Scented Advent, December 19

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
Scented Advent, December 9

Scented Advent, December 9

The Guerlain sample of the day is Iris Torréfié, which was created by Delphine Jelk and launched in 2020. I had to look up the word “torréfié”, as it was unfamiliar; it means roasted, often in reference to coffee beans. Sure enough, among the notes listed for the fragrance is coffee. The full notes list on Fragrantica is: Top notes, Cardamom, Coffee and Bergamot; middle notes, iris and Ambrette (Musk Mallow); base notes, Leather, Tea, Vanilla and Amber. I’ve never associated iris with coffee — or roasting, for that matter — but I do like the opening of Iris Torréfié very much.

Iris Espresso coffee beans
Iris Espresso coffee beans

The very first thing I smell upon spraying my wrists is the iris, and it’s a beauty. Rich, a bit fruity, a bit carroty — it’s a gorgeous iris. And who knew? There is an actual iris called “Coffee Trader”. So maybe they are meant to be together after all!

Tall bearded iris "Coffee Trader"
Iris “Coffee Trader”; image from garden.org

I don’t smell cardamom at all in the opening, and I’m a little disappointed by that because I love the smell of cardamom. I do smell the bergamot; it makes a quick appearance to brighten the opening and then steps back. If I hadn’t been told there was a coffee note in Iris Torréfié, I would not have known. To my nose, the opening is all about iris with a light touch of bergamot.

In the middle phase, the iris is still dominant, still gorgeous. There is an underlying muskiness that emerges, which must be attributable to the ambrette. As Iris Torréfié dries down, the base reveals itself to be a warm combination of leather, vanilla, and amber; I don’t smell the listed note of tea. The iris continues to reign, warm but not “roasted.” All of these accords play very nicely with each other, while keeping the iris the star of the show. The leather is very subtle and segues smoothly from the ambrette.

Iris Torréfié is a lovely fragrance, and the first among my Guerlain samples that could tempt me to a full bottle, even though I have several iris-forward fragrance. It has just the right balance of floralcy and vaguely spicy, soft leather. Have you tried it? What did you think?

Scented Advent, December 7

Scented Advent, December 7

Today’s Guerlain Advent sample is Rose Chérie, launched in 2021 and created by perfumer Delphine Jelk. The only notes listed for it are: Bulgarian rose, rose, violet, heliotrope, tonka, and musk. It is meant to evoke the chic of Paris and “la vie en rose.” The fragrance smells pink, too, like a fresh pink rose but with no greenery attached. The heliotrope accord is immediately evident to my nose; I really enjoy heliotrope in fragrances, I like the powdery aspect it lends. Here, it blends with the violet and rose accords to create a scent reminiscent of pink lipstick and face powder. The scent itself isn’t as retro as that sounds, though.

The heliotrope accord also smells like a mix of almond and vanilla, giving Rose Chérie a slight hint of gourmandise. It isn’t an actual gourmand fragrance though, which I appreciate because I have a limited tolerance for those. If there is any food it brings to my mind, that would be delicate pink macarons, lightly dusted with sugar. Now my mouth is watering, remembering the stacks of rainbow-hued macarons I saw in Nice a few years ago, in the patisseries of the old town and market.

Pile of pink macarons with flowers
Pink macarons; image from The Preppy Kitchen.

Rose Chérie definitely leans toward the feminine end of the spectrum, but it could smell wonderful on a man. It doesn’t last as well on my skin as, say, Épices Volées, but its longevity is fine. Its development is quite straightforward, almost linear to my nose. The tonka bean emerges after a while, once the floral notes have mostly faded. It gives a little oomph to the fragrance, like vanilla without any sugar.

This is a very pretty rose, and if you like semi-gourmand florals, you should probably try it if you get the chance. I own so many rose fragrances (hello, Roses de Mai Marathon!) that I wouldn’t feel the need to add this one; besides, I tend to favor richer or greener rose scents. But sometimes, one just wants a macaron! Do you have any favorite gourmand florals?