Why we love orange flower
Orange blossom has been a favourite ingredient of perfumers for centuries. And for good reason. The small white blossom has an incredibly complex scent with many facets and nuances depending on the type used. The aroma can range from soapy clean to a fresh and sweet white floral note with an animalic undertone. It can even have a slightly tart character.
The orange blossom is the small white flower of the bitter orange tree, sometimes known as the wild orange tree which thrives in the mild climate around the Mediterranean Sea. The ‘Citrus Aurantium’ tree or Seville orange tree essential oil spread throughout Arabia and the Islamic empire in the 9th century reaching Europe 200 years later. Early mythology reveals the orange tree symbolized paradise and love. Louis XIV so loved orange blossom that he had silver syringes that were used to sprinkle the oil in the king’s apartments. You’ll notice decorations of solid silver basin containing bitter oranges in the Hall of Mirrors.
Perfumers have several methods of extracting fragrance from the bitter orange tree resulting in neroli, bitter orange essence and petitgrain. But orange blossom absolute, a particularly fragrance oil, is extracted using solvents and wax producing a concrete. This is then processed into orange blossom absolute. As you can imagine, the process makes this ingredient hugely expensive: one kilo costs approximately $11,000.
Orange flower is most commonly used in grand floral scents for her and paired with jasmine, magnolia and lily of the valley.
One of our favourite scents that uses orange blossom beautifully is Bvlgari Eau Parfumée Au Thé Blanc. This clean and soft floral-woody-musk fragrance for him or her taps the calming power of white tea. Master Perfumer Jacques Cavallier blends notes of white tea, bergamot citrus, bitter orange and orange blossom with cardamom, pepper, coriander, amber, musk, rose, jasmine and woods to beautiful effect. He created the fragrance for Bvlgari’s luxe resorts and spas to soothe and rejuvenate guests.
19-69 Capri is another scent that allows bitter orange to take centre stage. This fresh light citrus-inspired scent for him or her is inspired by Villa Malaparte and the 1963 film Le Mépris which was filmed on the picturesque island of Capri. Notes of sweet and bitter orange swirl with fragrant ylang-ylang oil and white musk to beautiful effect.