Houbigant, the classic perfume house dating back to 1775, has been slowly orchestrating a comeback to the luxury shelves. They started by severely tightening their distribution and continued by launching Oranger en Fleurs, currently exclusive to Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. The even more encouraging news is that Oranger en Fleurs is a great perfume.
As Victoria of Bois de Jasmin noted, the first thing you notice about Houbigant's Oranger en Fleurs is the striking resemblance to Fleurs de Oranger by Serge Lutens. The exuberant white flowers tinged with spice offer a very similar effect. The sunshine and elegance of jasmine and orange blossom stops a step before things get heady and narcotic but still show a little skin. However, where Uncle Serge allows us to touch warm cuminy skin, Houbigant is more reserved. Oranger en Fleurs is obviously cleaner, though in no way is it soapy. For better and for worse, Oranger en Fleurs is lighter and has a carefree lilt. It's also a bit flatter which keeps me from loving it with abandon. There's something to be said for good behavior and wearability, but a perfume with such an incredible tenacity (twelve hours minimum) and an assertive sillage should have a little secret here and there and develop a little more.
I would say that if the thing that keeps you from committing to Serge Lutens is the cumin note, there's a good chance that Houbigant just solved your orange blossom problem. If you never tried Fleurs de Oranger, Oranger en Fleurs is a safe place to start. It has the flowers, the gorgeous jasmine note that takes the orange blossom a step further, and the spice that keeps things interesting. This fragrance is just creamy enough, just clean enough and oh so very pretty.
Notes: orange blossom, jasmine, rose, tuberose, ylang-ylang, nutmeg, cedar, and musk.
Houbigant- Oranger en Fleurs is available from Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus ($180, 100ml EDP. There's also an extrait de parfum version at a whopping $600 for the same amount). The sample for this review was sent by the company's PR.
Art: Portrait of Queen Mary II by William Wissig, 1685.