When Jean-Claude Ellena retired as in-house perfumer at Hermes it seems he didn’t understand the term. Particularly over the last eighteen months he has been as prolific as he has ever been. There is also enough data on the type of fragrances he is making these days to think he has entered a new phase. Lately he has been composing perfumes which focus on a single keynote which is tied to a geographic location. The results have been some remarkable solitaires of perfume ingredients put into settings where they shine. The newest of these is Laboratorio Olfattivo Mandarino.
Mandarino is the second perfume M. Ellena has done for the brand. Last year’s Baliflora was orange blossom and Bali within this new oeuvre. Mandarino is the start of a new collection called Viaggio in Italy. It is meant to capture a trip around the country. Mandarino is a summery stop in a grove of mandarin oranges somewhere in Italy.
Creative director Roberto Drago has been one of the earliest influencers in this new Renaissance of Italian perfumery. He has helped refine this style through the years at Laboratorio Olfattivo. In asking M. Ellena to find Italy in its indigenous ingredients he is evolving the brand yet again.
Mandarino opens with a huge amount of mandarin. I am not sure if this is a single source or a mixture of different types. What I experience in the first few moments is a full spectrum sweet citrus. The tartness of the rind, the sweet juice, and the squishy pulp all are represented. It is a citrus lovers dream. The first ingredient to be added is blackcurrant which provides a different type of fruity contrast. I think there might be some blackcurrant bud here too because there is a subtle green harmonic which thrums underneath the fruits. The berry provides the setting for the mandarin to glitter within. A set of white musks are then used to add a lot of expansiveness. In the early going the concentration of the mandarin might feel claustrophobic to some. In a short period of time the white musks provide a lot more space for it to exist in.
Mandarino has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
For those who are looking for a long-lasting citrus perfume Mandarino is one of the more tenacious ones I’ve tried. Mandarino is a gorgeous example of the beauty a single keynote can provide. I am not sure what the next destination in their trip of Italy is. I only know I want to ride wherever Sig. Drago and M. Ellena want to take me. I’ll even ride in the back seat.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.