One of my favourite foody scents is orange. Fat, sunset coloured fruits bursting with sharp juices. Some firm, to be sliced with a kitchen knife, others small and plump and soft enough to peel with your fingers. I adore the lingering stickiness and the slightly bitter tang that citrus peel leaves on skin and under fingernails. Eating an orange is, for me, always a happy experience.
Orange blossom, or Neroli, in it’s essential oil form is one of the most hauntingly beautiful scents there is. It has a bittersweet, almost smokey delicacy that is truly moving. I tend to burn neroli oil when I am in need of some quiet reassurance and a gentle lifting of my worries. Where the burst of sparkling golden citrus from an orange is full of joyful laughter, neroli is a whispered protective mantra muttered over candle flames in the night.
Petitgrain is similar to Neroli, it is still harvested from the orange tree but this time from the unripe fruit, leaves and bark. It is sharper and slightly more woody but still has the same essential delicate, citrussy nature. Petitgrain is cheaper to produce and therefore it is often called ‘the poor man’s’ neroli. However high quality petigrain, mostly obtained from France, is a wonderful scent and used to add depth and texture to citrus scents in perfumery.
As you can imagine, I get very excited at the prospect of orange perfumes. It is amazing how many interpretations of this humble citrus fruit there are and I have more than a few issues with most of them. The biggest problem seems to be that of longevity. Citrus molecules are notoriously short lived, evaporating on warm skin far too fast for my liking. In order to counteract this, perfumers often blend orange oil with orange blossom and other florals to prolong it’s life, or there are tell tale signs of chemical ‘super florilizers’, which trigger horrible headaches. When orange blossom is blended with other florals I often find that it turns to powder on my skin, it’s something I really don’t like. Only one perfume with a predominantly floral orange blossom accord has stolen my heart and that is Vero Profumo ‘Rubj’ Extrait. In this fragrance the orange blossom is allowed the space to sparkle and shimmer atop the more indolic jasmine and tuberose. It doesn’t turn to powder on my skin and remains light and beautiful throughout the development.
Other perfumes have more focus on the orange fruit itself. Often these are combined with other foody notes like tomato and various herbal combinations, woody notes like sandalwood or predictable festive spices. The most successful fruity orange perfumes that I have in my collection are ‘The Sun‘ from Gorilla perfumes, a sticky orange squash scent with a lovely, warm sandalwood dry down, and ‘Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic’ from Guerlain. This perfume smells completely amazing at first spritz, full of juice and zest with little white blooms floating atop it. That classic, herbal/balsamic Guerlain base comes through a little too strongly for me though, especially in summer when it can smell far too much like I’ve rubbed basil leaves on my pulse points.
Obviously I was intrigued by Von Eusersdorff’s latest launch, ‘Classic Orange’. Given the highly polished and superb quality of their other fragrances, I knew that this perfume was bound to be well made and appealing. Due to my deep love of orange and a distinct lack of scents that actually work on my skin, my standards in this genre of perfume are very high. So how does ‘Classic Orange’ perform…..?
When I spritzed the perfume onto my skin it felt as if I had just pushed my thumb into the firm skin of a huge orange, spraying bitter juices forth. Very quickly the sweeter nectar inside begins to flow. The opening is so completely like the act of peeling of an orange that my mouth waters. Developing slowly out of this torrent of bitter sweetness is the slightly smokey sharpness of petigrain and black tea, beneath that a smoother, polished surface of sandalwood. Now orange and woods are a combination that I’m already familiar with, but the difference here is the balance between them.
Sandalwood can warm a perfume up very quickly. Here the orange is very firmly in the lead role and keeps the whole scent cool and pleasantly bitter, helped by the aromatic and spiky black tea. The wood beneath is masterfully controlled and serves to add depth and longevity to the citrus, without surpassing it. Von Eusersdorff have again created that superb smoothness and finish that so impresses me, particularly here where the sharpness of the petigrain could roughen the edges. It also only has the bearest hint of a floral note, just enough to ornament it’s boldness with a flicker of femininity.
‘Classic Orange’ becomes more sweet and musky as it warms, however it maintains it’s citrus slammer of a start for over an hour, which is impressive. The orange never fades entirely, it simply becomes more liquid and smooth. The sandalwood is ever so slightly soapy/lemony now and the more bitter bark of the petigrain reigns it all in under it’s quietly stern gaze. It doesn’t have a huge sillage but as I’ve mentioned before I don’t mind this in the slightest. As it has a very true orange nature and I wouldn’t want people to think that I’d emptied a bottle of juice over my head. I believe this is a scent to be sprayed in the air and walked through, enough to give you a corona of freshness. But that’s just me. For those who love a big perfume, ‘Classic Orange’ is up to the challenge.
Von Eusersdorff describe ‘Classic Orange as
“A bittersweet symphony.”
I couldn’t agree more. I am so impressed with this perfume, it is by far the truest representation of orange that I have come across. Paired with the darker bitterness of petigrain and tea the fragrance is cologne-like and cool. There are no boozy notes, nothing overly sweet and sticky, no spices (thank god.) It is a perfume all about the orange and a beautifully made one at that. Von Eusersdorff do simplicity so, so well. All their scents are highly crafted and finished to exceptional standards. This is not the house to go to if you like a bit of rough. Their orange is a high definition, three dimensional portrait of a big blood orange, plucked from the tree outside the window and freshly sliced open on the wooden table, oozing it’s divine nectar in sticky rivulets into the grain. Damn it is good!