Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Orange Aid: Bigarade Concentrée

The chill has arrived. Commuters march like penguins down Lexington Avenue. New Yorkers actually walk closer to one another when it gets cold like this. Human nature, I suppose, even affects the most stolid of urbanites. And with the cold snap, my thoughts turn to ...

Oranges. Yes, oranges. In particular, the bitter oranges of Jean-Claude Ellena’s Bigarade Concentrée (Frederic Malle Edition de Parfums). Essentially, Bigarade Concentrée is a cousin of Ellena’s Déclaration for Cartier, but executed with more recherché ingredients. Here I contend, though, that Ellena has tried really hard to create a virtual bigarade to fly in the face of ‘citrus’-classified fragrances. Apparent here is his trademark process of adding and leaving out – adding the rose behind the orange, adding hay and cedar absolutes, but leaving out the glass-cleaner mimicry of high-toned hespiridic materials.

Concentrée indeed is the apt word. There is nothing light about this scent (despite what many of its critics identify as its too-fleeting character). Rather, it reminds me of Gozzi’s hapless Prince, immortalized in Prokofiev’s opera The Love for Three Oranges, encountering those eponymous citrus for the first time. An almost-paralyzing euphoria. This version of the scent (which Ellena originally created as Cologne Bigarade) is more complete, more human. Like the slightly inferior Déclaration, it is less a study in quenching with loads of liquid refreshment – or covering up – than in reveling in its bodily nature. It’s a citrus that is not citrus-simple, a fruit that is not fruity. It reminds me more of naked body posed with tangerine... or Susan Sarandon in Louis Malle’s Atlantic City (1980), just this once preferring oranges over lemons. I’d like to smell this close to a body, after removing all the wintertime armor ... Truly “a blaze of summer straw in winter’s nick.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah and as Frederic Malle is Louis's son? nephew? there is another link. Thank you for reminding me of this one. I am a big fan of Declaration but I have a sample of this and must dig it out. You speaking of a citrus fruit scent in winter also reminds me of Alpona though that is more candied and mossy than BC. dona nicola

November 19, 2008 6:03 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Dona Nicola,
Frederic Malle is Louis Malle's nephew. I, too, like Alpona for cool-weather use. It is more crystallized than BC, but both scents share a cedar note.

November 19, 2008 10:49 AM  
Anonymous Musette said...

I loved Nina Ricci's Bigarade back in the Jurassic Era....don't exactly remember what it smelled like (just remember that I loved it). This comes close to exciting that sort of love for orange - the Cologne is perfect for spritzing on a scorching day but as you said, the Concentree just 'works' in winter.


November 19, 2008 5:51 PM  
Anonymous GGS said...

So did you find this fleeting as well? I'm always torn about whether to go for a FB purchase, when I enjoy a fragrance that disappears too quickly...

November 20, 2008 5:21 PM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Musette- Thanks for your enlightening remark re the Nina Ricci. I have such respect for the scents that used to be released under the Nina Ricci brand. In high school, I fell in love with Ricci Club and subsequently smashed my only bottle, by accident, in a cast-iron sink. Recently, a dear friend in Berkeley introduced me to her teensy-weensy bottle of Capricci, of which a mere drop sent me into a swoon.

November 20, 2008 6:03 PM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

I have the FM Bigarade shower gel and body cream. I have found that the Concentrée's tenacity is aided by the use of both these ancillary products. Of course, the cost here must be prohibitive for most people...Hélas.

November 20, 2008 6:06 PM  
Blogger ScentScelf said...

I like your prompt for oranges in winter...before I could even start to question, I remembered making candied orange peels (the real ones, homemade, including separating the pith), mulling beverages with orange, and of course, tales of older generations getting an "exotic orange" as a present. Orange over ice, summer or winter, one way or another...

...the "naked" sharpness of the FM orange is what makes me love it; the "Atlantic City" reference seems spot on.

November 20, 2008 6:58 PM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

ScentSelf, Thanks for mentioning it. I get more citrus during the holidays than I know what to do with!

November 23, 2008 11:52 AM  
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But most people can not understand it and most of the perfume you write about are not available to the average person. Anytime you might need a discussion of perfume most people really purchase and wear I would be happy to contribute .

March 9, 2009 10:36 AM  
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