Frederic Malle Cologne Bigarade and Bigarade Concentree : Perfume Review

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Orangeblossom

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

Frédéric Malle Cologne Bigarade traces the life cycle of an orange in reverse—at first, it reveals the aromatic brightness of ripe bitter orange, then it transforms into a pearly white orange blossom before finally melting into a whisper of green leaves and twigs. It is a streamlined composition, with a fresh, resinous character of citrus rinds and young green leaves. While it occasionally strikes me as overly simple, there is no denying that on a hot summer day it is as refreshing as a glass of lemonade.

Created by perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena for Malle’s Éditions de Parfums collection, Cologne Bigarade is his take on the classical cologne. The composition is dominated by bitter orange notes that encapsulate all aspects of this material—from leaves to fruit. The bitter, or Seville, orange has a delicious astringent verdancy, and Cologne Bigarade captures it better than many other colognes. Although classically inspired, it does not smell old-fashioned. The hazy backdrop reminiscent of green tea leaves and sunbleached woods serves as a soft counterpoint to the effervescent citrus. It is at once related to Ellena’s other fragrances–Cartier Déclaration and Bulgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert. As Cologne Bigarade dries down, it loses most of its sparkling brightness, but the sweet woody notes that remain are very pleasant.

Bigarade Concentrée is a richer variation of the original theme, with a softer cumin note that in the original have a tendency to pop up unexpectedly right after the zesty freshness wears down. Between the two versions, I would choose Bigarade Concentrée only because the zesty bitterness lasts much longer. The initial impression is of spicy, peppery notes, but they vanish rapidly to give way to the green orange blossom accord. Uplifting and refreshing, yet sophisticated as few citrus colognes are.

Frédéric Malle Cologne Bigarade and Bigarade Concentrée include notes of bitter orange, aldehydes, rose, cardamom, pepper, cedarwood, and hay. Éditions de Parfums fragrances are available from Frédéric Malle boutiques, Barneys New York and Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfums website.

Photo: Orange Blossom by Glenn Franco Simmons via flickr, some rights reserved.

Samples: my own acquisition

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8 Comments

  • kjanicki: I love love love this perfume. I own the Concentree and, even though it’s a citrus which usually means summery, I like to wear it in the winter. It reminds me of Christmas morning, eating the orange out of the toe of my stocking. And it has the sunniest hay-like note that just brightens up a winter day. July 28, 2011 at 12:03pm Reply

  • Neal: I agree the Concentree lasts longer in the citrus stage. I had tried to identify the next sensation and coudn’t until I read your article and you said cumin. Wonderful fragrance. July 28, 2011 at 12:30pm Reply

  • Musette: this was my first Malle purchase – I loved it, then didn’t love it so much…now I’m back to loving it. I actually prefer the cologne to the concentree – seems sunnier.

    xo July 28, 2011 at 2:52pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I really need to try this one. I so like the other two he did with Malle. Plus I love colognes. Such an excellent line anyway. July 28, 2011 at 5:53pm Reply

  • ash: How would you compare these with the colognes Ellena did for Hermes…? July 29, 2011 at 1:34am Reply

  • Suzanna: I need to get over a ridiculous and long-held prejudice that this smells faintly masculine on me. Perhaps in today’s era of super-sweet fruity-florals this will no longer be the case. July 29, 2011 at 8:06am Reply

  • waftbycarol: I smelled both of these for the first time when I was last in NYC . I loved the Concentree , it had a slightly milky quality that really won me over . I have been lusting after a little ever since ! July 29, 2011 at 10:20am Reply

  • Sharryn Stormonth: Another Malle to add to the collection. Thank’s for the review July 31, 2011 at 11:23pm Reply

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