Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger, 1995

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(image Gina Lollabrigida)

Perfumer Christopher Sheldrake

I imagine that for simplicity’s sake, Lutens put the names of three flowers highlighted in this perfume, orange blossom, jasmine and tuberose on separate slips of paper and randomly pulled orange blossom out of a hat. Each heady note could be accused of upstaging a perfume, so combined, Fleurs d’Oranger should be the the maenad of the Lutens line. I won’t deny that it’s loud. But the floral notes here form a chorus, giving that implicit tension of cooperating yet trying to stand out.

These are the three flowers that are most commonly cited for having the white floral split personality. ‘Pretty’ might strike you first, but the menace isn’t far behind. Orange blossom, then sweat. Jasmine, then decay. And the Janus of gender, tuberose. Gina Lollobrigida on one side, stereotypical auto-mechanic with a gasoline can on the other.

The honeyed cedar provides a firm base and the dusting of cumin works hand-in-glove with orange blossom, giving it the bump it needed to win the tri-floral slugfest. As for the cedar, a note that makes me instantly cautious (Iso E Super), think more of the cedar of Cedre than Feminité du Bois. I can happily say that it’s neither radiant nor transparent.

Fleurs d’Oranger is definitively a floral/woody perfume. It’s not a floriental, and, despite the name, it’s not a soliflor. It’s a swaggering fragrance. Women who love big but composed perfumes, dive in. For men contemplating the plunge, think of it as a ballsy floral. For all others, try it along with whatever gender you wear and see what you find.

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