Liquid sunshine. Summer citrus in a bottle. A holographic, 3D jewel of orange. A kaleidoscopic burst of every glorious citrus fruit you can imagine, taken from its stem to its green leaves to the very tree itself, bottled in its purest essence. That’s Orange Sanguine, a concentrated eau de cologne from Atelier Cologne and a glorious, affordable scent that will give you whiplash from disbelief at its utterly spectacular opening.
Atelier Cologne is an interesting perfume house. Started in 2010 by founders and romantic partners, Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel, Atelier is the first fragrance house entirely dedicated to fragrances in the classic cologne formulation. As many perfumistas know, eau de cologne is typically the mildest, weakest form of fragrance, so the creators decided to take it one step beyond. They created a whole new formulation of perfumery called the Cologne Absolue. As the Atelier website explains:
[c]ombining innovative constructions and extremely high concentrations, Cologne Absolue is a cologne of character exalting the magical freshness of cologne coupled with the lasting power of eau de parfum.
In an interesting (and rather sweet) Vanity Fair article on the couple, how they fell in love, and their unique perfume creation, Ms. Ganter explains:
the “cologne absolute” … marries the richness of an eau de parfum with the airy freshness of a citrus cologne.
The secret, Ganter will tell you, is about using a precise concentration of essential oils—each cologne absolute contains a range from 12 to 20 percent—and extracting the best ingredients from around the globe to preserve their intensity and beauty. “We blend familiar notes of vanilla, amber, rose … [but] with fresh citruses, to give them a new and unexpected personality,” Ganter says of her growing scent portfolio, which includes such hits as the bestselling Bois Blonds, a warm blend of Tunisian neroli, Haitian vetiver, and woods; and Orange Sanguine, a sparkling whiff of blood orange, jasmine, and tonka beans, which won a FiFi award (the Oscars of fragrance) last year. [Font emphasis added to the names.]
In 2012, the French FiFi awards gave Orange Sanguine their Experts Award for a fragrance sold in less than 100 stores. It’s quite an achievement for a house that had opened just two years before.
Orange Sanguine was created by perfumer, Ralf Schweiger, who is perhaps best known for his Lipstick Rose for Frederic Malle. (It is an atrocious scent, in my opinion. One of the very few perfumes I had to actually scrub off — and I can put up with a lot!) But Orange Sanguine is a very different matter, indeed. In an interview with CaFleureBon, Mr. Schweiger talked about his inspiration and goal behind the fragrance which is centered more on blood oranges than on the regular variety:
What was your inspiration for Orange Sanguine?
RS: Blood oranges are my favorite citrus fruit! LOVE them! They have this tart green spiciness and their gorgeous bloody color is amazing, not a uniform red when you cut them but this red marble effect… I prefer their taste to regular oranges, especially squeezed for juice.
What does Orange Sanguine conjure up for you?
RS: It is quite literal, my idea of what a blood orange scent should smell like: slightly tart but a little sweet as well, green and a little scratchy… as I described earlier, I have in mind a cut orange with this gorgeous color and pattern to it…
Can you describe the key ingredients of Orange Sanguine and their properties/specificities?
RS: Orange Sanguine is more of a concept and not so ingredient driven. I prefer a combination of bitter orange peel oil amongst others and a choice of specific ingredients to present the sensation of full-bodied tartness. The ingredients used to give the heart and base notes were chosen to help prolongate the freshness over time.
What sets Orange Sanguine apart?
RS: It is an accord made only of orange-type citrus oils without bergamot with its distinct floral character; it is not a classic cologne structure but uses modern style perfumery notes.
Orange Sanguine as an eau de cologne absolue contains 15% concentrated perfume oils (which puts it at the level of some eau de parfums) and contains the following notes:
Top notes : blood orange from Italy, bitter orange from Spain, red mandarin from Italy
Heart notes : jasmine from Egypt, geranium from South Africa, black pepper from Madagascar
Base notes : tonka bean from Brazil, sandalwood from Indonesia, cedarwood from Texas
The very first time I tried Orange Sanguine, I was so stunned that I actually said “Oh My God” out loud. I wrote it in my notes, alongside “WOW! Liquid gold! Sunshine in a bottle!” Orange Sanguine opens with a positive canon-ball explosion of orange that is so zesty, fresh, tart, sour, sweet, zingy, and multi-faceted that you can get whiplash from sniffing your arm. Instead of being unctuously thick, gooey or syrupy, the scent is so fresh and aromatic that it’s almost more like concentrated citruses. But it’s never anything as completely banal as orange pulp. You truly smell the bitter, almost spicy blood orange at its core, along with tart notes that feel like tangerines, the bitterness of the twigs and stem, the greenness that feels like the leaves from the tree, and the pulpy meat of the fruit inside. There is a sharply pungent smell of concentrated citrus oil that feels as if you just took a knife and sliced through the rind of the fruit, squirting its oils in the air.
If you took 15 oranges, rendered them into pulpy juice and tossed in a cup of the grated rinds, you still wouldn’t have this smell. You really wouldn’t. Perhaps if you took a 100 citruses — of every possible variety — condensed into the purest concentrated nectar, then you might have the base. But, again, that alone still would not be enough to encapsulate Orange Sanguine. The slightly bitter woodiness of the twigs and stems, the aromatic fragrances of fresh, waxy green leaves, and the perfect balance between sweet and sour, tart and tangy would also have follow. Orange Sanguine manages all that, and more. As the moments pass, even further layers seem to be added. I could detect notes that smelled much like sour, tart white grapefruit and — in a throwback to my old home in Montecito which had tons of the trees — even the fragrant, tangy kumquats that I used to eat by the bucketful. Then, 15 minutes in, the geranium appears, adding even further to the visual of green leaves nestling a glowing, ruby and orange gold compilation of fruit. The geranium adds a light piquancy and spicy bitterness that feels much more like the fuzzy green of the leaves than just the aroma of the flower.
The whole thing is so photo-realistic, it feels like a hologram. A dazzling display of citruses that are so fresh, it simultaneously feels as though they’re hanging straight off the tree and warmed by the sun but, also, as if they’ve been chilled in the fridge, dappled with condensation. Cool and crisp, Orange Sanguine never feels leaden, thick, syrupy or heavy. It’s almost bewildering how Ralf Schweiger made something that feels so concentrated be so incredibly airy and almost aquatic in nature. Honestly, I can’t say it enough: Orange Sanguine’s opening is truly a masterpiece, an olfactory achievement of breathtaking magnitude in those early moments.
I tried Orange Sanguine three times and, on one of those occasions, the glorious opening shifted into something a little rockier. On my second test, in order to assess longevity issues, I put on a larger dose — the dabbed equivalent of two medium-to-large sprays. And, less than 20 minutes in Orange Sanguine’s development, I got a blast of soap that was so extreme, I felt as if I’d been doused in suds. I’m not a fan of soapiness, and this was a huge amount! Perhaps even worse was a similar large blast of something so synthetic that it burned my nose. I was not happy in the slightest, especially as the synthetic note lasted for over an hour, and the soapiness even longer still. In fact, the perfume turned into something very much like geranium soap over an amorphous, slightly synthetic, generalized “woody” base. It wasn’t sandalwood in any distinct form; instead, it was just some sort of vague creamy, beige base.
However, on my first and third test, I used much less of the fragrance and had a slightly different outcome. There was no synthetic burst or burning of the nose. Soapiness was still an issue, however, on each occasion starting between the 20 to 30 minute marks. It wasn’t as hugely overwhelming as that one time and, though I absolutely despise “soapy, clean” fragrances, it was significantly more manageable. Still, there is no doubt that Orange Sanguine’s glorious opening does eventually turn in every instance into something very reminiscent of the most expensive, luxury French soaps. It’s geranium-citrus soap to my nose with, sadly, much of that photo-realistic, concentrated citrus nectar fading from its spectacular, dizzying heights and turning into something much more amorphous, vague and generalized. There is also a creamy base to the notes that starts to become more apparent with time. It’s never anything distinct like jasmine, vanilla or sandalwood, but, rather, something just can only be (poorly) described as “creamy.” The edges of the perfume have become softer, the scent feels richer and fuller, though it’s still an airy fragrance in terms of weight.
Orange Sanguine continues as geranium-citrus soap for several hours. The base feels like some sort of vague impression of gauzy beigeness. Eventually, during its final stage, the perfume turns into some abstract notion of orange muskiness, and that’s about it. There really isn’t a whole lot to the perfume.
Some people have talked about how Orange Sanguine is an orange fragrance mired in a wonderful, creamy sandalwood base. Others think that the base is ambered. I don’t think so — for either note. I truly don’t. At best, perhaps you can say that Orange Sanguine has “sandalwood” in its most synthetic, abstract, amorphous, artificial form. But, honestly, to my nose, there is no sandalwood, even in a synthetic form. And the same goes for the amber or any vanilla note. Whatever the synthetic base, the impression to me is just of vague, indefinite, indistinct, creamy, beige… something. In its very final moments, Orange Sanguine is simply some abstract orange muskiness. In fairness, it’s not supposed to be much more than an orange fragrance from start to finish — the interview with the perfumer, Ralf Schweiger, underscores that point. Nonetheless, Orange Sanguine isn’t a complicated, morphing, heavily nuanced scent beyond the citruses (geranium and soap).
There is massive, gushing, overwhelming love for Orange Sanguine — by men and women alike — but there are some minor dissenters, too. In a nutshell, the few complaints on sites like Fragrantica, MakeupAlley, or Luckyscent can be summed up as follows: 1) it’s an orange bomb; 2) it’s overly sweet (with one person finding it too bitter); and 3) it’s synthetic (someone on Luckyscent wrote: “smells more like my orange-glo spray cleaners after 20-mins. Too synthetic.”). On Fragrantica, those people who noted the soapy aspect or the synthetic element in the first hour didn’t seem particularly bothered by it. On Luckyscent, the issue of sweetness seemed to be a far greater problem, while on MakeupAlley, there were some minor comments about both soapiness and longevity.
Honestly, I think all of those points are valid and worth consideration. Orange Sanguine is not a fragrance for those who prefer their orange notes mixed with a variety of different elements; it is an orange bomb and it is largely linear. It also has soapiness — a great deal of it, in fact, if you spray on a large quantity — and that will be a deal-breaker for some, while others may adore the “clean” aspect that the soap imparts. Orange Sanguine may also be far too sweet for some, while too bitter for those who don’t like blood oranges (this was actually raised as an issue by one or two people who seem to hate that variety of orange). And, it does have a synthetic aspect that becomes more noticeable if you spray on a lot of it.
It’s also a fragrance that may have problematic longevity for a number of people. I’ve read a number of comments about how Orange Sanguine only lasts a short time (between 3-5 hours). On me, with my voracious, perfume-consuming skin, I was actually surprised to get between 6 and 7.5 hours, consistently, depending on quantity and amount. I know one blogger who initially thought Orange Sanguine’s longevity to be its only defect but who subsequently noted that the perfume did, in fact, stay on for a surprising length of time.
Yet, despite all those issues, I found myself fascinated by Orange Sanguine and it is a fragrance that I would wholeheartedly recommend for a test sniff at the very least. For one thing, that opening is truly stunning. If ever you’ve struggled to get out of bed on a Monday morning, I think Orange Sanguine would be the answer. For another thing, my God, is it affordable for niche perfumery! The perfume comes in three sizes: from the very practical 1 oz/30 ml, to a large 3.3 oz/100 ml, to a super-sized, monstrously huge 6.7 oz/200 ml bottle. The prices are, respectively: $60, $95 or $155; €39 for the 30 ml small; or €90 or £75.00 for the large 100 ml. (Orange Sanguine is also widely available and is even sold at Sephora!) If you have longevity issues, you can buy the gigantic 200 ml bottle for $155 or £95.00 which comes to very little per ounce and can therefore splash away with reckless abandon. (In U.S. currency, the 6.7 oz bottle breaks down to approximately $23 an ounce, while the 3.3 oz bottle ends up being $47 an ounce — both are better deals, per ounce, than the $60 bottle which is 1 oz/30 ml.) Plus, if you order the large 6.7 oz bottle from the Atelier website, they will throw in the 1 oz/30 ml “travel” bottle for free, along with a leather pouch engraved with your initials. Granted, I know few people could possibly go through a 6.7 oz bottle of any perfume, but Orange Sanguine does engender incredible passion in some. In fact, one of my best friends in Denmark has worn Orange Sanguine obsessively every day for months and can’t stop raving about it. He had contemplated buying Frederic Malle‘s Bigarade Concentrée, but opted instead for Orange Sanguine. It has now become his signature scent, and I have no doubt that he could easily finish one of the mammoth bottles in a year or two.
All of that brings me to a few other points. Yesterday, I reviewed another well-known orange-citrus fragrance: Malle’s Bigarade Concentrée. It was a scent which engendered incredible apathy; I didn’t even find it interesting enough to hate it — despite reeking of cumin-inspired stale sweat and armpits on me, and despite having utterly atrocious sillage (with barely better longevity). But I want to explicitly state that the two perfumes have nothing in common beyond the use of an orange note. They are fundamentally different, with the Malle being a drier, orange-woody-cumin fragrance and Orange Sanguine being a photo-realistic citrus with geranium and soap. Also, whatever my problems with Orange Sanguine’s synthetic element and soapiness, I still would take it over the Malle — any day, hands down. In fact, it is a testament to Orange Sanguine that I actually pondered the extent to which I hate soapy scents, if I could get over it, and if the low cost would make it worth considering a bottle. The opening is really that fantastic!
Lastly, Orange Sanguine is an incredibly easy, uncomplicated, versatile fragrance that both men and women could wear. It’s also one of those things that would work well for the office as well, as its sillage is far from monstrous. In fact, I found the fragrance to drop in projection after the first hour and it stayed just an inch or two above the skin. It certainly won’t be something that perfume-phobes should object to; as one person on Fragrantica wrote, “[i]t’s the sort of thing that causes people who profess to dislike perfume to perk up and say, ‘Something smells good!'”
In short, if you like citrus scents or are looking for something fresh, zingy and zesty for summer, then you should give Orange Sanguine a sniff. Perhaps it will be too much for you, due to some of the problems I’ve noted, but it is a perfume that is truly worth exploring. And, if you fall in love with it, I have no doubt Orange Sanguine will become a summer mainstay. What an opening. What a truly spectacular opening!
I agree that Orange Sanguine has the most amazing opening that just knocks your socks off. And then I get bored. It is like any straight citrus on me, exciting, then no deal. But that opening just kills the competition!!! It is probably good it doesn’t last too long or we’d never get anything done. We’d all just have our noses glued to our skin in ecstasy. I also agree with the post opening scent being relative to amount applied. For me, a little dab on the wrist and I am fairly happy, just not excited. When I sprayed a bunch on at the store, within 10 minutes, I was regretting it. Oh and PS you lived in Montecito??? That is one of my favorite places on earth! Lotusland..Pierre La Fond, the gorgeous Buddhist Monastery, and the best mountain meets ocean ever!! If I was a billionaire, I would live there, in a heartbeat.
I wish the opening lasted. I’d be happy to live with my nose glued to my wrist. LOL. As for Montecito, yes, I lived there for a few years. 🙂 It’s beautiful, non? Oddly, kumquats are one of the things that come to mind when I think of it. The path to the tennis court was lined with the trees, so I’d eat them endlessly and their tart, tangy, aromatic taste/smell really came back to me with subtle parts of Orange Sanguine.
Orange Sanguine is one of my summer staples. It is also my instant pick-up-up whenever I need my mood lifted. I can see what you mean about a certain soapiness. One of the reasons why I love it so much in the summertime is that it makes me feel like I just got out of the shower even if I am sweaty and covered in city-grime. Really one of those scents where I don’t mind the association with the word “fresh.”
On my skin, it goes from that spectacular opening (which never fails to make my friends’ eyes open wide and I can just see the thought bubble filled with the word, “Wow!”) to a creamy sandalwood and jasmine snuggliness. I have also noticed that dosage has an effect on what I perceive and what I don’t.
I just love the mental image of your friends with a thought bubble filled with the word, “WOW!” I can really see it, because it’s true. 😀 As for the drydown on you, it sounds very nice. I don’t think I ever got jasmine in any distinct, individual way. Not once out of the 3 tries and with varying quantities. My skin clearly was interested more in the soap and geranium. lol 🙂
So great to hear that you’re fascinated by Orange Sanguine. I really like Atelier Cologne offerings (but a few) so this is very “in plus” that you like it.
I know exactly what you mean by a super concentrated orange with leaves, twigs and oils.
And I also get that soapiness that on my skin sometimes turns into something that I would describe as “plastified orange”
Great review my dear.
I truly am quite fascinated by the house now and have decided I really must smell more of their line. I’m so grateful you sent me some of the Bois Blonds one as a gift in your lovely surprise box. I have Vanille Incensée, too, but I’m also intrigued by the Patchouli Mistral. As for Orange Sanguine, I can see how the synthetic may make the orange seem plastic on some skins, especially in conjunction with the slightly bitter edge of the geranium. I would have put up with all of it, but soapiness is where I draw the line. LOL. 😀
It was a pleasure to send you Bois Blonds. I had two vials so decided to share one with you. I hope you will like Mistral Patchouli and I hope it won’t smell of Calone to you (I’ll pray for that!)
And of course try Grand Neroli (you like neroli, it should suit you)
And of course don’t forget about Rose Anonyme!
I’m looking forward to Autumn when I know they’ll be releasing new perfumes, a new line to be more precise.
Oh, a whole new perfume line/collection!!! How exciting! That will definitely be something to look forward to!
Mistral Patchouli and calone… CALONE???!?! Oh dear. I remember now your review of it. Calone. Oh dear. Damn. Well, I’ll try it but calone….. urgh!
Yes, their new scents will be exciting. I wonder what will be the main ingredient of them
By the way – I’m not sure if Mistral Patchouli has calone as one of the ingredients. But I think I remember that some people said it smells like it has calone to them.
Maybe it’s just the mix that makes the calone-similar impression?
Great review but that first pic is KILLER!! I love it, so evocative a filled with colour.
I’m really glad you liked it, Portia. 🙂 Have you tried Orange Sanguine? I think you’d be floored by that opening. Completely floored!
Of you knew how much stuff is on my list right now. I can feel the list growing even as I sit here in India, full of delicious cuisone and beer. I will get to the ACs, maybe for Sydney spring,
Orange Sanguine doesn’t work for me (I don’t dislike it but do not want to wear either) but most of the times I love smelling it on my vSO – though sometimes I do get something unpleasant and tiresome from it. I can’t figure out why it happens because usually it smells just wonderful. Maybe you’re right and it depends on the amount applied.
It’s probably the synthetic element that turns it into something tiresome, though it only pops up with high dosages/quantities. I suspect the synthetic element, mixed with the bitter edge of the geranium, is why Lucas thinks the perfume sometimes feels like “plastified orange” on his skin. Maybe you’re picking up on the same thing when you put it on your skin?
If a fragrance is too “fresh”, especially when it’s related to a fruit it worries me because they typically do start to feel very artificial. If this turns into soap that I’ll stay away for sure. Great review as always.
I really don’t think that opening smells artificial; it’s one reason why it’s so jawdroppingly unbelievable. But later on…. yes, I think the perfume may smell artificial on some skins. But that opening…. MY GOD!!!! I think it’s spectacular enough to warrant giving the perfume a quick sniff the next time you’re in Bergdorf or Sephora. Since it’s not hard to access the perfume, please try it if you stumble across it? Just to see what those early moments are like? I think your eyes will open WIDE! 😀
On on hot day, a refreshing orange is just the thing. Good to know it’s not so artificial. I will have to check it out for sure now!
There seems to be a lot of interest in this one. I have trouble getting past my association with citrus scents and cleaning products. I don’t dislike them and love the smell in the house but wearing them just makes me feel like I just gave the kitchen a good scrub. I like the idea of them and gradually I’m learning to wear them in small doses.
Well, our brain filters all perfume smells through the lens of our experiences and our past, so if your mental association for citrus is cleaning products, then I certainly understand your reluctance to try a lot of them!! 🙂 It certainly makes a lot of sense and, in your shoes, I wouldn’t be so keen to try a lot of citrus perfumes either! But, since it’s not pure hatred, then perhaps slowly weaning may work. I must say, I don’t think “Poodle” and immediately think of “citrus.” “Incense,” yes, but citrus perfumes… no, not something I associate with you. LOL. Since this one isn’t very hard to find, it may be worth giving it a sniff if your Sephora carries it. Just to experience that amazing opening!
Orange Sanguine is a fragrance that makes me happy when I wear it. I think I’ve bought 3 full bottles of perfume in the past year, and two of them have been Atelier colognes. One spray will last all day on me, which is pretty impressive. Glad you had a largely pleasant experience with it!
I’m so glad you’ve found something that works so well on you and which always makes you feel happy! That’s what perfume *should* be all about! Also, what wonderful longevity, Lulubelle. My friend has the same experience with Orange Sanguine — one spray will last on him for something like 10+ hours. And that rarely ever happens to him with perfumes! And, like you, he feels it’s bottled happiness, as well!
Like you Kafka, that opening floors me!!!!! and I have seriously considered one of those mammoth bottles in my collection as it could easily be decanted for all the perfume nutters in my family (including my mom and dad who I think would love this fragrance)…..like Daisy, I do not mind a bit of soapiness and for me the drydown is just as you wrote about …sort of an undescribable creamy beige….but just sniffing this fragrance from the vial alone (without even wearing it) completely changes my mood….and makes me a more pleasant person :)!!! Kafka, a great review and I am happy that you wrote it!
I meant to say “indescribable”!!
I think Orange Sanguine can definitely be a mood-changer for some. My best friend reaches for it every morning to ensure that his day starts out well, regardless of what may later ensue. It’s like a little perfume safety net for the day ahead. And I think perfumes that can do that are worth their weight in gold! I’m so glad you love it, Brie, and that it works for you so well. 🙂
Oh funny – only the other day I set aside a vial of Orange Sanguine, Grand Neroli and Bigarade Concentree because I felt they would all hit the spot in this warmer weather. I have been wearing Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom and Penhaligon’s OB and generally being in an orangey mood… So your mouthwatering reviews are very timely!
I hope Orange Sanguine hits the spot, Vanessa. And I’m so curious as to what you’ll think of Malle’s Bigarade Concentrée. It was not…. successful on me, and I’m curious if the mystery note will show up on you. I won’t tell you what it is and just let it be a surprise. 😉 *grin*
I agree with you that the opening of Orange Sanguine is to die for! Sadly, it doesn’t last long enough on my skin. My favorites from Atelier Cologne are Trefle Pur and Rose Anonyme. I also like Ambre Nue and Vetiver Fatal. Great review as always, Kafka!
This sounds like one of my loves. My favorite drink is orange juice, of course the common variety, however I don´t think this red orange would be too different from the common one, maybe it´s either sweeter or more bitter than the normal one. I remember having as a teen an obviously synthetic orange scent from a commercial brand for young girls and I loved it, particularly in Summer and Spring, it was very fresh and light 😀 . Of course I´m sure that this perfume is far higher in quality and more complex, but the description really brings back some memories.
Lovely review, dear Kafka. I was not wowed…perhaps it was because I tried it in the dead of winter. I wish my local Sephora has the testers but alas, no such luck. I had been to the New York Atelier Cologne store in New York…it’s a quaint little place.
Yes, perhaps the weather made a difference, though my friend in Denmark wears it in subzero temperatures, so perhaps Orange Sanguine is just not for you. 🙂 It happens. Perhaps the next time you’re in Bergdorf Goodman’s, you can ask them for a sample for a re-test?
Pingback: Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme | Kafkaesque
Pingback: Oranges and Sunshine | theasceticlibertine
Pingback: Von Eusersdorff: Classic Mimosa, Orange, Myrrh & Vetiver - Kafkaesque