Oriza L. Legrand Muguet Fleuri: Spring’s Fairy Forest

Source: Zedge.com

Source: Zedge.com

Spring has arrived, bringing with it Muguet Fleuri in an olfactory symbol of rebirth and freshness that seems like Nature at its best. Delicate lilies of the valley sway in the wind like floral bells, releasing crystal-clear chimes of floral sweetness. Its dewy liquidity parallels April showers that wash the dirt and grime away, leaving a clean, fresh greenness imbued with alpine white in the soft sunlight. Yet, the vista of green and white is also thoroughly infused with imperial purple, as wild violets dance the Rites of Spring alongside the muguet. It’s the enchanted fairy world of Muguet Fleuri, the latest fragrance from the ancient house of Oriza L. Legrand.

Oriza L. Legrand (hereinafter just “Oriza”) is a house for which I have enormous affection and admiration. You can read all about its ancient history (and see the adorable sweetness of the Paris boutique) in a post I did last year on the subject, but to summarize in a nutshell, Oriza goes back to 1720 and the time of Louis XV. It made perfumes for the Tsar of Russia, and numerous European royal families, as well as winning prestigious prizes in World Fairs of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The perfume house died in the 1930s, but it has been brought back to life by its current owners, Franck Belaiche and Hugo Lambert. I’ve met them both, and they are true gentlemen — in every sense of that word.

Photo: Roberto Greco  for Oriza L. Legrand.

Photo: Roberto Greco for Oriza L. Legrand.

For them, Oriza L. Legrand is a labour of love. They want to return the brand to its old glory, while staying true to its heritage and history by offering its original fragrances, only with lightly tweaks to appeal to modern tastes. They work extremely hard, running all aspects of the business almost like an artisanal venture, right down to bottling the perfumes themselves (just as Andy Tauer does for his house). Everything they have is thrown into Oriza, and dedicated to making the house a success in the modern era. As a side note, some sites have said that Elisabeth de Feydeau is the nose responsible for the new Oriza scents, but that is incorrect. Madame de Feydeau assisted in the initial research for the original, historical formulas, but  it is Hugo Lambert who has created the re-invented Oriza fragrances and he deserves the full credit.

Muguet Fleuri. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

Muguet Fleuri. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

Muguet Fleuri is their latest release, but I have the impression that the original Muguet Fleuri debuted in 1925. This is obviously a tweaked interpretation suited for modern times. Muguet Fleuri is an eau de parfum centered around lily of the valley which the French call “muguet.” (That is how I am used to calling it, too, so I shall stick with the French name.)

Muguet is a big deal in France in spring time. The first of May is called May Day (La Fête du MuguetLa Fête du Travail) or Labor Day, and is a public holiday to celebrate workers’ rights. But it is also the day on which people give bunches of muguet to their loved ones. When I was growing up in France, especially on the occasions when I lived in Paris, every street corner had a little stand selling bunches of the flowers, often run by a little, wizened, old lady who had come from the country. It is a rite of Spring, and Oriza has marked that with an olfactory version that concentrates the feeling of muguet in a very classical fragrance.

Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Oriza describes Muguet Fleuri and its notes as follows:

1925
Top Notes: Green Leaves, Wild Grass, Wild Muguet.
Heart Notes: Galbanum, Angelica, Violet Leaves & Muguet des Bois.
Base Notes: Lily of the Valley Bell Fresh, Oakmoss & Lys des Prés … Comme Il Faut.

In applying Muguet Fleuri, I was struck first by impressions and sensations, rather than actual notes. It was a powerful cloud that was peppery, very spicy, fresh, dewy, lightly grassy, a touch herbal, and infinitely green. At a lower dosage, Muguet Fleuri was lightly soapy and clean as well, but the overwhelming impression is of spicy greenness. Dewy flowers and green leaves, concentrated in the epitome of Spring. Water lies everywhere, but it is as much a floral nectar as it is April showers.

Photo: encreviolette.unblog.fr

Photo: encreviolette.unblog.fr

For all that muguet is associated in my mind with Paris, Muguet Fleuri takes me back to England. It is like the smell of a spring morning in the British countryside after the spring rains have wiped everything clean. The wetness is fresh, sweetened, and incredibly crisp, but it’s also not as dainty as it sounds. The peppered spiciness is really remarkable, thanks to the violet leaves that feel positively crunchy and stiff, and they transform the delicate, fragile, little white bells into something with a solid backbone.

Wild wood violets. Photo: visoflora.com

Wild wood violets. Photo: visoflora.com

The violet flowers themselves arrive shortly thereafter, and they’re beautiful. This is a violet note unlike anything that I’ve encountered in  other scents. The degree of cool, radiant clarity is remarkable, and the incredibly concentrated nature of the purple flowers makes them stand head and shoulders above the faded, limp, flaccid violet in Serge Lutens‘ (reformulated) Bois de Violette, Tom Ford‘s Black Violet, and his Violet Blonde. It reminds me of the bunches of pansies (a close relation to violets) that my mother used to buy when we lived in London — only shot up with steroids. On my skin, Muguet Fleuri’s opening phase is almost as much about the violets — in both flower and crunchy leaf form — as it is about the lily of the valley, sometimes more so at the beginning.

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

As the minutes pass, Muguet Fleuri loses some of its peppered intensity and turns more floral. The muguet grows sweeter, and the violet’s floralacy becomes stronger than the crunchy, slightly prickly aroma of its leaves. There is a sense of greenness all around, but the momentary burst of grassiness in Muguet Fleuri’s debut has faded away. The visuals are all alpine white with imperial purple in a sea of green, and, yet, what it translates to emotionally for me is sunlight. Clear, bright sunlight.

Source: abstract.desktopnexus.com

Source: abstract.desktopnexus.com

Sometimes, it feels soft; often, it radiates a crystal-sharp whiteness, but primarily it feels comforting and like rebirth. Washing away the grime of Winter, darkness, reality, heartbreak, stress, or mundane trivialities in a flood of cool wetness that is somehow as soothing as being immersed in a liquid cocoon. I can talk to you about the notes, but, for me, Muguet Fleuri’s gorgeous opening bouquet is much more about a feeling, a mood, and symbolism.

Source: it.forwallpaper.com

Source: it.forwallpaper.com

And part of that symbolism is about the passage of Time and Nature away from the autumnal forest so well represented by Oriza‘s Chypre Mousse. For me, Muguet Fleuri is Chypre Mousse’s olfactory counterpart, and they have a lot in common. They are both extremely evocative fragrances that take you to the heart of an enchanted forest, and create the sense of being in Nature after the rains, surrounded by an ethereal greenness. In Chypre Mousse, it was autumnal with darkened mosses, wet leaves, humus, mushrooms, and a rivulet of leathery resins.

With Muguet Fleuri, Oriza takes you to that same forest in Spring. The liquid sweetness of May’s white muguet bells banishes away the remnants of Fall. Instead of dead leaves rendered dark, they are green, bright, and crunchy. Instead of mushrooms growing out of the wet earth or on fallen tree limbs, there are violets peeping out from under the youthful, bright foliage. The bridge between the two seasons and the two fragrances is that same plush, vibrant oakmoss, but, here, it’s significantly more subdued, fresh, and almost sweetened.

Source:  raymichemin.canalblog.com

Source: raymichemin.canalblog.com

The more specific differences between the two scents grow stronger as time passes. 10 minutes in, Muguet Fleuri loses even more of its pepper and spice, and takes on the faintest undertone of something clean instead. At a higher dosage, it’s not really soapy, per se, though it does feel quite fresh. Rather, it’s more like a green sharpness. Galbanum stirs at the edges, though it’s thankfully not the so-green-it’s-black galbanum that is such a part of Robert Piguet‘s Bandit.

Source: Colourbox.com

Source: Colourbox.com

Still, there is a definite sharpness to Muguet Fleuri that Chypre Mousse lacked on my skin. In some ways, it almost feels textural: the coolness borders on iciness at times, like a metallic blade, as if the dewy liquidity has been turned to steel through one of the notes. There is an edge to Muguet Fleuri at a higher dosage, but it was much less apparent when I applied less of the perfume. At the lower dosage, there is still a lot of liquidness to Muguet Fleuri’s opening, but it is joined by freshness that has a soapy cleanness, as if a really expensive French or Victorian floral soap were dancing about the edges.

Source: abstract.desktopnexus.com

Source: abstract.desktopnexus.com

In both cases, regardless of quantity, Muguet Fleuri’s greenness feels extremely crisp. The perfume may be a more purely and predominantly floral counterpart to Chypre Mousse, but it shares its predecessor’s tendency towards a certain mintiness. Yet, on my skin, Muguet Fleuri never feels herbal in the way that Chypre Mousse sometimes may. There is merely a sense of rain-drenched Nature, rather than a walk through a herb garden dominated by mint and its relatives.

Another similarity between the two fragrances is their forcefulness, at least initially in the case of Muguet Fleuri. Chypre Mousse is the strongest and most powerful fragrance in the Oriza line, by a landslide, in terms of its massive sillage and its longevity. Muguet Fleuri really surprised me by having initially excellent sillage as well, though it later became softer. The perfume also shares Chypre Mousse’s excellent longevity. Three small sprays of Muguet Fleuri from my atomizer gave me an opening cloud of about 5 inches, though it dropped down to 4 after 30 minutes, then to 3 after another hour had passed. It is an extremely airy bouquet, but Muguet Fleuri is incredibly potent, especially up close. I suspect that the fragrance is like the rest of the Oriza eau de parfums in having 18% concentration. Muguet Fleuri only became a skin scent on me 5.25 hours into its development, but it lasted over 13.75 hours. I was quite taken aback, since floral soliflores rarely have a chance on my skin, particularly if they’re fresh and green in nature.

Muguet with wild violets. Photo: Brigitte Quelin. Source: periblog.fr

Muguet with wild violets. Photo: Brigitte Quelin. Source: periblog.fr

As a soliflore, the core essence of Muguet Fleuri never dramatically shifts, morphs, and twists. It is always some sort of blend of lily of the valley, trailed by violets and multi-faceted greenness, with sharpness, and fluctuating levels of both cool, dewy liquidity and floral powder. That core essence remains largely unchanged for hours.

All that happens is that different elements wax and wane in terms of their prominence. The initial spiciness fades away, but the crunchy, very peppery violet leaves do a sort of ghostly dance, retreating, seemingly almost vanishing, before suddenly reappearing again in the background. The galbanum departs after 30 minutes, and the initial flicker of soapiness solidifies into something much more prominent at the 40-minute mark. Around the same time, the first vestige of floral power arrives, though it feels more like a sort of sandiness than actual powder. It grows stronger over time, as does the expensive lily of the valley soapiness.

At  the end of the third hour, Muguet Fleuri hovers half an inch above the skin in a potent blend of slightly sharp, lightly powdered muguet with only lingering traces of dewy, nectared sweetness. The crunchy, peppered leaves occasionally pop up in the distance, but the violet flower itself has largely faded away. The light veil of floral powder adds an old-fashioned touch, but it’s not powerful enough to turn Muguet Fleuri into something hardcore vintage and dated in feel. Rather, on my skin, it’s initially just a suggestion of something retro amidst the floral greenness.

Muguet Fleuri continues to soften with the passing hours. It lies right on the skin about 4.25 hours into its development, and turns into a skin scent an hour later. It also feels drier and more powdered, as the beautiful wave of floral liquidity recedes to the sidelines. By the start of the 6th hour, little droplets of dewiness lurk just behind the top notes, but they are increasingly tiny dots. Muguet Fleuri feels less green, though an occasional, subtle, minty freshness still pops up once in a while.

Source: underthemagnifier.wordpress.com

Source: underthemagnifier.wordpress.com

What surprised me was the subtle, abstract woodiness that appears around this time. The muguet feels flecked with a woody undertone that almost verges on cedar. Something about the overall scent reminds me of something Serge Lutens would do in one of his floral-woody combinations, only without the sweet syrupness that marked Bois de Violette, and with a more old-fashioned, clean, powdered touch. Muguet Fleuri’s drydown on my skin really feels like a bouquet of lily of the valley, cedar, violet leaves, and violets, even though the latter is now a mere impression more than a distinctive, powerful, individual note. The whole thing is dusted with floral powder that feels sandier than ever, and a light touch of very expensive floral soap.

Lily of the Valley, or Muguet.

Lily of the Valley, or Muguet.

Muguet Fleuri remains that way largely until its very end. In its final moments, it is a mere blur of something vaguely lily-of-the-valley-ish. As noted earlier, it lasted over 13.75 hours on my perfume consuming skin, closer to 14 actually, with 3 atomizer sprays amounting to 2 tiny sprays from an actual bottle. My skin usually has trouble holding onto floral soliflores, especially if they’re very green or white, so those numbers should tell you something. (One Serge Lutens floral, A La Nuit, lasted less than an hour on me!) I suspect Muguet Fleuri would last even longer on a person with normal skin.

For all that I love the most intense, dark, masculine, heavy orientals, I also love the polar extreme with very pure, crystal-clear, dewy florals. Serge LutensDe Profundis is one example, but so is Oriza’s ethereal Chypre Mousse. It’s not actually a floral, but it has the same spirit and atmospherics as De Profundis: Nature reduced to its purest essence. Muguet Fleuri, too, conveys that mood feel for much of its opening hours. The difference is that Muguet Fleuri is the embodiment of Spring and rebirth — a sunlit, dewy greenness to counter De Profundis’ purple twilight, or Chypre Mousse’s autumnal forest. This time around, Oriza’s enchanted landscape isn’t littered with mushrooms, the focus is not on the damp floor with its dead leaves, and the feeling isn’t of greenness flecked by darkness.

Art by Rachel Anderson. Source: zdjecia.nurka.pl

Art by Rachel Anderson. Source: zdjecia.nurka.pl

Now, instead, the sun has come out, and the fairies have woken up from their winter’s sleep. The crisp, icy air is now softened by a Spring glow; new, bright green shoots are pushing out of the wet earth; white muguet is everywhere, its little bells shaking off the morning dew; and violets nestle at the base of a large cedar tree, its purple delicacy nestled in a sea of fuzzy, peppered, spicy greenness. But, honestly, the absolute best part is that crystal-clear, liquid sweetness of the opening hours, that essence of lily of the valley concentrated down to a thick nectar. It’s truly beautiful. I felt invigorated, fresh, and a little bit free of heavy weight, as if I’d emerged purified from water.

The subsequent middle and final stages are very pretty, but they didn’t move me quite so lyrically and powerfully as Muguet Fleuri’s opening hours. The main reason why is that I’m not particularly enthused by soapy cleanness of any kind — even if it is as subtle as it is here — nor by floral powder. But I’m very finicky about those things — much more than others. Still, I would absolutely wear Muguet Fleuri. In a heartbeat, in fact. I would wear it for the places it transports me to in the first few hours, and for the soothing, almost Zen-like serenity it gave me at one point. I think it would be a lovely fragrance to wear in the summer heat, but I would wear it for the enchanted forest, first and foremost.

Source: pixgood.com

Source: pixgood.com

Muguet Fleuri is too new for any online reviews, so I’m afraid you’re stuck with my impressions for now. All I can tell you is that, to me, it is the Spring-time sister to Chypre Mousse. The latter is very much a “love it/hate it” scent, so I hope that reference can guide you. As to Muguet Fleuri’s gender appeal, I think it skews feminine in nature. I say that primarily because I don’t know any men who wear lily of the valley soliflores, and I don’t know if the peppered, crunchy violet leaves will provide enough of a counterpart to Muguet Fleuri’s main note or to its soapy/powder undertones. On the other hand, I’ve read of some men who buy Guerlain’s annual Muguet scent, so who knows. Speaking of the latter, I haven’t tried any of their lily-of-the-valley soliflores, but I can’t imagine that Guerlain would ever put out something so potent, intense, and different as a Chypre Mousse-like fragrance. I simply can’t imagine it. Moreover, Oriza L. Legrand’s fragrances have a definite signature — and it’s nothing like a Guerlain.

Muguet Fleuri is now available on Oriza’s website, and costs €90 for a 100 ml bottle, which is less than the €120 for most of its other siblings. The fragrance is too new to be carried by other Oriza retailers, like First in Fragrance, at this point, but I’m sure that will change soon. As a side note, the Oriza line is now sold in New York at a boutique called Juju Amuse (see the details section below), but their e-shop only carries clothing, not fragrances. However, Luckyscent in LA will start carrying the Oriza L. Legrand line starting next week, including the lovely soaps. In the meantime, if you want to test Muguet Fleuri, Oriza’s original and very affordable 6-fragrance Sampler Set has now been expanded to 7, to include the new Muguet Fleuri.

All in all, Muguet Fleuri feels like Spring’s floral symphony in a fairy forest, and I highly encourage anyone who loves both lilies of the valley and violets to give it a try.

Disclosure: Sample courtesy of Oriza L. Legrand. That did not influence this review, I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Muguet Fleuri is an eau de parfum that comes in a 100 ml or 3.4 oz bottle, and costs €90. Muguet Fleuri is available directly from Oriza’s e-store. A great sample set is also available from the e-Store (scroll down midway to the page and it’s on the right.) The set includes 7 fragrances in the range, except for Foin Fraîchement Coupé, with each scent coming in 2 ml spray vials. The whole thing costs a low €9. Separate shipping is listed as €9, but a friend said he was charged only €7. Oriza ships globally, as I’ve had readers order the sample set from all over. In the U.S.: Luckyscent should get the Oriza L. Legrand line next week. Right now, it is carried at New York’s JuJu s’amuse. It has two locations, and I’ve provided the number for one, in case you want to check whether they do phone orders: 100 Thompson Street New York, NY 10012, with Ph: (212) 226.1201; but, also, 1220 Lexington Avenue (at 82nd Street), New York, NY 10018. Other vendors in Europe: Oriza’s perfumes are also sold at Paris’ Marie-Antoinette (which was my favorite perfume shop in Paris), as well as one store in Sweden. In the Netherlands, the Oriza line is carried at ParfuMaria. Germany’s First in Fragrance also carries the Oriza Legrand line, but Muguet Fleuri is not shown on their website at this time. Oriza L. Legrand is also sold at a few places in Japan. For details on those retailers and the Swedish store, you can check Oriza Points of Sale page.

Oriza L. Legrand Perfume Giveaway: The Ten Winners!

Random.org has spoken, and I have the names of the ten winners for the huge perfume giveaway so generously provided by Oriza L. Legrand Parfums (“Oriza“).

Congratulations

THE WINNERS:

I input all the names into Random.org, and its machine has spat out the list of winners. (If you’re unfamiliar with Random.org and curious about how it all works, you can read about the process, their certification by outside third parties to have true randomness in the selection, and more in their Frequently Asked Questions.)

Without further ado, the first ten winners chosen at random by Random.org are:

Oriza Giveaway Winners List

Congratulations to: Devon Hernandez, Lavanya, Elly, Bruno, Julia, Martin Drigotas, Trine, Tora, ‘Fume Ho, and Caro!

Each of those ten people will get ONE travel spray in a 10 ml spray of their choice of perfume. If you haven’t made up your mind yet, you have a little bit of time to read up on the 7 fragrances in the Oriza line, from the brief summaries in the first article below, to the proper reviews in the subsequent two pieces.

Part I – Oriza, its Paris store, and the return of its fragrances;

Part II – Reviews for Chypre Mousse, Horizon & Reve d’Ossian; and

Part III – Reviews for Relique d’Amour, Oeillet Louis XV, Jardins d’Armide & Deja Le Printemps.

Oriza Chypre Mousse labelThose of you who are pondering Chypre Mousse may be interested in the comments from Cacomixtle, a reader who bought the fragrance blindly on my suggestion, and who cried at its beauty when she put it on. In the comments to the second article, she wrote, in part:

Oh my god, Kafka, my Chypre Mousse came today and it’s so beautiful it’s making me cry. It’s the most perfume (for me) ever. I am absolutely in love, I have no idea how they made it smell like this, and otherworldly and haunting is such a perfect description of it…. I definitely smell the violet flowers too, and they’re my favorite sort (some violets smell like bathroom cleaner to me, meh) and so well melded with the velvet green. I swear I can actually smell ferns, and I do actually know what many ferns smell like!

The mushrooms (I’m assuming they used some kind of octanol-3 synthetic or natural isolate) is so very well done and multi-faceted without turning the perfume into mushroom soup (too easy to do with that particular molecule!), and good lord, this is well done! I totally get what you mean about the Lutenesque/De Profundis feel too…  […]

This perfume seems to fallen out of some Scandinavian fairy tale…. of the beautiful huldra with their tree bark backs and fox tails deep in the old forests. I’m so very enchanted by it, I never quite imagined a perfume could be like this. It needs a soundtrack and a landscape all it’s own…

Reve d'Ossian label. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Reve d’Ossian label. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Of course, there are other lovely Oriza fragrances, too, each with their special character and twist. My suggestion to you if you’re torn between choices is to go with your gut and your instinctive feel.

Oriza Horizon labelThat said, please feel free to ask me any questions you may have in the comments. After all, 10 mls is a big size and most of you are working blindly, so you want to make the right choice! Don’t hesitate to let me know your general perfume tastes, fragrances you’ve loved, and, perhaps just as important, your skin chemistry. Not all the Oriza fragrances have great projection or longevity. Some can be quite intimate on the skin, and a few can be a bit fleeting. I’ve heard from a few people that one of the most beautiful Oriza fragrances from the line, Relique d’Amour, doesn’t last a huge amount of time on them. By the same token, the lovely Horizon and Reve d’Ossian can be quite be soft after a few hours. So, read the descriptions, think it over, and I’ll help if I can.

CONTACT ME:

You have THREE (3) days to contact me with your shipping information and choice of Oriza fragrance. I will then forward that information on to Oriza in Paris. The deadline is end of the day, 11:59 p.m. my time or Central Standard Time in the U.S., on Saturday November 16th. (So, for those of you in places like France, it would be 7 a.m. on Sunday morning. The UK is -6hrs GMT.)

Please send an email to Akafkaesquelife @ gmail . com  (all one word, scrunched together) with the necessary information.

If you don’t, and if I fail to hear from you within the deadline, I will give the gift to the next person on the list, and/or move the winners up by one.

SHIPPING:

Oriza will send the prizes directly to the winners, and pay for all shipping costs. Given that the company is located in the Paris, and will have to individually prepare 10 travel sprays of all your varied choices, it may take some time (2 weeks, depending on your location and Customs processing) for you to receive your gift. It may take even little longer if your country has really nightmarish customs issues.

Neither Oriza L. Legrand nor I am responsible for items that are destroyed by customs or that are lost in transit for some reason.

Composite of old Oriza photos and adverts, created by forevergreen.eu .  http://forevergreen.eu/a-fleur-de-peau/reliques-parfumees/

Composite of old Oriza photos and adverts, created by forevergreen.eu .
http://forevergreen.eu/a-fleur-de-peau/reliques-parfumees/

FINALLY:

I would like to thank you Oriza’s two owners, Hugo Lambert and Franck Belaiche, for their enormous generosity, kindness and thoughtfulness in offering ten fantastic gifts. They have put their heart and soul into Oriza, trying to stay true to its great legacy, working to keep it relevant in today’s modern world, and doing it all on their own. I wish them nothing but the greatest success, and I fervently hope that this giveaway sparks new interest in a venerable house that goes back almost 300 years. 

I also hope the winners will let me know what they think of their perfume choice when they receive it and have the chance to try it. Better yet, if you love it, you can always tell Oriza, by emailing them at: Contact @ OrizaParfums.com (all one word, scrunched together).

For everyone else, you can always order samples of Oriza’s creations directly from the company. The full, complete set of Oriza fragrances comes in a sample package that costs €9 for 7 fragrances, each in a 2 ml spray vial. I think it’s a great deal, and the chance to take a trip back in time.

Thank you to everyone for stopping by, and may the fragrant winds always keep you safe. 

Perfume Giveaway: Oriza L. Legrand & 10 Travel Sprays!

Oriza logo.

Oriza logo.

I’m incredibly excited to announce that Oriza L. Legrand (“Oriza“) has generously offered a really huge giveaway of ten (10!) prizes. Ten winners will each get one 10 ml travel spray of their choice of Oriza eau de parfum. There are no geographic restrictions, either, so you can be anywhere in the world.

Oriza is an ancient, once-renowned perfume house whose history goes back to Louis XV and 1720. It made perfumes for the Tsar of Russia, and numerous European royal families, as well as winning prestigious prizes in World Fairs of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The perfume house died in the 1930s, but it has been brought back to life by its current owners, Franck Belaiche and Hugo Lambert. I’ve met them both, they are true gentlemen, and, for them, Oriza is a labour of love. They want to return Oriza to its old glory while staying true to its heritage and history by offering its original fragrances, only with lightly tweaks to appeal to modern tastes.

One of the ancient Oriza bottles, in baccarat crystal as many used to be. This one seems to be for "Violets Prince Albert" and the winner of the First Place prize at the 1900 World Fair winner. Source: lylouannephotos.blogspot.com with the original on Flickr.

One of the ancient Oriza bottles, in baccarat crystal as many used to be. This one seems to be for “Violets Prince Albert” and the winner of the First Place prize at the 1900 World Fair winner. Source: lylouannephotos.blogspot.com with the original on Flickr.

Each of the fragrances is sophisticated, unusual, and smells like absolutely nothing else on the market. One of them — Chypre Mousse — stopped me in my tracks on my way to Serge Lutens, made me turn back, and buy it then and there without any further testing. Those of you who know me (and my feelings about Serge Lutens) will understand just how remarkable that is. Chypre Mousse is one of my absolute favorite chypres, an otherworldly foresty, leafy, damp, green, mushroomy fragrance that feels like a homage to Nature itself.

Source: wallpaperup.com

Source: wallpaperup.com

The rest of the fragrances in the line range from an Oriental patchouli-cognac-amber, to a Serge Lutens-like twist on white lilies, to incense-y High Church fragrances, to a delicate green floral that evokes Spring, and more. All of them are unusual, and all of them have a long history going back to their original release date in the early 1900s. Oriza’s modern fans include Catherine Deneuve and Isabelle Adjani, and, hopefully, now, some of you as well.

THE PRIZES:

Ten (10) readers will each get ONE (1) purse spray of 10 ml/0.33 oz of the Oriza perfume of their choice. Just to be crystal clear, the prize is not a full bottle, but a travel spray of 10 ml.

Reve d'Ossian bottle. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

Reve d’Ossian bottle. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

If you’re unfamiliar with Oriza L. Legrand, you can read my three-part series on the house and its perfumes. The reviews include other people’s impressions of the fragrances as well:

Part I – Oriza, its Paris store, and the return of its fragrances;

Part II – Reviews for Chypre Mousse, Horizon & Reve d’Ossian; and

Part III – Reviews for Relique d’Amour, Oeillet Louis XV, Jardins d’Armide & Deja Le Printemps.

You will find below a cursory, nutshell synopsis of my thoughts on the seven Oriza fragrances. You should be aware that my very brief description doesn’t cover the full (and very lengthy) list of notes in each perfume, or any possible issues of sillage and longevity:

Source: photocase.com

Source: photocase.com

Chypre Mousse: This one is almost impossible for me to describe, a perfume that isn’t really a “chypre” in the way that we usually understand it. It has notes of wet leaves, damp earth, mushrooms on the forest floor, moss, violet leaves, and dark resins. That description still doesn’t really convey just how unusual the fragrance is, or its haunting beauty. It’s truly spectacular. Some of its many notes include: violet leaves, galbanum, oakmoss, pine needles, vetiver, fern, clary sage, chestnut leather, green shoots, wild fennel, wild clover, resins, and labdanum.

Horizon. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Horizon. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Horizon: a patchouli fragrance with aged brandy and cognac, candied mandarin, spices, smoke, hints of leather, tobacco, ambergris, and vanilla. This is my second favorite from the line and the fragrance that I had originally intended to buy before Chypre Mousse swept me off my feet. Horizon is a beauty, a true patchouli oriental with discreet sillage after an opening burst of aged cognac. Unfortunately for me, it didn’t last a huge amount of time on my skin, but I find it really beautiful.

Reve d'Ossian label. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Reve d’Ossian label. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Reve d’Ossian: Frankincense, pine woods, dust, myrrh, resins, cinnamon, leather and amber. For me, this started out as a High Church fragrance in the vein of Bertrand Duchaufour’s Dzongkha before turning into a warm, ambered, cinnamon fragrance centered around myrrh.

Isabelle Adjani.

Isabelle Adjani.

Relique d’Amour: a very twisted lily that feels like something Serge Lutens would do. Another fragrance that starts out feeling like an old monastery infused with cold white smoke and dust, it soon turns into a sweet white lily fragrance infused with pollen, incense, myrrh, wax, woods, a touch of soap and powder, and green notes. It’s as though a ray of light shone through a monastery window to light on a vase of lilies, release their aroma, and have it mix with the other notes in a complete paradox. This is a another favorite of mine. It is also Isabelle Adjani’s perfume.

Relique d'Amour poster. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

Relique d’Amour poster. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

Oeillet Louis XV: Oriza’s homage to their original patron, King Louis XV, this fragrance is centered around white carnation with rose, powder, cloves, iris, and many other notes. On me, it opened sharply like Serge Lutens’ carnation fragrance (Vitroil d’Oeillet) before turning into something much more powdery, in the vein of a very old Guerlain creation, atop some mysterious green, fresh parts and a light, woody musk. You have to like carnations and powder for this one, but it’s very well done.

Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Jardins d’Armide: hardcore powder and floral soap. Too much so for me, though the fragrance has its fans in Ida Meister of Fragrantica. This one is the most dated of the seven, in my opinion, and feels very much like something from the 1800s. I had to scrub it, but I have no tolerance for intense powder or soap. The notes include: iris, iris powder, old rose, violet wild, glycine, carnation, almond, tonka, musk, and more.

Catherine Deneuve.

Catherine Deneuve.

Deja Le Printemps: a green floral with galbanum, mint, fig, vetiver, cedar, moss, orange blossom, clover, grass and more. On me, it opened exactly like Serge Lutens’ Iris Silver Mist. I can’t explain it, especially as the fragrance contains no iris (let alone that funky iris nitrile that Serge Lutens used), but it was shockingly alike on my skin. Then, the galbanum and other green parts take over, creating very much a Spring bouquet that people say evokes a walk in the countryside. This one is Catherine Deneuve’s fragrance.

If you’re interested in trying the whole line, Oriza offers a very affordable sample set of all seven perfumes. I have further details at the end of the post.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:

Vintage Oriza poster. Via Oriza Facebook.

Vintage Oriza poster. Via Oriza Facebook.

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment about what you found interesting or appealing about Oriza L. Legrand, its history, and its new mission — or — a comment about whichever one of the perfumes struck your fancy thus far. You won’t be tied into your perfume choice. If you win, you can always change your mind, and choose something different for what you want as your 10 ml travel spray. 

WHEN DOES IT START & END:

The entry period starts today, Friday November 8th, 2013 and lasts until the end of Wednesday November 13th, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. Central Standard Time (CST) in the U.S. which is -6:00 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

WINNERS & EMAILS:

The 10 winners will be chosen by Random.org, and will be announced sometime the next day on Thursday, November 14th.

Once I post the winners, you have THREE (3) days to contact me with your shipping information. Deadline is end of the day, my time, on Saturday November 16th. Please send an email to Akafkaesquelife @ gmail . com  (all one word, scrunched together) with your shipping details and your choice of perfume. I will then forward the information onto Oriza L. Legrand.

If you don’t contact me, and if I fail to hear from you within the deadline, I will give your prize to the next person on the list.

SHIPPING:

Oriza L. Legrand will send the prizes directly to the winners, and pay for all shipping costs. Given that Oriza is located in the Paris, it may take some time (up to 2 weeks, depending on your location and Customs processing) for you to receive your gift. It may take even longer if your country has really nightmarish customs issues.

Please be aware that neither Oriza L. Legrand nor I am responsible for items that are destroyed by customs or that are lost in transit for some reason.

FINALLY:

I’d like to express my enormous gratitude to Mr. Hugo Lambert and Mr. Franck Belaiche of Oriza L. Legrand for their generosity, kindness and thoughtfulness in offering so many fantastic gifts. Some companies may give away a small sample, but travel sprays of such a wonderful size and to TEN readers all around the world without restriction?! Amazing! I cannot thank Oriza enough. My real excitement, however, stems from the fact that more people will get the chance to experience a really unique perfume house whose high-quality creations are done with elegance, finesse, and sophistication. 

Good luck to everyone! May the perfumed winds take you back in time to the very heart of French history and to Oriza’s royal European courts. 

GENERAL ORIZA DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: All Oriza L. Legrand fragrances are eau de parfums with about 18% concentration. They come in a single size, 100 ml or 3.4 oz, and cost €120. You can buy them directly from Oriza’s e-Store that also offers perfume samples. All 7 fragrances in the range are offered in a single Sample Set for you to try. Each fragrance comes in 2 ml spray vials, and the whole thing costs a low €9. Shipping is listed as €9 extra, but a friend said he was charged only €7. Oriza ships globally, as I’ve had readers order the sample set from all over. Other vendors in Europe: Oriza’s perfumes are also sold at Marie-Antoinette (which was my favorite perfume shop in Paris), as well as one store in Sweden and one in the Netherlands. For details on the Swedish store, you can check Oriza Points of Sale page. The Netherlands retailer is Parfumaria.

Oriza L. Legrand: Relique d’Amour, Oeillet Louis XV, Jardins d’Armide & Deja Le Printemps

Yesterday, we looked at three fragrances from Oriza L. Legrand, starting with their mossy masterpiece, Chypre Mousse. Today, I thought we’d take a look at some of their more traditional floral scents. I should confess at the outset that pure florals aren’t generally my preferred fragrance group, so I responded much less to these than to Oriza L. Legrand chypre and orientals. However, they’re all very well done, with elegance and sophistication, and they have that unusual Oriza character that makes all the fragrances stand out as something very different from the rest of the things currently on the market.

RELIQUE D’AMOUR:

Relique d'Amour poster. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

The fragrance of an old chapel of a Cistercian abbey. Cold stone walls covered with damp moss. Waxed wood of the altar and old pews ornate with carvings. Linseed oil in lamps. Air smelling of incense and myrrh. But how fresh and spicy the smell of white royal lilies on this background! Subtle floral scent with green accents of leaves and powdery touches of yellow pollen. The beam of light breaks through the stained glass and illuminates this olfactory tumult of feelings varying from exaltation to humility and back. The silence which creates a sense of the divine call.

Top notes: Fresh Herbs, Pine.
Middle notes: Powdery Notes, White Lily, Pepper, Oak, Incense, Myrrh, Elemi.
Base notes: Musk, Moss, Waxed Wood, Woody Notes, Pepper.

The Relique d'Amour.  Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

The Relique d’Amour. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

I’ve changed my mind on the accuracy of Oriza’s description for Relique d’Amour, a fragrance that, for me, is really a lily scent first and foremost. I now think there is quite a bit of truth to the backstory, especially that ray of light illuminating the white flowers. I’ve also changed my order of favorites for the Oriza Legrand fragrances, moving Relique d’Amour up to third place in lieu of Reve d’Ossian. The simple reason is that Relique d’Amour has the oddest, and most Lutens-like, twist on white lilies, and I find it fascinating.

In a nutshell, if Serge Lutens took an enormous armful of white lilies to an old, dusty French church, accidentally dropped them along with a bottle of black pepper, and got on his knees on the waxed wooden floor to pick them all up, he would probably have been inspired to make Relique d’Amour, a completely different take on an Avignon church scent.

Source: .fotopedia.com

Source: .fotopedia.com

My mental categorization of Relique d’Amour as a “lily” scent means that I’m consistently and continuously startled by its opening, to the point that I have to sometimes pick up the vial to ensure I haven’t sprayed on the wrong perfume. I’m not a fan of the opening, but then I’m not a huge fan in general of olibanum, white incense fragrances with their dusty, aloof, very High Church feel. And the opening 5 minutes of Relique d’Amour are tough for me. It begins with a veritable explosion of black pepper that is so intense, you could sneeze. On its heels, other notes soon follow: herbs, freshly crushed pine needles, floral powder, and something almost aldehydic.

The Gegherd Monastery. Source: tripadvisor.com

The Gegherd Monastery. Source: tripadvisor.com

The troop’s rear guard is quickly brought up by a tidal wave of dust and white incense, in a combination that feels very similar to the early notes in Reve d’Ossian. It’s the olibanum-opoponax duo of myrrh cousins, infused with the dust of ages in a very old monastery filled with parchment scrolls. Black pepper is sprinkled all over the top of this ancient, olfactory tapestry, while underneath lurks the slow start of something floral. Oriza L. Legrand is completely accurate in describing the overall combination in those early moments as “the smell of an old chapel of Cistercian abbey.”

Source: picturenation.co.uk

Source: picturenation.co.uk

Thankfully, it’s a very brief thing. Five minutes into that sharp, difficult start, Relique d’Amour changes. It’s as if a ray of light beamed through the heavy particles of dust in the old monastry, shining a tunnel of white on a single vase filled with while lilies. It stands in the corner, its stamen heavy with yellow pollen, and the beam of light releases its sweet fragrance into the air. Suddenly, a wave of sweet, dewy, pollen-laden white lilies rolls over the intense cocktail of black pepper, dust motes, and dry, cold, white, slightly soapy High Church incense.

Relique d’Amour is suddenly transformed into something very different, centered on a dewy, sometimes dry, sometimes metallic, lily infused with incense. To me, it’s unusual the way the traditionally indolent white flowers have had their syrupy sweetness and narcotic opulence dried out by cold incense. There is more to the scent and flowers than that, however. There is a also drop of what feels like honey (undoubtedly from the wax element), alongside sweetened woods and a touch of floral powder. Lurking underneath are flickers of bright, fresh grassiness, evocative of summer and contrasting sharply with the feel of very old wood that has been cleaned with a gentle film of soap before being waxed to a high shine. It’s an odd mix but it is also oddly appealing, though it takes a few tries to get used to it.

Close-up of the pollen on a lily's stamen. Source: drgulyas.hu

Close-up of the pollen on a lily’s stamen. Source: drgulyas.hu

The combination of lilies blended with dust, sweet pollen, old wood, slightly honeyed, waxed wood, and undertones of soapiness feels like a complex set of contradictions. That’s probably why I repeatedly think that Relique d’Amour is the sort of startling paradox that Serge Lutens would do. The difference is that this twisted lily feels very old in nature, though that is probably a result of the dust and myrrh combination. Then again, Bertrand Duchaufour used that to great success in his (overly praised) Dzonghka, so perhaps Relique d’Amour isn’t actually so dated after all. 

Relique d’Amour’s sillage starts off as moderate, then turns soft. The fragrance is airy in weight, but initially potent and strong when smelled up close. Like a number of the Oriza fragrances, the sillage is far too intimate, polite, and low for my personal tastes. It also doesn’t last forever on my wonky, perfume-consuming skin. At the start of the second hour, Relique d’Amour hovers a bare inch above the skin, as soft as a nun’s white veil. It’s a bouquet of lilies infused by white church incense, the thinnest veneer of floral soap, green grass, and sweet pollen. An hour later, it’s a skin scent that is a blur of lily and sweet pollen.  All in all, Relique d’Amour lasted around 6.5 hours on me with 2 small sprays, and just barely over 7.75 with 4 large squirts. Something about all the Oriza L. Legrand perfumes — with the exception of the outstanding Chypre Mousse — doesn’t seem to work well with my personal skin chemistry. Others, however, seem to have much better luck, with a few consistently averaging between 10-12 hours from the same scents.

Source: wallpapermay.com

Source: wallpapermay.com

Mark Behnke of CaFleureBon tried four of Oriza’s floral fragrances at the start of the year, and Relique d’Amour was his favorite. (He concedes that they all have average longevity. In my opinion, Mr. Behnke’s skin normally retains scent like glue, at least as compared to my own, so I think that his estimate says something.) I largely agree with his review of Relique d’Amour which reads:

Relique d’Amour is my favorite of these first four releases but I think this will probably not be the most popular. My reasoning is that Relique d’Amour is that rare fragrance which seeks to paint a picture with olfactory notes. There is less of a pyramid in place and more of a sense of a specific place. I love poking around in old stone churches. When I have the opportunity to do this the smell of the stones covered in moss and the aged wood of the supporting timbers is a singular smell to me. Relique d’Amour is that moment of standing in an old abbey surrounded by the layers of residue from the oil lamps and censers. As I said Relique d’Amour really paints a singular picture and doesn’t really devlop so much as rise fully formed off of my skin. There is the raw pine of the timbers, a strong stony mineral aspect, a bit of lily, wisps of myrrh, elemi, and frankincense. All together they impart a weight of history and place upon Relique d’Amour and it is a place and time I want to visit often.

I don’t agree that Relique d’Amour would be the most difficult Oriza Legrand fragrance for people to like. (That would be Jardins d’Armide, in my opinion, but he didn’t test that one.) People actually seem to like Relique d’Amour a lot. For one thing, it is the fragrance that the famous beauty and French actress, Isabella Adjani, fell in love with and bought for herself. For another, there is enormous enthusiasm for the fragrance in the early comments on Fragrantica. One commentator who tested the perfume wrote:

The very first sniff is green, a freshly cut evergreen, not piney, not at all pine disinfectant-esque, second scent is a dusty old book, bookmarked with a love letter, left in an old church, it’s beautiful, incredibly atmospheric. You can see the daylight filtering through dust motes onto pews. It’s maybe not something you would wear on a first date, it is not the type of fragrance just anyone will understand. If you appreciate fragrance as an art form and not something you just splash on day after day, just because, then you may love to smell this for the pictures you will get from it.

The lilies come into the forefront soon after, enhancing the very church-y feel, but not sharp, as lilies can be, these are dominant but soft.

ETA, I reviewed before reading the description above, deliberately. I realise now after reading it looks like I just copied it! It is incredibly evocative and clearly does what the perfumer intended!

There are many similar descriptions of Relique d’Amour, all positive. I think the reviewer above is completely right in finding the fragrance to be more like an evocative mood than something easy that you can easily just spray on before you go to the supermarket. It’s not an every day perfume. It is not even the most approachable perfume. It is, however, very Serge Lutens-like in its twists and turns. I think it’s very original, and stands out a mile away.

OEILLET LOUIS XV:

Oeillet Louis XV.

Oeillet Louis XV.

Oriza L. Legrand’s roots go back to 1720 with the patronage and admiration of King Louis XV. So, in 1900, the house paid him homage with a carnation scent called Oeillet Louis XV. (The word for “carnation” in French is oeillet.)

Powdery and peppery, silky and spicy, Oeillet Louis XV soothes yet confuses with its paradoxes. Reminiscences of an ancient time, powder fades and gives way to spicy notes of clove. […]

White carnation is at the heart of this fragrance and is the source of its dichotomy. Symbol of true love under the monarchy, the flower embodied the fire of French Revolution. As a scent, white carnation is as intoxicating as the most subtle poison; a delicate blend of mandarin, monarchical iris and light wood chords, which cannot resist the violence of pepper and spicy clove. Pink carnation brings a note of bitterness, symbol of Mary’s sorrow. Legend has it the flower sprang where Mary’s tears fell as she saw Jesus carry the cross. […]

Top notes: Pink Pepper, Mandarin.

Heart notes: White Carnation, Carnation Absolute, White Orchid, Iris, Rose, Spicy Clove.

Base notes: Rice Powder, White Musk, White Honey, Woody Notes.

Source: Walltor.com

Source: Walltor.com

Oeillet Louis XV opens with sharpness. Great sharpness that feels as cold as ice. Like a blade that cuts through you, the fragrance bursts with the pungent, peppered, spicy, and metallic coolness of carnation. It seems simple and limited, perhaps deceptively so. The peppered carnation is infused with dewy floral elements, a light touch of powdered iris, and a damp greenness like young shoots. Something, somewhere feels like the tender sweetness of violets. Underneath the sharpness of the carnation and the bite of pepper, there is the subtle spiciness of cloves and the bitter sweetness of a neroli-like orange.

It all feels as cutting as a sharp crystal but, at the same time, there are glimpses of a spicy orange-brown, a peppered black, a tender violet, a powdery rose, and vistas of fresh, clean, crisp, grassy green. Soon, the iciness is softened and tamed by the floral powder which I think smells dated and old-fashioned. Actually, I find it to be a strange contrast with the pungency of the carnation, bitter cloves, spiced orange, and pepper. It pains me a little, but then my threshold tolerance for powder in perfumery is very low.

On my skin, Oeillet Louis XV doesn’t get much more complicated than that. In fact, from a distance, it eventually turns into something that is merely a cloud of carnation. Like many of the other Oriza L. Legrand florals, Oeillet Louis XV has weak longevity and average sillage on my skin. The fragrance is initially very potent up close, but there is only an small cloud around me, maybe about 3 inches. It soon turns soft and weak on my neurotic skin, a blur of carnation with a touch of floral (iris?) powder. It’s all very hazy, and fades away after 6.5 hours. As I’ve mentioned, my skin is not the norm. On Oeillet Louis XV’s Fragrantica page, the two votes thus far for longevity are split between “long lasting” and “very long lasting.” Sillage is put at “moderate” and “heavy,” though Mark Behnke found that Oeillet Louis XV … has sillage to burn.”

Mr. Behnke had a very different experience with Oeillet Louis XV than I did. Frankly, it sounds rather terrible to me, a plethora of powder that I’m glad I was spared. In his review, he wrote how it felt something suited to Madame de Pompadour, the King’s favorite mistress:

… Oeillet Louis XV is a very powdery focused fragrance and it feels in keeping with the famous hairstyle which bears her name as the powder keeps rising and rising until it is neatly arranged around clove and musk. Oeillet Louis XV begins with a double dose of carnation and then adds iris and rose. If you still don’t have enough powdery facets a heaping dose of rice powder is added. I’m not the biggest fan of powdery fragrances and I have to admit the early exuberance always took me right to the edge of my personal tolerance. Just as I thought it was too much the clove cleaved through all of the powder along with a sheer white musk and the powdery façade was laid bare. Now these two notes carry the development and the final stage is coated in a light bit of honey and balsam. If you love powdery fragrances Oeillet Louis XV should be on the top of your list to sample.

The only comment on Fragrantica for Oeillet Louis XV seems to convey an experience a wee bit closer to my own:

The carnation is treated here in the purest transparency and purest nature. The flower is like windswept, through the wild grasses, with large gray clouds in the sky. Really beautiful.    

The most detailed assessment I’ve seen for Oeillet Louis XV thus far comes from a commentator on Parfumo, “Drseid,” who seems to have had the best experience of all of us:

Oeillet Louis XV opens with a fruity orange and dewy rose tandem with a slight carnation undertone. As the fragrance enters the early heart the orange dissipates as the carnation takes the fore, building in intensity with the rose hanging around in the background bolstered by traces of additional clove spice and powdery iris support. As the composition reaches the late dry-down the slightly powdery iris dies but the now diminished carnation remains, joining prominent white musk with a vague natural woody undertone fading in and out through the end. Projection is average and longevity is very good at 9-11 hours on skin.

[…] The late dry-down is quite pleasant with the fragrance turning slightly sweet and just a tad woody, though the woods are quite subtle and at times elusive. The bottom line is the 120 euro per 100ml Oeillet Louis XV represents a mostly successful spiced carnation and rose presentation with just a touch of powder in the heart and a skillfully executed gentle light woody musk finish, earning a “very good” rating of 3.5 stars out of 5. Fans of fragrances like JHL by Aramis in particular will most likely enjoy this. [Emphasis in font to names added by me.]

I see very different perfume comparisons for Oeillet Louis XV. Something about its cold, cutting opening calls to mind the passing sniff I gave to Serge Lutens‘ icy carnation scent, Vitriol d’Oeillet which Fragrantica says has some similar notes in common: nutmeg, clove, pink pepper, pepper, paprika, carnation, wallflower, lily and ylang-ylang. For most people on Fragrantica, the Lutens fragrance is mostly a bouquet of carnation, pepper, and cloves, and Oeillet Louis XV can be that, too. The real similarity to me is in the iciness, the sharp coolness of the flower. Oeillet Louis XV, however, has significantly more powder, along with iris, rose and orange at its base, and subtle hints of some mysterious, grassy greenness that I can’t explain. For some inexplicable reason, for me, Vitriol d’Oeillet actually has the feel of some very old, vintage Guerlains in its floral powderiness, but without the latter’s Tonka vanillic signature and rounded warmth. As a whole, I think Oeillet Louis XV is well done, but it’s far from my personal tastes.

JARDINS D’ARMIDE:

Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Oriza L. Legrand says that Jardins d’Armide is a floral tribute to legendary gardens. Their description reads, in part, as follows:

Les Jardins d’Armide was the symbol of beauty, lush and beautiful, full of fragrant flowers and the rarest species. […] The Queen of Flowers, Rose, is at the heart of this enchanting bouquet picked in the Garden of Armida.

Iris from Florence and Violet Wild powder their glycine and eyelets India, while Honey, Almond and musk bring this tempting elixir incomparable strength. [¶] Jardins D’Armide, unparalleled powdery fragrance of Oriza L. Legrand.

Top notes: Old Rose, Orange Blossom and Iris Powder.

Heart notes: Florentine iris, Violet Wild, Glycine and Carnation India.

Base notes: Honey, Almond, Tonka and Musk

Jardins d'Armide. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

Jardins d’Armide. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

They weren’t kidding about the powder. Jardins d’Armide was a scrubber on me after just one hour. In fact, the mere memory of it pains me, and not even for you, dear readers, will I relive the experience by testing it again in full.

So, I’ll merely share with you my early impressions that I wrote to a friend who was interested in the scent, along with bits of my notes. On me, Jardins d’Armide opens with a massive burst of spicy pepperiness from geranium, followed by rose. Then, 2 minutes later, there is a soapy note that is like really expensive floral soap, along with a touch of floral powder. Initially, both elements are minor, but they increase significantly with every passing moment.

For a minute or two, before they completely overwhelmed me, there was something to Jardins d’Armide’s pungently piquant, spicy geranium that brought to mind Grossmith Phul-Nana with its geranium fougère opening. However, that fragrance has a very heavy neroli start, while Jardins d’Armide is primarily rose geranium fragrance with a LOT of powder and floral soapiness. Something about that last part, with its almost artificial, synthetic element, hurts my head when smelled deeply up close and right on the skin.

There is an old-time, very dated feel to the scent. Normally, I don’t mind that, but, here, the forcefulness of that floral synthetic soapiness with its tinge of floral powder and its underlying sweetness feels claustrophobic and cloying to me. I think my problem is that there is a sharpness to the floral powderiness of Jardins d’Armide, perhaps due to the impact of the geranium’s pungency. Whatever the reason, I couldn’t bear the fragrance, and had to get it off my skin.

Ida Meister of Fragrantica liked Jardins d’Armide much more than I did, though she confesses that those who don’t like powder “must flee.” (They really should! And I’d add floral soap to that list, too!) In her Scented Snippets, she writes:

This is languishing perfume. Very old-school, living, breathing swooning powder.  […][¶]

Did Jean Laporte of L’Artisan Parfumeur glean inspiration from the 1905-vintage Jardins? His 1985 Orchidée Blanche has long since been discontinued, but the similarity in feel is remarkable. Orchidée’s silvery iris/honey volupté is sorely missed by die-hard perfumistas everywhere [notes: bergamot, magnolia, nectarine, iris, honey, vanilla]. I have two bottles tucked away with which to compare: eerie! And absolutely wonderful.

Jardins d’Armide is possibly among the most tenacious perfumes I have ever had the pleasure to experience; it goes on and on, chock-a-block with exquisite components. Lavishly sensual with elegant manners, we can discern every individual element, and yet the sum is so round, so perfectly pleasing and harmonious. Jardins d’Armide does not apologize for its “old-fashioned” goodness—it revels in it. If you are not fond of powdery scents, then you must flee. If, however, you long to be cloaked in fin de siècle fragrant generosity wantonly larger than life—then I think you really ought to sample this. Other powdery florals appear anemic—pale and wan, anorectic in her wake. She is a Grande Dame, a Gibson Girl among waifs.

All I can say is that, if Mark Behnke thought Oeillet Louis XV had powder, he should never try Jardins d’Armide. He would need therapy afterwards. I told you at the start of this series that Jardins d’Armide was the one Oriza L. Legrand fragrance that I had an extremely negative reaction to, and I meant it. There is old-fashioned, there is old-fashioned powder, and then there is the hell-on-earth powder and soapiness that is this fragrance. I can’t even bear to talk about it any more, so onto the last one.

DÉJÀ LE PRINTEMPS:

Oriza Deja Le PrintempsOriza L. Legrand describes this fragrance as the essence of Spring:

A promenade in the woods awakening from a long winter sleep. Morning dew is glistening like beads on wild grasses which exude fresh flavor. The sun rises and its rays awaken wet flowers and the fragrant leaves of fig trees swaying by wind. Tree buds swollen with young leaves, flower buds ready to bloom, and the earth, with its smell of turf and twisted roots, full of vitality. The first lilies of the valley reveal themselves. It’s spring awakening. Spring has come.

Fragrance notes: Top notes: Mint, Orange Blossom, Chamomile. Middle notes: Fig Leaves, Clover, Mown Grass, Lily of the Valley, Galbanum. Base notes: Musk, Vetiver, Cedar, Moss.

Call me crazy, but the opening of Deja Le Printemps smells like Serge LutensIris Silver Mist to me. My notes are littered with “ISM??!!” notations, especially with regard to the first five minutes. On me, Deja Le Printemps exploded with a sharp, icy, alcohol-like blast that was just like frozen vodka, and just like that of the Lutens fragrance with its huge amounts of futuristic iris nitrile. That sharp, metallic, cold note is soon followed by sharp, pungent greenness from the galbanum, then by an oddly dewy, wet floral that must be the muguet or lily-of-the-valley. Greenness fills the base, with plushly soft oakmoss and the feeling of green sprouts pushing through the snow with Spring’s arrival. Flitting all about is a floral powder with a tinge of soapiness, and the slightest whisper of a pale, watery rose.

Despite the spring bouquet, there continues to be something that makes me think of iris. For whatever reason, Deja Le Printemps on my skin produced a very cold, rooty, almost carroty iris aroma, complete with its earthy, damp, icy feel and its touch of floral powder. I can’t account for it, and surely it’s the effect of the other accords, but I’m telling you…. Iris Silver Mist! That is only a part of Deja Le Printemps, however, as the pungent galbanum, delicate white florals, powder and green notes are equally significant.

Rex Preston, "Spring flowers, Bramley Wood" at redraggallery.co.uk

Rex Preston, “Spring flowers, Bramley Wood” at redraggallery.co.uk

At its heart, Deja Le Printemps is very much a Spring bouquet mixed with floral powder, and quite true to its description. Alas, it had low sillage on me, and poor longevity, clocking in just shy of 5 hours. In its final moments, it was nothing more than an abstract floral blur. I am not a huge fan of either green florals or many of the notes in Deja Le Printemps, particularly galbanum and iris, so I’m afraid I wasn’t enamoured by the scent. I’m not the target audience, however, and the fragrance is well-done as a whole. It’s also the Oriza L. Legrand scent that a famous fashion icon fell in love with and bought for herself, so clearly it’s something that appeals to those with sophisticated tastes who enjoy green florals.

English countryside. Source: Pinterest.

English countryside. Source: Pinterest.

That conclusion is supported by the lone two reviews on Fragrantica. The first raves about the “retro” delicacy of the green florals, and how Deja Le Printemps is “the best Naturalist ‘pure green'” perfume, epitomizing a walk in the countryside between Spring showers. The second review is even more positive:

 This got my attention immediately! Probably because I’m in a phase of my life when I really enjoy green scents, and I love Nature. […] I fell in love with it after the first sniff. 🙂

The opening is very green and very fresh. I can smell grass, (fig) leaves, and clover. I don’t get much of mint. And I get no lily of the valley at all, but I really don’t mind. It’s probably somewhere there with the orange blossom making sure this green scent isn’t too green or sharp. But it doesn’t smell flowery or sweet at all. […]

This perfume is indeed like a walk through the countryside that’s awakening after a long winter. It’s very green, almost herbal, slightly woody, and actually quite subtle, yet very powerful. I adore it.

The fig note was much more prominent for the lone Parfumo review, as were the vetiver and a eucalyptus-like mint. “Drseid” writes:

Deja Le Printemps opens with what best can be described as a slightly aromatic eucalyptus-like mint and fig tandem with a fresh green grass undertone. As the fragrance enters the early heart the mint slowly fades, leaving the fig to directly mesh with the remaining green grass supported by resinous musky woody galbanum. As the composition progresses to the late dry-down a slightly sharp vetiver driven natural woody accord joins the remnants of the greens with a very faint tree moss undertone from the base adding weight to the relatively airy composition. Projection is on the low side of average, with average longevity at 6-8 hours on skin.

Deja Le Printemps did not exactly wow me when I first sprayed it on, but its eucalyptus-like fig and mint really does gain appeal as it gradually couples with the green grass and galbanum in the heart. That aside, it is the late dry-down with its welcome addition of vetiver and woods, however, that turns the composition into something special as they combine extremely well with the remaining greens and the aromatic fig. This whole effect indeed conjures visions of a spring countryside with fig trees in the background, green grassy fields and wild aromatic herbs growing within. The bottom line is the 120 euro per 100ml bottle Deja Le Printemps delivers what its name promises, earning a “very good” 3.5 stars out of 5 and a solid recommendation especially to lovers of fragrances like Eau de Campagne by Sisley. 

If you like green florals, then I think you’ll very much enjoy Deja Le Printemps. It’s not my personal style, but I can see the finesse and elegance. It’s a fresh, sophisticated scent that succeeds in its goal of encapsulating the essence of Spring.

PRACTICAL DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: All Oriza L. Legrand fragrances are eau de parfums with about 18% concentration. They come in a single size, 100 ml or 3.4 oz, and cost €120. You can buy them directly from Oriza’s e-Store that also offers perfume samples. All 7 fragrances in the range are offered in 2 ml spray vials for €9. Shipping is listed as €9 extra, but a friend said he was charged only €7. Oriza L. Legrand ships globally, as I’ve had readers order the sample set from all over. Other vendors in Europe: Oriza L. Legrand’s perfumes are also sold at Marie-Antoinette (which was my favorite perfume shop in Paris), as well as one store in Sweden and one in the Netherlands. For details on the Swedish store, you can check Oriza L. Legrand Points of Sale page. The Netherlands retailer is Parfumaria.