Showing posts with label review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label review. Show all posts

Sep 11, 2017

Perfume Review: Houbigant Orangers en Fleurs

life, love, houbigant, Orangers, Orangers en Fleurs, perfume, fragrance, review, orange blossom, tuberose, Turkish rose, ylang-ylang, Egyptian jasmine, nutmeg, eau de brouts, cedar, musk,
Orangers en Fleurs eau de parfum
Today I thought I'd do a review of my favorite perfume, Houbigant's Orangers en Fleurs. This new interpretation of orange blossom is not just a simple soliflore. It's a lush bouquet of orange blossom, tuberose, Turkish rose, Cormoros ylang-ylang, and Egyptian jasmine. Spicy nutmeg, eau de brouts, sheer cedar, and a base of clean musk temper this heady white floral. I'm certain reading Bibi rave about this overlooked gem is far more interesting than listening to her kvetch and crab about the Monsoon heat, eh? 
Matryoshka dolls
I first came across this perfume in a small duty-free shop in Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport in 2015. I had a 7 hour layover and was leisurely perusing all and sundry luxury goods on offer in the airport. I was expecting amber, vodka, caviar, matryoshka dolls, t-shirts, and perhaps furs? Nope! It was all perfumes and makeup - Bibi's most favorite things! And we're talking everything in the way of fragrance- Amouage, Montale, Escentual Molecules, Juliette has a Gun, Clive Christian, Chanel, Hermes,-you name it they had it. Bibi was in perfume heaven!!! So after about an hour of sampling at the bigger shops I stumbled across this tiny boutique at the end of the terminal. This little boutique had quite an odd assortment of brands. One wall was devoted to the Arabian brand Ajmal, there was a small selection of uber expensive Amouages, and another counter had an assortment of trendy niche brands like Byredo. I tried a few Byredos and other niche offerings and was rather unimpressed. I've already tried every Ajmal in existence so I declined sampling those. Then I spotted the tackiest 70's looking clear lucite display you can possibly imagine on the back wall. 
Orange blossoms
The garish fluorescent-lit display was devoted to three new offerings from Houbigant: Fougère Royale, Quelques Fleurs Royale, and Orangers en Fleurs. I was thoroughly underwhelmed upon trying the Quelques Fleurs Royale (2004). I tried the new version of Fougère Royale and was AMAZED but I know the Sheikh would never wear anything that bold or complex. The pristine crystal flacon of Orangers en Fleurs intrigued me. An orange tree in bloom? That sounds like a rather unoriginal and uninspiring premise for a luxury fragrance. However, white florals are my jam so I had to try it! And it was love at first sniff. Like the heavens opened up on that grey September day in Moscow and a brilliant beam of white floral bliss sparkled down from paradise. I asked the price. The saleslady said $80. I said, "I'll take it!" The owner of the store exclaimed loudly, 
"But that's the cheapest perfume in the whole store!" 

I replied, "It's the best thing I've tried in the entire airport." Her eyebrows about flew off her head. Guess they have crappy service in Russia too.
life, love, houbigant, Orangers, Orangers en Fleurs, perfume, fragrance, review, orange blossom, tuberose, Turkish rose, ylang-ylang, Egyptian jasmine, nutmeg, eau de brouts, cedar, musk,
My box has a white satin lining not this pink bathroom wallpaper stuff.
So I waited patiently until I arrived in Delhi to unbox my new treasure. I opened the immaculate white box stamped with a gilded logo of stylized orange blossoms and lined with elegant white satin. The crystal flacon has a nice heft to it but I will say I was a bit disappointed that the cap is plastic. I spritzed myself lightly before dinner. Would this turn out to be a disappointment as some other love (or like) at first sniff purchases have been? Would it simper off into nothingness in the searing heat of Delhi or morph into something monstrous? The sharp opening of the dry, gorgeously green, and petitgrain-like note of the eau de brouts was refreshing in the heat of the Subcontinent. The honeyed brightness of the orange blossom came shining through next. But then the real star of the show came forward...

Tuberose
A lush and buttery tuberose! The heady tuberose is the perfect foil for the soapiness of the orange blossom. Then Egyptian jasmine absolute appears adding further warmth yet remaining elegant, not animalistic. The prim Turkish rose absolute imperceptibly blends with the orange blossom. Cormoros ylang-ylang brings yet another facet with it's tropical note. Nutmeg chimes in delicately with a subtle citrusy spiciness completely in harmony with the orange tree theme. The cedar is so sheer it simply comes across as part of the tree. As the fragrance dies down a base of clean white musk is revealed. Nectarous orange blossom does continue to linger well into the dry down lightly hovering over the musk for hours (if not days). A deeper whiff reveals that intoxicating tuberose seductively lurking. This perfume gets an A+++ from me for a tenacity of over 12 hours in withering South Asian heat and humidity. In spite of this longevity it remains a well-behaved white floral that never goes indolic, sweaty, skanky, or fecal- YOU CAN WEAR THIS IN THE ELEVATOR!

YAY! A white floral that won't asphyxiate people in close quarters.
I've read reviews complaining that Orangers en Fleurs is overly simple, unoriginal, and just pretty. It is a very traditional floral-woods-musk composition. For me it's simple beauty and sophistication harken back to the classic style of Houbigant's older floral fragrances such as the iconic Quelques Fleurs, Les Violettes, and La Rose France . The perfumer is showcasing the quality of ingredients and their innate complexity perfectly. All those gorgeous absolutes are multifaceted and develop quite enough to keep me interested. This is also one of those amazing perfumes that definitely has a vintage feel to it but is somehow thoroughly modern too. No synthetic sleight of hands nor artifices required. Sometimes pretty and uncomplicated is what's called for. I certainly don't want to compete with the cacophonous and often overwhelming stench of South Asia. At least it isn't yet another one of those ubiquitous pink fruitichouli or gourmand things so popular nowadays!

life, love, houbigant, Orangers, Orangers en Fleurs, perfume, fragrance, review, orange blossom, tuberose, Turkish rose, ylang-ylang, Egyptian jasmine, nutmeg, eau de brouts, cedar, musk,

Orangers en Fleurs was launched by Houbigant in 2012. Apparently, it was initially only available at Bergdorf-Goodman and Neiman Marcus. The price started out at the princely sum of $180 for 100mls of the eau de parfum and $600 for 100mls of the parfum. I've now seen the eau de parfum priced as low as $60 for 100mls at online discounters. It's such an underrated bargain! I'm not sure if it wasn't a huge success because florals aren't trendy now or that hip niche houses are considered more fashionable ? I do have to say that Houbigant could have done a lot better with their marketing of the fragrance. I mean look at that ad -
WHY ARE THERE PINK ALMOND BLOSSOMS ON AN AD FOR AN ORANGE BLOSSOM FRAGRANCE!?! 
Pink has nothing to do with this fragrance!!!! White, green, and gold are the colors of this perfume. Almonds?!?

Kirsten Dunst as Marie-Antoinette frolicking at the (relatively) understated surroundings of the Petit Trianon
Houbigant has a long history of purveying to the French, British, and Russian aristocracy. Obviously, Houbigant wished to draw on it's legendary past with that classic Baccarat style flacon and the retro floral feel of Orangers en Fleurs. Marie-Antoinette was a famed client of Houbigant whose passion for feigned rusticity started the trend to lighter floral scents. Because of Marie-Antoinette the dense animalics so popular in the 17th century faded from popularity. Ethereal and elegant compositions of florals and woods became en vogue. Why not get a Kirsten Dunst look-a-like in a flimsy muslin chemise a la reine lolling about the Petit Trianon sniffing an orange blossom posy for the ad? Or just a boxed orange tree amongst the parterres of the Orangerie at Verailles in the background to infer an aristocratic bent?

Queen Victoria's wedding portrait
Here's another royal patron of Houbigant with a love for orange blossoms. Queen Victoria donned a pastoral coronet of orange blossoms on her wedding day. Her white gown and orange blossom headpiece set the style for western weddings for the next 200 years. Why not a simple orange blossom wreath or tiara next to or around the bottle for the ad? Oh well, I doubt Houbigant will be calling me for advertising advice.
life, love, houbigant, Orangers, Orangers en Fleurs, perfume, fragrance, review, orange blossom, tuberose, Turkish rose, ylang-ylang, Egyptian jasmine, nutmeg, eau de brouts, cedar, musk,
Boxed set of Orangers en Fleurs eau de parfum with scented lotion
(What is up with that tacky peach and green print on the box? It looks like a feminine hygiene product.)
Anywho, by now you've probably guessed that I absolutely love this perfume. From start to finish this perfume is just absolute perfection. Indeed, if I had to choose a signature scent- this would be it! Despite florals not being 'on trend' nowadays I get all sorts of compliments on this fragrance. A Chinese lady chased me down the street in Kathmandu last month wanting to know what the "powdery" perfume was that I was wearing. The Sheikh can be rather persnickety about perfumes but he has actually asked me to wear this one! I'd love to try the extrait. The eau de parfum is pretty potent so I'm curious as to how the stronger extrait would wear. I'm not certain if I could convince the Sheikh it's imperative that we buy a $600 bottle of parfum for me to try though ;)

What's your favorite perfume?
Any new white florals or tuberoses out there you think I should know about?
I am anxiously awaiting Gabrielle (the new Chanel tuberose)!
Hope your Summer went well and you're ready for a glorious Fall!

Aug 8, 2016

Perfume Review: Forest Essentials' Madurai Jasmine Cologne Intense

sambac grandiflorum perfume forest essentials intense cologne

Today I'm reviewing India's leading luxury Ayurvedic beauty brand Forest Essentials' Madurai Jasmine Cologne Intense. Named after the the south Indian city famed for it's jasmine production, this is a gorgeous soliflore with a fresh, airy, and green take on the king of flowers. A breezy, sheer, yet surprisingly lush interpretation of jasmine that works perfectly in searing temperatures and humid climates.


cologne perfume jasmine soliflore fragrance indian forest essentials

This was part of my Delhi haul on our recent family vacation. Forest Essentials products are always beautifully presented. Those ribbons you see on that fabulous box in the top photo were hand tied when I purchased it at their boutique in Khan Market. The box was then wrapped in watermarked tissue paper and sprinkled with fresh rose and marigold petals before being placed in a lavishly embossed tote bearing the shop's logo. Then my husband sat on it in the taxi. Oh well. I wished I'd taken a pic of it at the boutique so you could have seen how lovely it was with the fresh flower petals.

Jasminum sambac
According to the label on the box this fragrance consists of Jasminum grandiflorum flower water, pure grain alcohol, aloe vera leaf juice, and Jasmine sambac essential oil. Clearly, this is a straight up natural jasmine and not some perfumer's abstract construct of the flower. 

Jasminum grandiflorum
 Jasminum grandiflorum and Jasminum sambac actually have quite different scents. Jasminum grandiflorum is variously described as heady, hefty, rich, opulent, narcotic, dirty, cloying, animalic, and sometimes even hard to stomach for some folks. To my nose, Jasminum sambac has a dewier, sharper, cleaner, greener, lighter, and more translucent air that usually instantly appeals to most people. Forest Essentials' Madhurai Jasmine Cologne Intense leans towards the transparency and affability of the sambac as one would expect with the use of the potent essential oil. However, lurking under all that breezy charm and charisma a is just a bit of naughtiness and haughtiness from the mix of Jasminum grandiflorum flower water. This cologne intense is not as simple as it seems.


I think everyone needs a jasmine soliflore in their fragrance wardrobe. As I learned from reading Mandy Aftel's book Fragrant: the Secret Life of Scent jasmine goes with absolutely everything so it's great for layering. The famed perfumer Edmond Roudnitska in his essay The Art of Perfumery had this to say about jasmine: “It is the natural product par excellence.”  It is no wonder that jasmine is often a middle or heart note in perfume compositions. Bridging the gap between brisk, fleeting top notes and deeper, solemn base notes jasmine lends it's lovely tinge to everything.


I love wearing Forest Essentials' Madurai Jasmine during the Monsoon heat and humidity here in Nepal. It lasts a good four hours on my skin in the Monsoon heat. It's light and diaphanous freshness somehow reminds me of cool breezes off the Pacific ocean in my native California. As the fragrance progresses that wily seductress Jasminum grandiflorum peeps through just a tad so you don't feel like you're wearing a household cleaning product. Madurai Jasmine Cologne Intense doesn't have the high sillage or longevity of a synthetic fragrance blend. It's understated yet gorgeous complexity more than makes up for it though. You'll never be overwhelmed nor offend anyone wearing this jasmine. Apply it with wild abandon, layer it with almost anything, and wear on any occasion. Don't be fooled by it's seeming simplicity, revel in it's classic beauty!

The entire Madurai Jasmine collection at Forest Essentials is available for purchase here.

(I purchased this product myself and was not reimbursed in anyway by anyone for my opinions on this product.)
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