Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Twin Peaks: Ormonde Jayne Champaca & Calvin Klein Truth

Usually the purpose of a Twin Peaks smell-alikes article is to highlight affinities between a higher end fragrance and one which is offered at a comparative price. However it's not solely that. A discontinued or catastrophically reformulated perfume that could be "relived" through experiencing a decent substitute, no matter its provenience, is also worth mentioning. To the latter case I present a comparison between Champaca by British niche brand Ormonde Jayne, which is currently in production, and Truth by Calvin Klein, which has been discontinued a few years already.


    The reason CK Truth for women was discontinued is lost on me. It had everything going for it when it launched back in 2000; from the subtle yet lingering aroma of green bamboo shoots and comforting woody-musky notes to the sensuous advertising and the aesthetically pleasing contours of the packaging, it looked like a much better bet for the Calvin Klein brand than many others in the overpopulated line. The evocation of a woman's skin was sensuous and done with an interesting twist to eschew too obvious a musk note by Alberto Morillas, Jacques Cavallier and Thierry Wasser. It even had its own "blending kit" of 6 key essences (one of which I distinctly recall was a lilac "accord", to my confirmation of the intimacy of this innocent looking flower) to custom mix so as to produce your individual scent combination, a Truth Lush flanker in 2002 and a "sensual bedtime fragrance" flanker -smelling exactly as it name suggests- launched in 2003.

    With that in mind it's safe to say CK Truth could be classified under "undeserved commercial flops" as a marketing case study that includes other honorary mentions such as Feu d'Issey and Kenzo L'Elephant. Perhaps the fault was one of timing: By 2003 the advent of "gourmands", i.e. a subcategory of oriental fragrances heavy on the vanilla which mimicked popular desserts smells, was inescapable and the clean, serene, aromatic woody bouquet of Truth was hors categorie.

    Champaca by Ormonde Jayne on the other hand, coming from a niche firm, had a clear advantage. It is also "foody", but in the most unusual sense. In fact coming out in 2002 places it at that crossroads mentioned above. And yet, being "savory" rather than "sweet" (in the vanillic or ripe fruity sense), Champaca also pre-empts a trend that took wings by the end of the 2000s; the slightly salty, savory scents which do recall some dish or other, but less overtly than "cupcake" and "cake batter". The cult success of the perfume within the de iuoro limited perimeter of the niche fragrance market was due to its super comforting odor profile. The sweetly creamy, floral note of champaca, a yellow magnolia common in India, was married to the note of steamed basmati rice, itself a nurturing image, Earth Goddess and all.

    The inspiration came from a couple who were neighbours to Linda Pilkington when at her first London appartment; whenever they steamed rice, the building smelled cozy and like home. I only found that info later, from Linda herself, but it justified my own impression that Champaca would work great as a room fragrance, one for a cozy restaurant in off-white colors with big sofas around to immerse oneself in like giant cocoons. As the scent progresses the floral element of Champaca is diminished and it turns somewhat "greener" and a tiny bit sour, while still very very soft and non-obtrusive with the low hum that perfumer Geza Schoen is known for.

    The Ormonde Jayne seems less "skin scent" than the Klein one overall, the latter being a little tarter and with less of a foody element, but they're remarkably close. Some people notice a third simile with Fraicheur Vegetale Bamboo by Yves Rocher, but I haven't tried that one. If you have please discuss.

    Notes for Calvin Klein Truth:
    bamboo, wet woods, white peony, vanilla, white amber and sandalwood
    Notes for Ormone Jayne Champaca:
    Neroli, pink pepper, bamboo, Champaca, Basmati rice, green tea, myrrh, musk.

    Related reading on Perfume Shrine: More smell-alikes fragrances on this link.


    1. Thanks for this. I really like CK Truth and have a mini; used up my bottle long ago. And I'm wearing Jungle l'Elephant today. So many discontinued mainstream scents smell better than others available today, niche included. Thank goodness there are still some online bargains to be found.

    2. Why either of the Truths were discontinued is beyond me, too! Both were excellent fragrances, the women's a bit more distinctive although the men's was beautiful green woods spiked with cardamom. Luckily, both are still easily available online.

    3. Oooh, Truth was my signature scent for years! Snapped up a big bottle on eBay last year - It's still out there sometimes. Men'sTruth is wonderful too, I must add.

    4. Is Truth for men good for the winter season? I never knew this scent existed. I just saw it online for a fantastic price! Thanks for the heads up.

    5. Rosarita,

      I'm absolutely in your camp: I too find even many niche offerings today rarely smell as good as some of the old mainstream offerings. I don't know what's wrong exactly, though theories abound. :-)

    6. Dusan,

      hello and thanks for stopping by!

      Confirmation on the men's being good is just what I needed seeing as cardamom is one of my favorite notes in men's scents (Declaration shades and all...)
      Thanks for the suggestion!

      Shame they axed them though in lieu of hundreds of CK one and Crave flankers. :-(

    7. Annina,

      good to know! And more brownie points for the men's, I should get some! :-)

    8. Kingpharroh,

      I really don't recall. I remember that it was a time when CK didn't produce hundreds of meaningless flankers and the scents were decent. I hear readers above enthusiastically recommend it so if the price is as good as that, why not risk a bit and maybe find a new fav? :-)


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