Perfume names are a constant source of puzzlement to me. More of than not, it's because so many of them are downright awful (Girl Of Now?!!) but sometimes, the cause of my incomprehension is that they're ill-chosen in relation to the other members of a brand’s portfolio. Take Histoire D’Orangers, for instance. Surely, L’Artisan Parfumeur have already told an ‘orange tree story’ - if we're to take the name literally - in their superb Séville À L’Aube by Bertrand Duchaufour. Indeed, that perfume was the very definition of a scented tale, with a lucid narrative and a clear sense of development, as devised by Denyse Beaulieu, who worked with Duchaufour on the composition. This new release is certainly focussed on an orange tree - indeed, its key note is the plant’s intoxicating blossom - but it doesn't operate like a story at all, preferring instead to present a single, painstakingly detailed snapshot.
Thankfully, the image is very pretty, which means I can cast aside my irritation with the name and enjoy the merits of the piece. Suppressing orange blossom’s more indolic, mothball-like facets - without eradicating them entirely - Marie Salamagne has emphasised the greenness, the herbal aspects and a woody, musky sweetness in the base to give us a vivid entity somewhere between a cologne and a lustrous floral. In fact, it's this sense of luminosity which is perhaps Histoire’s most commendable feature, because it lifts what would otherwise have been weighty, cloying materials and renders them as gravity-defying as a dancer’s leap across the stage at La Scala.
In the press notes, Salamagne is quoted as saying that she based this composition on the memory of a trip to Morocco. Now, for all we know, this is an assertion as accurate as the one one about Jean-Claude Ellena putting together Eau Parfumée Au Thé Vert during visits to Mariage Frères, a handy little fable which the master has since admitted was retro-fitted onto the scent to please the marketing bods at Bulgari. However, Histoire D’Orangers carries a convincing whiff of the personal. Even though it doesn't present anything we haven't smelt before, it is never less than sincere. And at a time when brands keep trying to make us believe all sorts of tall tales, that's an attribute well worth celebrating.
[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by L'Artisan Parfumeur in 2017]