Created by : Christopher Sheldrake
Date : 1995
Genre : White floral
Concentration : eau de parfum
The last time I saw an opera with Gaston I remarked on how good the soprano was. He responded without hesitation, “Aaaaah… good sopranos are a dime a dozen. It’s good tenors which are hard to find!” And you know… that’s how I feel about good white florals which, for me, are the Holy Grail of perfumery. There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of white florals but the really good ones are rare. The great ones can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
I did two informal workshops this past week and despite the beautiful chypres and warm ambers, it was Fleurs d’oranger that drew the most attention. I’ve had Fd’o in my collection for several months and I never paid much attention to it but after hearing the “oohs” and “aahs”, I figured it was time to sit down and review it.
I still remember the evening I bought it. I had 5 Serge Lutens scent strips in front of me… Féminité du bois, À la nuit, Chergui, Serge noire and Fleurs d’oranger. I walked out with Fd’o and, after having tested it, it wasn’t a wise choice.
Fleurs d’oranger starts out very beautifully… a symphonic white floral with notes of jasmine, tuberose and the blossoms of the mock orange hedge that separated my dad’s house from the neighbour. No doubt about it, it has wow factor! It pulled me in… and kept me sniffing the scent strip over and over again. It was the same when I road-tested it… for the first 30 minutes… and then it just got to be annoying. Fleurs d’oranger had morphed into a shrill, synthetic and fleshless floral… reminiscent of those Pre-Raphaelite beauties which seem to hover between life and death. Stunning… but I’m not sure I’d want to have one as a next-door neighbour. They always look like they are about to poison someone, if not themselves. The drydown was tolerable, but just.
Fleurs d’oranger might have made a better amber, Serge Lutens’ specialty, but as a strict floral, its register is too high and too monophonic. Think of a sopranos-only choir… beautiful for a song or two but then… can we have a few altos and maybe a tenor or two?
In retrospect, I agree with Gaston… good tenors are rare… as are good white florals.
Image : The Damsel of the Holy Grail (1874) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti