If you ask me, the best time of the year to wear bright citrus perfumes is the middle of winter. That's when they cheer you up with their eternal optimism and hope for warmer days. Most people regard these lemon-orange cologne-type fragrances as summer staples, but really, other than that first blast of sharpness I don't see the point.
I remember first testing Armani Prive Oranger Alhambra on an extra cold winter day. It was glorious- all sunshine and oakmoss, with a chypre dry-down and a lot more magic than I'd have expected. Oranger Alhambra stayed on my skin and sleeves all day, making me smile every time I sniffed myself, despite the dreary slushy day.
I have a full bottle now (thanks to a lucky stop at a thrift store, where I found it sealed in box for the princely sum of $25) and have spent the last few days bathing myself in this Armani Prive perfume. After all, 85 degrees have been the coolest temperature we've seen this week. It doesn't feel the same in the soupy air. Yes, the beauty and the rosemary-tinged orange is all there. The chypre structure is familiar and lovely, even if this is a modern thin one, with questionable oakmoss that doesn't have the kick of yore. It's still green, it's still well-crafted and pleasing. But the formula of Oranger Alhambra is so volatile that it's gone within 30 minutes without doing the intricate dance that enchants me in cooler weather. It skips the more captivating parts of the dry-down, the moments when you smell green jasmine just under the surface, slightly sweetening the aroma of bitter orange peels. Modern oakmoss is not robust enough to assert itself in this weather, and since the patchouli here is pale, dry and clean, there's not much of a dry-down of which to speak.
Don't get me wrong: Armani Prive Oranger Alhambra is still nice in this weather, it just doesn't fulfill its full potential when it disappears so quickly. Tomorrow I'm going to wear some favorite vintage. Oranger Alhambra can wait until fall.
Notes: Lemon, Bergamot, Bitter Orange, Petitgrain, Rosemary, Marjoram, Jasmine, Moss, Patchouli.
Armani Prive Oranger Alhambra ($115, 100 ml EDT) at select Saks locations.
Photo of model Anne St. Marie from Harper's Bazaar, 1957.