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If Ormonde Woman, the signature fragrance from the house of London-based perfumery Ormonde Jayne, were a real woman, she would have fingers that smell of lemon grass. She would also have a wardrobe that travels well, that reflects her modern sensibility—one of sheer, uncluttered elegance. I picture her as worldly and open to new experiences—someone who doesn’t like a lot of fussiness and prefers to travel light, but always in a stylish, well-heeled way. She is privileged, yes, but rather than put on airs, she prefers to maintain an air of mystery—or what might more aptly be called "discretion."

Green, sleek, and with a touch of the exotic, Ormonde Woman, the fragrance, has notes of cardamom, coriander, grass oil, black hemlock, violet, jasmine absolute, vetiver, cedar wood, amber and sandalwood. In its top-notes stage, and for the first twenty minutes of its development, Ormonde Woman possesses a distinctly Asian flavor—perhaps an odd-sounding description for a green fragrance, and yet there it is: the olfactory hissing of dark spiky grasses that, helped along by cardamom, shimmer and brighten into something resembling the citronella smell of lemon grass. This is my favorite stage of the fragrance—the tug between the dark green notes and the higher pitched, tangy cardamom—that makes the scent seem like a beautiful, elusive snake, slinking between shadow and sunlight. 

Eventually sunlight wins out, helped along by a honeysuckle-like jasmine that has a floatiness to it—and which segues nicely into the fragrance’s soft amber base. I once read somewhere that Linda Pilkington, the perfumer and owner of the exclusive brand, does not like powdery scents, and yet there is a delicate but distinct powderiness to the dry down of Ormonde Woman that is quite lovely; for me, it puts the woman back into the equation—letting my nose know that this fragrance isn’t about an exotic place so much as it is about the kind of woman who travels to foreign shores. I don’t know whether it’s the violet that accounts for the light powderiness—or the combination of woods in the sweet, almost fluffy, amber base—but it’s enchanting, the way it emerges out of the fragrance's initial, bewitching greenery, further contributing to its West-meeets-East sensibility. 

Ormonde Woman by Ormonde Jayne Perfumery: Well-Traveled 

April 16, 2010:

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Ormonde Woman can be purchased from the Ormonde Jayne website; a 50-ml bottle of the eau de parfum is currently $176 (it is also available in parfum concentration, as well as in a number of ancillary products).

My review is based on the eau-de-parfum concentration, and came from a sample in the Ormonde Jayne discovery set that was sent to me courtesy of the company.

Photos of model Linda Evangelista are by Arthur Elgort from an editorial titled "Eastern Light" in the December 1993 issue of Vogue magazine; bottle image is from the Ormonde Jayne website.

Like most of the fragrances in the Ormonde Jayne line, Ormonde Woman is a sheer and translucent composition—the antithesis of “old-lady perfume” (much as I adore most things that fall into the old-lady perfume category). In a similar vein with the diaphanous creations of Olivia Giacobetti or Jean-Claude Ellena, Ormonde Woman paints its unique olfactory portrait with an economy of olfactory brushstrokes—though not an economy of aroma-materials.  The exquisiteness of those materials is readily apparent, such that if Ormonde Woman somehow became magically transformed into a flesh-and-blood woman, there would be no doubt that while she might be traveling light, she’s still going first-class.

Suzanne's Perfume Journal