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.