The Different Company Oriental Lounge

Hi there, snowbound friends of the Posse!  We’re still digging ourselves out on the East Coast and the kids are underfoot because school’s closed (anyone want to place bets on whether they’ll reopen this week, or are we headed right into winter vacation, which starts Wednesday afternoon?)

I’ve been getting my champagne and shovel on.  Those of you familiar with the DC area know that Sunday in the mid-Atlantic was warm enough after a typical snowfall that if you don’t get that 16 inches of snow off your car and out of your driveway by Sunday night, it’s 8 inches of icy mush by Monday.  But we had a great time playing.

Before I forget – thanks to the many commenters who came by on Friday to enter the Tauer Perfumes draw.  I won’t include Andy’s email here, because I don’t want to embarrass him, but he was very, very touched as he read them, and congrats to Tara for winning.

Okay, today’s review: The Different Company’s Oriental Lounge, the new oriental (duh) from the line.  Here´s a link to Grain de Musc, in which Céline Ellena explains how she was tinkering with the genre to come up with the fragrance.  Notes via LuckyScent are: Bergamot, curry leaf, pepper, red rose, labdanum, tonka bean and satinwood.  (Satinwood, according to Ellena, is a blend of a synthetic sandalwood note and a powdery note.)

To be fair, you should read the Grain de Musc interview, which explains Ellena’s intentions.  I started to try to quote from it, but I’d end up quoting most of it, which feels too plagiaristic for me.  Also, here´s a link to 1000 Fragrances’ review, and Octavian knows way more about perfume structure than I ever will, and hey – he liked it.

Me?  Eh.  Seriously?  This could have been straight from the Macy’s bottle of Usher’s newest flanker for men, maybe called something like Usher IV: Love Machine.  To me it smells like a midrange woody guy cologne, subcategory: barbershop shaving cream.  I am pretty sure it’s Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez who’ve noted that if you take a classical feminine and cheapen the ingredients enough, it starts to smell like a cheesy masculine.  Well, Céline Ellena has apparently worked the same dark magic using expensive ingredients and all her technical skilz.  Congratulations, Céline, I’m (sort of) speechless.  I note, again in her Grain de Musc interview, that “Oriental Lounge arose from the need to compose a warm oriental, which was missing from the brand´s line-up. It was also missing for me, because to speak bluntly, orientals aren´t my favorite perfume family…”  So, this is an oriental developed by someone who doesn’t even like orientals?  Well, that explains everything, I guess.  Since I’m too lowbrow to appreciate this result of the subverting of the aesthetic, I invite you to comment if you’ve tried it.   It’s not terrible.  It’s more … pointless.  I can’t think why I’d put this on instead of … well, pretty much anything else I own.  I think I’ll dab on some vintage Cinnabar parfum and go downstairs and scare the children.  Cinnabar goes with sledding, yes?  I promise I’ll put my champagne flute down first!

  • Tara C says:

    Wow, just back from vacation to discover I won the drawing! I never win anything, this is so exciting!

    I think I may have gotten the “dull” batch of OL too, as I found it quite flat and uninteresting. Must try again some day.

  • mals86 says:

    If this has any proximity to shaving cream, I’m staying far far away. That’s a dealbreaker for me.

    I love the idea of your wearing your Cinnabar while sledding – I hope that memory sticks with your kids. (Cinnabar scares ME. But the concept of wearing your personal Warm Fuzzy while having fun, now that’s inspired. I cannot wait to officially open my Christmas-present bottle of Alahine and spritz that on; I think it’s going to be my Christmas smell, although not solely on Christmas.)

    • March says:

      Cinnabar (EdT? EdP?) off the shelf at Ulta terrifies me. It’s all angular and aggressive. Cinnabar parfum … I was with Patty a couple years ago in NYC, and at that moment they stocked it and had it out at Bergdorf, I don’t think that’s true any more. And I had A Moment, you know? It’s much smoother. Potent, for sure, but it sings.

      Alahine is a perfect winter fragrance. I wore it to a party a few nights ago. It’s a bit much for the first ten minutes in the car, though. 🙂

  • Robin R. says:

    I think I got the “dull” batch of Oriental Lounge, guys. At least, it was yawnsville when I gave it a whirl. So true about the questionability of a gal (a wonderful gal) who doesn’t really like orientals putting together an oriental. Kind of like Sarah McLachlan doing a heavy metal song.

  • Nina Z. says:

    Okay, I will defend it. To me/on me it is softly delicious. It is also one of the few perfumes that speaks directly to my limbic system; it just makes me feel so good. It is quieter than the other orientals I love, but I thought that could be a plus. Here is something lighter and clearer I can wear when I’m out to dinner, taking a walk, taking a class, etc. that’s still soft and sexy, not “fresh.” I thought for me it would make a good wallpaper scent, as you call it. And I actually just purchased a decant (and I only purchased a few fragrances all year).

    • March says:

      Well, there you go. I can see it totally being a great wallpaper scent if you like it, and I certainly have a whole slew of those — this just isn’t my particular style of wallpaper, apparently.

      I have to wonder, based on Denyse’s comment, and comments by folks who like it (like the one above yours) whether I am just not smelling the nuance.

    • mals86 says:

      That’s a great description – scents that speak to your limbic system! I know exactly what you mean

  • Kate says:

    Oriental Lounge is a creative addition to the non-oriental orientals! I despise sweet fragrances however Ms Ellena has developed an experience via OL that starts out with a peppery, almost camphorous (according to Melissa) opening that dries down to a sweet, sexy and calming warmth that relaxes me. I’ve sniffed it on a few folks who really rock it. You know who you are, Melissa and jarvis. Just what I need in this snow!

    • March says:

      And thanks for sticking up for it. I wish more people had smelled it by now, so we could take more of a survey. See, I’d love that peppery/camphor top, but I just don’t smell that part at all. And there are other people on here who like it. Maybe it just doesn’t smell very good on *me,* I’ve not smelled it on anyone else.

      • Musette says:

        See, that’s what I got at first when I thought this was a keepah! But that disappeared almost before it registered. You know I love me some pepper and camphor. What was left was, to my nose anyway, a vaguely soapy amber. since I’m always on the fence re amber, that was a deal-breaker for me.

        Her Charmes and Leaves, otoh, is perfection itself for me. It’s not overly complex but what is there is very interestingly crafted and it has that green/silver thing I love.

        xoxo >-)

  • monkeytoe says:

    I wanted to like OL (like the line and the nose) but I don’t get the point. For a modern take on oriental I much prefer the original Shalimar Light/eau legere or Sacreblue (for modern masculine orientals I would take Gucci Pour Homme or Bulgari Pour Homme Soir over OL). If I am going to wear an academic exercise I want it weirder.

    • March says:

      Well … okay. You just poked me with your last line. Maybe that’s it? If you are going to subvert/tweak the genre, only the genre is orientals (which can be obnoxious) maybe the way to go is lighter in your academic exercise? But if the result is you’ve taken a type and made it *dull* then your academic exercise may have succeeded but the perfume did not? If I need a cheat sheet to “get” it … you know what, no. It’s just too dull.

      Curious, did it smell masculine, feminine, or gender-free?

      • monkeytoe says:

        I am probably the wrong person to ask, I (male) will wear anything, but I thought it pretty gender-free.

        I think of many of the Comme des Garcons as academic exercises and the ones that are most successful either smell original andgreat (Series:Incense, Calumus, Sequioa) or smell good to great and are wonderfully weird* (Tar, Garage, Stephen Jones). To my nose while Un Jardin apres la Mousson (another academic exercise to my mind) smells original and weird but not good and OL smells fine (even good) but not original or weird. And with my own crowded shelf of scents you have to hit more points to get space (not even bringing up cost).

        *Weird to me encompasses both originality and oddness.

        • March says:

          So this could be our exercise — the three points of the triangle: wonderful, weird and original. I’ll take wonderfulness by itself. And … let’s see. I’d probably wear weird AND original. But those two individually would have to overlap a little with wonderful.

          I hated most of the CdG Synthetics and Guerilla. I loved Palisander for about 6 months, and then ugh, too much (overdose?) I like the leaves: tea one. Stephen Jones I thought was cool (weird AND great) but a lot of folks didn’t. The 2s I go back and forth on. Incense series and CdG Original are my faves.

          • Musette says:

            I LIKe that weirdness in the Stephen Jones, though I see it as more of an intellectual exercise than an attractant – I wouldn’t wear this on a date (not that I go on dates, mind you. All i do is work, alas). It starts out really cool, with those flash-frozen violets…then that plasticky thing, which is NotQuitePlay-Doh – ’tis that makes it unsuitable for a Pretty scent but weirdly compelling.

            But a sample is all I need to get my Weird on.

            xo >-)

          • March says:

            No, Stephen Jones is definitely not date-night material. But there is something oddly fun about it.

  • Rappleyea says:

    Sigh…. I don’t know if it’s the IFRA regs or perfumer geeks playing with their chemistry sets calling it art, but call me old fashioned, it doesn’t smell like perfume to me! But I did LOL at the Sanchez/Turin line. Classic!

    I’m jealous of the snow – I used to live west of you out in Clarke Co., Va. and I talked to a friend there yesterday. I think she said they got either 20 or 24 inches! We were supposed to get 2 to 4 here in central Ky., but only got a dusting. No fun at all! I do feel bad though for the folks trying to get places for the holidays.

    • March says:

      I measured in various points outside, we’ve drifted to close to 24 inches, but I’m averaging 16 — some places north of here they got a solid 24 inches, for sure.

      I feel bad for merchants and holiday shoppers. Of course I’m done. (where’s whistling guy when I need him?)

  • Francesca says:

    Lucky, lucky NYC, we didn’t get hit too badly, though the DH and I were out in the worst of it on Saturday night, going to a perfectly lovely party, to which I wore TPIM. (Get it? Hah)

    I haven’t tried Oriental Lounge, though the name reminds me of a wonderful CD we have of 30’s western-style Shanghainese torch-song lounge music…

    And congratulations to Tara!!!!! Squeeeee! What are you going to choose?:x

    • March says:

      I know, I know! It’s such a great name too. And glad to hear you wore TPIM (and didn’t get clocked too badly by the weather, although I’m assuming NYC owns plows?) To be fair, that’s part of the problem in this area — we get these occasional wallops but not that often, mostly rain and mush. There’s a cost/benefit issue. So the govt here tends to be under-prepared, on the (mostly correct) assumption that it will melt fairly quickly on its own.

  • Louise says:

    My bet on school staying closed the rest of the week?…and this affects my employment directly…I think they’ll likely stay closed until Wednesday, then try a late opening…then send the kids home. Typical MoCo planning. Oops, I do love my employer, really :d/

    I love Oriental, I like sweet, I like dense…but OL was too much, just too much of it all. You know how my skin eats scent, but amplifies sweet? Oy, this was a no-go for me. I do have a friend who wears it well, and admire Ellena’s craft.

    But, I’m wearing my vintage Shalimar in my own little snowed in oriental lounge right now, so content 😉

    • March says:

      So you’re voting for half-day on Weds. WITH a delay? That would be a new low even for MoCo… yeah, they’ll probably do it. And they won’t call the delay until 4am to drive the working parents nuts.

      So … wait, more info please. Too sweet? Too ambery? Too what?

      Dammit, no teasing me with the Shalimar! Shalimar hates me. 🙁

      • Louise says:

        Ok, maybe I’m being harsh…maybe a late opening tomorrow. But dang, I’m officially on vacay as of tomorrow COB-so maybe it’s all wishful thinking. I took a long hike yesterday, and the back roads here hadn’t been touched. On a P-O’d note-the guy that offered to dig my car out in exchange for a hot chocolate removed about three flakes, then stole my choco mug 😮

        It was too sweet and quite indistinct. I will retry, but found it just OK.

  • I’m like Céline Ellena, I don’t particularly favor orientals, but I do love and wear Oriental Lounge — she’s made the labdanum-tonka combination wearable for me, and the curry leaf lends it an intriguing green-metallic shimmer. I don’t read it as particularly masculine: I’d say it’s shed the feminine, heaving-cleavage trappings of the oriental family. And there *is* a richness to the natural materials she uses that set it apart from department-store offerings.

    That said, Céline told me that the first batch that was mixed was too high in concentration, which made the fragrance a little “closed”. The Different Company’s CEO wanted a late-summer launch and put it out while she was away and couldn’t check it…
    It’s possible that batch is still in circulation.

    • March says:

      Denyse, thanks for weighing in. I found your interview and Octavian’s review informative, because then I had a guide and an idea of the way things should pan out on the skin (although I couldn’t honestly tell from your interview how much you liked it, although that wasn’t the point, obviously.)

      Anyhow, I do like orientals, the more obnoxious the better. Even stripping away (mentally) my expectations for an oriental, I found OL strangely flat. I got essentially no development, just a hazy buzz of sweetness with enough woodiness to give it that “manscent” signifier in the US… Musette up there called it “amber-scented dish soap” and that’s not a bad description. NICE dish soap, but still. The subtleties of this one appear lost on my skin and/or to my nose. Amber/powder/woods/metallic probably isn’t going to thrill me no matter how beautifully it’s crafted.

      I’m wondering (and you might know) do you know anything about TDC toning down the more animalic bits of Rose Poivree? It does smell a bit cleaned up to me, or maybe my nose has adjusted its standards. 🙂

      • March, I’m fairly sure you got the first batch, which is too concentrated and hence a little flat. That was the one I tested before the interview, and I liked it a lot better when Céline got me the corrected batch.
        The Rose Poivrée never came up in the conversation, I’ll try to remember to ask her when we meet up after the holidays for a hot chocolate and Saint-Honoré calorie fest at Angelina’s…

        • March says:

          Oh, what fun! Have a great time, I am envious.

          I’ll try to get ahold of another sample (they don’t send it to me, I got it in a vial from a friend). I do think there may be one retailer here who carries it, I’ll check it out.

          • No promises, but while I’m in Canada I’ll try to make and send you one (I’m postal phobic, remember? And I haven’t tested the Canuck version). And, yes, I’m aware of the privilege it is to live in the same city as so many perfumers and get to talk with them. Céline is a marvellous, smart, warm woman and she writes wonderfully too: I recommend her blog, Chroniques Olfactives, to all of you who can read French.

          • March says:

            I hope you have a nice visit! And yes, I do remember your postal-phobia, which sounds quite rational!

    • mals86 says:

      “Heaving cleavage” is just my thing. :”>

  • Musette says:

    I’m still gobsmacked by my beloved Cyrus Chestnut making JIMMY COBB! play ‘Body and Soul’ JUST FOR ME! Squeeeeeeeee! Oh, yum-ola. It is moments like these that gladden an >-)’s heart. I wore Cartier VI to celebrate His Cyrusness. It was perfect.

    Not so much the OL. When I first spritzed it I thought it might have some promise. For about 32 seconds. It smells like amber-scented dish soap to me. Not the worst thing in the world but I’d certainly choose Cinnabar over this one.

    Cyrus and Jimmy say “come sit by us” (before the set, of course. Playing is sweaty work!)

    xo >-)

    ps. the plows are standing by here in the Windy City. Just a dusting right now but Da Mare takes no chances!

    • March says:

      Lucky, lucky girl! You are morphin’ the aliens all over the screen this morning, btw.

      Amber-scented dish soap? So into that comment I’m reading a lack of complexity?

      Didn’t Da Mare of several years/decades ago lose his job when he failed to plow? I hear that’s a hanging offense in Chicago.

      • Musette says:

        Are you kidding? No hanging.


        we will put up with graft, corruption, murder, poor diction and bad attitude….but you’d best get that snow off the road, preferably BEFORE it hits the ground! we got only a light dusting, btw – but that’s the way Chicago rolls. One Plow Per Flake.

        xo >-)

        ps. yes, Cyrus is my Heart Divine. I would say I want Cyrus, Christian McBride and Jimmy Cobb to play at my funeral but that’s stupid, as I will be dead and there’s no guarantee I will be able to hear them – so I hope for that trio during my lifetime (Ray Brown has already gone on so I can’t hope for him) Cartier VI was a nice choice for the venue (a scat singer named Roberta Gamborini(sp)) but for his trio Jolie Mme is perfect)