Citrus Chypres: Eau d’Hadrian, Lancome O, and Diorella

Eau d’ Hadrian

Anyone who remembers the nineties remembers Eau d’Hadrian.  I loved that and wore it almost as much as everyone else, and to this day the smell brings back Westport Ct during the height of the boom years, when cigar smoke and Porsche 911’s seemed to be everywhere along with Hadrian.

Now it’s pretty much gone. The notes for this little perfume vary, but the ones I have from 1993 are simply: lemon, grapefruit, citron, and cypress.  At the time the perfume was made, that probably included oakmoss, which was the likely basenote for Hadrian, hiding underneath the cypress. This recipe was not very expensive.  The whole point of the frag was to spritz lightly in the morning and get on with your day.  The perfume was not masculine and not feminine and Hadrian reminded me of Italy with all the old cypress trees shading churchyards.

O de Lancome was slightly more complex.  There was substantially more in the bottles: every kind of citrus you cared to name in the head, a very pretty classic bouquet heart, the evaporation was light and powdery dry, with vetiver and sandalwood, and a trace of amber, oakmoss, and cistus.  O was classic and you can still smell a very emaciated version in France. It is not the same.

Melons fabulous on a summer evening but in perfume?

Then there is Diorella. In order to like Diorella, to really like it, you must not mind the synthetic melon that Roudnitska so often included in his perfumes. This note was just at the beginning of Diorella and I have to confess that I never cared for the material.  I admire the work, the clean open air quality of the perfume and its inedible elegance, but I really don’t like melon as a rule-except for lunch. The perfume probably used real jasmine as opposed to Eau Sauvage, which popularized hedione but even this is not enough to make me love it.

However I felt about the formula, the perfume was a great hit. Diorella is an inextricable part of my adolescence, as my French teacher wore it, and so Diorella weaves back and forth in my memory on warm mornings during dictees, which got downright hypnotic after a while, what with open windows, bees buzzing outside in the oleanders, and Mademoiselle’s jasmine laced Diorella on the air.

The trouble with all of these scents is now twofold: they rely on a few natural ingredients which mainstream perfumes are unwilling to include, or which violate IFRA regulations, and secondly, the fact that citrus ingredients do not last well.  Citrus perfumes since they are so dependent on those initial tart tinglings in the nostrils, are not much good once the head notes decay.  You can store yours in wine refrigerators, or wine cellars, or your basement if its reasonably dry and cool, off season, but I think it is best to use  a bottle up in summer.

bees know what is genuine in neroli… from

This is less true of newer citrus chypres like Tom Ford’s popular Neroli Portofino. That  does not smell very natural to me and so is more likely to keep.  I suspect a neroli product instead of real neroli, and something longer lasting and synthetic in the head, so that like the newer O’ series from Lancome, or new formulations of Eau d’Hadrian, you may have them for more than one summer.

I still think you can do worse than a bottle of Emeraude in July, or else a bit of grapefruit, bergamot, and sandalwood in a salt and sugar scrub*.  That gives you the zing for little money and it’s super easy to blend oils in salt, sugar, or an organic shower gel for a great fragrant shower.  The ghost of real citrus is better than a hologram any day.


  • If you don’t know an oil, always dilute it in a carrier oil first at a one to ten ratio, and patch test for allergies on a wrist or ankle. Some oils can go straighrt on skin like real rose otto, or lavender, which I use for cuts and scrapes.
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7 thoughts on “Citrus Chypres: Eau d’Hadrian, Lancome O, and Diorella

  1. I do not care for melon in perfumes and, to think about it, neither in my diet, but the latter suffers mostly because of my personal calorie/taste ratio perception (it’s not as tasty for me as it is calorie-rich). But until now I didn’t smell any in Diorella – and now I’m scared a little. If I stop liking it, I’ll blame you! 😉

    I’m not a big fan of citrus perfumes: I do not mind them but I rarely choose to wear them. Eau d’Hadrian wasn’t bad but I never warmed to it to wear. And I’m not sure if I even tried any of the “o’ series,” which is strange if to consider that one Lancome’s perfume is my all-time #1, and there’s at least one more that I like and wear… But beyond those Lancome is too mainstream for me – either for perfumes or even for cosmetics/skincare products.

    1. Oh no, I may get the blame for you going right off Diorella if it has melon breath! I wonder, have not tried the reformulated Diorella since about 2010 and there was still some melon then .

      You know a lot of people say they don’t like citrus and I am not sure why that is, maybe it is too sharp or does not last long enough on skin, or seems too masculine. Citrus reminds me of the orange groves in Calabria, and orange trees in pots on terraces in Rome-so pleasant associations I guess!

      1. My Diorella is pre-2010, I think. I’ll try it again soon 🙂

        I do not dislike citrus but citrus perfumes seem like “lesser” perfumes, not fancy enough, I think. It is subjective, I completely realize that – but that’s how I feel.

  2. I’ve never tried Eau d’Hadrian or O de Lancome since I usually prefer citrus to be a topnote rather than the centerpiece of a composition. That said, I was gifted a bottle of Fresh Life, which is full of citrus, and I find it very enjoyable on a hot day. Vintage Diorella is a summertime all-day perfume for me. I do perceive some fruitiness in it, a touch of Prunol perhaps, but like Undina, I do not read this note as a “melon.” Perhaps there is so much more going on? Or Roudnitska used something other than calone? I cannot wear modern perfumes with strong and sweet-leaning melon or cucumber notes (honestly, I find them almost sickening on a hot day). I wore vintage Givenchy Insense on warm day this week and thought it was great. It has a lot of citrus in the opening but dries down beautifully to dry frankincense and moss. There’s a strong family resemblance to Givenchy III.

    1. Insense was one of my sister’s favorite perfumes when she still lived in France, so I’m delighted to hear that someone else knows it and wears it- I associate Insense with her.

      The fruit that is in Diorella- I wonder. I do catch something melon-y in Le Parfum de Therese and it smells similar to whatever is in Diorella- but then the working title of LPdT was La Prune- so you are probably right and it’s Prunol or some base that has it in. Was it the same stuff Roudnitska found in that big drum while working on the prototype of Femme during the war? Hm…

      Fresh Life I do not know is it a Davidoff scent?

  3. I don’t remember Eau d’Hadrien from the 90s because I didn’t pay any attention to perfume till 2008! I do suspect there would have been nary a stockist within striking distance of where I live, even if I had been attuned to fragrance. I have made up for it since, mind, and I can’t say I warmed to Eau d’Hadrien – it just seemed too sharp and straightforward. I feel the same about Miller Harris’s Citron Citron. I did want to like the AG though, as I read Madonna wore it! Not that I am a fan of Madonna particularly, but I was intrigued. Then O de Lancome I recently discovered properly and like a lot, while Diorella is a tad herbal. I am not averse to citrus scents as a category but agree with the others that I expect more complexity and ‘stuff going on’ in a perfume, and colognes often lean to the minimalist side, or seem to. I do have a soft spot for TDC Bergamote, possibly due to the inclusion of ginger and rhubarb!

    1. I understand the hesitation to love citruses, they do seem simple and they do not last either on skin or in bottles. They are so much fun for summer though and I like to mix them with unscented shower gels and bathwater! A cold bath on a hot day with cologne in it is pretty spectacular as a pick me up 🙂

      Oh and then there’s Florida Water, with which many of us in the States grew up, it is largely rose and jasmine with a musk base and a great deal of bergamot. It is a variation on 4711.

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