I tend to get seasonal cravings in advance: the smell of orange blossom and neroli have been tugging at me in yearning fashion the last couple of weeks – partly because they are rejuvenatingly ‘rise above’ floral notes for me that soothe and uplift the spirits (there is a definite headspace created by both ingredients that is apart from other flowers: a sense of spring madness, in the best possible sense, when the rising exhilaration of everything budding around you and bursting into green is always worth the wait).

Except this year I can’t. Reality has been shit, so let the dreaming begin. Today there are flood warnings because of the cold torrential rains outside slamming against the window, but I am in my own zone. Still unsteady from the labyrinthitis that has made me lose my bearings, but not spinning or on the verge of vertiginous collapse. A little anxious that I will never return to my wildly dancing normal self, yet still in a semi-blissful state at home at my desk, sampling new scents, keeping it all beautifully at bay.

Recent neroli orange blossoms I have reached for when the desire for some back-of-the-hand floralcy has hit me upon returning home – and soon, the actual orange blossom will be out on the trees at the top of the hill : I will be able to bury my head in it – include Penhaligon’s Castile, and Ortigia Sicilia’s Zagara/ Orange Blossom – a dense, simplistic, but sassy blend of petitgrain sharpened orange blossom, neroli and sandalwood with a confectioner’s glaze and a zest of brittle glamour. I have gone to bed wearing this a couple of times recently as it is quite rallying and vigorating: like the leopard on the bottle, it has a pleasingly gaudy pizazz.

Miller Harris’ Lumière Dorée

– described by the British perfume house as ‘intoxicatingly fresh’, is an outlier in the orange blossoms I sometimes use as it is almost rapaciously forthright, with a just opened orange flower neroli rinsed in an almost saline solution of ‘crisp ambers, cashmere and white musks’ counterpointed with orange bigarade and heady jasmine. The effect is coruscating but also shimmering: the scent goes straight to the heart nerve : once inhaled: never forgotten.

Precisely when I am in the exact mood for orange blossom, two perfumes fortuitously arrived in the last two days founded on these vernal ecstasies. Hallelujah.

Today I shall begin with the lovely Matiere Premiere Neroli Oranger by perfumer Aurelien Guichard:

The designer’s brief:

INITIAL IDEA: ‘A work around the purity of orange blossom’

MAIN INGREDIENT: Absolute Orange Blossom Tunisia

CREATIVE APPROACH: ‘Highlight the fresh and radiant facet with Neroli Oil Lebanon and Bergamot Oil Italy. Amplify the delicate floral character with Ylang-Ylang Oil Comoros and Floral Musks’.

The result : a definite success: : a very sensual and bodied orange blossom that starts out fresh and bright, almost explosive (and thus perfect for evening-wear entrances in summer), the ylang ylang more of a cushion to the orange flower notes than a main feature, the overall effect much more sundown perfume than niche soliflore….. a smooth, buttery, gilt underscore that brings to mind Piguet Fracas ( Tora I think you need to try this ): a definite mood enhancer and easy to wear and just the ticket for the coming weeks as winter finally leaves us for the year and the trees and the flowers take over.

Next: Tobago’s Innocent Love. While all the perfumes so far discussed dance to a contemporary neroli/orange blossom tango, Innocent Love by Japanese brand Tobali veers at once in a more traditional yet also unexpected direction : a beautifully embellished neroli cologne that I think might need to acquire a full bottle of for my own usage. While an open citrus lover (‘he was in the closet but was never afraid of declaring his love for lime and bergamot peel)’), I have never really liked the rosemary/old fashioned musks that taint and ruin the lemons and oranges in many colognes, the classic templates in citrus/herb/nerolis like those of Santa Maria Novella or 4711: I have always prayed for the beginning to continue without the end (a bit like life itself). Others, of the more urban modern template such as Grand Neroli by Atelier Colognes dazzle you initially but then fade to bland – and I can never stand the disappointment.

Innocent Love, in contrast, begins with one of the best citrus openings I have ever encountered, with ‘white neroli’, bergamot and a very vivid tangerine revitalising the senses from first touch, over a very light ambered musk and base of ‘Hidden Japonism 834’ – this Tokyo company’s very own Guerlinade – and a deliciously gentle middle section of buoyant jasmine sambac plus a perfectly judged hint of lavender to keep everything deliriously optimistic and pleasant throughout.

A delight: sometimes I really just need perfumes like these: florals that are alive and instantaneously happy.


Filed under Flowers, Neroli


  1. Cath

    I’m so glad you got to try and enjoy Lumière Dorée. I discovered it 3 years ago. Smelling it I was warped back to my childhood, such a soothing, gentle fragrance.

    • I find it harsh in some ways, but yes: it really does have something.

      I sometimes find myself wanting it despite myself. You must be like me: orange blossom is the great cheerer.

      • Cath

        You got me curious about the Neroli Oranger, being an ylang ylang lover and all.Is it worth blind buying?

      • I wonder. The ylang isn’t so prominent, but I really like it: a similar vibe to the Lumiere Doree, but less sharp at the beginning (and therefore less visceral) – but quite nice for a neroli lift on summer evenings. The Encens Suave in the sample set is nice as well – a vanillic frankincense. I don’t know. I am scared of blind buys myself at niche prices.

      • I can send you a drop/ a scent strip first~

  2. Being a Japanophile and a lover of orange blossom, I will have to try Innocent Love. Lumiere Doree sounds like a must also.
    I am enjoying the dregs of my Orangers en Fleur by Houbigant I bought in Moscow 2012. I have truly enjoyed it as it definitely reminds me of the orange groves in my native California blooming in April. The “Eau de brouts” absolute in the fragrance is a gorgeous green note giving the impression of an entire tree, not just the flower. Love the silvery-white musk underscoring the composition also, like you I am not a fan of old-fashioned musks lending their darkness to orange blossom.

    • Tora LOVES the Houbigant also and sent me a sample of it in hospital four years ago : so cheering – I really enjoyed wearing it post shower: that’s why I mentioned her in the post today. Lumiere Doree is an odd number – quite daring in some ways, but whether you like it or not will depend on whether you like those rinsey top notes that are bracing. I think there is something addicting about it though. Worth a try.

      Innocent Love : I think my description is accurate – a very nice neroli with a delightfully pyjama friendly dry down but without all the meringue vanilla of Kilian Love/ Guerlain type orange blossoms (which I also like, but am not always in the mood for). I think it is really charming. And definitely kind ‘innocent’ actually.

  3. I love Ortigia Zagara. I discovered it in 2018 at a hotel in Sicily where they had tubes of the shower gel and body lotion and little bars of the soap. (Now most hotels have shower and bath products in a dispenser on the walls of the bathrooms.). After my return hone I set my sights on finding a bottle of Zagara Eau de Parfum and although it was a difficult process, I finally got a 100 ml bottle. I love orange blossom, especially in the springtime. I am not familiar with any of the others you listed but thanks for the suggestions and Happy Almost Spring!

    • To you too.

      I LOVE the Ortigia packaging; hotel toiletries like that would be heaven on earth for me. Soap is something I get genuinely excited about: I would be using them all up and then calling reception to have more sent up. What was the shower gel like? Such a lovely feeling, to be all orange blossomed up in the shower and then have breakfast, and then head out for a beautiful day…

  4. Tara C

    I love orange blossom but haven’t tried any of the ones you have reviewed. Mostly I tend to reach for the sweetened ones, but Nicolai’s Cap Néroli is more bracing when I want that sort of thing. I also enjoy Séville à l’Aube.

  5. Robin

    ” . . . a dense, simplistic, but sassy blend of petitgrain sharpened orange blossom, neroli and sandalwood with a confectioner’s glaze and a zest of brittle glamour. I have gone to bed wearing this a couple of times recently as it is quite rallying and vigorating: like the leopard on the bottle, it has a pleasingly gaudy pizazz.”

    Oh, this writing makes me weak in the knees.

    Orange blossom and neroli and great descriptions. The perfect antidote for a very grey, windy and rain cold March day on the coast. Thank you, N.

  6. Robin

    Your brain must be bequeathed to science for study. How do you remember these small things about your readers? I think you know more about us than we know about ourselves.

    I do like orange blossom. Straight up or played around with. Besides the straight-up Goutal Néroli, I like the played-around-with old Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger (the new stuff is 99% water), old Caron Un Avion, LV Dilmun, the insanely rich Parfumerie Generale Louanges Profanes, the equally caloric Grossman Phul-Nana, mostly for the gorgeous neroli topnote, and last but not least, Denise’s collab with Bertrand D., LAP Seville à l’Aube. Fave of all, I think, might be Roja Dove Neroli, because the emphasis is on that — neroli — and not so much orange blossom. I do find orange blossom to sometimes be a bit cloying, and can only take so many hours of the others — the orange blossom dominant ones — for that reason. Rich white florals or floral orientals aren’t 100% in my wheelhouse, really. (Is there an orange blossom floral chypre? I can’t think of one.) I don’t remember being especially impressed with Hermès Eau de Néroli Doré. But I only had a sample.

    Oh, wow, I forgot 24 Faubourg. I love it. Vintage, but of course.

    I only like 4711 in the extremely fresh, pale blue aftershave splash. Otherwise, I don’t know, it makes me queasy.

    I like just plain orange blossom water from Middle Eastern shops, transferred to a fine-mist spray bottle, on a hot summer morning or before bed.

    • I was thinking the same myself as I was walking along: so much cheaper; all the pleasure in a short-lived spritz without all the fuzz in the background.

      I have never smelled the Roja Dove Neroli – what is it like? Ultra expensive presumably like his Vetiver – but remember vividly your comments on how much you love the Goutal. These things stick!!

  7. Oh how you make everything sound so lovely. The Lumiere Doree is sublime, I smelt it a few years back at Barney’s, when there was still a Barney’s, how I wish I purchased it.
    Another fabulous orange blossom scent is L’Artisan’s Seville a l’Aube, which is a much richer and syrupy take on it.

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