Orange Spice (Creed) "Technicolor Orange"

The baseless rumor, stoked by many, that Pierre Bourdon was the sole nose behind Creed's range, stems from the common comparison of Cool Water to Green Irish Tweed, and of Kouros to Orange Spice. Many feel it is far too coincidental that GIT and Orange Spice so closely resemble these designer offspring. I contend that Bourdon certainly had a small hand in GIT, but that GIT and Cool Water are sufficiently different enough for discerning wearers of both to spot massive divergences of personality in these scents. Likewise, Kouros feels reminiscent of Orange Spice, but is a dirtier, muskier, more complicated composition, one which focuses more on incense and wildflowers than citrus. Taken together, the differences between these scents are so stark that it's just as easy to wonder how on earth they were ever compared in the first place.

Luca Turin pointed out that Creed's fragrances employ generous mixtures of synthetics and naturals, and stated that Creed's naturals are "only slightly better" than what is used in designer brands. This misses the mark entirely. It implies that Creed overcharges for their compositions because their fragrances are more natural. To be fair, Creed's press usually feeds this strange fire. In actuality, the fat money shows not in the naturals, but in the synthetics, and anyone who doubts it should wear Orange Spice. This fragrance is, hands down, the most vibrant, durable, and crystalline synthetic composition in Creed's range, and showcases Olivier's talent in accepting the strengths and limitations of manufactured aroma chemicals. The reason to pay extra is in his ability to do it with the most difficult scent profile: the "dirty citrus."

You may think I'm blowing smoke up your ass. If so, stop reading, because I'm following this train of thought to its apex, and back again. I'd like to give you an example of just how well-made Orange Spice is. A few weeks ago, I was walking at the recreational field in my town. It was a scorchingly hot and humid ninety-degree day. Prior to my walk, I perversely applied a generous amount of Orange Spice to my chest and stomach. While walking, I noted that soggy heat was having no perceptible effect on the gorgeous orange and clove combo in this Creed's heart. But about a half-hour in, I had to use the bathroom. Unfortunately, there's only a porto-potty at the track. I tend to avoid portable toilets in the dead of summer, for obvious reasons. But in this case, nature was a bitch. So I took a detour and stepped into that little plastic room.

It had to be 135° in there. I sweat profusely in heat, but this was ridiculous. It was as though the sun's rays had eroded the plastic molecules enough to let their radiation enter that little chemical enclosure, and build up into a nuclear-strength reactor. In ninety seconds, my body had sweated so furiously that my shirt was thoroughly soaked. When I stepped back out into fresh air, it felt like an icy January wind. I paused, and realized that despite the torture I'd just endured, I still smelled fresh. I tucked my nose under my shirt and inhaled, half-expecting Orange Spice to have morphed into a sour monster. No such luck. The citrus accord of tightly-woven orange, mandarin, and neroli remained as crisp and fresh as ever. It literally smelled as though the sweat sliding down my body had been replaced with farm-squeezed orange juice. It continued to smell that way, ever so subtly, as the afternoon drew to a close.

So if Orange Spice is so citrusy and clean, why is it compared to Kouros? I suspect the reason is Creed's top note. OS opens with a blast of sweet orange, touched with a tiny dollop of synthetic civet. This little flourish accounts for why these fragrances are so frequently compared. Few masculine scents use civet, and those that do rarely attempt to foray into "dirty citrus" territory. Orange Spice and Kouros are unique in this regard, and share the same goals. But where Kouros becomes animalic, sweet, and floral, OS stays fruity, with a tenacity that belies its reinforced naturalism. You have to love the smell of civet, orange, and camphoraceous clove, and how they're underpinned by subtle green and spicy notes. But if you're enthusiastic about these things to begin with, Orange Spice is the Creed for you.

One last thing - many dispute the stated release date of this scent, and argue that it was made more recently than 1950. These suspicions hint at a certain shared ignorance among the doubters. The general character of Orange Spice is perfectly aligned to the fragrance style of the late forties and early fifties. If you swap the synthetics out for real civet cream and citrus, combined with a touch of some potent nitro musk, you get a good idea of how this would have smelled back then. It's actually not that far removed from Max Factor Signature for Men, which hails from the same era. Musky citrus fougères were all part of the barbershop tradition of wetshavers, now carried over to the present in this delightful (and painfully expensive) update.

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