Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman: fragrance review

"The Chevalier stops, dazzled, at the door: the mirrors covering all the walls multiply their reflections in such a way that suddenly an endless procession of couples are embracing all around them". ~Slowness, Milan Kundera

If you asked me how I knew that the initially named "Ormonde" would be one of my favourites in the Ormonde Jayne line, then I'd tell you that having sampled the lot of them, its languid decay and bittersweet melancholy stood out in my mind for weeks to come and all of a sudden I realised I had to have it! Its dichotomy startled me: Was it dicepherable as that rare genus of a dry woody originally aimed at women (yet men are welcome to borrow) or was it a Sibyllic opaque alloy of contradictions? Ormonde Woman exemplifies admirably what Chandler Burr described: "Ormonde Jayne has created a collection that possesses the quality I most value in perfume: a wonderful and mesmerising strangeness". Pretty, beloved notes take on a grotesque façade that makes them appear convulted in the most arresting way, like figures seen in profile at the mirrors chamber of some far away fun fair through the convulted lens of David Lynch.

A peppery green whisper of Ormonde Woman on a summer day makes me appreciate its haunting, eerie beauty even more, reeling me from the dreary conventionality of mainstream releases into a subtly wicked fairytale. Though woody fragrances are typically pigeonholed in the cooler season, I like to bring out the most understated among them for reveling in their sophisticated embrace even on the sunniest of days. Brooding claustrophobia where no sunlight can penetrate seems to engulf you when woody fragrances unfold in the snow and sleat, and yet wait and luminosity cuts through the enchanted cobwebs, making them sparkle like jewels when cast under the bright morning sun.

The rooty, piney and spicy opening of wet earth and sinister anthropomorphic grasses mingles with a sweet, almost licorice-like violet delicacy in Ormonde Woman's heart, uplifting the composition into a sophisticated enigma; one which cannot be dissected into sexual temptation and loss of innocence, yet one feels they're all there, under the trampled leaves like a not-so-innocent adult Red Riding Hood who strayed off the path to become a she-wolf. The poison cup offered comes in the dangerous guise of black hemlock absolute, a rare essence that the founder Linda Pilkington utilises in rarely foreseen quantities to concoct just the right hypnotic spell. A tireless traveller, Linda has fostered relationships with growers all over the world from Laos and the Philippines to Morocco and France, gaining her remarkable access to the most unusual exotic oils. The drydown of Ormonde Woman bears facets of a dry, non-sweet amber that peters out inivisibly. Fabric Magazine said it well: "Her signature scent Ormonde Woman made from black hemlock is a real femme fatale, all black feathers, felt capes and illicit affairs"

Notes for Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman: cardamom, coriander, grass oil, black hemlock, violet, jasmine absolute, vetiver, cedar wood, amber, and sandalwood.

Ormonde Woman can be purchased directly from the official Ormonde Jayne website or at their London boutique.

For our readers an amazing offer: Mail sales@ormondejayne.com with "Perfume Shrine Ormonde Woman" in the title to receive 200 complimentary deluxe samples of Ormonde Woman! The 201st person will get an Ormonde Woman Bathing Beauty Gift Box!!

Clarification after a question to OJ: The new packaging in the square rather than oblong bottle has been raised in price due to costs involved: the costs of essence oils have risen, the caps are in glass instead of plastic and the whole presentation has become even more luxurious!
Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Ormonde Jayne news, interviews and reviews

Painting Anansi & death by Johanna Uhrman via jonnakonna.com
Mirror picture via guardian.co.uk


  1. Petals13:02

    Great review E! A little late though since I know how much you like this and Tolu. Tolu was my first OJ love and purchase back in 2007. I could only get one back then and had Ormonde Woman on my wishlist until last week, when I got my bottle of it from a kind person on MUA. It came in a squarish bottle though which I assume is the newer kind of bottle. Thankfully I got this before OJ raised their prices by 10 pounds. Will wear this tomorrow, in your honour.

  2. Anonymous13:36

    Dear E,

    Cardamom and coriander and cedar wood! Oh, I think this would be love at first sniff for me.

    Thank you for the beautiful review as always.


  3. Oh, dang! They raised their prices? I knew I should have bought that full bottle of Ta'if when the pound was low...

    *kicks self gently*

    But thanks for this opportunity, E! And what a lovely review of a gorgeous perfume.

  4. Thank you both for this opportunity to win samples. :)
    a lovely review as always. :)

  5. Already sent my entry and this sounds so utterly unique.

  6. Angela15:59

    One of my absolute favorites! Thank you for this wonderful review. I've never found another fragrance with the combination of beguiling intimacy, strength, and intrigue that characterizes Ormonde. I love it.

  7. Thanks for the opportunity to win a sample :)

  8. Anonymous16:27

    Excellent review. Ormonde (when I purchased my first bottle, it was just Ormonde) is my favorite, my go-to, the default perfume at the front of the cabinet. Champaca sits right behind it, and Orris Noir is a cold-weather staple.

  9. Thanks T!!

    I was bringing it out a while ago and thought why shouldn't I wear it in warmer weather? It's exquisite! I ADORE Tolu too, as you know. (amazingly snuggly scent!)It was my first purchase as well ;-)
    I questioned the people at OJ regarding the new prices and I learned that their suppliers have raised the prices accordingly, so it was more or less inevitable.
    Hope you enjoy it tomorrow and thanks! :-)

  10. Natalia,

    awww, thanks darling! It's one to sample for sure. Very unique, hypnotising truly. Mature but not thick, if you know what I mean.

  11. Alyssa,

    thanks darling, how are you? (btw, have the things crawling their way to you!)

    Yeah, the price increase had to happen and I also kick myself for not taking advantage for this and other lines when the pound was so low...But anyway, there will be opportunities at some other time.

  12. Dear Ines,

    thank you for your kind words. It's a gorgeous composition, so I hope you love the sample you're getting. They were very nice about it: 200 samples and a bath beauty set, classy of them.

  13. Jenn,

    I hope you love this. It's slightly sweet and nicely woody, so there is a good chance you will like it!

  14. Angela, thanks darling for chimming in and for your kind compliment.
    You describe it perfectly: it just suspends you in its aura and doesn't let go, doesn't it?
    Hope you're very well!

  15. Anon,

    thank you for your nice words!
    You're right, it used to be simply Ormonde. Both of your other choices are intriguing scents, not predictable. I do recommend Tolu highly too! :-)

  16. I love this scent. It makes me think of Gormenghast or the paintings of Henri Rousseau - simultaneously rich and ornate yet slightly weird.

  17. There's nowhere else I've found green & sweet & woody all in one happy place...not in equal measure, but in the right balance...and that haunting of what I assume to be the "black hemlock"...Mim, I know what you mean; rich, layered, unusual.

    ...ahhhhhhh. :)

  18. Wow this sounds really multifaceted... I tend to like notes of coriander and cardamom- it all sounds so intriguing... lovely review!

  19. Thank you for the lovely review and the sample opportunity! I was rather distraught at the price increase, but I did manage to buy my first full bottle of OJ (Ta'if) when they were offering the free bath gel, so I feel better now. I love Tolu as well, which I'm wearing this dreary rainy day, and Frangipani, which I wear on nicer days. I haven't fallen head over heels for Ormonde yet, but a larger sample might do the trick!

  20. Rappleyea00:28

    I recently sampled this and unfortunately, got nothing like what you did! On me, this scent was very sweet, generic and almost cheap smelling. Sigh....

    However, I also recently sampled her Orris Noir, and that was exquisite! I'd love to read your thoughts on that one.

  21. This is an incredible review of a perfume I can't wait to try. There's something in your description that appeals to my inner Gothaholic, and I think it's the black hemlock. Of course I had to send off a request! Recently, my sister returned from London - after her sister had sent her to Ormonde Jayne, of course!, and returned with a full bottle of Frangipani - a perfect and perfectly happy lush, summery scent. She walked out with Orris Noir, and now, she can't live without it! I already have Tolu and Ta'if on my list to try, and I very much doubt it will stop there!

    What thrills ahead!

  22. Anonymous05:54

    This is the PERFECT review! My favorite and I wear it in ALL seasons! Thank you again for a fabulous blog!

  23. Mim,

    I love your references! They fit!
    It's glorious, isn't it?
    Thanks for commenting!

  24. S, honey,

    indeed! The perfect strike on multiple facets. Love it! So happy we share the love :-)

  25. J,

    thank you darling! I am looking forward to hearing your impressions after they send you your sample!

  26. Juliet,

    I think you might!! Frangipani is a natural for warm weather, very true. It has a jammy-banana note in there which smells very natural, very vibrant, without being the contrived fruity of so many things.

  27. Donna,

    ohhh...sorry about that! Perhaps try again from another sample at some other point? (looking hopeful)
    Orris Noir is also individual, so I'm happy you found one to love. Perhaps I will come back on that one at some point. ;-)

  28. T,

    thanks so much for your most kind words! I hope you enjoy your complimentary sample, they were very sweet and accomodating about this and it's the perfect chance for people to sample this fragrance.

    Re: yoursister, you steered her in the right direction! The whole line is worth exploring, even though there were a couple of things I would have
    Tai'f and Tolu (especially) are HIGHLY recommended.

  29. Miranda,

    awww, you made my day. Thanks!
    I find that it suits all seasons as well: it's never thick or cloying, just perfect.

  30. Oh and Proximity: you're most welcome. You have to thank the OJ people who do the difficult part of sending! :-)

  31. Dear E,

    Wow we had a very similar experience with this. I found it initially stunning but find many things wonderful- but I just couldn't get this out of my head and the more I tried the more I loved it.

    I think it's quite like Serge's FDB for the strange but intoxicating aspect. In fact I think I love this more.

    It should go down as one of the great scents.

  32. K,

    makes me wonder what kept us from grabbing it immediately? LOL
    I do think it will go down as a niche classic if all the love it gets here is any indication.

  33. Thank you for the images from David Lynch and music from Angelo Badamalenti...tantalizing!This one should would be a good companion for my Champaca. Fabulously creative review!

  34. I've been curious about this scent and would love to try it. Thanks to you and OJ for this offer! Hopefully I make it into the first 201. :-)

  35. maitreyi197809:53

    This is fantastic!
    Thank you for the opportunity.


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