Monday, June 21, 2010

Review: Orange Star by Tauer Perfumes (2010)


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.]

7 comments:

  1. I've been wanting to try this since it came out, but now I read your review, I realize I need to hurry up a bit. It really sounds wonderful. :)

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  2. per usual, your reviews are lovely AND Andy linked this one in his blog!!!! :)

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  3. Thanks to both of you for your comments.

    Ines, I'd certainly urge you to try OS for yourself.

    And Frida, yes, I've seen Andy's link! Very exciting, and a very kind gesture on his part.

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  4. Your reviews are lovely. And I definitely want to try this all the more having read your thoughts.

    I completely agree that the name choice is somewhat naff. And see this as a good opportunity to list some of my other least favourite names. Ninfeo Mio - Ridiculous, pretentious name. Great scent. Youth Dew - terrible name. Again, great scent. Boss Orange - horrible name. Atrocious 'scent'. (I hope they gave Sienna Miller a good contract to become 'face of'.) Dior's Hypnotic Poison - terrible and yet strangely appropriate name.

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  5. Thanks MPL, both for the compliment and for your list. Youth Dew is an interesting name, I think, because it shows how the connotations of certain terms have changed over the last few years. To our contemporary ears, the name somehow sounds, well, quite inappropriate, doesn't it?

    Perhaps we both ought to do an inter-blog post on appalling perfume names?

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  6. Nice review.
    It certainly must smell different one people, as I found this the most foul smelling fragrance I've ever purchased, in 25 years of using perfumes. No fresh mandarine/oranges on my skin, just some sickly heavy odour that smelt rancid and even after numerous washes, it was still there :( Can't win them all :)

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  7. Really, Craig??! I just can't imagine Orange Star smelling bad on anybody.

    You didn't buy it blind, did you? No matter how positive the reviews are, I can no longer bring myself to make a purchase until I've given a scent the complete skin test drive.

    How do you get on with other Tauer creations?

    By the way, thanks very much for leaving a comment.

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