I bought a mini of Clementine California, rather than waiting to go to Sephora to try it first, because I've liked everything I've tried of this brand. Likewise, when I put it on for the first time, I splashed on quite a bit, as I've done with other Atelier scents. From such hubris does a person get a headache!
This is the first of their line that I've hated. I can barely detect the citrus here, and what I do detect has none of the playful juiciness of clementine or mandarin. It's surrounded by horrible, pointy, synthetic clouds of sandalwood and pepper, bringing it closer in spirit to space-age plastic scents like Calvin Klein Reveal than to its citrusy peers in the Atelier line.
Coming to its page on Parfumo, I can see the possible reason behind this: Atelier Cologne sold out to L'Oreal in 2016, the same year CC was released. Either the perfumers were trying to catch L'Oreal's attention with a product compatible for their department store lines, or perhaps it was L'Oreal's people writing the briefs for this one. L'Oreal has been buying up many perfume companies in the last few years, and I'm unaware of any that were improved by their leadership. L'Oreal is also one of the few companies left that seems unapologetic about animal testing. While other companies were at least trying to phase it out, I've never heard anything from L'Oreal that shows any concern at all for the rats, rabbits, and other poor creatures whom they will mutilate and burn with overdoses of their products. I must be more careful about checking ownership of companies because, as this experience shows, it's not always obvious whether an animal-torturing company owns a particular brand.
Thank goodness this is fading somewhat after an hour, as is my headache. I'm still going to take a shower and wash myself free of it--literally and metaphorically.