Confession time: over the last two weeks, I've made several failed attempts to write this review. It's one thing to put down your thoughts on a fragrance whose maker is a completely unknown quantity. It's quite another to publish an assessment of the latest effort by Andy Tauer: I've been fortunate enough to meet him, I'm a fan of his blog and I freely admit that the sum total of his web output is a source of great inspiration in my own attempts to create perfumes. Initially, I thought the best thing would be to avoid writing about it altogether, but then I decided that perhaps this would be seen as damning with silence. So I've now persuaded myself to push my biases to one side and just treat this juice like any other.
Orange Star is hard to pin down. It smells almost suspiciously different from one person's skin to the next. It takes on alternate personalities depending on whether you spray it on paper, fabric or your own wrist. It makes you believe it's a citrus before pulling your senses into something thicker and deeper, and just when you think you've got it sussed, it lightens up and gives you a cheeky tangerine wink.
One one level, it does pretty much what it says on the can. Top notes of sweet mandarines? Check. A heart of orange flowers? Check. Ambergris and tonka beans in the base? Yes indeed, check. But this compelling new scent has a life far beyond a few words printed on a marketing leaflet. Sure, you get citrus notes when you first spray it, but there aren't many citrus openings out there that immediately make you think you've just sunk your teeth into a freshly cut segment of the most succulent orange this side of Eden. The juices run down the side of your mouth and you roll your tongue across your lips, trying to catch every drop... but wait, the analogy doesn't quite work, because this fragrance is never sticky, and whilst it flirts with gourmand sensibilities, you wouldn't mistake it for a confection.
Next comes the seamless (but perhaps too rapid?) transition to the blossoms, and you throw your head back and realise you're sitting on the grass in the middle of a pristine orchard with hundreds of fragrant blooms bursting upon the branches around you. The leaves above your head frame the sunlight into a thousand different shapes. And every now and then, a contrast appears, just enough to prevent the whole experience from becoming twee or sickly. Is it the richness of the soil below you, the smokiness of the tree bark or the bitterness of the pips you've just tasted? Perhaps it's all three, working in harmony with the petals.
Night falls. You know the orange flowers are still nearby, but now you realise that the orchard has been in a familiar country all along: Tauerville. Allowing your body to sink down onto the floor, you breathe in the delightful, vanilla-tinged riches of Incense Extrême - and to an extent, L'Air Du Désert Marocain - which have now been made suitably cleaner and lighter. You drift into sleep... and guess what, when you awake, you're still in the same place! Purple prose aside, if nothing else, Orange Star is easily one of the most long-lasting scents I've encountered for a while, not to mention one of the most diffusive. Indeed, when I wore it to work the other day - in the name of research for this review - I was virtually attacked by a horde of ravenous colleagues demanding to know the name of this astonishing nectar I was wearing.
My only criticism - and I admit, it's minor - is that I'm not at all keen on the name. The connotations of phrases are, of course, culturally bound, but for me, the main sense created by 'Orange Star' is of the infantile, throwaway, market-research driven celebrity frags that couldn't be further away from the world inhabited by Andy Tauer. Having said that, I'm not sure I could suggest an alternative. Apparently, the scent's working title was Mandarin Ambree which would probably have been a touch too portentous. I don't object to the word 'orange', but I think it's 'star' that introduces unwanted notions of teenage girls obsessed with all that's pink. So perhaps I would've preferred Orange Supernova, or Crystal Orange, or the less dramatic, but more adult Orange Extrême. In the end of course, it's the contents of the new blue bottle that matter more than the words on the box. And the contents are first rate. There's no doubt I enjoy some Tauer creations more than others, but as far as I'm concerned, this one's a winner. It's perplexing and beguiling and, most importantly, it makes great company from the moment you apply a few judicious sprays in the morning, to the quieter hours of the early evening, when your attention is caught every now and then by that cheeky tangerine wink.
[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum obtained in 2010; fragrance tested on skin.]