Eau d'Orange Verte was recently re-introduced and heavily reformulated by Hermes. I was fortunate to snatch a bottle from a retailer that still had the former version, just as the new trio of Eaux de Colognes were introduced to Hermes counters world-wide.
This review is for the former version (perhaps not the original 1979 version (designed by Francoise Caron), but rather the 1997 re-orchestration (if you know who was the perfumer behind that, please comment), which still has a healthy dose of good ol' oakmoss lurking underneath, and before the inclusion of mango notes (2009's remake by Jean-Claude Elena, which is a completely different fragrance altogether).
Eau d'Orange Verte was a scent I first "met" on a long haul flight to Israel via Heathrow many years ago. There were a few hours to kill, and thankfully an Hermes boutique to be my accomplice in time-murder. I rarely reach for an eau de cologne type scent, but flights are an exception: the tired recycled air full of free radicals and foreign viruses makes me want to escape to the simple, hygenic and familiar eau de cologne genre. Also, it's a very safe travel scent as it is light and can endure any anxiety or physical uneasiness that is the side effect of long trans-Atlantic journeys.
To this day, it is one of the very few scents that strongly resonates with a very relaxed, fantasy Mediterranean lifestyle of a vacation where all you need is sandals and thin white cotton clothing. Rather than a mood or a story, it simply is that: vacation in a bottle, which sums up to two colours: white and turquoise.
Eau d'Orange Verte is bitter orange at its best: brisk, juicy, effervescent and with that bitterness that is reminiscent of grapefruit zest, juice and pith (the white parts of the peel). It is slightly aromatic, but not as masculine as some eaux de colonge can often time invoke.
This brilliant composition is charming in how it takes the freshness of bitter orange to the extreme, and makes it feel interesting and lingering, yet without the common mistake - at the expense of interest or originality. It has the initial "mouthfeel" and nasal impression of a sparkling white wine: light citrusy and fruit-ester notes, which give it a very bright, sprightly texture. The bitter orange is the main theme, but rather than the common sweet orange, bitter orange's elegant, slightly dry and rather floral complexity is what gives the scent its edge. There is a very slight touch of herbs (peppermint and tiny bit of basil, to be exact) that reinforces the aromatic, non-perfumey quality of this "eau"; and only a hint of flowers (jasmine and orange blossom), which if anything contribute to the fruity aspect (which is something that magically happen when you pair jasminey notes with herbaceous ones) and the final drydown is the beloved oakmoss (which I doubt ever made it to the new formulations of the "eaux de cologne" mini series created by Jean Claude Elena in 2009). Oakmoss accentuates the "verte" part of the perfume, as when it's in a very light concentration, it feels more green and leafy rather that musky and mossy. It's a tad masculine, but not nearly as much as others in this category - i.e.: Eau Sauvage, O de Lancome, so if you're a lady you won't need to wear any extra something to prove your gender. You can just be yourself, enjoy the scenery and relax.
Top notes: Bitter Orange, Grapefruit, Lemon, Mandarin, Mint
Heart notes: Jasmine, Orange Blossom
Base notes: Oakmoss, Cedar
For more information about this eau de cologne formula and packaging changes through the years, check out this discussion on Basenotes.