Monday 22 May 2023

BEL ORANGER by Fragonard

Bottle of Bel Oranger perfume by Fragonard
Perfumery owes much of its magic to the actual ingredients found within a fragrance and, while the perfumer ultimately blends these into a finished scent, these building blocks can also often be the inspiration for a finished fragrance. Many flowers and resins produce one ingredient that can be harnessed and used in a perfume, but the bitter orange tree is a source of multiple oils. From the bitter orange fruit to the neroli flower, or the petitgrain leaves and twigs to the orange blossom absolute, it's a bountiful source. So, for their latest addition to the Flowers of the Perfumer series, Fragonard have chosen to celebrate Bel Oranger.

Fragonard have a long history in the South of France for creating both perfumes and a scented experience for travellers to the Côte d’Azur. Originally founded in 1926 by Eugène Fuchs, the original focus was to be a destination for tourists who motored up to Grasse. While Grasse had always been famous for perfume, public access to factories and the industry was a little more difficult. So, Fragonard opened the doors on this magical industry and the tourists were enthralled. The company saw many changes over the years, but the continuing aim has been to always offer what their customers want.

The bitter orange tree has been an inspiration that Fragonard have called on regularly in the past, from their Fleur d’Oranger to Mon Oranger, but the focus was always on the more traditionally feminine floral aspects of the tree. For their latest Bel Oranger, which translates as Wonderful Orange Tree, the idea was to bring out its woodier aspect. Still including the exciting citruses, green nuances and the vibrant white floral, this was to be a fragrance for everyone. To this end, Bel Oranger has proudly become the company’s first “gender-neutral” fragrance, and shows the latest evolution of Eugène Fuchs’ original vision.

A bar of Bel Oranger soap from Fragonard
To realise the new fragrance, Fragonard turned to Givaudan’s Daniela Andrier who had previously created their Fleur d’Oranger. Daniela already understood the tree’s incredible range of ingredients, and also had a clear idea of the accompanying notes that would truly make this fragrance “genderless”. Sicily was the locational inspiration for the new perfume, and the fragrance promised to “magic this extraordinary raw material into a whole new musical score”. When you’re dealing with such a well-known suite of ingredients, originality can sometimes be difficult to achieve… but not when it comes to Bel Oranger.

The fragrance opens with sparkling bergamot and neroli, so you have a green and glinting quality, but you also immediately get traces of patchouli. This pulls the fragrance in two directions, and almost feels like it’s welcoming you into the centre of Bel Oranger. The suite of ingredients continues with woody petitgrain and bitter orange, so that classic cologne quality, before the richer orange blossom comes into view. This gives a jasmine-esque animalic edge to the fragrance rather than overtly floral, and the merest hint of lavender in here helps to keep it in genderless territory. The development of the fragrance sees a dry cedarwood mixing with hay-like tonka bean and delicate musk so, if you close your eyes, it definitely feels like you’re sitting on sun-soaked earth underneath a ladden bitter orange tree.

Bel Oranger is available from the Fragonard website at, and also from their stores, priced at €38 for 100ml. The fragrance also comes as a soap and hand cream. [Samples were provided by the company]

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