Serge Lutens is not exactly known for his floral creations. Oriental is what he likes best and where he usually excels. The spice-laden-fruit-compote-on-wood accord of a heavy oriental is what lead me to Lutens in the first place. But once there it is kind of hard to leave…
Fleurs d’Oranger and Fleurs de Citronnier are two less typical Lutens works, let us explore Uncle Serge’s blooming garden:
Fleurs de Citronnier, lemon blossoms, was created in 2004 by Christopher Sheldrake and includes notes of lemon tree blossoms, petitgrain, neroli, honey, tuberose, nutmeg, styrax, iris and musk.
It opens with slightly sharp neroli, but almost immediately sweetens and deepens, lemon and orange blossom are there, a hint of tuberose in the background reminds us that this is not a totally harmless little thing, but a Lutens after all, and a little spicy edge to the soapy musk in the base makes it interesting. Fleurs de Citronnier is very long wearing, ten to twelve hours are absolutely possible with this fragrance, sillage is above average.
I think Fleurs de Citronnier is one of Lutens’s more wearable creations, it is right up there with Clair de Musc, a fragrance also worn by non-perfume fiends and therefore one of the line’s best-sellers.
I think this is another example of the rule of thumb “A Lutens always surprises. It is never, ever what you think it is.” Conforming with this rule, Fleurs de Citronnier is not a light, summery citrus scent, but rather a honeyed floral with a strong musk base, that is as sturdy as a tree trunk, rather than delicate like the lemon blossoms of its name want us to believe.
Fleurs d’Oranger, orange blossoms, hails from 1995 was also created by Christopher Sheldrake and includes notes of orange blossom, white jasmine, Indian tuberose, white rose, citrus peel, hibiscus seeds, cumin and nutmeg.
Fleurs d’Oranger dispels right from the start any notions we might have had that florals are a delicate thing, they might be elsewhere, but not in Serge’s garden. Here they are giant, flesh-eating plants out to get you, if you are not careful.
Orange blossom is aided by copious amounts of indolic jasmine and fleshy tuberose to produce a hefty white floral, not disappointing those who love a grand entrance. Fleurs d’Oranger lasts forever and a day and its sillage is considerable if not applied most sparingly. Cumin in its heart adds to the Audrey association in my mind.
But Fleurs d’Oranger is not only in your face and overwhelming. It has a very tender, delicate aspect as well, that comes into focus now and again, before blurring into obscurity again, overshadowed by the more obvious players. And that lovely sweet and fresh aspect is what makes me like Fleurs d’Oranger a lot more than I expected. Insert the Lutens rule of thumb here, “A Lutens is always a surpirse. It is never, ever, yada, yada, yada,…”
I don’t put Fleurs d’Oranger in the same category as my other beloved orange blossom scents, like Penhaligon’s Orange Blossom, Xerjoff Oesel or L’Artisan Parfumeur Fleur d’Oranger, but rather lob it into a category of white flower powerhouses like Estée Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia or Amouage Honour Woman (which is perfectly tame and restrained in comparison).
I consider it a risk putting on Fleurs d’Oranger, because it can get on my nerves in no time and induce the mother of all headaches if I use only slightly too much, but when the mood is right, when the weather is right, when the dosage is right, it is a beautiful perfume.