I was pulling an even smaller sample off an already-small sample vial of Ormonde Jayne Orris Noir to send to someone (perfume loaves and fishes, people!) when it struck me: this is beautiful, and how could I not have appreciated it before?
The notes are davana, pink pepper, cardamom, iris, coriander seed, bergamot, sambac absolute, pimento berries, bay, cinnamon, incense, myrrh, patchouli, Chinese cedar, saffron and civet.
It´s got the signature OJ base, and in terms of weight it´s heavier than Champaca or Sampaquita, but packs less punch than Ormonde Woman or Ta´if. It starts off with pepper and some other spice notes before the iris sweeps in, woody rather than powdery. Then the jasmine starts to bloom, and for several hours the iris and jasmine combined with the smoothness of the rest of the spices and that base is almost too lovely to bear.
On one of the posts recently, a commenter raised an excellent point about preconceptions of a fragrance and about evaluating scents for what they are, rather than what they are not. I thought about that as I sniffed my wrist over the next several hours. Because I know that’s what happened to me — when I first smelled Ormonde Jayne Orris Noir, it just wasn’t noir enough for me. So I turned away in disappointment, instead of appreciating the fragrance for what it is: a compelling variation on the iris theme (and who would have predicted that so many iris fragrances would be issued?) Neither metallic nor powdery, the iris hangs above the languid woody base like the moon over a lake at nightfall. I am beginning to believe that it may, in fact, be possible to have too many iris fragrances. But this is not one of the ones we can live without.
Part of the fun of having your own blog is you can make whatever fatuous, Karl Lagerfeld-esque pronouncements you want to, so here´s mine. Ormonde Jayne fragrances remind me of the JARs. When you smell one of the OJ scents (or better yet, the entire line) there are no Horsemen of the Fragrance Apocalypse (how about: Focus Groups, Broad Appeal, Celebrity, Market Trends?) lurking in the background. There is no sense whatsoever that these have been created by a committee, designed to entice either a broad array of people or some specific demographic. Instead, they have been designed: a) to be beautiful and unusual; and b) to appeal to their creator – and, if you happen to be lucky, to you as well.
Smell Ta´if or Champaca or Tolu or Ormonde Woman and you are smelling a fragrance that seems to have been constructed without awareness of or adherence to conventional, market-driven ideas of what constitutes a finished perfume. You can meditate all day on their genius – the way the top, middle and base notes flow together; their simultaneous clarity and density; their almost indecent, addictive beauty, flouting the laws of perfumery (and for all I know, gravity). Or you can just do what I find myself doing – taking in one of the scents on myself over the course of a day, muttering damn, that is unbelievable. My only complaint about the line is I can´t wear the OJs I love most on days when their incandescence will distract me. That´s a pretty fabulous problem to have to deal with.
So tell me: is there a fragrance you love, once you got past your disappointment over what you thought it would be?
Photo: Moon over Mount Rundel, www.panhala.net