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Once upon a long time ago, I was a bored tweenager aimlessly channel-surfing when I was abruptly kicked in the skull by an atomic kablooey of sexiness. I’d stumbled on to the title sequence of Bye Bye Birdie, the 1963 musical satirising the teenybop hysteria incited by Elvis Presley’s army conscription. Melting my face off was the film’s star, Ann-Margret — a woman clearly engineered to induce puberty.
With her fiery hair, peachy skin, curvy bod and clingy dress, Ann-Margret was doing everything, all at once: wiggling/giggling/singing/flinging/sobbing/throbbing. She was way too much, and there was nothing to do but surrender to her rawr.
Ann-Margret’s rawr comes to mind on my first noseful of Jardin de L’Orangerie, one of 10 offerings from fashion designer Dries van Noten’s debut perfume line. In this intense, intoxicating floral, perfumer Daniela Andrier has harnessed the insane voluptuousness of orange blossom, and then pushed it right off the cliff tethered to gussety jasmine and knicker-tickling sandalwood.
These are flowers with dirty minds: the sweet orange of neroli corrupted by ylang ylang’s raw tang, creamed by sandalwood’s suggestion of warm, milky skin. Jardin de L’Orangerie is a perfume practically ripping off its own clothes — so ripe that it’s almost repulsive. But once you surrender to the too-muchness of it all, the pain becomes pleasure.
Dries Van Noten Jardin de L’Orangerie eau de parfum, £195 for 100ml, exclusively at Selfridge