Houbigant Orangers en Fleurs ~ fragrance review

Houbigant Orangers en FleurHoubigant Orangers en Fleur

We tend to complain that many fragrance houses offer a surfeit of new releases, season after season, without any apparent concern for quality or aesthetic consistency. Houbigant is one house we can't blame for taking that approach: although it certainly has a "heritage" that would turn newcomer niche lines green with envy, its complicated recent history has resulted in a pared-down catalogue of offerings, which is somehow refreshing these days.

I do remember Chantilly from my teen years, but it's now owned by Dana Classic Fragrances (and probably doesn't smell much like it used to in my Seventeen-reading era). And, just a few years ago, I had a co-worker who wore the venerable Quelques Fleurs (1912!) as her signature scent; I loved catching a whiff of it when she passed me in the corridor. On the other hand, I've cordially loathed Quelques Fleurs Royales since its release in 2004 — the last news I'd heard about Houbigant until this summer's launch of Orangers en Fleurs.

Orangers en Fleurs was developed for Houbigant by perfumer Jacques Flori and its composition includes notes of orange blossom, Turkish rose absolute, Egyptian jasmine absolute, tuberose, eau de brouts ("an exclusive Robertet raw material" which seems to be based on petitgrain), ylang Comores essence, nutmeg, cedar wood, and musk. In a nod to the company's past, Houbigant has packaged Orangers en Fleurs in a re-interpretation of a vintage Baccarat perfume bottle. The bottle's cap is shaped like an antique Baccarat bottle stopper, which is a clever touch (even if its plastic feels a bit flimsier than it should at this price point), and the label is a thin metal plate affixed to the bottle's side.

This interpretation of orange blossom is definitely not a soliflore: it's faceted and just complex enough to stay interesting. I've enjoyed wearing it over the past few days and picking out its various notes. Orangers en Fleurs opens with the green bitterness of petitgrain, originally derived from the leaves and stems of the orange tree. (This must be the "eau de brouts" announcing its presence.) There's also a breath of warm spice from the nutmeg note, and this spiciness lingers throughout the fragrance's development. In the heart, the orange blossom and other white florals come to the foreground. The tuberose is soft and creamy, and it adds depth to the soapy-clean orange blossom. The jasmine is warm and refined, but very much a supporting player. 

As it dries and changes over the hours, Orangers en Fleurs turns a bit less flowery again, as the musk base and the cedar emerge. Overall, Orangers en Fleurs is a harmonious balance of green and white, sharp and silky, floral and wood. Its longevity seems below average for an Eau de Parfum on my skin, although Suzanna at Bois de Jasmin found it to have better staying power, so your experience may vary. Someone could easily wear one or two spritzes for a workplace situation and then reapply a little more generously for evening without overdoing anything.

I don't wear many orange blossom fragrances, but I do have a few favorites: Atelier Cologne Grand Néroli (orange flower-citrus cologne), Lush Orange Blossom (straight-up, natural-smelling orange blossom), and the new L'Artisan Parfumeur Séville à l'Aube (radiant oriental orange blossom with resins). Orangers en Fleurs differs from all three of those: it's a feminine, traditional variation on orange blossom. Orangers en Fleurs is designed to complement and extend the classic floral style of Houbigant's older fragrances, rather than reinventing the brand. It succeeds well: it doesn't smell exactly like a vintage fragrance, but it has a classic feeling, and it doesn't assume that the only way to lure new customers to the Houbigant counter is to wave the pink-hued flag of a fruity-gourmand scent. Even if I didn't like the fragrance, that attitude would please me.

Houbigant Orangers en Fleurs

Houbigant Orangers en Fleurs is available as 100 ml Eau de Parfum ($180). It is also available as a Parfum (100 ml  for $600), and matching body products will be released in October. For purchasing information, see the listing for Houbigant under Perfume Houses.

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27 Comments

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  1. declasseandtrashay says:

    Oh that sounds like something I need to try the next time I’m at Nordstrom!

    My mother loved Quelques Violette but they discontinued it. She agreed with you about Quelques Fleurs Royales – she didn’t like it too well.

    Thanks for the great review!

    • Jessica says:

      Glad you enjoyed it! Do give this one a sniff when it comes around. It was a pleasant surprise for me.

  2. damselfly says:

    What memories – I wore Quelques Fleurs decades ago and loved it, but the newer version smells nothing like it, IMO. Thanks for reviewing Orangers en Fleurs – will have to give it a try.

    • Jessica says:

      The older version must have been lovely! The current version isn’t “me,” but it did smell good on my co-worker. I can only imagine how it just have smelled years ago…

  3. alyssa says:

    I am so intrigued by the nutmeg/orange blossom combination, which I love, but the price tag is a bet spendy. And what were they thinking offering 100 ml of parfum?

    • Jessica says:

      I’m a bit baffled by the big bottle of parfum, too. Why not offer an lovely *small* bottle of extrait at Caron-ish prices?

  4. Omega says:

    I love orange blossom..I need to try this. Lush makes an orange blossom?:D. I must investigate!:D. Thanks Jessica!

    • Jessica says:

      Yes! It’s part of their Gorilla Perfumes range, available as an atomizer bottle, a travel atomizer, and a solid perfume.

    • Tama says:

      I am an orange blossom ho, but the Lush as Too Big for me in any version but the solid, which I love! So try them all – each version is a different concentration.

  5. Omega says:

    Does Lush have a mini sample set available?

    • pyramus says:

      They used to, a set of 2-mL vials (I bought it last year in Dartmouth, which is in Nova Scotia, which is in Canada, for what that’s worth), but I popped briefly into that same Lush last weekend and they didn’t have them, so maybe they don’t carry them in Canada any more. They definitely still have them in the UK.

      Lush Orange Blossom is basically orange blossom and nothing but, so if you like it unadorned, you will probably like the Lush. I don’t like orange blossom at all so of course it did not work for me.

  6. annemarie says:

    Houbigant has such a complex history of discontinuations and mass-market reformulations that a lot of consumer trust has been eroded. I suppose the owners of the prestige line are using high price points to take a giant leap out of all that, and to attract the attention of people who naturally believe that expensive = good. Still, it does sound as if Orangers en Fleurs IS good. Thanks for the review!

    Someone once sent me a sample of Houbigant’s Demi-Jour, a complex white floral in high-80s style. Not my kinda thang, but it’s pretty good. It seems to have a little following of crestfallen perfume wearers who wish Houbigant – or someone – would re-introduce it.

    • Jessica says:

      Annemarie, that’s such a good point, about Houbigant needing to re-establish itself as a luxury line. I remember hearing about Demi-Jour, and perhaps seeing ads for it, years ago… that’s too bad.

  7. nozknoz says:

    Thanks for this review, Jessica! Jacques Flori composed the wonderful Etro Shaal Nur, and the price of this one indicates that Houbigant must have given him a decent budget. I’ll definitely try it when I have a chance.

  8. hajusuuri says:

    This sounds lovely. Thanks for the review, Jessica.

    I also enjoy LUSH Orange Blossom and I can’t wait for my Seville a l’Aube to arrive!

    • Jessica says:

      H, I’ve been swooning over my Seville sample. I hope you’ll love it, too.

  9. lucasai says:

    Very nice review Jessica. I’ve been interested in Houbigant’s Orangers en Fleurs when I first read some press releases. One of the niche perfumeries in Poland carries it and I listed this fragrance on my to try list, will purchase a sample with my next samples order.
    And I also love Grand Neroli!

    • Jessica says:

      Luca, oh, good! I’m glad you’ll be able to find this one easily.

      • lucasai says:

        Yes, one of those two niche perfumeries is doing great job and they introduced 12 new brand to Poland this year, Xerjoff being the latest addition. I will put my hands on it, just don’t know when. Currently stopped buying samples to stock money for a dream bottle which I’ll be buying in November.

        PS. And my correct name is Lucas :)

  10. Tama says:

    Nice review! I’m looking forward to this one. I am always on the lookout for a good Orange Blossom scent, or good Neroli. I liek teh bottle, too.

    • Tama says:

      Ack, look before send – “I like the bottle, too”. Now you know what my typing really looks like.

      • Jessica says:

        hah! Not to worry about the typing! I do like this fragrance… it’s a well-groomed, ladylike orange blossom, accessorized with tuberose and spice!

  11. Warum says:

    I am looking forward to trying this one!
    I love Grand Neroli, too.

  12. Joe says:

    This sounds good, Jessica. I’m doing my best to avoid buying a decant unsniffed, but your review made it more difficult. Orange Blossom is a favorite note, but I already have so many I love.

    Houbigant did a really good job with Fougère Royale about 2-3 years ago.

    • Jessica says:

      Hi, Joe! I only tried this fragrance because I happened to be in Bergdorf on the day they were promoting it. I actually didn’t like it much on the blotter, but once I brought my sample home and tried it a few times, I really appreciated it. It’s a very ladylike, vintage-meets-modern orange blossom.

      I need to try Fougere Royale!

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