French fragrance house L’Artisan Parfumeur recently added four new fragrances to an already extensive collection and they are perfect for wearing this Australian spring and summer. My favourite of the four is Histoire d’Orangers. The ambitiously titled fragrance is a sun kissed floral scent filled with light and coastal air. My opinion may be biased because I like orange flower fragrances but Histoire d’Orangers stacks up against my other favourites and offers a modern take on an ingredient that has been used in perfumery for centuries. Firmenich perfumer Marie Salamange created Histoire d’Orangers. She was inspired by memories of Morocco where she travelled through the Souss Valley from Taroudant to Taghazout, a small fishing village on the North African coastline. “Each time I think of this majestic landscape, I think of orange tree flower water, a delicate and delicious water, ultra-refreshing and incredibly luminous.”
Orange flowers have featured in many perfume stories from different times and places. The Moors cultivated orange trees in Spain then early Spanish explorers introduced oranges to North and Latin America as well as other parts of Europe. The flower was a favourite of France’s Sun King Louis XIV who built a grand orangerie for his ‘perfumed court’ inside the palace grounds at Versailles. Today orange flowers are still used in perfumery and cuisine from Mexico to the Middle East. The best bitter oranges (Citrus x aurantium) come from North Africa. Tunisian neroli oil and orange flower absolute have reputations for being the finest in the world. Because the orange tree has a rich history in that area, there have been many fragrances that have told this story. The contemporary benchmark often quoted is Serge Lutens’ Fleurs d’Orangers, a fragrance set in Morocco. Lutens’ Fleur d’Orangers picks up on the flower’s headiness and references its surrounds with Medina spices like cumin and nutmeg and a hint of feculent civet. Histoire d’Orangers is not the first time L’Artisan Parfumeur has told an orange flower story either. In 2005 the house released Fleur d’Oranger for the first time, a limited edition fragrance as part of its Harvest Collection. Perfumer Anne Flipo created a classic soliflore, which celebrated the annual harvest of orange flowers in Nabeul, Tunisia. 2004 had been an exceptional harvest. Seville a l’Aube is L’Artisan Parfumeur’s other orange flower story that takes place in Seville, Spain. Perfume author Denyse Beaulieu’s book The Perfume Lover was the basis of perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour’s verdant orange flower fragrance.
There are many orange flower fragrances to choose from and Histoire d’Orangers will not be the last. Comparison is only natural. Histoire d’Orangers is like an eau, which sketches the essential outline of the flower instead of providing every little detail. It also feels very modern owing to the use of modern animalic notes. The fragrance opens with the scent of oranges backed by a refreshing white tea accord. Mingled with the zesty orange note is a flash of greenery. In order to find the flower, the nose follows a trail of orange fruit and green leaves. Marie Salamange’s orange flower has natural facets but its beauty lies in the perfumer’s use of chemistry as art to represent the flower in reality, in nature and in three dimensions. She used Helvetolide, a patented synthetic musk ingredient developed by Firmenich. This wonderful ingredient gives the fragrance an airy and expansive muskiness without feeling heavy. Helvetolide also has a fruity pear facet, which compliments the orange flower note nicely. With Ambroxan, the dry down smells modern, clean and reminds me of freshly dried laundry. There is also a hint of tonka bean in the base, which has a slightly warm, almond-like presence once the top notes subside and the musk comes into focus. Histoire d’Orangers doesn’t have a big diffusion or a lot of tenacity on my skin but with it being such an ephemeral scent, it’s nice to keep the bottle close by for a refreshing re-spirtz throughout the day, especially now that the weather here in Sydney is heating up towards summer.
Olfactive direction: Puig Perfumery Centre
Perfumer: Marie Salamange (Firmenich)
Release Date: 2017
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Floral
Notes: White tea, neroli, Helvetolide, orange blossom, ambrox, tonka bean
Australian stockist: www.agencedeparfum.com.au