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Fleurs d’Oranger – The big reveal – July 26, 2013 New Fragrance Listing

Photo - Wikimedia Commons - Bitter Orange Tree

Fleurs d’Oranger by Serge Lutens has a reputation in the perfume blogs for being difficult. I’m not here to disprove that notion, because I’ve experienced this  aberrant behaviour myself. This 1995 EdP fragrance created by Christopher Sheldrake is cryptically described by Serge Lutens on its webpage:

“It’s within us. A single whiff of this fragrance, drawn from the highly scented blossom of the bitter orange tree, augmented by a hint of civet, resonates within us.”

Fleurs d’Oranger is a white floral from Luten’s “Flowers Unpicked” collection. First of all, the phrase “white floral” sets my teeth on edge and makes my head hurt. Orange blossom, jasmine, tuberose, gardenia, lily of the valley - not my favourites, especially as soliflores. Indolic flowers as the main course are way too soapy, screechy, chalk-on-the-blackboard, and migraine-inducing for my sensitivities. But mixed with spices, woods, amber, smoky resins, or green tropical notes, as in Une Voix Noire, Séville à l’Aube, or Nuit de Tubéreuse, I can be won over.

I was open to the opportunity, so I gave Fleurs d’Oranger serious trial wearings over the past while. The first time was a scrubber for me – the white florals got me by the throat. But I went back, because dammit, I’m going to educate my nose and learn to appreciate notes I think I don’t like, am I not? So back to the bottle I went, and I eventually arrived at the point of liking it. One evening, all glammed up and wearing it to a party, I even liked it enormously. The white florals seemed subdued and the spice and woods added some interesting twists and turns.  It felt right, but love? No.

Two weeks ago, I fell deeply in love with Fleurs d’Oranger. What happened to turn me from a haphazard semi-committed admirer to a besotted lover? It turns out that Fleurs d’Oranger required certain atmospheric conditions to reveal its inner beauty. It needed heat, it needed humidity, it needed to be worn by me in the dense wet stifling heat of summer in order to bloom on my skin and do its magic act. It needed to be liberated.

In the steamy heat, Fleurs d’Oranger is very alive, sunshine-bright and juicy in the opening notes – a rush of mandarin orange blossoms, definitely unpicked. Soon joined by the other white flowers, the orange blossom recedes a little and big luscious tuberose takes centre stage, jasmine off to the side. But it’s a polite tuberose, and this white floral accord is edged with spices, becoming slightly sweaty and animalic, feminine and surprisingly seductive rather than outright sexy, as it moves into the heart.

The luminous orange blossoms waft in and out through the heart, white rose adds a cool sweetness to the floral accord, and then the fragrance begins to change as the basenotes counter the indolic character of the orange blossom, tuberose and jasmine. Cedar and musk notes add a smooth woody layer, perfectly balancing the sweet lush florals and transforming Fleurs d’Oranger into soft scent in the final dry-down, still with the delicate sensual whiff of orange blossoms.  It is so truly beautiful, and I feel like I’ve just smelled it for the very first time. This is now, to me, the real Fleurs d’Oranger.  

Fleurs d’Oranger is complex, surprising, irresistible, magnificently feminine, and one of the best of Serge Lutens florals, in my opinion. But does this mean I can only wear Fleurs d’Oranger on humid days, in the heat of summer? I don’t think so. Its difficult unpredictable nature is now one of the things that I love about this fragrance. I never know if the white florals are going to get me by the throat, or if I’m going to have to tame them with a drop of one of my favourite M. Lutens spicy woods, or if they’re going to sing in perfect harmony.

It doesn’t matter. I know the beauty that’s inside Fleurs d’Oranger. Like the cryptic message says, it’s within me.

Today, we’re adding Fleurs d’Oranger to our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00.