Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger : Fragrance Review

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Fdo

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Fleurs d’Oranger is an orange blossom that pretends to be a tuberose. Or perhaps vice versa. Either way, this Serge Lutens composition dispels any illusions about flowers being sheer, pretty and delicate. Fleurs d’Oranger is sultry and opulent and is one of the most dramatic floral compositions, oscillating between the honeyed sweetness of white blossoms and the salty muskiness of sunwarmed skin.

Created in 1995 by Christopher Sheldrake, the perfumer responsible for most of the Serge Lutens collection, Fleurs d’Oranger is a fragrance for those who cannot get enough lush, white floral notes. Jasmine, orange blossom and tuberose are used in bold strokes to create the main outline of the composition. The fragrance opens up on a note of mandarin and Concord grape (or wild strawberry, depending on one’s cultural background). This sweet, juicy effect occurs naturally in orange blossom and tuberose. To create an especially vivid and striking sensation, Sheldrake amplifies it dramatically. The salty, woody note of cumin gives the floral heart a seductive aura.

As the composition dries down, the cool rose notes create a welcome counterpoint to the heaving mass of blossoms. A sheer accord of musk and cedarwood provides a soft foil for the final orange blossom and tuberose chords of Fleurs d’Oranger. While the honeyed richness of the composition is retained throughout its development, the polished simplicity of the drydown makes it more balanced.

Fleurs d’Oranger was reformulated recently, though even the new version is quite beautiful. The main difference is that it feels fresher and brighter, with the honeyed heft of orange blossom and tuberose being somewhat lightened. The spicy notes are likewise toned down and there is a stronger candy sweet note of vanilla in the drydown. Comparatively, I find the new Fleurs d’Oranger more luminous and easier to wear. Nevertheless, if one expects a well-behaved and demure floral, discovering the true nature of this fragrance will be a shock. It is unabashedly decadent, heady and rich. Make the mistake of applying more than one spray, and you will find yourself searching for some air. Beautiful, but quite demanding, so proceed with caution.

Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger includes notes of neroli, orange blossom, white jasmine, Indian tuberose, white rose, cumin, wood and musk. While it is not in the same olfactory profile, Fleurs d’Oranger evokes to me the spirit of Christian Dior Poison and Giorgio Beverly Hills. It is really that bold! Fleurs d’Oranger is sold in the export range. The export line of fragrances is available from Aedes, Beautyhabit, Luckyscent, Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, and from some Neiman Marcus locations.

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37 Comments

  • Olfactoria: Just last week an SA tried to sell me this as a light summer cologne-style fragrance, I wonder if she ever tried it? And how she will react if she does?
    It is just like you say, a shock indeed, I can appreciate it for its well-made opulence, but for me it is a bit too much of a good thing. 🙂 March 9, 2011 at 7:34am Reply

  • Pklagrange: Love this! Just bought a FB: I was looking for a sheer scent, but came away with this instead. So much happier. March 9, 2011 at 8:18am Reply

  • Marina: I like SL FdO for its butteriness and thickness, so I am sad to hear that the new version is fresher and brighter 🙁 March 9, 2011 at 8:38am Reply

  • sweetlife: I fell hard for this after several years of being sure I didn’t like orange blossom. It was my gateway, if you can believe it, to the much sheerer, more sparkly stuff. On the right days my bottle is just a sensual delight. It practically changes the way I walk. But goodness, there are some wrong days, with that cumin. Am curious to try the brighter version, though the vanilla note doesn’t sound promising.

    Laughing at Olfactoria’s story… March 9, 2011 at 9:44am Reply

  • ScentScelf: AHHHH! This explains why the people I’ve heard wax ecstatic about out love it so. Though now I’m feeling badly for those who are going to be disappointed by the reformulation, I’m thinking I’m ready to give it a whirl in either iteration.

    Thanks for the review. 🙂 March 9, 2011 at 9:48am Reply

  • Victoria: If she tries it as such in the summer, it will be her just punishment for misleading the innocent customers. 🙂
    I love white floral notes and I like them rich and opulent, but FdO tests even my limits. Summer cologne it is not! March 9, 2011 at 11:34am Reply

  • Victoria: For a sheer, yet with substance from Lutens, I love Fleur de Citronnier. Layered with anything vetiver, it becomes especially amazing. March 9, 2011 at 11:36am Reply

  • Victoria: Even the new version is plenty buttery and thick, so I do not think that you will be that disappointed. March 9, 2011 at 11:36am Reply

  • Victoria: Alyssa, your comment resonates completely with how I feel about FdO. On some days, it can give me a migraine in a snap. On others, it has, just like you noted, one of the most sensual, delightful aura of any perfume I own. Maybe, it depends on my mood too. Yesterday, as I wore it to finish this review, it was just so perfect. I even got several compliments on it.

    Ultimately, this duality is what attracts me. Maybe, I just like to be challenged a bit. 🙂 March 9, 2011 at 11:42am Reply

  • Victoria: Do try the new version then! Perhaps, it might just be toned down enough for you. March 9, 2011 at 11:43am Reply

  • Lavanya: Oh- I didn’t know they reformulated it..Do you know when?

    I bought my bottle a year or so ago (online) and even though it is a beautiful perfume- I actually don’t find it opulent or sultry (Ala Nuit- now that is opulent- in a good way, I mean). In fact, I would put it in the ‘breezy-summery-with just enough depth’, category (though it is honeyed and sweet). So, now I am wondering whether I have the reformulated version, or if I just perceive this perfume differently from you..I want what you described!!..lol March 9, 2011 at 3:54pm Reply

  • Lavanya: I just read Olfactoria’s comment and your reply..lol. not even a little bit summery??..:) March 9, 2011 at 4:08pm Reply

  • chrisb: Interesting review and comments. I have gone through a couple of samples and sometimes loved it and at other times found it too oppressive so the new version interests me. Can I be sure that it will be the reformulated version on sale everywhere? March 9, 2011 at 4:09pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, sounds like you have the reformulated version. Even two years ago, I already remember it as being different. The new version is much less buttery. March 9, 2011 at 5:26pm Reply

  • Victoria: Maybe, in a small dose, but for me, one spray is already too much. This is the perfume I dab on. 🙂 March 9, 2011 at 5:27pm Reply

  • Victoria: Whatever is sold in the stores today would be the reformulated version. I like it in its current version too, even though I cherish my old bottle. The present version is just more wearable for me. March 9, 2011 at 5:28pm Reply

  • Lavanya: aww..Now- I really need to try the older version. I would love for the honeyed flowers (which is what makes the older version ‘thicker’) to be more pronounced in the version I own- though i can imagine it getting cloying if over-sprayed..Now that you mention it- I did order a sample from beauty habit a while ago and I think that was denser (and more ‘luscious’) than the one I currently own- but I thought I was getting used to the fragrance and therefore imagining these differences..now I know! March 9, 2011 at 6:37pm Reply

  • Victoria: That dense, luscious quality is what I love (and many hate) about Robert Piguet Fracas as well. Another challenging perfume! March 9, 2011 at 6:54pm Reply

  • Lavanya: Ironically, with Fracas- I couldn’t really handle the denseness after a bit. It is almost weird with fracas for me- I dab- its lovely, then I dab some more- and suddenly wham- I can’t handle the scent anymore. Just too buttery without the balancing luminosity that FdO or TC have. I need to revisit Fracas though, now that I’m learning not to match tuberose perfumes with the scent of the actual flower (both FdO and TC evoke the flower but Fracas just doesn’t)- I think I might be able to appreciate Fracas more now. March 9, 2011 at 7:10pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, Fracas has that quality for me as well, without doubt! I also dab it. Too much, and it is a nightmare for me.
    Tubereuse Criminelle is remarkably close to the scent of real flowers, if exaggerated and magnified in some extreme ways. March 9, 2011 at 7:15pm Reply

  • Lavanya: Yes- I find that Tubereuse Criminelle is the only tuberose perfume which smells so much like the flowers or atleast evokes the same feeling as the flowers do. I almost think it accomplishes this because of the magnification, maybe- sort of like how a piece of fiction can hit on the truth, often better than non fiction can? March 9, 2011 at 7:32pm Reply

  • Victoria: Totally agree! Or like a caricature makes a famous face more recognizable than a simple photograph does. March 9, 2011 at 7:34pm Reply

  • key change: Oh wow, I’d been obsessing about this scent for a while, so it’s kind of fortuitous that you reviewed it!
    The reformulated version sounds so attractive that I’m contemplating purchasing it unsniffed, but I’ve never done that in my life and so I’m scared; however, I can’t find a single place in this city that sells it. Do you guys know of any places online that sell samples? March 10, 2011 at 12:31am Reply

  • key change: Whoa ladies!
    Compared to many/most of you, I am what I term a perfume virgin, but I just, just, just! discovered The Perfume Court! I saw and FDO sample there–do you guys think it’ll be the reformulation?
    This discover of mine is so, so dangerous. The samples are ridiculously expensive for this poor, struggling student. March 10, 2011 at 3:13am Reply

  • Victoria: It is probably the reformulation.
    We all started out like this, so what you describe is so familiar to me! 🙂 March 10, 2011 at 7:32am Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, do try it before buying, Lutens fragrances tend to be polarizing. Even the safest ones.
    The Posh Peasant, The Perfumed Court, Aedes and probably Luckyscent should have samples for sale. March 10, 2011 at 7:32am Reply

  • key change: I know! to my friends here, I seem to be the ultimate perfumista, but on blogs like these, I feel like a drunken stumbling newbie who’s overwhelmed with all the options while cursing my bank account! yes, I think I’ll order some samples–it’d be interesting to see though what people have purchased unsniffed and have liked vs. what they regretted! March 10, 2011 at 8:44am Reply

  • sara: tightening my grip on my 5-year-old bottle of FdO…. 🙂 March 10, 2011 at 10:33am Reply

  • Victoria: Hey, there are many times I feel overwhelmed myself, so this never goes away. 🙂 I feel that in fragrance, the learning process never stops, which is what keeps it interesting for me. March 10, 2011 at 12:00pm Reply

  • Victoria: Me too, challenging, but so so beautiful! March 10, 2011 at 7:42pm Reply

  • KathyT: FdO is one of my favorite fragrances, and it is one of the few scents that my husband has ever given me as a gift. It’s not one that you can pick up and wear with abandon though because it can be an instant migraine trigger on a bad day. I don’t notice the cumin much thankfully. I do think that it is a beautiful, sometimes difficult fragrance, and it makes me happy! I’m trying to remember how old my bottle is – more than 2 years, I think. I am pretty sure that it is not the reformulation. March 11, 2011 at 9:49am Reply

  • Victoria: Kathy, I love how plush and utterly glamorous FdO feels on a good day. Its aura is really quite irresistible. Even next to Fracas and Carnal Flower, it can easily hold its own, which is not an easy feat! March 11, 2011 at 10:43am Reply

  • guido: Lovely review of FdO…. I bought it today and i’m sooo happy! It’s a fragrance that really put you up in a good mood… and I love tuberose and orange blossoms!!!!
    My fav fragrance di Tuberose Criminelle…. but it’s dark and misterious… Fdo is completely the opposite to me… Both stunning!
    My compliments to your blog… I’ve been reading it for years now… is my MUST read daily!
    Guido December 23, 2011 at 4:34pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you for your kind words! 🙂 December 23, 2011 at 4:57pm Reply

  • Carina: While I love the beautiful “A La Nuit” I´m not so sure about this. On my skin A La Nuit smells like beautiful Jasmin while Fleurs D´Oranger smells like original Jasmin Tea that you can get a the Chines Restaurant. May 15, 2013 at 12:36pm Reply

  • katie1119: I sent off for my first bell jar this week (de Profoudis) from SL in Paris – here in the UK that’s easily done – and with it came 7 samples!! One of which is FdO…..I love it!!! The weather here has just turned into spring and I’ve worn FdO for two days now – its gorgeous and has great sillage. I’ve not yet opened the bell jar – it has to sit on the kitchen table for a while – emanating its glory!! March 7, 2015 at 4:41am Reply

    • Victoria: What a fantastic acquisition (with some generous samples)! The bell jars are some of my favorite bottles, and every time I pick one of mine, I love its heft and romantic curves. Enjoy! March 7, 2015 at 8:56am Reply

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