Post by Willa Zheng
In the quest for the perfect orange cologne to splash about in summer, I am smacking Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic (2007, Marie Salamagne) against its cheaper drug store dupe, 4711 Acqua Colonia Blood Orange & Basil (2010) this month. To me, the perfect orange cologne is like mint julep on a hot day – refreshing, uplifting, but not cloying sweet.
Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic
Photo Stolen Fragrantica
Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Clementine, orange blossom, ivy, green tea, bitter orange
Heart: Peony, chamomile, mandarin orange, basil
Base: Sandalwood, amber
vs 4711 Acqua Colonia Blood Orange & Basil
Photo Stolen Fragrantica
Fragrantica Gives these featured accords in one line:
Blood orange, basil
SmackDown: The hit
Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic opens as a blast of the sweetest, juiciest mandarin juice. Five seconds later, the bitterness from the rind emerges. And it continues to push through and dominate, until you’re like: ‘hold on, I’m smelling a bundle of kitchen herbs sitting next to a plate of oranges and mandarins on the kitchen table’. Mandarin notes are typically sweeter than orange notes, so it was an inspired idea to pair this with basil to temper the sweetness. The overall effect is cheerful, fresh but not cloying sweet.
Blood Orange and Basil opens as a blast of synthetic room-fragrance-like blood orange and alcohol.
It is sweeter and more bitter than Guerlain. Whereas a soothing blend of herbs like chamomile, green tea and ivy become noticeable in Mandarine Basilic after a few minutes, you can’t really detect the basil in 4711 unless you really look for that green note. To a blind sniffer, it is an uplifting, orange with jasmine scent.
Photo Stolen WikiCommons
SmackDown: The wake
An hour later, my impression of Mandarine Basilic can be best described as sweet and musky. Fragrantica’s description of its middle notes is pretty apt. Yes, there is still the sweet juicy mandarin and herbaceous basil, but they’re now the supporting players to the chamomile and soft floral peony notes anchored by sandalwood and amber. Those notes set the soothing and comforting experience for the rest of the wear of this juice. Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic is surprisingly tenacious for a citrus EDT. 6Hrs+
Unsurprisingly, you can’t really smell 4711 Blood Orange and Basil half an hour later. Junkies are advised to reapply to continue to enjoy the bursts of happiness.
Photo Stolen Pixabay
Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic is the clear winner for me, not just in terms of its longevity and complexity, but because it hums so soothingly, melding with the chemistry of the wearer. It’s an exemplary idea of what the Guerlain Aqua Allegoria line can achieve – creating beautiful, affordable, naturalistic fragrances from quality ingredients.
Surrender To Chance has Mandarine Basilic samples from $3/ml
In any case, if you’re after a flutter, 4711 is a cheap thrill that will bring a smile to most wearers’ face. Just keep splashing, baby.
What is your perfect orange?
Willa Zheng xox