Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Why do I reach for Le Labo Fleur d’Oranger 27 and Neroli 36, even though I have a pile of other interesting Le Labo samples in my lap? Something about the sweet radiance of tiny white flowers, underscored by the alluring complexity of indoles makes this note simply irresistible. While my heart is captured by L’Artisan Fleur d’Oranger, I am always prepared to explore this note further.
Le Labo Fleur d’Oranger (27 refers to the number of ingredients used) opens with the familiar green floral freshness of orange blossoms. Its creator Françoise Caron (the nose behind such loveliness as Jean-Charles Brosseau Ombre Rose) essentially weaves the citrus tartness of bergamot, the floral sweetness of orange blossom and the green leaf quality of petitgrain into a simple eau de cologne. It is highly enjoyable, but as the composition develops, the feeling of floating on a cloud of white petals vanishes. The flatness is particularly evident when compared with L’Artisan’s rendition side by side. Where L’Artisan captures the exuberance of spring flowers in full bloom, highlighting their various aspects as the composition dries down, Le Labo Fleur d’Oranger hits the same note over and over again.
Neroli 36, the composition by the young Firmenich perfumer Daphné Bugey, has the same aquatic-hesperidic-floral accord that one might notice in a number of fresh florals. My initial impulse was to compare it to Frédéric Malle En Passant, although truth be told, the differences override any surface similarities. It plays around the orange blossom theme, although the effect is clean and hesperidic, rather than sweet and floral. While initially pleasant, Neroli attains an unappealing, slightly synthetic sharpness. Although I prefer Fleur d’Oranger 27 to Neroli 36, neither composition conveys the quality that makes orange blossom such a fascinating floral note—the sparkle it retains despite the languor of indoles. I suppose that as far as orange blossom soliflores are concerned, L’Artisan Fleur d’Oranger should not fear rivals for the time being.
Fleur d’Oranger 27 includes notes of orange blossom, musk, bergamot, petit grain and lemon, and Neroli 36 is constructed out of neroli, rose, musk, mandarin orange, jasmine and vanilla. The fragrances are available directly from Le Labo website, as well as from their store at 223 Elizabeth Street in Nolita (212- 219-2230).
Orange blossoms from netstate.com.