Lemon-y but Lovely: New Citrus Florals



Right now colognes seem to be out of favor with the market. This always surprises me since colognes seem like such a wonderful option for many people. They’re often largely natural, they’re light, they offend very few, and yet look at Andy Tauer trying to get the Cologne du Maghreb into circulation. Apparently, that’s an uphill battle.

Citrus florals are one of the types of fragrance I end up being an advocate for, and the odd reason is that although the rest of the world tends to dislike strong perfume, I think the perfume world tends to dislike weak fragrance. However good citrus perfumes aren’t non-fragrances, they’re simply at the light end of the fragrance keyboard. And there used to be lots of beautiful perfume etudes that never hit a low note.

Magnolia grandiflora

Magnolia grandiflora

Consider the short lived Very Valentino with its citrus magnolia accord over jasmine, roses and woods, or Bill Blass’ Basic Black, with lemon friendly spices such as coriander and cardamom following a mandarin citrus lift-off. Pretty, elegant, and very workable by daylight these scents were highly unlikely to get you into the “s/he wears too much fragrance to the office dog house”. Along with others in the same genre: Quartz, Eau de Givenchy, and Hermes Amazone, they were versatile and discreet.

More recently you could find slightly floral tart fragrances done particularly well by Annick Goutal and Jo Malone. Lime Basil and Mandarin, Verbenas of Provence (although this may be discontinued). And among the Goutals, Eau du Sud was almost as good as Eau d’Hadrian, and stayed good long after Hadrian went dormant. I love and mention Jean Nate from time to time because that’s so attractive, and so cheap. What’s not to like?

lemons and limes

lemons and limes

New stuff appears less plentiful, just because this whole branch of perfumery looks to be out right now. But Jeffrey Dame is releasing a number of new scents for women and among them there are two that sound promising if you like your florals light: Passionfruit, Orange Blossom & Vetiver, and Verbena, Freesia & Musk. There is Andy’s latest, which is already getting good reviews, so something for the picayune amongst us in Cologne du Magheb and then there’s Vero Kern’s Mito in extract for the full on floral lovers, said to be the near relation of Chanel’s Cristalle and Guerlain’s Chamade. Me, I’m going to try any of them I can lay hands on, and also Neil Morris’ Zephyr: tangerine and papaya,

Lilium auratum

Lilium auratum

then honeysuckles and Casablanca lilies, boxed in sandalwood and amber. How off could that be? I’ve yet to meet a bad Neil Morris scent. So even though the summer workaday floral is not really back yet, there are some perfumes in production that may fill its empty espadrilles.

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8 thoughts on “Lemon-y but Lovely: New Citrus Florals

  1. There is a ton o’ citrus florals on the market, it seems to me, if to Jo Malone and Annick Goutal you add Acqua di Parma, Patricia di Nicolai, Guerlain’s many colognes and Acqua Allegorias, Hermes, Atelier Cologne …

    Chanel, Guerlain, Dior, Rochas, Patou, YSL, Givenchy … they all have a citrus floral or a citrus cologne or several in their lineup. So do many of the niche lines, although I’m out of touch with most niche releases these days.

    I wonder if the issue is that in the perfume world there is not a lot of prestige attached to citrus fragrances? People like them well enough so fragrance houses feel they have to produce them. But citrus florals don’t seem to be at the cutting edge. Maybe this why Atelier Cologne is at such pains to tell us over and over how they have been re-defining the genre to make colognes that are richer and more long-lasting

    I’ve owned Eau de Givenchy for years and like it so much that I have never felt compelled to explore the dry, herbal cologne genre much further. I should really give Eau de Rochas and Eau de Guerlain a try, as I have heard they are magnificent. Are they all just minor variations on 4711 though?

    I do enjoy the juicy, almost rotting fruit of Calyx, Diorella and Un Jardin sur le Nil. Again, just variations on a theme? Nothing new to say?

    Years ago Francis Kurkdjian did a series of Eaux for Kenzo. I bought Eau des Fleurs de Magnolia, which is a lovely lemony magnolia; very simple and, I suppose, a bit safe perhaps. But a nice bit of work.

  2. First of all how nice that you got that Kurdijian Magnolia for Kenzo! I really think he is so good at flowers, and probably this is despised as a stupid maudlin talent as far as hip perfumers are concerned, but I think flower reconstructions are hard.

    You’re right if you count in colognes (which I shouldn’t have) there are many citrus fragrances but they’re not in style. Except for Neroli Portofino I can’t think of many recent hits in the citrus genre. Maybe the synthetic citruses are too harsh?

    As to the rotting fruit note you mention I think that’s an E.Roudnitska style that perfumers have never dropped. You smell it his pupils’ work, like JC Ellena’s Jardin series, that fruity indolic slightly rotten melon. Frequently found in Pierre Bourdon’s things as well. The Romea d’Ameor line for instance and Courtesan for Worth, all very good.

    Just to wear, the Guerlains have something everybody can love, and they are better quality than 4711, so worthwhile if you love citrus, whether it’s Eau de Guerlain, or du Coq (mini Jicky) or Eau de Fleurs du Cedrat ( once so beautiful, the most flowery of them). Plus if you like this genre there’s always Eau de Patou which is better to my mind than Eau de Rochas.

    1. That reminds me that I have been meaning to try Courtesan. It has had great reviews. Patou fans seem thrilled that Eau de Patou has been reissued and apparently smells great. Not so thrilled about the higher price. Anyway, it’s winter here but once summer rolls around maybe I’ll make it a project to sniff out some of these great colognes that I have not tried.

  3. This is one category of citruses that I do usually get on with like a house on fire. I must try Zephyr, from that note list. I recently lucked out (thanks to Asali of @ The Sound of Scent), in a split of Enlevement au Serail, and as you said, there is always Guerlain.

  4. Enlevement was one of those Kurkdijians I’d tried and enjoyed but curiously liked his mainstream for Carven better. My nose is a funny customer.

    As for Zephyr, yes that list had me too. I adore a good lily and he gets florals down cold. People like his Rainflower too, I notice, though it’s not a citrus floral.

  5. I am not much of a citrus lover, in that colognes bore me. There is a largeish decant of 4711 in my fridge now; it’s been there for five years now and very little is gone out of it. I just don’t wear it.

    Citrus FLORALS, though, those are nice. I don’t care much for Cristalle, but it’s good. (To my nose, Mito is definitely related to Cristalle – but not to Chamade.) But I am quite fond of several citrus-floral things, like Moschino Funny!, AA Pamplelune, Kelly Caleche edp… actually, it occurs to me at the moment that those are all grapefruit/rose/something… Anyway, DelRae Wit opens with a wonderful citrus note and continues with florals, and I love that one too.

    There’s the current version of Ubar, too, which reads to me like a lemon-vanilla fur bouquet. Turin calls it a giant purple rose, but I don’t get any rose out of it at all despite being accustomed to the usual Amouage rose. However, that one is a bit too large-caliber for (East Coast) summer wear.

    Zephyr sounds enticing.

  6. Wit sounds like something I should check out. I’ve read about it but am slow to get with the program on the new Delraes.

    Ubar is a lemon- fur bouquet? This sounds so like Magritte that I have trouble not visualizing it as one of his more bizarre paintings . And Mito being like Cristalle inspires confidence since Chamade- heaven knows why- is one of the Hub’s inexplicable dislikes.

    Zephyr makes me really curious because I’ve already tried Izmir which also starts with papaya and is wonderful!

  7. I love citrus, and love it year round. So perfect for the summer, and int he winter when you need something as crisp as the snow-y air. I have Eau de Patou-I bought it in January. Mine is the older version. I spritzed it on in January, and that cut glass smell of lemons and nasturtiams-I just loved it. I have Eau de Rochas too, and it’s no slouch-I think it is just as good as Eau de Patou. And that mineral quality it has-it just satisfies some thing my heart needs.

    Annick Goutal does a great line in citrus. I love Sud and Hadrien, and Nuit Etoilee has a citrus freshness that has caused me to use it more than any other fragrance. I used 50 ml in six weeks-the citrus opening is unique. I remembered recently that I had lemon soap when I was about three or so-I didn’t quite like them but someone i loved had given them to me, and they were saved for my use at bath time. So I think on some primary level citrus has always been in my life. Around that same time i had some Jean Nate, and even at that age it didn’t have enough depth for me-i wanted something more intense. Loved the citrus post!

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