The orange blossom! The essence of fresh petals of the Orange flower, the sheer delicate smell, so intoxicating that it brightens up everything!
Bitter Orange tree is like a coconut tree in perfumery. Every part of the bitter orange tree yields a beautiful smell, depending on how it is extracted. Petitgrain is obtained by distilling the twigs, Bigarade is by cold pressing the thick dimpled peel of the fruit, Neroli is by steam distillation of flowers and the Orange Blossom essence is by solvent extraction of the flowers. There are some fabulous illustrations, in depth descriptions and wealth of information in all the great perfume blogs.
Disambiguation of these terms with respect to the meaning is easy. The hard part is actually telling what is what, when you smell it in a perfume. I think it comes down to a discerning nose, which needs to be cultivated. My nose is not as refined. I really can't tell the difference between the bigarade note and the petigrain. They both smell like harsh orange zest to me.
With Neroli and Orange Blossom, I can appreciate the subtlety to a certain extent. The difference is delicate. It is best appreciated by smelling the essential oil and the extract. Neroli is bright, more bitter and very fresh. Orange Blossom is more floral, delicate, sweet and light but still fresh. To me, Neroli feels masculine whereas Orange Blossom feels feminine.
That said, I need to climb down my high horse and say that, in perfumes, the Neroli and the Orange Blossom smell almost identical to me. When one is used, the other follows, or the terms are used interchangeably. In perfumes, it is more of a fusion of the two than a dichotomy because they are so much in the same vein and create an experience rather than pin pointing to the note.
As for Neroli my reference is Tom Ford's Neroli Portofino and L'Occitane's Neroli from Voyage Mediterranean. Both are fresh, beautiful renditions to Neroli. From my little collection of samples, I found 4 perfumes that are based on Orange Blossom. Just to make it more comprehensive and for me to understand the concept of orange Blossom better, here are my thoughts on these perfumes.
Serge Lutens Fleurs D'Oranger
"Splendour and freshness: thick, white orange blossom petals, cosseted by jasmine and tuberose from India and crowned by a sprinkling of rose and musk. Timeless."
Oh my! Orange blossom woven on a fabric of white florals! Orange Blossom is so true in it. Well complemented by florals and musk, the combination is fresh, pleasing and so feminine. I love it for the lightness and delicate nature of Orange Blossom.
Smelling this perfume has been an experience for me. SL Fleurs D'Oranger will be the reference and a standard for all the other Orange Blossoms I will smell in future.
Le Labo Fleur D'Oranger 27
"A natural and extremely rare Orange Blossom that took over 3 years to compose.
Its innate nobility is enhanced by fresh floral and lemony notes, rounded out by musk and the succulent, sunny touches of bergamot, petit grain and lemon."
Oh, this is fresh, almost masculine. The guy at Mecca Cosmetica thought it smelt like Frederic Malle's Bigarade and I think he is right. It is bitter, green and brash. This is so clean and fresh that it weighs down itself on the lightness. It more citrusy than being a delicate floral centered around Orange Blossom. But it is enjoyable and would make a great hot weather perfume for citrus lovers.
Annick Goutal Neroli
"Orange blossom absolute, neroli essence, petitgrain Paraguay essence, cypress essence, cedar essence"
I think it is a great combination of the greenness of neroli and the wispy gentleness of Orange Blossom. It begins with a really fresh blast of Neroli and fades into Orange Blossom. The way this perfume takes the turn to orange Blossom has made my nose sharper to perceive the note and appreciate it more.
Ange ou Demon Harvest 2009
"the flower illuminates the fragrance with a thousand lights. In the middle, the intriguing floral bouquet is softened with honeyed notes. Animal facets in the base notes blend with tonka bean and oakwood"
Givenchy's Harvest perfumes were launched in 2005 to highlight a specific note in their fragrances. The harvest of the rare and precious ingredients from a particular region (something like harvest of grapes to make wines) is used to spike the perfumes creating one of a kind flankers of limited number.
Givenchy's Harvest 2009 uses Orange Blossom of Nile River Delta of Egypt. I really like Ange ou Demon. I like the Harvest version better. The orange Blossom makes Ange ou Demon take a fresh, delicate direction. It changes the perfume in an unique way. The warmth in the original is still retained but the perfume is truly illuminated by Orange Blossom.
I'd like to finish by sharing the most unpleasant Fleur D'Orange that I have ever smelt. Lush Orange Blossom, so synthetic, like burning plastic and headachy.
So, these are the Fleur D'Oranger perfumes that I have experienced. If you have anything that I must smell, please recommend.