Suzanne's Perfume Journal

Having recently fallen under the spell of Ormonde Jayne Frangipani eau de parfum, I feel rather declarative: To wear it is to experience one of summer’s greatest pleasures. However, I would be remiss if I did not most wistfully disclose that it is also like being the poor fellow who watches the girl from Ipanema walking by each day. For as exotically lovely as OJ Frangipani is, it is more than a bit aloof—a fragrance that shares the same qualities as a will-o-wispish young maiden who stirs the breezes with her beauty, yet demonstrates a slim-hipped, virginal disinterest in fully opening her blossom. The sun kisses this fragrance, but OJ Frangipani manages to elude its full passion by steering a course through palm-fringed shade.

Because of these qualities, I have to be equally strategic in the way that I apply this scent, otherwise it tends to vamoose on me. The white-flesh of my upper arm, rather than sun-tanned wrists, works best (though it does make for some embarrassment, because every time I lift my arm to smell the fragrance, it appears to the onlooker that I am sniffing my pits).  A little spritz to my hair works even better.

Fragrance notes of Ormonde Jayne Frangipani are:
Top notes of linden blossom, magnolia flower, and lime peel;
Heart notes of white frangipani, jasmine, rose, tuberose, water lily, plum, and green orchid;
Base notes of amber, musk, cedar, and French vanilla absolute.

On immediate application, OJ Frangipani is like the eye-opening experience of biting into a kumquat: juicy, tart and already hinting at brightly streaming sunlight. After a few minutes, out of that juiciness emerges the frangipani, a flower that within the contexts of this fragrance smells almost edible. There is a sweet-cream-butter smell to it that at times, has an almost al-dente feel to it—as if the girl from Ipanema is suddenly passing directly in front of you, so close you can reach out and touch her perfect arm, guide her by her elbow back to your table, and love her forever … or at least the better part of an afternoon.  Like butter, it’s the kind of creaminess that smells both cool and warm at the same time, and while it never truly leaves the fragrance from this point forward, by the same token, it won’t open up and bloom for you even a fraction of an inch more. For much of its surprisingly long wear, you will have to work hard to smell Frangipani—to lean in close and press your nose to your skin, like a child pressing his nose to the glass of the candy store.

Is it worth it—this hide-and-seek game that OJ Frangipani plays? For me, that answer is as elusive as the fragrance itself.  I do find it très lovely—and while I enjoy having my senses teased, I also like to possess—making me wonder if it might not be more worthwhile to seek out this frag’s "sister": the bath oil version of OJ Frangipani, which I suspect is stronger. (Though looking at the price, which is considerably less expensive than the edp, I may be wrong.) There is a parfum concentration of the fragrance, too, though the bath oil sounds like a surer thing to me—and I am not averse to wearing a drop of bath oil as if it were perfume.

On the other hand, sometimes it is the very light and delicate nature of a fragrance which makes it so beautiful. Case in point: La Chasse aux Papillons by L’Artisan Parfumeur is ethereal to the point of being flimsy, such that I thought it would be just perfect in the more concentrated “Extrême” version—but, sadly, it is not. And similarly, I have spent the past couple years pining for a stronger concentration of the Chanel exclusif scent, Bel Respiro. “If only it were stronger and lasted longer, I’d buy it in a heartbeat!” I tell myself—when I might better have purchased the fragrance from the get-go, accepting that its diaphanous effect is part of its beauty, while spraying it with abandon on my person, my clothes, and even my sheets.

What I’m trying to say is that, while Ormonde Jayne Frangipani leaves me feeling like an olfactory voyeur of sorts—both happily entranced and disappointingly frustrated by its aloof beauty—I’m not sure that trying it in a stronger concentration is necessarily the cure. Nonetheless, it's a tempting thought. 

Ormonde Jayne Frangipani: Beauty with a Side Order of Longing

Ormonde Jayne Frangipani eau de parfum is available from the Ormonde Jayne boutique in London, and from the company’s website, where a 50-ml bottle is currently priced at $176. Frangipani is also available in the parfum concentration (currently $330 for 50-ml) and in a number of ancillary products, including the very tempting bath oil at $90 for 100-ml.

My spray sample on which I based this review was provided to me by the company.

From The Girl from Impanema, a 1965 Grammy-award winning song by Antonio Carlos Jobim, with English lyrics by Norman Gimbel.

Image of supermodel Bar Refaeli is from; bottle image is from the Ormonde Jayne website.

June 11, 2010:

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"Tall and tan and young and lovely,
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes
Each one she passes goes a-a-h!

"When she walks she’s like a samba
That swings so cool and sways so gently
That when she passes
Each one she passes goes a-a-h!

"Ooh, but I watch her so sadly,
How can I tell her I love her?
Yes, I would give my heart gladly,
But each day when she walks to the sea
She looks straight ahead, not at me"