The classical eau de cologne revolves around essences of citrus and herbs. It is a popular style of perfume because it is bright, fresh, and vivacious. Its ebullience is imminently attractive, and I would be hard-pressed to find one who dislikes such a jovial personality. But when the next perfume of this style is just another happy citrus, it is somewhat anti-climactic. It may smell good, but the excitement or the unexpected is no longer there because the character of its classical citrusy blend has been diluted.
Therefore, it is a challenge to execute an original composition of this genre. It must possess the simplicity of freshness, but also be compelling. Such combination is what gives Eau d’Orange Verte (Hermès, 1979) a strong character.
Created by perfumer Françoise Caron, it had been known as ‘Eau de Cologne d’Hermès’ before being re-named in 1997. Its classical freshness is a well-blended mélange of citrus: bergamot, lemon, and petitgrain. Its verdant accent recalls citrus leaves and twigs. The cooling touch of crushed mint and the fruity blackcurrant buds give a chic twist to what would otherwise be an astringent eau de cologne.
Towards the dry down, Eau d’Orange Verte is still fresh with lasting green and fruity notes. It leaves a fresh trace on skin, keeping me entertained throughout. And when set against the dusky notes of oakmoss and slightly powdery musk, the composition acquires a vivid contrast. Such bold pairing of citrus and woods is reminiscent of Pour Monsieur (Chanel, 1955), another classic citrus chypre, but the character here is marked by a crisp green accent.
With such a distinctive personality, Eau d’Orange Verte stands out amongst the brethren of citrus blends. Its marriage of green citrus and mossy woods creates a fresh and vibrant original composition. A citrus cologne par excellence, it is simple, yet memorable.
A note on reformulation: The current version, which is a re-formulation by perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, also preserves the green citrus, but softens the contrast by tuning down the mossy notes. The result is more rounded but still excellent. It feels spontaneous and elegant.
A note on the deodorant and shower gel: For a more prolonged experience, there is the shower gel and deodorant stick. Both have the same bitter-green impression that leaves residual freshness, but without the mossy chypre. I think they would make a nice gift together with the eau de cologne.