Flower by Kenzo Oriental fragrance review

Flower by Kenzo Oriental

Flower by Kenzo, a perfume inspired by the (scentless) red poppy, was released in 2000. The Flower collection has since been expanded to include several variations on the theme, most notably Flower Le Parfum in 2003. This year Kenzo has launched Flower Oriental. Like the others in the Flower line, it was composed by perfumer Alberto Morillas. According to Women's Wear Daily, the fragrance...

...is based on Kyara, an extract of Asia's agar tree. The material is burned during a Japanese ceremony called Kôdô, which is translated as "listening to incense."

Other fragrance notes include Bulgarian rose, violet, vanilla, musk, Sichuan pepper, and Chinese incense.

I suppose I should start by admitting than I am not a huge fan of the original Flower, which is simply too sweet and powdery to suit me. The Le Parfum version, which is more concentrated but also highlights slightly different notes than the original, is somewhat more to my taste, but it isn't something that I adore either.

Flower Oriental starts quite similar to the original Flower scent: a soft, sweet, powdery floral. As it settles, the powder calms, and it starts to take on dark woody undertones that temper the sweetness nicely. It smells like agarwood (oudh), but a subdued agarwood, completely stripped of its characteristic medicinal topnote. The wood slowly warms into a dry, smoky-peppery incense which obscures the floral top notes, leaving only indistinct traces. It is mildly spicy, with a dash of vanilla and a clean skin musk in the base.

It is a wonderful comfort scent for fall, very squishy-soft, and much lighter and closer to the skin than you might imagine it would be based on the notes. It has just enough powder to lend a velvety finish, but not so much that you feel that you have dusted it on, and there is just enough vanilla to balance the dryness of the wood.

It is still far drier, and probably far less feminine than the original Flower, and I wonder if fans of that scent will find Flower Oriental too masculine. Personally, I tried to amp up the wood notes a notch by layering with Yves Saint Laurent M7, another Alberto Morillas fragrance with agarwood. M7 is a rather heavy fragrance, and even a tiny drop completely drowned out the Kenzo, so I will have to keep working on the proportions. Even on its own, though, Flower Oriental is one of my favorites of the mainstream fragrance releases this year.

Flower Oriental is available in 50 ml Eau de Parfum for $70 at sephora and department stores. I will be waiting patiently for it to hit the discounters.


Shop for perfume

FragranceNetParfums Raffy

37 Comments

Leave a comment, or read more about commenting at Now Smell This. Here's a handy emoticon chart.

  1. Anonymous says:

    I have a feeling this would be a fragrance for me. I do like the original Flower (have a bottle). But I cannot find it here and I spoke with someone at a perfume store yesterday and they think maybe it is not released here yet. If I cannot find it, I am tempted to order it from the States, site unsniffed.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I do agree with your lovely review dear R! It is indeed one of the nicer mainstream perfumes this year.

    Hope you are well.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Dear R, I'm not much of a fan of the original Flower either – there's too much…heliotrope? The new one seemed much more attractive when I first sprayed it on, but gradually it lost its lustre and became simply Flower. I was a bit surprised, as I'd heard that it was an entirely new scent, but it did seem to me to be the original Flower with extra bits! It makes me wary of the LE l'Instant Noel or whatever it's called – that smelled nice in the bottle, but I wonder if the honey magnolia note that emerges in l'Instant would come to the fore here too? I must say, though, that I do love the Flower bottles – I really wish I could like the scent more… N

  4. Anonymous says:

    I could barely smell this! I had to really spritz heavily. It didn't seem to last either. I had high hopes since I love Le Parfum. It's going straight to my swap list. Very disappointing.

    Victoria O.

  5. Anonymous says:

    K, I will be curious to hear what a Flower fan thinks of it. It is quite different from the earlier versions, in smell but also in feel. Personally I am a cheapskate and won't pay full price for it…eventually it will be at the discounters for much less money.

  6. Anonymous says:

    N, I am surprised — I would not have thought you would like it! But not sure I can say why.

  7. Anonymous says:

    N, LOL at “Flower with extra bits”! But we had the opposite reaction: I thought it started out Flower, and got less & less Flower-like as it dried down.

    My sephora doesn't have the new L'Instant yet! They say they've never heard of it, despite the fact that it is on their own website.

  8. Anonymous says:

    V, agree that it is very light. I tend to wear my perfume lightly anyway — one spray is usually more than enough. With FO, yes, you have to spritz heavily. I don't mind, but it does perhaps explain why I am playing around with the M7.

  9. Anonymous says:

    It sounds lovely…but so did the previous Flower versions, and, just like Victoria O. above, I could not smell any of them. I swear. Just no smell, only a hint of slightly powdery sweetness…weird. I am going to try this one anyway, thank you for the lovely review, R!

  10. Anonymous says:

    I found it, well, I found out how to get it here, and will let you know as soon as I get my hands on it. Flower is the lightest and definitely the most powdery scent I own, as I like woody and spicey scents (especially this time of year). The next perfume I am getting is Rance's Josephine, and maybe this Kenzo Oriental as well, if it smells as good as it sounds.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I tried this twice and did not want to wash off. :)

    Did you think I would not like it because I am such an awful snob?

    ;D

  12. Anonymous says:

    Glad you found it, and hope you like it!

  13. Anonymous says:

    N, LOL — not at all, I just don't think of you wearing squishy-comfort scents.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Well, M, then I wonder if you will be able to smell this one — it is very light!

  15. Anonymous says:

    I probably won't…oh well! :-)

  16. Anonymous says:

    I fell for Rahat this year (after years of hating it) – so that is proof that I am getting really soppy and comfort oriented. ;)

  17. Anonymous says:

    PBI – blame the web designers/project managers for not keeping the staff there informed. It is the same here in Paris btw – nobody has a clue what is on their own website except clients and the developers who created the sites! Huge communication gap there. This is the case with most companies these days. SAs cannot be bothered nor care.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I really have come to appreciate the first Flower. To me, that is a clean, soft, comfort scent. I am strongly intrigued by the Oriental version, and after reading this I'm sure I'll have to track it down here. I'm sure I'll find it interesting. Although, I just generally (not always) dig the stuff Morillas comes up with anyhow!

  19. Anonymous says:

    R, I have to try it over the weekend. That is all I have to say! It sounds too lovely to pass up.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Well, then I must be more soppy since I liked it the first time I smelled it!

  21. Anonymous says:

    K, will love to hear what you think of it since you like the original.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Excellent review Robin! It sounds like it has great potential. I ordered the original Flower based on reviews and fell in love with it. However, I can't breathe once I spray it on. It's the strangest thing! I am not allergic to any other perfume but Flower and I'm bummed. I'm almost hesitant to try the FO because of the note similarities. Maybe I should love this from afar….boo hoo. I do sit the Flower bottle proudly on my vanity though! Thanks for the insight. Toodles.

  23. Anonymous says:

    V, hope you will review it on Bois de Jasmin — very curious to hear what you think of it.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I like the Flower Parfum, but I didn't care for Flower Oriental. The top notes were fabulous, a delicate incense layered over a light original Flower scent, but then the drydown went into an unpleasant sharp chemical odor. So disappointing.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I have pretty much the same reaction to Narciso Rodriguez, and haven't been willing to risk trying the new EdP version. Not worth it!

  26. Anonymous says:

    T, I read another comment somewhere else about a chemical odor, so you are not alone! I don't get that at all, happily, just wood & incense & spice.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Hmm, it sounds pretty interesting. I'll give it a go. I seem not to be able to wear 'perfumey' perfumes lately. If I recall correctly, the original Flower was really perfumey.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I found it! It just went on the shelves today here, and I even got them to make me a sample. I sprayed it on an hour ago, and I just LOVE it. I love the woody tones and slightly spicey pepper and incense tones it takes on after about 20 minutes (on my skin). It stays very close to the skin, which if fine with me as fragrance for me is a personal experience. As soon as my sample is gone, a bottle will be purchased.

  29. Anonymous says:

    K, that was quick, so glad you found it & liked it and didn't have to order unsniffed. I am going to be patient & wait for it to appear at discount…I just can't stand to pay full price for something and see it later at 30% off.

  30. Anonymous says:

    When I first saw this on the shelf at Nordstrom I was hoping it was a FlowerbyKenzo for men. I paid no attention to the fact that it was grouped with the original FLowerbyKenzo (as well as the Le Parfum and other women's Kenzo fragrances). When I smelled it, it definitley seemed masculine to me. But after I realized it was for women, I tried to wrap my mind around the idea that it was indeed a woman's fragrance. I couldn't. It doesn't smell very feminine at all. But I think I'll buy a bottle for myself. I'm very into these oriental fragrances right now (namely Shiseido Basala), and I love the way this one smells like incense. Peronsally, I don't mind paying full retail for it… :-P

  31. Anonymous says:

    It isn't terribly feminine, is it? It was supposed to be a limited edition, and I need to get a bottle too before it disappears.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Oh my heavens! It's limited edition? Oh dear… I definitley need to get to the mall and get some. Thanks for the heads up!

  33. Anonymous says:

    You know, it might be worth asking. I heard it was, but now actually not sure it was ever confirmed.

  34. Anonymous says:

    So asked the lady at Nordstrom if it was going to be limited edition, and she said that it was originally planned to be (she thought), but they keep stocking it up (which was clear; they had a LOT on the shelf). I decided, then, not to buy it right away. She made me up a sample (which I am wearing right now, and love), as well as a sample of the FlowerbyKenzo Summer, which I gave to my mom. It's funny, how I've like the other three version of FlowerbyKenzo (the third being Le Parfum), but not the original.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Well, even if it is LE (and the salespeople rarely know for sure) it will be around for awhile. And you can still find it at discount online.

  36. tanyaling says:

    This smells better than the new Kenzo Flower Essentielle. I tried on both wrists. This smells lighter and more soothing, as well as slightly more powdery. Could be because of the tropical climate here….

    • Robin says:

      I like it better too, although Essentielle is beautifully done.

Leave a reply