Parfum d’Empire Azemour Les Orangers ~ fragrance review


Azemour Les Orangers is the latest from French niche line Parfum d'Empire. It's meant as a tribute to the city of Azemmour in Morocco and the surrounding region, where founder Marc-Antoine Corticchiato reportedly spent time at his family's orange groves as a child. As a back-story, that's relatively tame for a brand that has already brought us scents inspired by the Ottoman empire and Napoléon Bonaparte, among others, but with the never-ending onslaught of new niche brands with ever more obscure (and pretentious) inspirations, I'm tired of back-story anyway.

Azemour Les Orangers is a fresh chypre, a real, honest-to-goodness fresh chypre, with plenty of citrus and that mossy, nearly-musty undertone that you either adore or detest. If, like me, you adore it, then Azemour will be like greeting an old friend that you haven't seen in some time and feared you might never meet again. The opening is juicy but dry: lots of bright, orange-y citrus with green undertones and plenty of peppery spice (notes include orange, grapefruit, mandarin, citron, coriander, cumin, black pepper, pink pepper, cassis, galbanum, neroli, geranium, orange blossom, rose, hay, moss, henna and iodine). It's almost fizzy in the first few minutes — it seems to dance and sparkle on the skin as it warms. It has, briefly, an almost-sweaty aspect that I also find in fragrances like Annick Goutal Eau du Sud and Frédéric Malle Cologne Bigarade; in this case, it is probably the combination of cumin and grapefruit, although I don't think cumin-o-phobes will find that note overdone.2 The base is a hot summer's day in a dry climate near the sea (Morocco will do, but I thought right away of my much-missed Southern California): dried grasses, the faint scent of orange blossom carried on salty air.

It's summer-y, but has enough depth and bite that I enjoy it (immensely) even in the cold, and the lasting power is surprisingly good. Glorious, possibly my favorite niche fragrance of 2011,3 and going straight onto my "buy" list.

Parfum d'Empire Azemour Les OrangersParfum d'Empire Azemour Les OrangersParfum d'Empire Azemour Les Orangers

Parfum d'Empire Azemour Les Orangers is available in 50 and 100 ml Eau de Parfum. For buying information, see the listing for Parfum d'Empire under Perfume Houses.

Note: top image is 1962-Naranjas [cropped] by jl.cernadas at flickr; some rights reserved.

1. According to Denyse at Grain de Musc, it contains enough real oak moss to require a note about allergens on the label (see the comments at that link, update: and then see the comment below by Mikael — the wording I used here might be overstating the matter, but as I said below, all that matters to me is that it smells mossy).

2. On the other hand, I've become so immune to cumin that I probably ought to try Rochas Femme again.

3. But who can remember them all? I need to do a review before we come up with a Best of 2011 post. If anyone wants to add their favorite niche fragrance of 2011 in the comments, please do!

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  1. Tamara says:

    Oh my god. It sounds glorious.
    I love the PdE house anyway and one of my fav. summer scents is also Eau du Sud. I’ve been in the Pacific Northwest for almost 12 years now but like you I miss the desert air and hot skin smells of Southern Cali.
    I lived in Lancaster. It would get to 112! lol
    Your praise for this has me all twitterpated.
    Thanks for a great review. :)

    • Robin says:

      I lived in northern San Diego county, in La Jolla and then Carlsbad. I wanted to live in sleepy Encinitas but never did. And it’s probably not so sleepy now. Anyway, it smelled GREAT there, especially in La Jolla, where there were groves of Eucalyptus trees adding to all the other smells.

      • Rappleyea says:

        I would LOVE to smell a live eucalyptus tree!

        • ggperfume says:

          The woods are full of them where I live! That’s a scent I’ve known all my life.

          • Rappleyea says:

            I’m jealous! :-)

        • OperaFan says:

          Rapple – The area around San Francisco Bay is loaded with them! Just have to drive around and you get whiffs of it, among my fondest memories of that region….

          • Rappleyea says:

            We’ve got lots of great trees in central Ky., but no eucalyptus. :-(

      • Haunani says:

        Eucalyptus trees! One of my very favorite smells.

  2. Abyss says:

    “According to Denyse at Grain de Musc, it contains enough real oak moss to require a note about allergens on the label (see the comments at that link).”

    Who else did a little metal cheer after reading that? Why won’t more houses just do that?

    I must say, it’s always so good to read such a glowing an positive review for a new release! I’m usually quite indifferent to citrus but I love me a good chypre so this one could go either way. Definitely ci=curious to try.

    No new niche releases impressed me this year. I was very stricken by Tubereuse Criminelle (have some gift vouchers, will probably get a bottle) but that’s not new and Bottega Veneta is probably my favorite 2011 release but that’s not really niche.

    • Abyss says:

      Gah! Mental cheer, not metal :D

    • Robin says:

      I think probably more companies do this than we notice? I, for one, never ever read the boxes. I think it’s not just that oakmoss is regulated, but that this chypre style is no longer so in vogue as it was — Cristalle EdP was probably outselling Cristalle EdT long before IFRA did anything about oakmoss.

      • Abyss says:

        Good point. And since you mentioned Cristalle, how does this compare to it?

        • Robin says:

          It’s less summery and less floral. Spicier, more orange-y, and more like citrus peel. Cristalle EdT, really, can’t stand up to the cold, which is not to say I don’t ever wear it in winter :-)

          • Robin says:

            Going to retract less floral, which might not be accurate. But Cristalle EdT has more herbs, less warm spices than the Azemour. Azemour is also more “outdoorsy” and “natural” smelling, if that makes sense.

          • Abyss says:

            Thanks, that’s really helpful and I’m definitely liking the sound of more orange-y and spicy.

        • ggperfume says:

          Robin, you’re making it sound even better with every sentence.

          • Robin says:

            That always makes me nervous — then you’ll probably hate it ;-)

    • Rappleyea says:

      I was in the cheering section with you, Abyss!

  3. Absolute Scentualist says:

    Oooh! Perfume with a warning label to allow for a “banned” ingredient! *clutches pearls* And a chypre at that! I. must. try. this!

    Honestly, I don’t think I’ve tried any new niche fragrances this year, but as for new fragrances in general, I’ve decided after sampling it that I must buy some Bottega Veneta. It is so beautiful and aloof.

    There is such a flood of niche releases that it is hard to keep track of those that sound even remotely interesting, and I’ve still got several loves from the last year or two that take precedence over the newer items in most cases as it is. Bailing out the ocean with a teaspoon and the like…

    • Robin says:

      I have done better on mainstream this year than on niche, which is the opposite of how I usually do. It’s really too hard to keep up with the new brands.

      • Tama says:

        I did well with mainstream this year, too!

  4. austenfan says:

    I will have to smell this, I love me some mossy citrus, and I like Parfums d’Empire.
    Of the few 2011 niche launches that I have smelled I really liked the Goutal Mon Parfum Chéri, and De Nicolaï’s Weekend à Deauville.

    Does Azemour smell anything like any of the others in the Pd’E line?

    • Robin says:

      The Goutal is really well done. I think Kevin is going to review it next week. I did not love any of the PdNs this year, don’t know why.

      No, not to me.

      • austenfan says:

        I’m surprised that you don’t like the Deauville ( the new one). It seems to be in your line somehow.

        • Robin says:

          I didn’t dislike it. Just didn’t go crazy for it.

  5. Janice says:

    I just got a sample of this and it is really wonderful. In general, citrus and chypres aren’t my favorites, but if I were going to buy one this might be it. I think it would be wonderful for summer.

    I didn’t find the cumin to be overwhelming at all.

    • Robin says:

      Good. Sometimes I say the cumin is light, and then everyone chimes in to say it’s overwhelming :-)

  6. springpansy says:

    I love orange, but not always chypre-style. Interesting – I found your review quite similar to how I would review Parfum de Nicoali’s excellent L’eau Mixte (a mossy citrus chypre), except that I’d have to add the black currant note (L’eau Mixte adds citrus and improves on TDC’s Sublime Balkiss, IMO). Anyway, I realize that’s not what you were reviewing, lol. Thanks for the review.

    • Robin says:

      I liked Mixte but it was not the instant love that this one was. Now I can’t remember it well enough to compare the 2, sorry! I’ll see if I can find my sample later today.

  7. AnnieA says:

    My choice of niche perfume matches today’s image! I bought Atelier Cologne’s Orange Sanguine, which is so cheerful. It wasn’t new for 2011, though…

    • Robin says:

      I bought that too, but sort of regret it. Hope you continue to love it!

  8. Aparatchick says:

    I’m a big fan of the PdE line (Ambre Russe, Wazamba, and Osmanthus Interdite are two huge favorites), so I was interested to try this one. I got a split a few weeks ago and was impressed. Definitely a chypre. And definitely oakmoss. You won’t mistake it for anything else. Very, very well done.

    • Robin says:

      I would have called myself a fan but not a big fan…the Osmanthus is the only other one I’ve ever been interested in owning. Now I’m a big fan :-)

  9. mals86 says:

    Not a citrus fan, not an OB fan, not a citrus-chypre fan.

    But three cheers for Pd’E! And for the first thing to hit Robin’s shopping list in a loooong time!

    • Robin says:

      LOL…the list is so darned long, it did not need any help! What was your favorite niche scent this year?

      • mals86 says:

        Tableau de Parfums Miriam, by a very very long margin. Gorgeous.

        • Robin says:

          Ah, good pick. That one is really beautifully done.

    • nozknoz says:

      It’s true, the whole Tableau de Parfums project deserves special note as a highlight of 2011.

  10. Merlin says:

    So glad its available in 50mls. Some only seem available in 100mls – unless thats just the way it is in my neck of the woods!

    • austenfan says:

      Eau de Gloire is the only one on the Pd’E site to just exist in 100 mls. and not in the smaller bottle.

      • Merlin says:

        The only store that stocks PdE in South Africa (as far as I know) only had Ambre Russe in 100ml. That remains the most I have ever spent on a bottle of perfume. Having so much of it still makes me feel guilty, though I waited about a year before I bought it…

        In summer it seems it will last me a life time; but winter seems to take a toll on it!

        50ml of PdE generally seems to cost $100 over here…

    • Robin says:

      And under $100! Even better.

  11. Rappleyea says:

    Fabulous review, Robin, and anything that requires an oak moss allergen warning, I’m buying!

    Have you added anything else to your “to buy” list this year? If so, I’m not remembering it.

    And I run about three years behind, so I’m ready to test the 2008 releases! :-D

    • Robin says:

      I already had Angel Liqueur de Parfum on my list, now I’ve written “Or Angel Gout”. I probably won’t pay full price for either though. I am still thinking of buying Prada Candy — it has really grown on me since I reviewed it. (I liked it then but didn’t think I wanted to own it) I also bought a 15 ml of Santal Massoia.

    • ami says:

      Rapple, I could not agree with you more. one day I will change my name to Oakmiss :)

  12. Dzingnut says:

    A big thumbs up from Robin means I have to try it – this sounds great.
    Was DeBrachmakov released in 2011? If so, then that’s been my only real niche love-at-first-sniff for the year. Followed by my why-the-heck-is-it-so-damn-expensive equal, yet opposite, reaction.

    • Robin says:

      It was last year — one of my “best of 2010” scents.

  13. nancyg says:

    This sounds wonderful – can’t wait to try it.

  14. annemarie says:

    Oh I am so going to try this. I love the idea of hot sun on dry earth in a perfume. Tauer’s Reverie au Jardin does that for me, in a flower garden setting. And, oddly perhaps, Dior’s Granville is a winter version of the same idea (for me, at least): cold hard earth, stunted herbs and wind-blown pine trees. I’m on the look-out for more in this style!

    • Robin says:

      Hope it will work for you! I have not tried the Dior (or any of that series).

  15. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this one. I too, will definitely be buying a bottle next summer. For now, my decant will do. Thanks for the review!

  16. OhLily says:

    Oakmoss combined with citrus makes me ridiculously happy.

  17. helenviolette says:

    Nice review R- sounds like a must sniff to me. I am a fan of salt (on food and in perfume).

    • Robin says:

      It is not strong here — can’t decide if I would have noticed if it wasn’t in the notes.

  18. Alyssa says:

    HOORAY. I thought this one looked good from the notes (and I love the line). So pleased to have my hunch confirmed. Cannot think of many things more delightful than salty air orange blossom and oakmoss. And so glad to hear you thought it had that sparkle on the skin. I remember your mourning the loss of that sparkle in reformulated citrus heavy perfumes.

    • Robin says:

      This smells like real citrus to me. Or like whatever used to be in citrus top notes, and no longer is. Definite “sparkle”. Hope you will like it!

  19. Meg says:

    Well this review has made the winter warmth sample pack at Luckyscent almost unbearably tempting!

    • Robin says:

      Had to go look at that: nice mix, esp. since it includes the MG Plum which everybody says is so great.

      • 50_Roses says:

        OK, that did it! I had to order one of those sample packs.

        My favorite niche release of 2011 (of the relatively few I have tried) is DSH Pandora.

        • Robin says:

          That’s another nice one…really well done.

  20. Mikael says:

    Great review Robin, I love Azemour too. I commented on Denyse’s blog about the oak moss in Azemour. I think some people may have got a wrong impression of the situation from your wording “enough real oak moss to require a note”. Mentioning oak moss as a separate entity in the ingredient list is indeed required by the EU law if the amount is more than some limit percentage (I don’t know how much that is) but it doesn’t mean that the product contains it over the amount permitted by IFRA. And I’d imagine that PdE complies with IFRA regulations (but don’t know).

    • Robin says:

      I understand what you’re saying — but if I understood what Denyse said, it was that it ought to be listed but isn’t, which certainly implies that it has that much oak moss. So I don’t know! Also have to say that strictly speaking, it doesn’t matter to me at all — what matters to me is that it smells mossy!

      • Robin says:

        Oh, wait — I misunderstood you the first time. Now I get it. I’ll amend the note.

  21. Musette says:

    Robin –

    My stomach aches just reading this. Aches with LUST!

    must try it. soon!


    • Robin says:

      I think you will like it! Do review it when you try it.

    • donanicola says:

      Musette I read your wonderful post on your butt sick dog the other day and how Diorella restored you to glorious equanimity. (At least I think it was you on the Posse?). This one reminds me of Diorella in some ways. Not so much jasmine and more orange and spices (and that lovely hay note in PdN’s Vie de Chateau if you know that) but it has chypre CHARACTER.

      • Robin says:

        Vie de Chateau is another on my “buy” list, no idea why I haven’t managed to buy it yet.

  22. Marjorie Rose says:

    Newbie question (haven’t had one of those in a while!): can anyone tell me an easy-to-come-by scent that I might have smelled with oakmoss as a dominant note? I’m not sure I’ve smelled it, since its use has been so reduced.

    Otherwise, since I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such enthusiasm from Robin, I may well have to find a sample of this just to satisfy my curiosity!

    • Robin says:

      Hesitant to answer with oakmoss-heavy fragrances because so many of them have been reformulated. But here are some classics: The original Cristalle Eau de Toilette & Chanel Pour Monsieur, & Eau de Guerlain & Mitsouko & Derby, & Dior’s Eau Sauvage & Diorella, and the original Miss Dior.

      • Marjorie Rose says:

        Thanks for the reply, Robin. I have a vintage bottle of Mitsouko that I bought at an estate sale (not sure circa what?). I will sniff it again and search for. . .something green and earthy?

        • Robin says:

          It’s earthy-woody. A good definition I read somewhere is “damp forest floor” — that smell of soil & decay. Also a little briny/salty, like some algae was thrown into the mix.

          I think the trick is to smell several fragrances and then you’ll find the common denominator, you know what I mean?

  23. nozknoz says:

    As much as I enjoy the snarky reviews, it’s so heartening to hear about of a new launch that you really love! Glad I ordered that LuckyScent sample pack already – I adore PdE Cuir Ottoman and real chypres, so I’m hopeful that I may also like Azemour.

    I’m always so behind – most of my new favs are from previous years, decades or millennia – but in 2011 I’ve love the following enough to buy: Via del Profumo Sharif, AG Mon Parfum Cheri, the 40th anniversary perfumers edition of Aromatics Elixir, and Mary Greenwell Plum. Also considering PG Indochine. I might have bought MDCM Belle Helene if I didn’t already have AG Traversee du Bosphore – to me, it’s the same idea: leather candied with pear instead of apple. I couldn’t make up my mind about Frapin 1697; I’m looking forward to trying the EdP version. I need a decant of Myrrhiad to make up my mind about it, given that La Myrrhe already exists.

    • Robin says:

      I am behind too, really, esp. on niche. And many of the niche fragrances I did try, I tried very quickly. I did like (but not adore) the Indochine, and look forward to trying Plum.

      • Absolute Scentualist says:

        Oh, if Plum is from this year, then that would be my niche love. I swapped for a purse spray some months back and it is classy, beautiful and just old-fashioned enough that I’m smitten and was wondering how I’d score a bottle from the UK. I must go see how much LS wants for it for future reference. :)

        • Robin says:

          It’s from 2010, it just took a good long while to get to the US.

  24. Tama says:

    Nice review! I am beginning to appreciate some chypre scents, but I do have a line over which the moss must not tread. Probably the part you like the most.

    I was knocked out by several Smell Bents this year – Mots Verts, Chastity Begins at Home, Debonair Eau Dandy, among others. I also really liked a couple of scents from the Summer of Patchouli Love project – Wild Child by Opus Oils (Kedra has also been doing some nice work) and Go Ask Alice by En Voyage.

    • Robin says:

      It is easier for me since I grew up with them…Cristalle was one of the first fragrances I owned.

  25. Haunani says:

    This fragrance sounds pretty near perfect to me! Thanks for the review, Robin!

    Two 2011 niche fragrances that make me tingle with delight: EnVoyage Perfumes Nectars des Îles and Eau D`Italie Jardin du Poete.

    • Robin says:

      I have not even heard of EnVoyage! It is very hard to keep up.

  26. donanicola says:

    I remember commenting a week or so ago on something else and mentioning this and you said you were looking forward to trying it. Robin I’m so happy you loved it! It is a beauty. It affected me emotionally when I first tried it which makes me appreciate your comment about seeing an old friend again after some time. It is very balanced yet joyous and grounded – if that makes sense. As I mentioned above to Musette, it made me think of Diorella and PdN’s Vie de Chateau by the sea. I have a decant but once it’s through I’m buying a bottle.

    • Robin says:

      It was love at first sniff — it affected me emotionally too.

  27. Rosagreen says:

    I love this perfume! I’ve been wearing it for the past week from my sample and it is on my too buy list, as well. All the notes are blended perfectly. There is nothing disjoining or too strong about it.
    It is my favorite scent this year and perfect for winter.

    I am glad you like it and thank you for the wonderful review!

  28. March says:

    Gah, this sounds incredible. The first review in awhile that made my mouth water, you and I share a love for this kind of fragrance. Must try. While I’m on the topic: did you ever try the Vero Kern Onda (?) in the stronger strength, I think EDP? It’s all sharp green orange and sweat.

    • March says:

      Sorry, Rubj, not Onda. Need more coffee.

    • March says:

      And *weaker* strength, EDP, I think the original Rubj was extrait? Okay, I’ll stop now.

    • Robin says:

      The original (extrait) did not work on me at all. For some reason, it went to plastic almost immediately, and stayed there a good long time. And, IIRC, that was too much cumin. But I didn’t spend enough time with the EdP because I needed to send it to Angie. I should try it again. And should also try 2 others that always seemed a wee bit TOO sweaty to me: Malle Bigarade & Cartier Declaration, which you know are both Ellena so I should love but never did.

      But I think you will love Azemour.

      • March says:

        The extrait didn’t work on me either but the EDP was magic. And Bigarade and the regular Cartier Declaration smell weirdly sour to me, but I like the other Declaration (intense?) with more spices.

        • Robin says:

          Ok then — need to get more EdP!

          Yeah, Declaration esp. is day old, sour sweat on me. Ugh.

  29. Omega says:

    I live in the that’s my excuse to get this:D.

  30. Zazie says:

    What a wonderful review!
    Azemour sounds right up my alley: I’ve dscovered PdN’s New York just few days ago, a citrus chypre that I find so up-lifting.
    Could you tell me how Azemour compares to New York?
    The two NY testers I tried give different outputs: one superb and one just decent.
    So I fear that if I go FB, I might not got the fragrance I want, and Azemour could solve the problem! A citrus chypre! Welcome!

    • Robin says:

      I have not smelled New York in some years, & wish I could remember it better. From what I do remember, it’s a more conventionally masculine scent, and sweeter, powdery. I would not have thought it was a classic chypre at all but maybe it is (?)

      Vie de Chateau is probably closer to Azemour, but they’re not dupes either.

      • Zazie says:

        Thank you anyway! You know, from one of the testers I tried NY is a drop-dead gorgeous androgynous citrus chypre, a bit powdery and sweet, while the other tester shows NY as a more conventional masculine citrus scent, a bit leathery, slightly bitter and with quite a vetiver-patchouli combo. Maybe a nasty reformulation took place, with the citrus and oakmoss IFRA cuts.
        Before buying NY from the “good-tester” shop, and end up with a bitter vetiver-y citrus, I’ll certainly try out the PDE first. Sounds right up my alley!

        • Robin says:

          Oh, that’s scary when you’re about to buy — better check the return policy!

  31. Joe says:

    Funny, this didn’t knock my socks off the one time I sampled it — it seemed like another orange in a sea of oranges. But after reading the review and hearing all kinds of great things from others who love it, I will definitely pay more attention the next time I try it. And maybe I need to *spray*… lol.

  32. cazaubon says:

    I need to sample this… Love Oyedo and wonder if Azemour might have that same musty citrus smell I love in it.

    • Robin says:

      It is certainly different from Oyedo, but if we mean the same thing by musty, then yes.

  33. PinoiPerfumista says:

    Hi Robin! This is a very late question: How is this compared to Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune? Are there any similarities? Thanks in advance! Have a good day.

    • Robin says:

      Other than that they both have citrus, they’re not much alike, no.

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