I can’t imagine a more uplifting aroma than that of the mandarin orange. It is bright, fresh and invigorating. The stuff is downright joyful. It’s not as astringent as lemon, lime or grapefruit, more zingy than standard orange and not remotely cloying the way red berries in perfume can be.
Eau de Mandarine Ambrée joined the Hermès Les Colognes collection in 2013 along with Eau de Narcisse Bleu. Of the three previous fragrances in the series, Eau de Pamplemousse Rose, is a favourite of Olfactoria’s (the other two are Eau de Gentiane Blanche and Eau d’Orange Verte).
The notes listed for Eau de Mandarine Ambrée are mandarin, passion fruit and amber, it was created by Hermès in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena.
An initial spray of Mandarine Ambrée reveals the most realistic mandarin note I have come across. I love how completely pure and natural it smells. Even better, it’s not muddied with anything else. It’s just straight-up exuberant mandarin. Some may find it a little too sharp and bracing for their taste but I definitely do not. The cologne stays in this sunny and juicy territory for a good while, several hours in fact. How on earth Jean-Claude Ellena manages to vastly extend such a typically fleeting citrus note, I do not know.
You barely notice the mandarin segueing into passion fruit except for the fact that it gradually becomes less citrusy, fruitier and a little sweeter. The same can be said of the transition into the amber base: we simply slide into a deeper shade of orange. I realise that for citrus fans and cologne purists the soft ambery drydown may spoil the party but it increases longevity and gives the fragrance depth.
Eau de Mandarine Ambrée is not a complex perfume; however it is in the cologne genre after all. I enjoy its simplicity and like to wear it for my own pleasure. Sophisticated light fragrances are thin on the ground but Ellena is a master of them. His Osmanthe Yunnan is another favourite of mine in this category.
The longevity is more in line with that of an eau de toilette than an eau de cologne, lasting on me for around 5 hours. Diffusion is pretty good too. Hermès states Eau de Mandarine Ambrée is “For Sharing” and indeed it is entirely unisex.
It’s great for welcoming the spring but it would also be extremely wearable in summer and more than likely perfect for early autumn. It’s a playful perfume that raises the spirits. I’m very grateful to my dear friend Lady Jane Grey for gifting me her bottle otherwise I certainly would have purchased one myself.
Have you tried Eau de Mandarine Ambrée or any of the other Hermès colognes? Do you have a favourite?