Parfum d’Empire Azemour Les Orangers : Perfume Review

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When we were talking about cravings for salty perfumes last week, I began to compile a list of such fragrances.  On the face of it, a salty perfume seems like a strange idea, because salt doesn’t have a strong smell. At most I notice  the tangy iodine whiff from granulated table salt like Morton’s or the slightly marine sweetness whenever I open my jar of fleur de sel — thin, crunchy flakes gathered from the top of salt dunes.  But think of what you experience when a salt crystal melts on your tongue—a rush of sweetness that’s followed by a mild saline bitterness. That’s how I imagine salty scents.

A great illustration for this salty impression is Parfum d’Empire Azemour les Orangers. Created by perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato, the founder of the Parfum d’Empire line, it’s an homage to his parent’s orange grove in Morocco.  When I first tried Azemour, I was instantly smitten with its green richness, effervescent citrus notes and moss and musk drydown.

Azemour is deliciously salty and savory. When the composition opens up on the peppery leaves and bergamot, I imagine a watercress salad tossed with lemon juice and green olive oil. Once the composition reaches its mossy drydown, it has a saline brightness that reminds me of thin focaccia covered with crunchy salt flakes. The beauty of Azemour is that while it suggests a gourmand impression, it never registers as a foody perfume.

Like all fragrances of its type, a green chypre heavily accented with moss, Azemour sets the cool citrusy notes against warm woods.  When I compare it to Ô de Lancôme or Hermès Eau d’Orange Verte, two fragrances in a similar style, I notice how transparent and radiant this blend feels. The bitter orange is a recurring leitmotif in Azemour that ties all of its elements together. There is a flash of bitter orange zest in the top notes, along with the tangy green leaves. The softness of orange blossoms sweetens the heart of the composition, but not enough to compete with the salty impression I enjoy so much.

Azemour is easy to wear and has the casual feel of a citrus cologne which makes it equally appropriate for both men and women. It feels uplifting on a winter morning and refreshing on a balmy summer evening. Like other Parfum d’Empire fragrances, it has great lasting power on me—the citrusy brightness wears off quickly, but the moss and musk linger on my skin for hours.  Whatever the changes that I experience from Azemour, one thing remains constant, from shimmering top to the languid drydown, it’s an elegant and polished perfume.

Parfum d’Empire Azemour les Orangers features notes of orange, clementine, tangerine, grapefruit, coriander, cumin, black pepper, pink pepper, blackcurrant, galbanum, neroli, geranium, orange blossom, rose, hay, moss, henna and cypress. Available at BeautyhabitLuckyscent and First in Fragrance. $75, 50ml, Top of FormBottom of Form $110, 100ml

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

Sample: my own acquisition

Photography (top image) by Bois de Jasmin, all rights reserved.

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30 Comments

  • karen: I’m putting this one on my to try list! June 6, 2012 at 8:56am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s my favorite from the line, hands down. June 6, 2012 at 11:41am Reply

  • Elisa: This reminds me of an orangier version of Monsieur Balmain, which feels to me like a cross between a cologne and a chypre. I think the Parfums d’Empire bottles are so pretty! June 6, 2012 at 10:22am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree with your description of it being a cross between a cologne and a chypre. It has so much citrus, but then it dries down to a beautiful mossy base. So elegant! June 6, 2012 at 11:41am Reply

    • Sara: My father used to wear Monsieur Balmain and I still remember how wonderful it smelled on him…so I’d love to sample Azemour. June 6, 2012 at 12:16pm Reply

      • Victoria: Monsieur Balmain is such a bright and effervescent lemon! It even smells yellow to me. 🙂 June 6, 2012 at 2:08pm Reply

  • grain de musc: My impression after wearing this was of those lemons preserved in brine used in tajines… I guess that’s appropriate since the scent is a tribute to the Moroccan Atlantic coast, though the salty effect is meant to conjure sea spray on dunes.
    I find it satisfyingly full-bodied, almost chewy, and like you I’ve noticed that the development remains sophisticated until the drydown. One of my favorite launches of last year. June 6, 2012 at 11:06am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, I can definitely see the salt preserved lemons! The other day I got some green olives flavored with these pickled lemons, and I kept thinking that the green olive would be a nice accord for a perfume. So, Azemour hits the spot for me. June 6, 2012 at 11:43am Reply

  • iodine: I loved your description, Azemour has immediately occupied a huge place in my heart and wardrobe! I feel a certain sense of salinity in a stunning note that I get in the drydown: it reminds me of the smell of sand cooling down after a full sunny day… Very poetic. I prefer wearing it in colder months, though, the base notes are a bit overwhelming in hot weather. June 6, 2012 at 11:17am Reply

    • Victoria: I love your description too. It has such a languid, calming feeling, and whenever I wear it, I feel in that relaxed, “I’m on vacation” mindset. 🙂 June 6, 2012 at 11:47am Reply

  • Sara: You had me at deliciously salty and savory! I haven’t smelled Azemour… but it sounds totally up my alley. June 6, 2012 at 12:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: I hope that you get a chance to try it. I like Parfums d’Empire overall, but this fragrance stands out the most to me. June 6, 2012 at 2:06pm Reply

  • neil chapman: It sounds gorgeous. Just what I could do with right now. June 6, 2012 at 12:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: Would love to hear what you think!

      The salty notes often draw my attention. There is something so teasing and pleasant about them, and I agree with iodine–it smells like your skin might after a day on the beach. June 6, 2012 at 2:07pm Reply

  • HemlockSillage: I hate to be the lone dissenter, but I did not love Azemor. I hope you guys can help me understand why. Everyone in the blogoverse has loved this, and for me it did not work.

    There is a weird ashtray note in the middle of the fragrance that is musty, and smells awful on me. I have some oakmoss absolute, and I do not think that is the problem. I’m not sensitive to cumin, even like it (love Eau d’Hermes, Rochas Femme, etc), so that is not likely the trouble.

    This sounds like something I would adore–bitter orange, cologne, chypre, Morrocan tribute, but it really is an epic fail for me. It is one of the few things I keep trying, thinking I’m missing something, but still not liking it on my skin. Any ideas what I’m reading as musty/ashtray/stale smoke? Thanks! Be well. June 6, 2012 at 2:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: I believe that someone else mentioned the cigarette note in Azemour the other day, so you aren’t the only one getting it. I think that it’s the mossy notes (but not the oakmoss absolute which is different) in combination with the leather. Just a guess, since it doesn’t register this way to me, but when I’ve heard people complain about the ashtray impression, the synthetic moss usually turned out to be the issue. June 6, 2012 at 5:59pm Reply

      • HemlockSillage: Thanks! I’ll be on the watch for leather/oakmoss combinations and pay attention to synthetic mossy fragrances. I love moss as a note in general, so there are many others to explore. (I’m burning Cire Trudon’s Balmoral now, and it has very nice moss notes. . . but doesn’t have to mix with my skin chemistry) Thanks again June 6, 2012 at 7:24pm Reply

        • Victoria: Oh, and Amer’s comment just reminded me that the perfume contains henna, a material which can smell musty and smoky. I use colorless henna on my hair, and I’ve noticed this leathery-smoky note in it before. June 7, 2012 at 5:25am Reply

  • Austenfan: This sounds so wonderful. I love quite a few of that line and own three ( Ambre Russe, Eau de Gloire and Equistrius). I will have to try this, but I have too many perfumes on my to buy list already. So I hate to create another one. June 6, 2012 at 4:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: If you enjoyed others from the line, you’re bound to like this one as well. Maybe, just add it to your to try list and sample it if you have a chance. But I also know what you mean. For me these days there is no need to search out everything. As much as I try to keep up with the new launches, a point comes when I simply can’t smell everything. June 6, 2012 at 6:02pm Reply

  • Allison: Great description, Victoria! I hadn’t thought of it as salty. I have been enjoying this recently. I feel very pulled together when I wear it. I recommended it to my sister who likes to wear Eau d’Hadrien and especially Eau de Courreges (the earlier version). She’s not as taken with it as I am but she’s giving it a few attempts. June 6, 2012 at 5:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also feel very pulled together when I wear Azemour. But it doesn’t feel like a fragrance that makes me feel underdressed for it, if you know what I mean.

      If your sister likes Eau d’Hadrien, perhaps she might enjoy any perfumes from Hermes cologne trio. I’ve been wearing them a lot recently, and I’m enjoying them very much. June 6, 2012 at 6:05pm Reply

  • The Scented Hound: I love this fragrance along with most of the Parfum d’Empire line. And I’m not typically a fan of citrus scents, but as you say the fresh citrus leaves quickly to reveal the lovely mossy oak. Although I don’t own this myself, it’s on my FB wish lists. Wonderful review! Steve June 6, 2012 at 10:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Steve. It took me a while to enjoy citrus fragrances too, but these days I like their full spectrum. Still, when I wear Azemour, it feels just perfect–a flash of citrus and then the velvety mossy notes. June 7, 2012 at 5:27am Reply

  • Natalie: It sounds like this is just right for the season. I’m not a cologne person (or a citrus one, really!), but when reading your thoughts, I can instantly catch the appeal of this scent at this time of year. I think it was 90 here today! June 6, 2012 at 11:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: Natalie, I can’t believe that I would ever be envious of your 90F weather, but our summer is so cold that I would gladly take some heat.

      This feels more like a chypre than a cologne, so no worries if you don’t like too much citrus. June 7, 2012 at 5:28am Reply

  • Amer: I am torn between this one and cuir ottoman. There is a bitter-sweet herbal note in the middle which I absolutely love. Could it be the combination of hay and henna? June 7, 2012 at 4:55am Reply

    • Victoria: The hay notes here are wonderful. A fantasy of standing a field full of dried hay is what I smell in Azemour. Combined with the cool, crisp notes, it becomes even more alluring. June 7, 2012 at 5:30am Reply

  • ClaudiaRae: Okay, that last comment about hay has done it for me. I haven’t tried anything from this line yet, but Azemour will be the first. I am fascinated with the idea of hay (or broom) notes in perfumes. I fell hard for Dune and Ta’if, and am sampling as many different fragrances with those notes as I can find. I just love reading about something I haven’t tried yet!
    I very much enjoy your blog. June 9, 2012 at 11:12am Reply

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