Summer outdoor markets are always full of smells. The wind picks up the smells of raw fish, cooking sausage, and who-knows-what-else and intensifies them in the pressure cooker of hot air, then blows the mixture over the pushing crowds of people and their bulging shopping bags. The smells aren’t altogether unpleasant, but the moment of passing the flower vendors is always a welcome reprieve. Jumbles of flowers form into unruly, beautiful bouquets. The air feels 5 degrees cooler, and everyone slows down and relaxes as they absorb the fragrance.
While single floral notes can smell great, there is something that draws me to perfumes that smell like bouquets of flowers. L’Occitane’s Fleur d’Or & Acacia is a bouquet of golden flowers, soft but sunny. It smells to me mostly of mimosa and broom.
I have to pause here for a bit of a botanical side note. Acacia (also known as cassie) and mimosa belong to the same family of plants, Mimosoideae, and from what I can gather they are treated almost interchangeably in perfume marketing (e.g., mimosa may be listed as a note when the actual odor is that of acacia). Mimosa can be distinguished by the number of stamen (mimosa have fewer than 10) or by my less precise method: it seems mimosa are generally purple or pink, while acacia are generally yellow. Not being familiar with either plant in the wild, I unfortunately can’t say whether the note my nose knows as mimosa is actually acacia. The note list for Fleur d’Or & Acacia includes both. For more on mimosa, see Victoria’s post on Bois de Jasmin.
The mix of mimosa and broom, and indeed the idea behind Fleur d’Or & Acacia—pretty flowers complemented by slightly grungier-smelling vegetation—may not be unique (1), but the execution by perfumer Karine Dubreuil is really good. With time on skin, the scent unfurls very light suggestions of other floral notes. I smell heliotrope (an aspect of mimosa), lemon blossom, tulips, and a tiny bit of animalic jasmine. The drydown is a soft woodsy, musky haze of mimosa with a hint of anise (another aspect of mimosa).
Fleur d’Or & Acacia feels very French, in the manner of Diptyque or Hermes. It has the same sort of natural, slightly undone sophistication of fragrances like L’Ombre dans L’Eau or Jour d’Hermes. Both those fragrances are more unexpected and surprising compositions, but Fleur d’Or & Acacia is more feminine and more sensual.
At $80 for 75ml, Fleur d’Or & Acacia is more expensive than L’Occitane’s main range (it is part of La Collection de Grasse). But given that it has excellent longevity and projection, and compares favorably to niche perfumes that retail for much more, I think it is quite a good pricepoint. Even better might be the 75ml oil for skin and hair, which is $45. L’Occitane does great skin care, and skin care plus a nice fragrance is a double win.
This video from L’Occitane is an informative discussion of the cultivation of mimosa (it actually appears to be the acacia plant) in France.
(1)For example, mimosa and broom play key roles in Amouage’s Opus III, but as could be expected from Amouage, Opus III is duskier, and it emphasizes the more hay-like qualities of broom.
For a review of L’Occitane Fleur d’Or & Acacia, see user reviews on Fragrantica. My sample of Fleur d’Or & Acacia is my own acquisition.