. And perfect for summer x

    • I love your bathroom story and the fact you understand exactly the kind of citric shampoo smell I am talking about ( the scent of which I ADORE: it just always stripped my hair dry and turned it to straw).

      Obviously, this happened only once…. I do like to give my friends perfume as you know, but I can’t usually afford to just leave an expensive new bottle under their pillow like that.

      She had been in a bad place though, and I wanted that Japan trip to be as memorable and serene as I possibly could.

      Creed are a weird brand though, as you say. I like Fleurissimo, but there is definitely something careening and lurching about it: both old fashioned and chemical at the same time.

  4. Tara C

    Bibi has got it exactly – the gimmicky dubious claims draw disdain, although there are some pretty hard core fanboys over on Basenotes. Much more popular house with men than women it seems, or maybe they just talk about it more. I don’t feel a connection with their scents and own only one, the coconut beachy Virgin Island Water.

  5. I enjoy several Creed fragrances without getting overly cult-ish about them. The first time I have heard of this Creed. Sounds very pleasing in a quiet way.

    • Exactly.

      And your approach is the sane one ( kudos to them for being ABLE to generate this ‘panty dropper’ fanboy cult worship though; did it happen of its own accord do you think or was it just supremely canny marketing ?)

  6. Oh, how lovely a gesture, fragrance under the pillow. I would love to awaken to that as well.
    I absolutely adore Creed, and have for many years. I own about 11 of their fragrances and love each and every one beyond belief.
    I have never smelled this one though, and that needs to be remedied and quickly. I shall have to hunt down a bottle and enjoy it for the summer.
    One of my favorite Creed scents is Irisia, it is just magical on my skin. Tubereuse Indiana was the first Creed I ever purchased, around 22 years ago, and I still have a third of the bottle left. It truly is one of their finest creations. Jasmal is also a finely made jasmin, perfect for hot summer evenings.
    Cognoscenti be damned, I adore Creed!

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