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.”