I would include Ormonde Jayne on the short list of must-smells for any budding perfumista. They’re interesting and different and often quite lovely. You don’t run across them everywhere, so it can be a bit of a challenge, but they have one of the best sample deals going, in my opinion – 35 pounds for a sample pack of all their perfumes, here’s a link, the sample set’s at the bottom of the page. I also like sniffing a new house that way, because then you can cross-reference and get a feel for their style.
I was a little late to the OJ party. Ormonde Woman can take some getting used to, and several of the fragrances are pretty dense, although Ta’if is a saffron-rose that even I the rose-hater can get behind. Any number of people are fans of the lighter/linear floral scents – Frangipani, Sampaquita, Osmanthus, and the ethereally lovely Champaca, with its notes of champaca flower, basmati rice and green tea, which is probably the one I’d ask for if a friend offered me anything I wanted from the line. To my nose, the denser fragrances share an aesthetic, if not an actual base, that approaches an OJ signature.
The newest Ormonde Jayne, Tiare, has notes of mandarin, orange flower, Sicilian lime, Tiare (Tahitian gardenia), freesia, water lilies, jasmine, orris, ylang, cedar, vetiver, sandalwood, patchouli, moss and musk.
One of the fun things about perfumage is you can read the marketing materials and the notes and discover that – whammo! – whatever preconceived notions you had about the scent ate completely wrong. This was one of those times. I was expecting Tiare to fall in the lighter-floral-simpler (which is not to suggest uninteresting) camp of Frangipani, Osmanthus, etc., and indeed it’s grouped with them on the OJ website. I also – sue me – was imagining some sort of tropical vibe, which I guess is a result of being subliminally influenced by the last 85 things that said “Tiare” on the label, which is somebody’s shorthand for “tanning oil.”
Tiare falls right between the heavier, rich OJs and the lighter ones. But the most surprising aspect to me, which is there right from the top, is the mossy, musky base. While Tiare develops along its own lines, it invokes scents like Estee Lauder Jasmine White Moss along the way.
In their marketing materials emphasis is made on the transition from the citrusy top to the tiare, so I was expecting the top notes, which are, indeed, quite citrusy. Then we go through a slightly sweeter floral interlude that carries a faint echo of fruit for me, I’m not sure why – maybe it’s the citrusy top meeting up in that moment with the florals. It’s not especially sweet, but there’s something a bit jarring about the transition, at least on my skin. By the way (admitting ignorance here) I’m not sure whether Tahitian gardenia is supposed to smell like the gardenia we’re all familiar with, but you won’t find any of the ripeness/mushroomy/cheesy bits that some of us love in other gardenia frags.
It isn’t until well into the drydown that Tiare begins to take on some of an Ormonde Jayne feel. As the citrus notes fade and the sandalwood, cedar and musk emerge, the entire pitch of the fragrance creeps in the direction of the woody-herbal astringency of Woman, although never becoming as deep or as strangely compelling as the latter.
While browsing other OJ reviews in contemplating this one, I ran across the following (in a review of Champaca), from Robin on Now Smell This: “One of the things I adore about the Ormonde Jayne line, and Champaca is no exception, is that while the fragrances are composed of modern materials, the individual notes maintain an old-fashioned, pre-aldehydic kind of distinctness. These are perfumes for people who really like to smell things, and they don’t appear to have been influenced by modern test marketing practices.”
First off, I couldn’t agree with Robin’s sentiments more. Which brings me in a roundabout way to my persistent, nagging, possibly completely unfair unhappiness with this fragrance. This is the first time I have ever smelled an OJ and had it immediately remind me of something else – and not just a particular perfume(s) but an entire trend. We’ve been cross-blog joking already that perfume houses must be bustin’ out their post-IFRA new chemistry-set faux-mosses now that oakmoss has been blacklisted. Off the top of my head, Tiare is somewhat similar to the EL Jasmine White Moss, Miyake A Scent, and Cristalle/Eau Verte. Okay, three perfumes is hardly a glut, and I’d rather have that than another gourmand, or fruitchouli. But still. OJs in the past have reminded me of nothing except what a freaking genius I think Linda Pilkington is. I dug out some random samples to resniff while preparing this post. While smelling Woman for the umpteenth time I am still struck by how compelling and original it is, and Ta’if is gorgeous and vibrant rather than cloying, as it might have been.
So … this one I am not entirely loving, although I think it’s beautifully done and the lasting power is excellent. However, I am also not the queen of the mossy greens, and I’d certainly say that fans of Cristalle and the Estee would want to smell this.