I ‘borrow’ the neighbour behind my garden’s tree. It’s a eucalyptus – tall, full, frondy. At dusk (gloaming) it’s both beautiful and unsettling. When we have gales, it bends and bows – again, unsettling. But when it’s still it feels like it’s watching over my garden.

I believe in the magic and mystery of nature. I’m not inclined to paganism but knew people in my teens and 20s who were, who felt themselves to be witches and worked their own magic. They felt very strongly that certain smells assisted with the making of that magic as well as strengthening their own beings.

I’ve found it interesting over the years that fragrances I view as mysterious or witchy don’t really work on me. I think I am just too straightforward, lacking real mystery (I’m not talking the not say much mystery – rather I’m not an enigma). It doesn’t mean I haven’t thought some of these were dark and powerful – and beautiful. However, mostly they haven’t worked on my chemistry no matter how gorgeous I’ve felt they were.

This all derives from pulling a sample of Ormonde Jayne Woman out of the box in the closet a few days ago. I sprayed it on and was reminded, yet again, that though this is gorgeous it ain’t gorgeous on me. So, I thought I’d look at three perfumes, including the OJ, that to my mind fall in this category of witchiness that doesn’t work on me.

I remember when OJ Woman was launched and how much noise there was around it. It was one of three (I recall Champaca, the rice thing, which was also madly gorgeous but certainly not witchy, which now appears to be gone, but I can’t recall the other) and I think if Linda Pilkington had only ever offered OJ Woman she would still have gone down in perfumery history. Dark, sweet, green. Weird. I owned a bottle because even though I knew it wasn’t really me it is so beautiful I wanted it to work. Ended up giving it away. Not sure why I threw it into a recent sample order beyond wishful thinking. Launched in 2002, notes for this are grass, coriander, cardamom, black hemlock, violet, jasmine, vetiver, cedar, sandalwood and amber. I had never seen black hemlock used in a perfume before.

In any case on me this is sweet and green. Not dark, though it was dark on fabric. I was so sad that this didn’t do dark, unsettling, odd, magical on me ‘cause I know it does that on other people.

Next up is Amoureuse from maybe now closed (not clear) California-based Parfums DelRae. Again, I bought a bottle of this in hope but gave that away too. This was also launched in 2002 – clearly a good year for perfume. Notes include cardamom, tangerine, lily, jasmine, tuberose, honey, oakmoss and sandalwood. Michel Roudnitska (the son) was the nose and this was inspired by a walk with DelRae Roth along boxwood tree lined streets in San Francisco. I haven’t been to SF in ages but it did always feel like a magical place. This reads big sensual floral but on me it was green — weird, humid, dark green, and unsettling — even though it’s full of things like jasmine and tuberose. Tuberose is usually good on me, but you would never have known it was in there on my chemistry. Definitely magical and witchy out of the bottle on a scarf.

Last one, which is definitely gone, is Bertrand Duchaufour’s out-of-character for Penhaligon Amaranthine. Seriously, magic in a bottle and no idea why they chose to discontinue it except that I can imagine, given other Penhaligon fragrances, this didn’t go over well with the core clientele. It certainly was popular among some perfumistas. I didn’t manage to buy a bottle of this because instead I was gifted a decant. I wore this infrequently and it was so unctuous and heady that it went off after a year. Ironically, the bottle leaked which I think was probably the real reason it went off so quickly – ie, it couldn’t be contained. In any case, this came out in 2009 and didn’t hang around that long. Notes were (I’ve seen both) palm and banana leaf, cardamom, freesia, coriander, tea, ylang, carnation, clove, jasmine, orange flower, milk, vanilla, tonka, sandalwood and musk.  One comment I’ve seen about this is thick, floral milkshake. I got gooey, heavy, beautiful floral. The problem was I did smell the banana aspect and that simply didn’t work. But again, dark, weird, magical and witchy.

Looking at the notes lists all three have cardamom, jasmine and sandalwood, which managed to translate into sweet, pongy, milky in all three and really unsettling – at least for me.

So, do any or all of these work on you? How do you view them and yourself when wearing them? Do you own them (and backups)?

  • rawemily says:

    If I had a signature it might be Ormonde Woman. Unlike most of the bottles safely stored in the vanity drawers, it sits up top for easy access. Wouldn’t necessarily consider it dark on me, more a lovely green haze, but another topside option is Andrea Maack’s Coven, so perhaps witchy is my comfort zone. Have some vintage Knowing & Aromatics Elixir for that oakmoss hit when I want to feel Woodstock witchy. But for true sorcery I rely on Papillon’s Anubis. Deep & dark & ancient, perfect for spellwork.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Coven sadly wasn’t witchy on me. I really think it’s just not my genre. Did see today that Papillon has launched a new fragrance, Spell 125. Thinks it’s incense focused.

      • rawemily says:

        Nice! Sounds right up my alley. Must sample immediately.

        Coven was one of my first full bottles, its introspective mud & fog are pure comfort. But what I wore on a recent trip to Salem is Bogue’s MAAI, which I forgot to add above. Dark green & all about power.

  • Mim says:

    OJ Woman is one of my all-time favorites, probably in my top five or even three of desert island scents…
    I’m almost afraid to wear it frequently because I don’t want to wear it out and make the magic mundane.

    Started with a generous decant that I went through very slowly… Next one I got was a spray, because I tended to be super conservative and dab my roll on. Over a few years that spray evaporated into a thick green syrup at the bottom– now if anything is witchy, it’s that Moste Potente Potion!

    It is mind-boggling that some folks could be just meh about it, but there’s no accounting for chemistry or preference. I only wish they all sent their unloved bottles to me 🙂

    It feels like I am very much myself, settled into a deep well of my own energy, and at the same time transported to another realm.

    None of the DelRaes worked on me–I think I did try amoreuse but the one I kept trying (3+samples) was Bois de Paradis. It was spicy which I love and a lot of other things which I love but somehow it just didn’t wear well on me at all. Thin and cloying at the same time…

    I do love Caron Poivre and Coup de fouet, but probably Clive Christian x for men which is the one of The originals with all the cardamon qualifies as the most witchy esque that I can think of right now.

    O Alquimista has lots of beeswax and some wine/spice/,etc which always struck me as a very indoorsy sort of witch

    Ohhh and amouage interlude man also witchy to me(I wanted to try the black Iris and the new xones but haven’t yet)

    gloaming is a wonderful word!
    Theres modern Celtic music under that title of either song or album that I found on YouTube this past year and highly recommend to any random strangers on the internet 😉

    • Cinnamon says:

      Cardomom really is a thing. which is sort of surprising given how sweet it can be. but it’s such a compelling, inviting fragrance. Will look up the O Alquimista.

      Love gloaming. it sounds exactly like what it refers to.

  • ElizaC says:

    The last two are some of my most favorite perfumes. With Amoureuse, I get a loud green, tangerine intense blast and then a rich, warm (and still loud) honey and flowers. I think of this perfume as a intense and full of sunshine. (I was so sad when I heard Parfums DelRae closed.) Amaranthine is a Betty Davis film noir movie set in the tropics. I love the faint whiff of banana :).

    • Cinnamon says:

      Green and tangerine sounds just wonderful. I do love certain honey fragrances, but none of these really did what they should have on me. Not really fair.

  • Musette says:

    what an interesting post, Cinnamon! Reading each example, I am stunned by how many of these I own(ed) and love – but, like you, am challenged by. Delrae’s Amoureuse is glorious, though I prefer her Wit & Mythique (only because Amoureuse is a bit more difficult to wear on the daily); OJ Woman was strange on me – I simply couldn’t Get It. It wears a bit muddy on me.


    • Cinnamon says:

      Well, thank you. The only other Delrae I’ve sampled is Bois de Paradis and have no memory at all of what it was like. There is/was one called Coup de Foudre (wasn’t there a Caron with that name?) — shouldn’t something like that be witchy? Muddy. Yeah, I get that. Everything runs together.

  • Jennifer S says:

    Love OJ Woman and if I could only have 5 perfumes this would be one of them. Maybe it’s the hemlock note that’s mysterious but I love it. I get vibes of 31 Rue Cambon but a much less sweeter version of it. Lasts all day and I love getting whiffs of it. This is definitely me.

    • Cinnamon says:

      I do think OJ Woman is beautiful. Just not on me. I haven’t sampled 31 RC for a very long time — probably since it was launched — but I do recall it being my favourite.

  • March says:

    What a great post! I too find OJ Woman incredibly beautiful and a bit too dark and unsettling to wear. (Champaca is my favorite from the line, so lovely.) Amaranthigh wound up being too banana-milkshake on me, annoying rather than mysterious. I’d say SL Datura Noir (throwback time!) and some of the earlier, weirder Serges might fall in the mysterious/witchy category. And I love your description of the eucalyptus tree. Sounds absolutely magical. Also “gloaming” is the most amazing, descriptive word and I wish I saw it used more.

    • Cinnamon says:

      What was the other one among the first three she released (ie, Woman, Champaca and ???). Was it Frangipani? Oh, that banana note. Those lucky people who could wear Amaranthigh without getting that — for whom it was actually dark and syrupy… I have no memory of Datura Noir. I do think Serge generally did dark well for a long time. Ah, now, Rose de Nuit — that is witchy and I can wear that.

      • Maya says:

        Ohhhh, I forgot about SL Rose de Nuit. It’s beautiful and definitely witchy and great to wear. And SL Iris Silver Mist – dark and mysterious and a big love. I also love the word “gloaming”, perfect time for wearing ISM.

      • filomena813 says:

        Yes it was Frangipani.

  • Portia says:

    So funny Cinnamon,
    I have bottles of all of these beauties and wear the first two frequently but forget Ameranthigh, as it was called on the scentbloggosphere, because it’s in its box, in a box, in a cupboard and by the time I look for it I invariably have found something else to spritz already.
    Only Amoureuse is really witchy on me. the others are very comfortable.
    Portia xx

  • Tara C says:

    I have tried all three of those and none of them worked on me either, although OJ Woman was the least bad on me. It was okay but just okay, I gave it away.

    Witchy for me is incense and I have a rather large assortment of incense perfumes. Today I wore Bruno Fazzolari’s Ummagumma, a lovely incense patchouli.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Hmmm… I don’t do much incense either. I really am not witchy. Once owned a bottle of Etro Messe de Minuit. Think that got given away to a better home too.

  • filomena813 says:

    I still have a bottle of all three. I had a back-up bottle of Amoureuse which I still have as I just recently finished up the previous bottle. I always found Ormand Jane Woman to be a soft lovely scent and not at all challenging or witchy. As for Amaranthene, I still have some in my bottle. I loved that one, but Penhaligon truly annoys me as they discontinue their best scents a couple of months after they introduce them. They did the same thing with another one I loved, Ostara. I thought those two were among the very best scents and have no idea why they discontinued them unless they could no longer obtain the notes that were in them.

    • Portia says:

      Ostara is back and available for a song on FragranceNet Filomena. I saw out there last week.
      Portia xx

    • Cinnamon says:

      It’s a hard one to fathom: have Duchaufour do you a brilliant, lush, weird thing and then discontinue it. Amoureuse is such a weird green witchy thing. I really wish it had worked on me.

  • JillS says:

    I couldn’t wear the fragrances you mentioned either. When I think witchy I think patchouli, which does not smell great on me. I do well with sandalwood and leather notes. Jasmine is usually too much on my skin.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Ah, I used to wear patchouli with total abandon. Then I got pregnant and my body chemistry changed. Bye bye patchouli. Leather works on me, Sandalwood really doesn’t. I can do amber, musk, etc. And jasmine needs something to modify it.

  • Tanja says:

    I only had OJ Woman for a short time. I had tested it and liked it, but when I started wearing it, it wasn’t me at all.

    • Cinnamon says:

      I really really tried to wear it because I thought it was unusual and beautiful. But in the end it’s just not right for me. Too bad.