I adore the darker perfumes in my collection such as Ormonde Woman and Vol de Nuit, but there’s always room for a fragrance that can act as an instant mood enhancer.
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?
I love Mandains. The first few years I went to India there would come a point in the holiday that I just couldn’t stomach another Indian meal, usually around the 4-5 week mark. Varun would take me out and we’d scour whatever city or town we happened to be in and find me half a dozen mandarins. The smell, taste, ease of eating all put me right again and I could go on with the next week or two eating Indian.
Great memories, great times, wonderful scent. Now i will have to trot down to Hermes and see if they’ll give me a sample.
That is a nice memory, Portia. Hope you manage to get a sample.
I think I have a positive association with mandarins because I used to eat them as child for dessert – tinned in sugar syrup though!
I never knew they did tinned mandarins. We only had peach, pear and apricot around here.
YUMMY with yoghurt.
Oh yes. When I was a kid I used to make a dessert with ginger biscuits soaked in the mandarin syrup which I would then pile up using whipped cream sandwiched in between into a sort of pyramid shape. I would then cover with more cream and decorate with the mandarin segments. Classy!
Sounds completely and utterly delicious.
Nowadays it would be called a “Hello Heart Failure”
Ha ha! Probably.
Thanks for this excellent review. I have been wanting to try a good orangey perfume and didnt know where to start. this looks exactly what I’m looking for – something uncluttered and simple. I’m going to get a sample!
That’s great, Sally M. I hope you like it.
It might be worth giving Eau d’Orange Verte a try too.
Thanks for your review Tara!
Unfortunately on my skin Mandarine Ambree turned out to be a very flat scent and I definitely didn’t think of it as natural-smelling. Sorry 😦
Oh dear! Too bad it didn’t work for you Lukas. Thanks for reading anyway.
I really enjoyed this perfume and thought it was quite realistic. The dry down is perfect for year round wear. Great review.
Sandra, I totally agree that one of the best things about it is that it’s not just a summer fragrance.
You’re very welcome, my dear !
You know, I’m a cologne enthusiast here – that might be the reason for wanting to find a better home for this bottle, it definitely deserves it. I’m happy we both, Mandarine and me found you 🙂
You’re the best! It’s definitely getting lots of love from me.
I can totally understand being disappointed in this if you just want a classic cologne. It’s definitely a lot more of a perfume than that.
I bought it after the first tangy whiff…
On-the-spot buys are a risk.
I total agree, Tara! This is a marvelous scent – long lasting, evocative of nature (knowing JCE it’s largely ‘synthetic’ but manages to smell natural – a neat trick) and laid back. Great stuff. A lovely review, as always 🙂
Glad we agree on this one. It really is laid back and easy to wear at any time.
JCE is great at getting the best from synthetics.
I love this one, it’s just too wonderful.
We are on the same page with this one, Connie!
LOL re the prog rock title. 😉 And thanks very much for sending some of this my way, for onward delivery to my mandarin fiend of a brother. I enjoyed sampling it during its brief turnaround here and thought the amber base definitely added rather than detracted from it. Lovely juicy review!
V, I didn’t think anyone would get that reference but I should have known you would!
Yes, I think some people don’t like the ambery base but I find it a definite plus too. Hope your brother likes it.
Prog rock title – LOL, love it (am an old prog rock fan !)
Hee hee! Good old Tangerine Dream.
I haven’t tried Eau de Mandarine Ambrée but I am 100% sure I would love it and make it my next perfume!
Oh I do hope it lives up to your expectations. Fingers crossed!
Such an inspiring review. I will try and try some next time in Vienna. I am pondering a Hermès scarf ….. hmmmm, if I spend that much perhaps they’ll throw in free bottle. Haha. I have my doubts. I surely remember the tinned mandarins. Often throw into a jelly and then we poured Carnation Evaporated Milk onto it. Gosh, it’s wonder I survived. Hugs. xxx
It is doubtful but I think if you do buy a scarf they really should throw in the cologne of your choice! I’m going to a Hermès store with Birgit in London on the 28th so that will be fun.
Yes definitely tinned mandarins (or peaches) in jelly. Luckily we’ve come a long way with food in the UK since then 🙂
Take a couple of credit cards with you. Wish I could be there too. xxx
Me too! One day.
It’s highly unlikely I will ever own anything other than perfume by Hermes but it will be fun just to browse.
We’ll see. Hermes and Birgit is a dangerous combo.
Very true. I am going with a connoisseur!
Eau de Mandarine Ambrée is a summer favorite of mine, as is Eau de Pamplemousse Rose.
My winter favorite presently is http://happyface313.com/2013/11/27/perfume-for-cold-days-duft-fur-kalte-tage/
Ever sinde Hermès launched Kelly Calèche I am an fan of a lot of their fragrances 🙂
Happy Friday 😀
Happy Friday, happyface!
Ambre Narguile is a great winter warmer. Pleased to hear you love Eau de Mandarine Ambree for summer too.
Thank you very much, to you too, dear Tara!
Yes, I have truly fallen in love with these fragrances 🙂
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I always enjoy perfumes that have an uplifting, energetic quality and then if you pair anything with amber, I’m sold. 🙂
This one sounds like a summer winner for me. 😉
You know I really think it could be a summer winner for you, Ines. I do hope so.
It definitely does have an uplifting, energetic quality.
I’ve not tried this, Tara, but you make it sound much better than the original Hermes Eau d’Orange Verte, which was beautiful but literally lasted all of ten minutes on my skin. I think a JCE-style amber base paired with mandarin would provide excellent longevity and, as you also pointed out, complexity.
Isn’t it nice that what didn’t work for a perfume friend works so well for you that you could re-home her bottle? I probably should find a home for some of my bottles that don’t get enough love from me.
Nice to see you Suzanne.
Yes, exactly. JCE did a neat trick combining the citrus with an amber base.
Like you say, it was lucky that although it didn’t work for a friend it really worked for me. I’m grateful to be living in London where so many perfume pals come and visit.
I hope you find a way to re-home some of your unloved bottles.
I haven’t tried Mandarine Ambrée on skin yet but I liked its smell on paper strip and I’ll test it soon. Regardless of how it is on skin, I already want it (as well as other colognes from the line) because I like those bottles 🙂
Hope you like it when you re-test. I really want to try the Narcisse one again after B’s review. The bottles are very appealing I agree.
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