Scented Advent, December 19

My Guerlain Advent scent today is Néroli Outrenoir, another “citrus aromatic”, created by Thierry Wasser and Delphine Jelk and launched in 2016. It’s very, very appealing. Per Fragrantica, top notes are Petitgrain, Bergamot, Tangerine, Lemon and Grapefruit; middle notes are Tea, Neroli, Orange Blossom, Smoke and Earthy Notes; base notes are Myrrh, Vanilla, Benzoin, Ambrette (Musk Mallow) and Oakmoss.

That citrusy opening is very uplifting, a mix of greenness and, well, citrus. It reminds me a bit of Miller Harris’ Tangerine Vert. To my nose, the most prominent notes are the petitgrain, tangerine, and lemon, but I definitely smell the bergamot, and a whiff of the grapefruit. Very soon, tea is served, and it is a black tea with lemon in it. It does have a floralcy that comes from the néroli and orange blossom, but to me the strongest impression is of black tea and lemon, with a tinge of smokiness. Almost like a lapsang souchong tea, but not as smoky or tarry.

This scent is like chiaroscuro, the painting technique that famously contrasts light and dark, the leading examples being the paintings of the great Caravaggio. It starts out very bright and sunny, with all the citrus notes in the opening. Then the brightness dims a bit, and softens and blurs, with the arrival of accords of tea and flowers. As it dries down, it gets gradually darker but also warmer, with the base notes especially of benzoin, ambrette and oakmoss. Myrrh and vanilla accords are present, but to a lesser degree.

Neroli Outrenoir has decent longevity on my skin, though nothing like Épices Volèes. It’s also a different kind of citrus/tea fragrance, one with more depth. I think it’s totally unisex and it would smell wonderful in warm weather, especially warm summer evenings. It’s fresh enough for hot weather but sophisticated enough for evening wear.

Very nice! Do you have any fragrances that contrast light and dark this way?

Oil painting of the Nativity, by Caravaggio
Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence, by Caravaggio; image from Photo Scala

4 thoughts on “Scented Advent, December 19

  1. I have a small decant of Néroli Outrenoir, so I’ll revisit it soon because I realized that I didn’t remember how it smelled.
    To answer your question, I think Nishane’s Ambra Calabria might be considered a sample of the duality that you described – but it’s from memory, I haven’t revisited my decant of it in a while.

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  2. I love sparkling citrus openings but so many run flat after the citrus dies away.
    The scent that sprung to mind that contrasts light & dark is Papillon Dryad. Sparkling green galbanum & bergamot, followed by cool narcissi & witchy florals then into the darker woods, moss & resins. A masterpiece!

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    • You’re right about Dryad! I must pull mine out again. I’ve been tidying up my collection and many are now in IKEA boxes on bookshelves. In Néroli Outrenoir, the perfumers have found a way to make a longer-lasting “citrus aromatic”. I can still smell it faintly on my wrist hours after application, and I applied it lightly.

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  3. Wow, your description of Neroli Outrenoir is so perfect and so beautifully written. I love chiaroscuro in art and in music. I had not thought of it in perfum before, but it perfectly describes this fragrance. Neroli Outrenoir is my favorite neroli fragrance. I bought it when it first came out and have not regretted it. I’m going to spray it now. It’s a gray, chilly, rainy day here and I could use some lightness and some warmth. Thank you so much for all your gorgeous descriptions of your Advent Calendar perfumes. They brighten my days and lift my spirits.

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