Thursday, September 18, 2008

The elusive Seraphim by Ormonde Jayne: the What, the How and the Why

Today I am trying to disentangle the thread of the elusive Seraphim by Ormonde Jayne and to clear misunderstandings: surely such an elusive fragrance should have something important to say instead of putting question-marks all over the place. Surely some segments of additional info could surface and on occassion of my conversation with perfumer and founder of Ormonde Jayne, Linda Pilkington, I set out to shed light indeed into the mysterious web of luxury and exclusivity that Seraphim has weaved.

Seraphim was developed for the art concept store 20 ltd , a design house with pieces from famous and upcoming designers such as jewler Solange Azagury Patridge (of the modern demi-chypre Cosmic) and fine art photography. Seraphim, the fragrance by Ormonde Jayne was issued in 2007 in only 50 bottles: the lucky club of owners would be allowed to get refills from Ormonde Jayne (for £270), but that would be it! The bottle, with its beautiful abstract design and its antique gold ribbon around the neck, rests in a box lined with black velvet whose outercase is hued matte gold.
The price tag at the awe-inspiring £450 for the original 50 ml bottle (about €628) is probably enough to deter a blind purchase. And yet the uncompromising attention to quality standards that Linda keeps makes one daydream and wonder...

But why the elitist approach in the first place? Linda was gracious enough to reply in detail: "Ormonde Jayne has many customers that have ordered bespoke scents over the last decade, individual clients who want their own perfume, as well as clients such as Anouska Hempel and Chanel who have commissioned exclusive scented candles or perfume for a special event. As a perfume house, "exclusive" ends up being inevitable at some point, although the vast majority of our work is for the Ormonde Jayne boutique. Also, we saw it as a good opportunity to introduce Ormonde Jayne to an international market, and perfume lovers that might not be familiar with Ormonde Jayne".

Since this explains the exclusivity clause better than any hypothesis on our part, my next question inevitably centered on the price tag. "It was a commission for 20Ltd and my sole duty was to create the perfume and design a bottle and box that was different to the rest of the Ormonde Jayne brand. The price for Seraphim was decided by 20 Ltd, but there were three factors that made it much more expensive: The first was the actual formulation, ingredients like Iris are very expensive. The second was the very small run - just 50 bottles. As the look of the bottle had to be different from the Ormonde Jayne range, we needed to pay for the services of two different brand designers - one for the bottle itself, and one for the box. This involved sourcing velvets and new papers and producing the actual bottle. Now these are the sort of costs which if you are producing a few thousand balance out, but if you are only making 50 bottles, it makes the unit price shoot up. 20Ltd took it from there and were entirely responsible for the next stages, including marketing and advertising. They set the price and they received the money. It wasn't my duty to advertise it all and this is why it doesn't appear on the Ormonde Jayne site".

Which brings me to my last tentative question: who bought it? "I am under the impression that a small percentage of the clients were the perfumistas of the world, however I believe that most of the perfume was sold to the client list of 20 Ltd."

At this point dear readers you would be dying to know my impressions of it. Wish I could give you that pleasure, but I am lamentably not in a position to do so. Perhaps someone of you will reveal that they are! For those of you who are simply curious or toying with the idea of investing, you can see and order the fragrance clicking on the 20ltd page

Notes for Seraphim:
Head notes: (Fresh flowery notes) Bergamot, Rosewood, Ylang Ylang
Heart notes:(Powdery) Rose, Violets, Iris
Soul notes: (Sensual) Musk, Amber, Madagascan Vanilla, Coumarin

Pic through 20ltd


  1. Thanks for the article ;-)!
    I know there has been at least one split of this on MUA in the past, but it's almost impossible to find people's personal impressions on this one.

  2. andy11:29

    Wow. 450 .
    I wonder...Isn't this a bit over the top?

  3. L,

    you're very welcome! :-)
    It's.....elusive! LOL
    (still haven't had time to respond properly to you, will do)

  4. Assuredly A!
    But I think this is what the art store (20ltd, who are responsible for the deal) was aiming at: they bodly announce they're there to provide rare and exclusive things and the prevalent concept is that that equals $$$$.
    Linda told me that the peripheral costs exceed the cost of the fragrance.

  5. All I can say is I love the name of this fragrance.

  6. Anonymous15:20

    Ooooo...I am knocked down silly. Linda creates bespoke fragrances? Well, that goes down on my list of "things for the future."

    Ormonde Jayne is my favorite line. I could happily live in only this aesthetic. And, yes, Seraphim is beautiful. It wears as a delicate scent that is somehow also intensely rich and sumptuous. The use of the ylang ylang is particularly fine, making even something like Plus Que Jamais seem like a rough, plodding scent in comparison. But it's always the rose that brings out my joyful reaction--and I cannot describe it in a way that will make other smell it, too. The entire composition is smoothly blended and worth the time to procure a sample.

  7. Jen,

    I love it too! Not something one usually sees, huh?

  8. Oh, here we have someone who has tried it! Thank you so much for stopping by.
    So it's a very well made fragrance and worth sampling. Ah, my list is growing!

    A bespoke fragrance by Linda sounds like a wickedly luscious idea ;-)

  9. I am SO delighted that I don't care for Seraphim at all, which is a relief since three of my all time favorites are Woman, Tolu and Orris Noir. It's very hissy and new money on me, like something for the Asian markets, and thank God for it.


Type your comment in the box, choose the Profile option you prefer from the drop down menu, below text box (Anonymous is fine too!) and hit Publish.
And you're set!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin