Sunday, January 07, 2007

Orange: On a Bad Note



I've mostly given up on trying to predict a reaction to a scent based on a single note (or notes) that I supposedly like or dislike. At this point, the only fragrance element that has never let me down is fig, and I was really hesitant in writing this sentence. Just watch how the next celeb to come out with a fragrance would be someone of a Kimberly Stewart caliber and the scent would be as comparable to great fig scents as Kim is to Stella McCartney.

But this isn't about figs. It's about oranges. Orange in its many incarnations appear as a note in many perfumes and defies classification. It can be a heady bloom or a rich fruit. It can smell sharp and spicy or comforting and sweet, candied or fresh. The options are many and there's an orange for everyone.

Apparently, it can also be cloyingly sweet. Lately, I've been coming across way too many of those. It began with Tocca's Stella. I've written about it here (scroll down a little to get to the part about Tocca). Stella's middle notes were of the orange creamsicle variety. It wasn't bad, just boring. [Six years later: change of mind. Kind of]


Next came Diptyque's Eau d'Elide. From the first whiff until the scent disintegrates and disappears completely (20-30 minutes later), the note I'm getting is of the candied orange peels my mother used to make. The listed note is of bitter orange combined with wild lavender and aromatic shrubs. On my skin, it moves from the very candied and sweet with a tinge of the bitterness of the peel to the soapy and cleaner lavender, but the sweetness is always there in the background. I don't hate it, but I don't like smelling like a candied anything. [Five years later: a massive change of heart. I now own a bottle and a backup]

The worst of the bunch to my nose is Dulcis in Fundo by Profumum. The listed notes are citrus fruits and Mexican Vanilla, and I'm willing to believe that this is all there is to this heavy, cloying pudding-like concoction. It smells completely edible, like an orange dessert, maybe a rich ice cream, until the vanilla cream drydown takes over (it lasts, close to the skin, for several hours).

I like vanilla in many fragrances and there are several rich gourmand scents that I enjoy. This isn't one of them. Smelling like a pastry shop isn't my idea of a good personal fragrance. I want something that blends several elements, that flirts with my personality as well as with my skin. Marshmallow simply doesn't make me feel sophisticated. [Sever years later: nope. Still don't like it]

4 comments:

  1. What a coincidence! I just posted a question over on Basenotes last night asking for any recommendations for orange scents. And not "sweet" scents, but zesty citrusy orange. Guess I can cross these three off my list, huh?

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  2. I have sweet-eating skin, so I took the edge off the Stella, but not sure I'll replace my decant. The Elide -- wow! I have a bottle, it's one of those things (mostly lavender on me) that's so strong I could kill the people around me, I have to be very careful when I apply. Skin chemistry is fascinating... trying to get a "real" orange (or a non-soapy orange blossom) is the tricky part, but it doesn't stop me from trying.

    In general, on me, the orange and OB scents last longer and go less wrong if worn on my hair or clothing rather than my skin.

    For Gail -- L'Artisan Mandarine Tout Simplement is a great zesty orange with zero lasting power, but might do fine in your hair... have you tried those L'Occitanes? No, seriously. The new one is actually quite nice, and there's another one in their line that's very zesty.

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  3. Again, what a coincidence! I just ordered a decant of the Mandarine Tout Simplement. I'll have to check out L'Occitane.

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  4. I second March on the L'Occitane thing. I have the old Neroli fragrance (the one everyone else seems to hate). It's definitely not sweet, but it's on the sharp floral side. I only got a whiff of the new ones, but they might be just the thing as far as real orange go. No marshmallow there.

    I also liked the way the L'Artisan smelled, but my skin didn't recognize that it's been sprayed with anything.

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