Perfume Review – Ormonde Woman by Ormonde Jayne: The Dream Landscape

Thomas Gainsborough. "Open Landscape with Shepherd, Sheep and Pool." The Victoria and Albert Museum

Thomas Gainsborough. “Open Landscape with Shepherd, Sheep and Pool.” The Victoria and Albert Museum

If a perfume were a painting, I think Ormonde Woman would be one of Thomas Gainsborough’s famous landscapes. The perfume by the niche luxury house of Ormonde Jayne is reminiscent of the famed 18th century painter’s portrayal of nature, all bright light contrasted by dark intensity, hidden mystery, and hints of rich warmth. Gainsborough created a dream-like, hazy impression through soft brush strokes and, yet, there is the dark verisimilitude of the Dutch painters, like Rubens, who inspired him. Light and dark, depth and surfaces, reality and a dream — it is all simultaneously evoked by the brilliance that is Ormonde Woman.

The unisex perfume was the very first fragrance put out by Ormonde Jayne upon its debut in 2002, and it is the luxury perfume house’s signature scent. It is a scent of some renown, has received a five-star rating and was named as one of the 100 great classics by the perfume expert, Luca Turin, in The Little Black Book of Perfume: 100 Great Classics.

I’d heard vague, breathy mentions from people of this “amazing” scent, but never really paid much heed until some months ago when one of my oldest friends — who knows almost nothing about perfume — asked me about it. I was so taken aback by her interest (and in a niche perfume, no less!) that I ordered a sample. In all honesty, it took me months to get around to testing Ormonde Woman because I tend to be put off by things with a lot of hype. (I still haven’t seen the movie, Titantic. And I never will.) So my first foray into the Ormonde Jayne brand was with Tolu. It captivated me and rendered me weak with joyous admiration. It also made me determined to explore the brand’s signature perfume. And, you know what? The hype over Ormonde Jayne is fully warranted! Ormonde Woman

Ormonde Jayne is described on Fragrantica as a chypre, but I think Tania Sanchez has a better description in her book with Luca Turin entitled Perfumes: the A-Z Guide. There, she categorizes it as a “forest chypre.” (In a nutshell, a chypre perfume is a scent that begins with citrus notes and ends with either oakmoss, patchouli, musk, or some combination thereof. You can read a more detailed explanation of the important chypre category of fragrances in the Glossary.) Ms. Sanchez’ five-star review of Ormonde Woman helps explain, in part, why the perfume is so special:

Of the many feminine perfumes since [Chanel’s] Bois des Iles that have been composed around woody notes, the others that I can recall have been cozy, powdery-rosy, touched with mulling spices, with the warm furred feeling of a napping cat by the fire, or, more recently, hippie-inspired simple concoctions meant to evoke mostly the gorgeous smell of hard-to-get sandalwood oil. Ormonde Woman is the only abstract woody perfume I know that triggers the basic involuntary reflex, of stepping into a forest, to fill one’s lungs to bursting with the air. This is a full-fledged perfume with all of the sophistication of Bois des Iles and its ilk, but none of the sleepy comfort. Instead, it has the haunting, outdoors witchiness of tall pines leaning into the night — a bitter oakmoss inkiness, a dry cedar crackle, and a low, delicious, pleading sweet amber, like the call of a faraway candy house. Lulling and unsettling in equal measure, and truly great.

Gainsborough. "Moonlight Landscape with Pool."

Gainsborough. “Moonlight Landscape with Pool.”

I agree in large part with Ms. Sanchez’s review. I certainly agree that Ormonde Woman can be lulling and unsettling in equal measure, but I would also add some other adjectives to the mix: “mesmerizing,” “hypnotic,” and “unisex” for starters. However, I think it’s almost regrettable that she used the word “witchiness” in her paean to the perfume. It has led to a plethora of reviews talking about Ormonde Woman’s witchy aspect with a few unsettled posters even writing that they feel it is a scent best suited for Halloween. I think the adjective minimizes the perfume to something that is only a tiny part of its essence, and hardly the sum total.

The Tsuga tree or, "Black Hemlock."

The Tsuga tree or, “Black Hemlock.”

The source of all this magical business stems from one simple cause: Black Hemlock. It is the key to the Ormonde Woman and, though it may conjure up images of warlocks and witches, it is actually just a type of spruce tree. To be more specific, it is the name for a pine tree of the Tsuga genus. Ormonde Jayne was the very first perfume house to use the ingredient — a sign of its innovative, creative approach to perfumery — and, according to Wikipedia, others have followed suit.

Linda Pilkington, the founder, nose and soul behind the Ormonde Jayne brand, talked about the Black Hemlock note and the persona of the Ormonde Woman with the blog Riktig Parfym (formerly Fragrant Fanatic). I highly recommend reading the interview; there, as in all the other interviews that I’ve read with Ms. Pilkington, she comes across as charming, down-to-earth, self-deprecating, open, direct, and full of warmth. (I realise that I’m starting to sound like a crazed “fan girl,” as Americans put it, about Ms. Pilkington. I plead guilty.)  Her explanation of the ingredient is as follows:

Ormonde Woman is based on hemlock and there are 3 types of hemlock. There is the tree, the bush and the plant. The plant (which is not the hemlock used in OW) is poisonous and if you boil it and then drink the water you’ll first get a sensation that you’re feet are numbing and as the poison spreads through your body, you get paralyzed and die. This was used in 15th-16th centuries as a womans way to murder a man. As a woman usually is physically weaker she cannot strangle a man, but to boil a plant and put into his food isn’t usually a problem. And it’s still done today. So, the persona of Ormonde Woman is a woman who knows what she wants. She has long raven colored hair, wears a long black cape and rides through the woods at night, maybe to meet a lover?

Ormonde Woman and its notes are described on the company’s website as follows:

Beginning and ending with the unique scent of Black Hemlock absolute – rarely used in such luscious quality and quantity – this utterly hypnotic, unconventional and mysterious woody essence is combined with jasmine and violet absolute to create a dusky, seductive perfume.

Top NotesCardamom, coriander and grass oil
Heart Notes: Black hemlock, violet and jasmine absolute
Base Notes: Vetiver, cedar wood, amber and sandalwood.



Ormonde Woman opens on me with fresh, zesty citrus, bitter resin, a massive dollop of spice, and bright greens. At first, I thought it was like spicy grass but, after some contemplation, I think it’s more like fresh moss. Not oakmoss, per se, or, at least, not the usual oakmoss. There is none of the pungent, almost dusty, grey-mineralised aspects of the note. Instead, this is like the brightest moss were it jade green, wet from

Image: Moody. Source: Canadian Govt. Website.

Image: Moody. Source: Canadian Govt. Website.

dew, and covered with amberous spices. People are right when they say that it evokes the green, mossy floor of a forest. It is almost tinged with dark shadows; there is none of the sweet mildness of freshly cut grass on a summer’s day. That comes later. For now, the moss is wet and tinged by the cedar and sandalwood trees around it.

Yet, the real focus in the opening hour is the Black Hemlock. It is fascinating. Resinous evergreen with burnt notes and black licorice. The strength and prominence of the note seems to vary widely with the amount of the perfume used. In fact, I think the quantity you use may dramatically change your impression of the opening. The first time I tested Ormonde Jayne, I didn’t dab on a lot; only 2-3 tiny blots from the vial on each arm. With that amount, the Black Hemlock note was prominent, but not the sole focus. The second time, I dabbed on quite a bit (4-5 smears, approximating 2 big sprays per arm). The Black Licorice Wheelsresult was as if a black cloud had suddenly descended upon the forest. There was a massive, monumental dose of black licorice, much more of a burnt aroma, and a contrasting cool, chilled, mentholated impression. For some reason, it calls to mind the image of something like tar. Not the tar that they use to pave roads but, rather, the treacly, thick, blackish paste found in Marmite. Actually, there is more than just a visual similarity to Marmite. There is a quiet saltiness underpinning the sweet spice. It’s faint, flickering in the background like a ghost, but it’s there.

Antique Spice Drawer on Etsy. Source: Prairie Antiques.

Antique Spice Drawer on Etsy. Source: Prairie Antiques.

In greater doses, the spice accords in the perfume also gain heft, and my impression of bright green grass or dewy moss become much less. The faintly lemony note of coriander and the lightly spice earthy-sweet notes of the cardamom were much more noticeable. But something else was apparent. Star anise. I could swear that I smelled the Chinese Five Spice mix, dominated by its star anise element. There was also a strong impression of spiced wood, almost like a faintly dusty spice drawer in an old cabinet where the wood has absorbed decades of strong spices.

Tsuga Needles

Western Hemlock. Source: Puget Sound University.

The licorice was not only more prominent in greater doses the second time round, but so too were the mentholated, chilled camphor notes and the evergreen. Having never smelled Black Hemlock prior to now, I have no idea if the minty-mentholated notes come from the cedar or from the spruce/pine tree. Regardless, they become stronger and stronger until — 30 minutes in — the predominant note emanating from my arm is pine needles. They’re so fresh and concentrated, it’s as though you scraped them right off the tree and crushed them between your fingers.

An hour in, the pine needles fade and have their place taken by sandalwood. Ormonde Woman is actually the first time in a long time that I’ve smelled real, actual, genuine sandalwood in a truly prominent way. A large portion of the perfumes which claim to have that rare, exorbitantly expensive ingredient and which I’ve tested lately seem, to me, to have absolutely no visible, noticeable traces of it at all. In truth, after the recent test of one perfume which claimed to have sandalwood in its notes, I was starting to wonder if I even knew what it smelled like anymore.

Well, it’s here. And, it’s not synthetic! It is sweet, lightly smoky, like creamed honey and molten resin mixed with wood. I’m rather awed by its strength and character, given the scarcity of true sandalwood and its cost. In fact, the strength of the note here makes Ormonde Woman a modern call-back to  those rich sandalwood orientals of the 1970s and 1980s, before the Mysore wood was over-harvested and had to be placed under government protection. The sandalwood mixes with a faintly aromatic, woody, cedar-y scent; with the slightly green-sweet-earthy aspect of cardamom; with the bright, dewy, wet moss; and with a vague breath of something floral. It is a play on bitter and sweet, woody and green, wet and dry.

That vague floral note soon turns into pure, sweet jasmine. Ms. Pilkington has said she likes to work with hedione, a compound often used in conjunction with Jasmine Absolute (which is a part of Ormonde Woman). Hedione lends a vaguely green, fresh tone to the jasmine here. When combined with the lemony fresh notes of the coriander, they cut through any possible indolic heaviness that the flower may have, leaving only sweetness and brightness. I’m afraid that jasmine is the only real floral note that I can smell; in neither of my two tests could I really smell the violets that others have noted. Frankly, violet seems like such a dainty flower that I don’t know how it could possibly compete with the heavy woods, the faintly smoke elements, the resins and the spices.

In the middle stage and the final dry-down, those latter accords still remain. On me, it’s all creamy, delicious, intoxicating sandalwood, resinous amber, and faintly lemony wood. There is still a faintly tarry, smoky note, though the mentholated, almost camphorous notes of the cedar (and Black Hemlock?) have mostly dissipated. There is also the mild sweetness of summer’s grass and the earthy greenness of vetiver dancing in the shadows, faint but there nonetheless.

I have the oddest visual image in my mind: a large, chewy, sort of brownie square. It’s tarry, black, smoky, and moist with bits of light-brown cedar chips sticking out of it and chunks of chilly black licorice. It’s speckled with little glowing orbs of sweet, honeyed amber that dot its surface and the whole thing is wrapped in a box filled with jade-green, dewy moss, sweet emerald-green grass, and delicate white jasmine.

Gainsborough. "Landscape with Cows and Human Figure."

Gainsborough. “Landscape with Cows and Human Figure.”

But, most of all, I feel as though I have entered a Gainsborough landscape through a dream. To me, Ormonde Woman is a perfume of great contrasts where the woods are dark and mysterious, drawn in realistic detail, but there are contrasts of shining bright light and parts where everything is soft, hazed, romantic and dreamy. One is jolted at first, then enveloped in softness. Based on my experience with Tolu, I think such contrasts are something that Ms. Pilkington does very well. They are also one reason why there is such depth and complexity to her scents.

It is utterly mesmerizing, and most definitely unisex. Not feminine, but unisex! I’ve read that the men’s counterpart, Ormonde Man, has oudh and pink peppers in it, and that it’s supposed to be much less sweet. I haven’t tried it to know but, frankly, I think a man would smell divine in Ormonde Woman. In fact, it seems to be a big hit with men due to the strongly woody notes and the Black Hemlock.

That said, I don’t think Ormonde Woman is for everyone. It will be too masculine for women who prefer lighter, sweeter or floral scents. My friend who initially asked me about it months ago enjoys light, airy, fresh green scents; for someone like her, Ormonde Woman would be far too much: too tarry, too spicy, too woody. In addition, the bitter aspect of Black Hemlock seems to have been a problem for a number of people, leading them to react quite strongly. Interestingly, a few perfume bloggers who recoiled upon first essay ended up falling in love with the fragrance some time later after trying it again. So much so that they bought a full bottle!

On Fragrantica, one male poster, “smcandsmc,” wrote something that I think sums up the fragrance perfectly:

Stunning. Wow. Grassy top lifted me off the ground, gorgeous rich middle keeps me suspended in mid air. […]  Seriously having an out of body experience over this. Plotzing. When I read rhapsodic descriptions of the vintage classics in their vintage formulations that I will never experience, this is the depth, richness and quality I imagine.

The superb richness and quality that “smcandsmc” noted is a key characteristic of Ormonde Jayne scents. The perfumes consistently scream high-quality luxury in a way that has utterly transfixed me. I’m sure there will be some in the line that won’t suit my personal style, but the quality of those I’ve tried thus far cannot be denied. They have been outstanding across the board. You can tell that the highest quality ingredients were used in order to create the most luxurious, wonderfully indulgent, seductive experience possible. And the fragrances repeatedly meet the brand’s overall philosophy:

quality and true luxury, the pursuit of beauty and elegance. […]

[The return] to the golden age of perfumery, an elegant era when fragrance creation was a fine art.

Perhaps more importantly, Ormonde Jayne fragrances are approachable and wearable. They are not edgy, sometimes discordant, intellectual art that you would admire but rarely (or, in some cases, never) wear. I can see women and men alike wearing Ormonde Woman frequently, whether on special occasions, for a casual dinner, or just simply to the office (though I would advise caution with regard to the quantity used if you plan on wearing it there). Ormonde Woman has a high degree of concentration: 25% in its most basic form (which seems more akin to extrait de parfum for some other lines), so the sillage can be very strong depending on the amount sprayed. On me, Ormonde Woman wasn’t as strong or potent as Tolu, but it had good sillage for the first two hours, becoming close to the skin around 3 to 3.5 hours in. As a whole, it lasted around 6.5 hours on my perfume-consuming skin. On others, it generally seems to last a long time (8-10), though I’ve read some conflicting reports of its tenacity.

I could go on and on about both Ormonde Woman and the Ormonde Jayne line itself. Truth be told, my initial draft was well over 4,000 words! I have struggled to give you the essence without sounding like a crazed loon but, if space and my readers’ valuable time (not to mention patience) were not an issue, I would wax rhapsodic for several more hours about the astounding quality of the brand. The depth, the richness, the luxuriousness, the ease with which the perfumes transport you elsewhere upon first whiff, their almost lyrical nature….. it is a return to the “golden age of perfumery” indeed.

Cost & AvailabilityOrmonde Woman is available in perfume extract (30%) and eau de parfum (25%) in 50 ml bottle, as well as in accompanying bath, lotion, cream and candle forms. It is available at the Ormonde Jayne boutique in London or on the company’s website. It is not sold in any department stores in the U.S. The website offers purchases in USD currency and, there, the cost of Ormonde Woman is as follows: a 1.7 oz/50 ml bottle of eau de parfum costs $126 (£80), while the pure parfum comes in a 1.7 oz/50 ml “premium French flacon with a gold OJ motif stopper and Japanese ribbons” and costs $300. There is a set of travel sized purse sprays (4 x 10ml) that costs $100 and a Discovery set of all 12 fragrances in 2 ml mini-sprays for $75. The perfume is also available at Harrods in London and, I’ve read, at Fortum & Mason. Please note that Harrods only sells Ormonde Woman in the expensive bottle for £184.00, not in the £80 bottle available on the brand’s own website. Ormonde Jayne fragrances are also sold in Brussels, Belgium at Senteurs d’Ailleurs (whose website is under construction, so I can’t link you to anything) and at Osswald in Zurich, Switzerland.
OJ Discovery SetI highly recommend the Discovery Set which the Ormonde Jayne website describes as follows: “Ormonde Jayne’s Discovery Set is comprised of 12 x 2ml mini sprays of eau de parfum, together with a brochure explaining each perfume, all housed in a black and gold box… and whats more, the shipping is complimentary worldwide.”
Samples: You can also order samples of Ormonde Woman from various sample sites. I obtained my sample from Surrender to Chance which sells samples starting at $3.99 for half of the standard 1 ml vial. It is also offers Ormonde Woman in parfum concentration for the same starting price. Surrender to Chance ships worldwide for about $5.95 (though it’s a little bit more for larger orders over $75), and for $2.95 for all orders within the U.S., regardless of the size of the order.

38 thoughts on “Perfume Review – Ormonde Woman by Ormonde Jayne: The Dream Landscape

  1. Lovely review! Will share a longer comment a while later once I read your review few more times. I just dropped by Uni library for a few seconds 😉

    • OK, ready to say few words more. I’m astonished by how deep into the soul of perfume you went describing the scent. I could almost smell wearing Ormonde Woman just by reading your review. I can’t say without smelling if I’m gonna like it or not but I’m definitely going to give it a try one of these days.

      • Lucas, my friend, your kindness and sweetness…… *hugs* Thank you for your lovely words. (And for appreciating my incredible verboseness. LOL). I know my reviews are longer than any other blogger around but I really try to give a feel of what it’s like to wear a scent from beginning to end. So, I’m glad you liked it. As for Ormonde Woman, I hope you try it. In an ideal world, and were I rich enough, I’d buy a couple of the Discovery Sets to give away to all of you. 😀

        • You’re welcome. I enjoyed it. That would be awesome to get such a discovery set. I shall be in London later this year for a couple of days so I might have a chance to drop by OJ boutique

  2. Sounds divine, as did Tolu! I am very tempted by the discovery set, even if her offerings are targeted toward women (Ormonde Man notwithstanding)! 🙂

    • I think they may only seem like they’re predominantly targeted towards women. A large number of her scents that are ostensibly for women seem very unisex to me. Far, far more than, for example, Chanel’s line of Exclusifs. It helps that the base for a number of her florals have things like cedarwood, vetiver, musk, myrrh, incense or other woody, rich accords. Take O/J’s Orris Noir which has Guaiac wood, incense, myrrh, cedar, bay, coriander seeds, pink pepper and pimento berries. Plus, there is far more than just Ormonde Man for men. There’s Zizan and Isfarkand, too.

      • Well that’s great to hear (and gives me further reason to believe I may need to invest in her discovery set!). I read a review of one which was described as very classically feminine (lots and lots of sweet florals, I’m trying to remember which is was), and I think I had projected that onto her offerings as a whole. Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case! Everything sounds so decadent and beautiful, it’s definitely on the “must smell” list!

        • Guess what? I got an Ormonde Jayne discovery set (well, not *the latest* discovery set), but one of 10 samples (some used, some not) for $35 total. Seemed worth it to me! Can’t wait to get it – it includes: Ormonde Woman, Zizan, Ta’if, Isfarkand, Osmanthus, Tolu, Sampaquita, Frangipani, Orris Noir, Ormonde Man. But it’s shipping from Ireland, so it may be a while. Oh, and I may or may not have purchased a bottle of Eau de Gloire after a lot of champagne (Parfum d’Empire! Napoleon-inspired! Discontinued, I think!). Oh well. I like the risk of blind buying, and it was a decent price. I had been considering it for a while for the summer months, so we’ll see how I like it. If I don’t, I’m sure I can sell it.

  3. This is a great review! Ormonde Woman is a fantastic scent and it invokes great emotions in me as well; it’s worthy of someone living far out in the forest, keeping a harem of green clad, merry men, just for pleasure 😉 I especially prefer it in winter, when snow covers the ground. As soon as the snow melts and turns into grey sludge, somehow Ormonde man seems more fitting, but that’s just me. And thank your very much for the mention of my interview with Linda Pilkington. She was a true pleasure to talk to 🙂

    • You’re more than welcome, Sigrun. I love your interview with her, more than many of the others that I read. I particularly loved that you brought up food! LOL. (I’m a fellow foodie.) She seems like an incredibly fun, warm, outgoing, passionate person in general, even apart from the whole perfume thing.

      I absolutely adore the thought of the Ormonde Woman living far out in the forest and keeping a harem of merry, green-glad men! I think someone should make a film of that. I nominate you….. 😉

  4. Once again, your visual and sensory imagery has created a “must smell” for me. I abhored Tolu and since testing that (the only OJ that I have), I have shied away from going back. This has given me hope 🙂 And besides, I need to see what Black Hemlock smells like!

    • Heheheh, it makes me smile whenever you write about Tolu. *grin* It really didn’t work for you, I know. But I think you’d find Ormonde Woman to be fascinating. I’ve never quite smelled anything like that Black Hemlock! The bitter, tarry, blackness of the smell combined with that incredibly verdant green and those amberous, warm notes… so enchanting and different. But even if that one is not for you, I hope you’ll explore the line as the quality overall is astounding. It really has the rich depth of old-time, luxury, vintage perfumes.

  5. This has been siting on the top of my wish list for ages but haven’t got round buying it yet. It is absolutely amazing! Thank you for reminding me again how beautiful it is and how unisex

    • Yassu, Christos! Ti kanis? 😉 I’m so glad you find it beautiful too. And that you mentioned unisex. It most certainly is, isn’t it? In fact, if men can’t wear this, then I don’t know what they can! I hope you end up getting your bottle. And thank you so much for stopping by. 🙂

      • Ola kala!!!

        I think the reason I haven’t bought a bottle yet is because I have the sample kit. I find it extremely difficult to choose one from this line to buy. But the one you review is magical!

  6. A very appropriate analogy with the Gainsborough painting! In honor of this review, I wore OJ Woman today. Thanks for reviewing one of my favorite perfumes. For full disclosure, OJ Tiare actually occupies spot #1 in my OJ line preference hierarchy.

    • Awww, you’re so sweet. I’m so glad you stumbled upon my blog, Hajusuuri. And I’m also glad that you can see the Gainsborough resemblance too! It’s odd how perfume can resemble a painting, no? As for Tiare, I’d love to try that one, along with Ta’if and some from the new Four Corner Collection. I only have Orris Noir left to review, and then I will have to order some more samples. Just out of curiosity, have you loved any of the officially “men’s” fragrances in the line?

      • I am a very slow tester because I am a “spray then walk into the mist” perfume user and as such, I can only really wear one scent per day. Except for the perfumes recommended by trusted perfume blogfriends (like Lucas, for example) or almost scent twins (like The Scented Hound), I won’t run the risk of disliking (hating, abhorring, detesting) a perfume on a weekday. All these to say that I have only tested OJ Woman, Frangippani and Tiare (and loved them all, BTW) and all 3 happen to lean more feminine.

        I have occasionally crossed over to “men’s” fragrance and in fact liked several, for example: V&R Spicebomb and Voyage d’Hermes.

        • Well, depending on your work or work environment, I can completely understand not wanting to take a risk for the whole day! Is the evening too limited a time to test things out? I like both the men’s fragrances you mentioned, though I prefer D&G’s The One to Spicebomb (they are related in my mind). I haven’t gotten a good fix yet for your perfume profile, though Guerlain, comfort scents, florals and gourmandes are obviously high up there! I think the Ormonde Woman is throwing me off a little as it stands out a little amongst the ones you have mentioned. LOL.

          • Iris – all types from earthy (Prada Infusion d’Iris Absolue) to ethereal (FM L’Eau D’Hiver – interest me the most. That said, the one flower I absolutely cannot stand is Lily of the Valley / Muguet. Andy Tauer’s Carillon Pour Un Ange was probably responsible for my intense dislike. I am, however, keeping an open mind and will not discount a perfume just because it has LOTV.

            As to testing in the evening, I usually still have traces of the SOTD by the time I get home.

          • HA, about Tauer’s Carillon Pour Un Ange! I almost put a sample of that in my shopping basket last night at Surrender to Chance. Now I’m intrigued about how it turned you off a whole flower note and what it must be like. Speaking of flowers, the Hermessence perfume I’m testing right now has a lot of Iris in it, but Iris mixed with wood notes, chili peppers and more. Paprika Basil. It’s quite an unusual mix!

            What I do to take off any lingering traces of perfume when I want to test something else is to use unscented baby wipes. It’s really good at removing all vestiges of something and leaving, in essence, a clean slate. I have to say, I’m enormously impressed by your body’s ability to retain scent if you walk through perfume and STILL have some left on you by the end of the day!! Good heavens! I’m so jealous. 😀

  7. Ooops…there should have been a sentence before “That said…”. My tastes in perfume vary so widely that my Perfume Profile can best be described as “Anything Goes”.

  8. It was a very interesting review – as always. I need to wear it again soon. I like Ormonde Woman but I do not think it’s witchy or misterious – just very pleasant.

    (I’m with you on Titanic)

  9. Pingback: Celebrating #100 | Kafkaesque

  10. Finally, the rest of my stc order came yesterday! So glad I got the 3 sample pack of Ormonde…I just took a quick of whiff of Women and it’s lovely! Surprise, surprise it has vetiver in it. I’m looking forward to trying it tomorrow. I had to try Ta’if today because it reminded me of a scent which at first I couldn’t put my finger on it. But then it came to me…it reminds me of Chanel’s Chance eau tendre, only a million times better. I didn’t mind chance but I could never wear it because it gave me an instant headache. I got Chance as gift and I had to give it away…couldn’t handle the headache…But Ta’if was different at first but somewhere after a few hours that familiar headache came but not as strong and it didn’t make me want rub myself down with rubbing alcohol. However, I’m struggling to figure out which note is causing the reaction…maybe the rose?

    • I’ve thought about this since you posted and looked up the notes in Chance Eau Tender, since it is not a perfume I’m familiar with. I’ve concluded it must be something else altogether, Jackie. Chanel’s in-house perfumer, Jacques Polge, loves to use something called ISO E Super in his scents. It’s an aromachemical that is considered to be a “super floralizer”; it adds both longevity and depth to florals. Ormonde Jayne also likes to use ISO E Super in its perfumes and it results in some people getting headaches from it (or so I’ve read based on some Google searches on the synthetic last night). I just reviewed the new Ormonde Jayne perfume, Montabaco, and there was so much ISO E Super in it that it was actually listed as a note in the perfume list. In that instance, it smelled nothing like flowers but, instead, like synthetic, antiseptic, medicinal wood. I couldn’t figure out why, so I’ve been looking much more into ISO E Super and that’s when I discovered a few people get headaches from the O/J perfumes because of it. They are super sensitive to ISO E Super.

      I have to wonder if that is what is going on with you and Ta’if. Now, I haven’t smelled Ta’if yet, though I have a sample, so I can’t say for sure. But I know it’s in a LOT of florals across the board. And, again, Chanel’s perfumer loves to use it, so it may be in Chance Eau Tendre. Perhaps you can do some reading on the subject to try to pinpoint if that is the cause of your reaction? The problem with ISO E Super is that it is rarely listed in the perfume notes so you may not be able to know in the future if it is in a perfume or not, unless you know that the perfumer happens to have a huge fondness for using it.

  11. That’s interesting, I think that may explain why I had such a strong and immediate reaction. I’ve never heard of ISO E super…wonder if this is the reason.
    Ta’if definitely gave me a headache but it was not as intense as Chance. However, it did stick around till this morning. Thus, I did not try women today.
    I’m going to do some digging reading on ISO E Super. Thanks for your help. I’m really enjoying this whole process.

  12. OJ Woman is wonderful. I’m not sure why she calls it Woman, though. It seems that she must have wanted a Woman contrasted with Man imagery with the names, but the fragrances in no way are exclusive to the named sex. In fact, I would have thought Woman more suited to men. They are very similar and yet distinct. The most obvious difference between the two is the heavy pink pepper note in Man and the hemlock/floral notes in Woman, but they are like two facets of the same thing, like a Man and Woman, two facets of humanity. Oh, maybe that’s why she named them so! My wife loves it. I wouldn’t know if most women would though, it seems so different from what most women wear or seem to think of as a perfume.

  13. Pingback: Ormonde Jayne Woman Fragrance Review | Notable Scents

  14. I love this so much and I adored the images you chose. I have to admit I have not really thought of Gainsborough in this way, I suppose I have always been more aware of his portraits which are much more mannered than the glimpses they sometimes also give of the world beyond.
    I cannot really add anything much to your spectacular review of the scent itself apart from to say that for me it brought Kay Neilsen’s ‘East of the Sun and West of the Moon’ illustrations to life. For me, this is that forest, that world. Like you I adore the wonderful sandalwood Woman contains and I wanted to ask if you had tried their Black Gold which has the most wonderful hit of utterly sublime sandalwood.

    • I’m afraid I haven’t tried Black Gold. One can’t find it over here. 🙂 Plus, my sensitivity to ISO E Super and Geza Schoen’s obsession with that material which he puts into all the Ormonde Jayne’s hasn’t inspired me to try to seek out a sample from friends in the UK. But I’m glad you enjoyed the scent so much.

  15. I think I overused wonderful there but I have been on a bit of a quest to find the sort of experience that you, and lots of others have with BdI. I suppose I am lucky in that I do actually like Australian Sandalwood (as in Amouage Sandal attar) and I do love Tam Dao too but I did want to find something that recaptured the scent of Mysore sandalwood that I remembered. I tried the modern BdI (in perfume) and all I got was overwhelming, alien, perfumey-ness. My fault I am sure but I got no sandalwood (presumably this was drowned out for me) and I liked the whole thing too little to even want to try it again. I was sad as your imagery of that sandalwood leopard that stirred and stalked down off its branch was so vivid. I wanted that damn leopard – and that is exactly what I get with Black Gold. It doesn’t happen every time. Sometimes this note stays detectable and beautiful but still in harmony with all the other elements but sometimes that perfect sandalwood leopard appears and does that big shoulder action walk for me.

    • I strongly urge you to find a sample of vintage Egoiste for the sort of hit that you’re looking for. I’m planning to do a review of vintage Egoiste in about 2 weeks time, covering its vintage Cologne Concentree version and also comparing the scent to modern Egoiste, but I can tell you now that the very first formulation of Egoiste (circa 1990) was superb with its intense sandalwood. Spicy, fiery, sweet and laced with roses and vanilla in an endlessly fluid, polished fragrance that is both chic and cozy, elegant but also relaxed and almost casual at the same time. I think you must love a lot of spices with your sandalwood but, if you do, vintage Egoiste will be right up your alley.

      • I will look forward to reading that.
        At the moment OJ is giving me my Sandalwood hit in Woman as well as both Black and Rose gold.
        I have gathered your views on the iso- E whatever stuff !!! However, although based on reviews I have read on your site and others it does seem there is a lot of iso- E stuff in some in this line, such as Montabaco and Isfarkand I have not tried either of these.
        I do love Qrmonde woman and I do not notice iso-E in this. I have however tested the Man version and I do think that this may have a lot more in it since this definitely bothers me, It smells great but it makes my eyes water (not just the initial spray, this effect sticks around). So I do know that this note can bother me too but I do not get this in either Black Gold or Rose Gold (which I have tested and which has similar notes but with a much stronger additional Ta’if rose note that comes over as sherbety bliss). Nor did I notice iso-E in Tolu (love) or Woman. Both the Gold ones blew me away in the way that Tolu did you – because of the sheer quality of the ingredients. They are really exquisite. I am a million miles away from having any kind of expertise in fragrances and so I cannot describe these things adequately (even to myself (and this is frustrating to think stuff like, oh, I love the way the whatever it is fades into that other stuff) but the difference was really immediately obvious. It was as pronounced as say the difference between a rough and raw supermarket budget roquefort cheese and a perfect one.
        Hmm, I know this sound like I am selling it to you but it is just that I would love to read more reviews – especially yours – as my own lack of expertise means I find it hard to fully know what it is about Black Gold I love – although I do know that the wonderful amber-y (?) end stage must be a combination of a fading sandalwood and ultra smooth molecular distilled labdanum. (
        Black Gold is expensive when sold in its very big bottle (of 50% concentration) but they have done/do promotions of 10 ml travel size of Black Gold for £45 (which is how I got mine) and since one drop is enough for a day it should last me for some time….. They seem to get a lot of flack over their pricing for this but for me this seems quite good value compared with the price of 15ml of BdI perfume.

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