You’ve probably heard of The Princess and the Pea, but have you heard of The Prince and the Orange Blossom Cologne? Well, the “prince” is me , and though I love the scent of orange blossoms, especially on the tree, it’s been hard for me to find an orange blossom perfume that “sits comfortably” on my skin. I try orange blossom fragrances, one after the other, and think: “too syrupy sweet” “too spicy” “too light” “too feminine” “too powdery” “too sour” “too strident”…too too!
Just in time for spring, John Varvatos is releasing Artisan — a new orange blossom-rich cologne that’s meant to evoke the aroma of pure, fresh, springtime air.* Artisan is Varvatos’ third men’s perfume, and he wanted Artisan to have a “lighter” aroma than his other two fragrances: John Varvatos and Vintage.
Varvatos worked with perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux to develop Artisan and the fragrance contains notes of tangelo, winter mandarin oranges, clementines, thyme, marjoram, lavandin, North African orange blossom, Indian murraya (reportedly used for the first time in a men’s fragrance), a trio of gingers, including an engineered “purple ginger” from Givaudan, belambre, kephalis, serenolide** and georgywood. (You must admit those notes DO sound “princely.”)
I’ve spent many an hour in my kitchen slicing and squeezing basketfuls of oranges, clementines, and tangerines while making marmalades and jellies, and Artisan, as it opens, reminds me of that experience. The first minutes of Artisan’s development smell of orange peels and pulp — brisk, clean, and juicy. Then…Artisan utilizes a Benjamin Button approach, taking ‘oranges’ into reverse — going from mature fruit, to perfumed blossoms. Mixed into the aromas of oranges and orange blossoms is a green-herb accord (very ephemeral and smelling more of marjoram than anything else). After the green notes disappear, we’re left with the scents of orange blossoms and a stark, not too sweet, woody-amber aroma. Artisan’s floral notes never completely fade away — they are noticeable from start to finish and they are JUST RIGHT to my nose and on my skin. The “Prince” is finally satisfied and comfortable.
When I got my first whiff of Artisan in the store, it was all I could do to restrain myself from an immediate purchase. (Always restrain yourself from a too-quick perfume purchase…unless you are smelling something hard to find in a place far, FAR from home.) Since leaving the store with several Artisan samples, I’ve worn the fragrance three times, and my first impression has held: Artisan’s a good quality, refreshing, spring-summery orange blossom cologne with perfect (subtle) warm-weather sillage and strength.
John Varvatos Artisan Eau de Toilette is currently available only in the 125 ml size ($75) at Nordstrom or johnvarvatosfragrance. It will go into wider distribution next month, and will also be available in 75 ml ($55). Artisan comes in a bottle encased in rattan; Varvatos claims all the rattan coverings are ‘original’ (handmade, in a bottle designed by Jon Cisler Design) but provides no info on where they are woven or who is doing the weaving. (As the sales clerk at Nordstrom said: “Probably best not to know!”)
* Women's Wear Daily, 1/23/09.
** Per Givaudan, serenolide is "an elegant white musk with sweet fruity connotations providing warm and soft velvety notes that blend well with all kinds of trendy fruity accords."