L'Artisan launched Fleur d'Oranger in 2005. It is the first in a projected series of limited edition "harvest fragrances" based on specific "vintages" of floral notes; this one takes its name from the 2004 harvest of orange blossom from Nabeul in Tunisia. The fragrance was created by nose Anne Flipo, and has notes of orange bigarade, petitgrain, neroli, honey, beeswax and orange blossom.
Fleur d'Oranger is, in a word, glorious. It does for orange blossoms what Diptyque Philosykos did for figs: it captures the whole experience of standing in an grove of orange (in this case) trees on a brilliant summer day, with the smell of the leaves, the bark, the blossoms and the fruit. As with Philosykos, it probably does so in a more aromatically pleasing way than the reality could possibly hope to.
Fleur d'Oranger opens dry and sparkling, like a nice champagne. It quickly takes on subtle green undertones and lots of bittersweet woody citrus, and as it dries down, it is mildly sweetened by the honey. In character it is airy, almost weightless, rather than deep, but it is not so light as to lack character. It is by no means a complex fragrance — you aren't going to spend hours marvelling as it changes on your skin — but it is beautifully done.
The lasting power is reasonable if perhaps slightly on the low end for an Eau de Parfum. The packaging is lovely: the bottle is etched with orange blossoms, and nestled in a wooden box.
So did I buy it? I did not, and if you'd like to skip the kvetching of a cranky old perfume fanatic, do stop reading right here.
Fleur d'Oranger is $250 for 100 ml of Eau de Parfum. Now, bear in mind that I adore L'Artisan, and I adore the work of Anne Flipo for L'Artisan (Ananas Fizz, La Chasse aux Papillons, Jacinthe des Bois, among others). I do not begrudge L'Artisan the right to charge more than their regular price for a "harvest" fragrance, but $250? Givenchy's harvest fragrances, "Les Millésimes de Givenchy" (Amarige Mimosa de Grasse, Organza Jasmin d'Inde & Very Irresistible Rose Bulgare), were also beautifully packaged, if perhaps a bit less elaborately, yet were only slightly more expensive than usual: the Organza Jasmin d'Inde edition is only $10 more than the regular Organza. Fleur d'Oranger is more than double the usual L'Artisan price for 100 ml of Eau de Parfum.
Admittedly, I know absolutely nothing about the cost of orange blossoms. Perhaps these particular orange blossoms were vastly more expensive than say, the mimosa blossoms from Grasse used by Givenchy for Amarige. And if you are absolutely entranced by the thought of knowing where and when your orange blossoms were picked, perhaps you will not mind paying the extra cost.
I, for one, could care less about the the harvest concept. I would be perfectly happy with random orange blossoms in the usual L'Artisan bottle, in fact, since I love the fragrance, I'd be happier if it were part of the regular line and not a limited edition. All the same, perhaps I would have paid slightly more for the Nabeul orange blossoms and the pretty etching on the bottle. But double? No thanks. Luckily, a very kind friend gave me a decant. I keep hoping I'll spray it on and find that it has lost its charm, but so far, no dice. It is just great stuff.
2990 bottles of Fleur d'Oranger were produced; if you must have it, buy it soon. For purchasing information, see the listing for L'Artisan under Perfume Houses.
Tomorrow: still more L'Artisan