Monday, July 25, 2011

Ormonde Jayne- A Personalized Visit in London

This Spring  my good friend Mark went to London for the first time.  Not only did he get to see many of the amazing sites London has to offer but being a perfume aficionado of the highest order , he also  looked  into the unique to London shops. Here he shares his personalized visit  to   Ormonde Jayne , home of some truly beautiful perfumes. 

An American in London: Ormonde Jayne, Sloane Square.

In the Spring of 2011, I traveled to London with a list of perfume destinations that I would not forgive myself if I didn’t visit. At the top of that list was the exclusive London Perfumery of Ormonde Jayne. For an American, there are few perfume houses left in the world whose treasures are unobtainable on our own soil, but Ormonde Jayne, established by perfumer Linda Pilkington in 2002, is one of them. It was with great excitement that I arrived one Sunday afternoon at the Slone Square boutique in the heart of Chelsea on time for my scheduled Perfume Portrait with the store manager, Monica.

The Ormonde Jayne boutiques are luxuriously contemporary and refined jewel boxes that house some of the best fragrances that English Perfumery has to offer. While other renowned English perfume houses such as Penhaligons and Floris have had many decades to establish themselves, (with several Royal warrants to help), Ormonde Jayne has already established itself with exceptional renown and has done so in only 9 years. Once inside, it was not difficult for me to understand why – the attention to detail could be found in abundance throughout the space, from the jet black abstract display shelves holding everything from ancillary products and candles to the perfumes in the brand’s signature pumpkin orange packaging.

I brought along my dear American friend and current London resident, Deirdre to the appointment and we were invited to sit at a desk to begin my Perfume Portrait. This service is for someone relatively unfamiliar with the range of 12 scents that Ormonde Jayne offers, but I wanted the true Ormonde Jayne immersion experience, even though I was already familiar with several of the scents. Monica served us jasmine tea and chocolate truffles and I was asked to fill out a questionnaire as to which fragrance families and notes that I knew I already enjoyed. It was not surprising to me that once I was finished with the questionnaire, that I realized I had checked every single box on the form. I silently hoped Monica knew what she was getting herself into.

Monica began the Perfume Portrait by placing a tray in front of me that contained black glazed porcelain squares labeled with individual raw materials that recurred in many of the fragrances in the range. These porcelain squares were constructed like stoppers with the bottoms infused with each individual scent. She started with the lightest and the brightest such as rose, lavender, and osmanthus and she ended with the heaviest and the darkest - tolu balsam, cedar, and hemlock oil, which adhered to the stopper like a resinous glue. After introducing each raw material, she would ask if I liked it. The problem for a perfume enthusiast such as myself is that even if I didn’t personally enjoy them, I still respected them and recognized their importance to the greater picture and so I ended up telling Monica that I enjoyed them all. Remember – the goal of the Perfume Portrait is that at the end, the administrator is supposed to be able to suggest the perfect fragrance for you. In my case, I told her upfront that I would inevitably like everything. And true to my word – I did.

I was very much intrigued by the Hemlock Oil. I knew that it was somewhat of a signature ingredient in many of Linda Pilkington’s creations and I wanted to know more about it. Monica told me that when Linda started using it, it was seldom seen in modern perfumery. The oil itself is a thick, tar-like sap that comes from the bottom of the Hemlock as opposed to the top, which is poisonous. To smell it alone, outside of the perfumes was an amazing experience. I was transported to a wet forest in autumn; the peat and the soil of the earth were very much detectable against the semi-sweet woodiness of the plant, itself. Like so many raw materials, one sniff entered the mind into a complex world filled with layers of scents that can only happen with the finest of natural ingredients. I am not a natural perfumery purist, by any means. I recognize the gift that synthetic ingredients bring to the table when they are paired with high quality naturals, but smelling Hemlock oil was like kneeling at the altar of Mother Earth.

Monica moved on to the range of Linda’s 12 fragrances. Osmanthus was the first scent that she had me smell and it was appropriate as it was also the very first perfume that Linda Pilkington launched after she had great success with her candles. We moved through the entire line and to no one’s surprise – I liked all of them. Monica then led me on a short tour of the boutique, introducing me to the exceptional candles and bath and body products. She paused on the dusting powder made from 24-carat gold flakes and housed in a heavy black glass jar with a swiveling gold plated lid that revealed a gracious feather puff inside. Priced at well over $500, it is the most luxurious product that Ormonde Jayne sells and because this is, after all, a Haute Parfumerie, it is infused with the fragrance of one of their best-selling fragrances, Orris Noir. Deirdre held her composure, but deep down, I knew she was completely enthralled, now. Truth be told – so was I. In the privacy of my own home, I would rather enjoy dusting myself down with solid gold and frankly, I wouldn’t believe anyone, male or female, who said that it wouldn’t thrill them to cover themselves with gold, as well. Meanwhile, I reminded myself that I was there for perfume.

In the center of the boutique is a stand that houses the perfumes and more black porcelain stoppers. This is the preferred way that Ormonde Jayne lets guests smell their fragrances and is probably one of the most effective presentations that I have come across. The “stopper” on the underside of the square is left unglazed and really soaks up the scent. When you turn it over and bring it to your nose, you experience the perfume in its longest phase – the drydown. It is the most accurate representation of the Perfumer’s vision for the fragrance and allows the buyer to get a truer sense of what it is they are sampling before the ultimate skin test.

The appointment came to an end and I thanked Monica for her time and for the amazingly informative Perfume Portrait. Like any good American, I then pulled out my credit card and asked for 3 bottles. I decided to buy a bottle of Ta’If - a glorious rose fragrance and their best seller; Zizan – a fantastic dry, woody vetiver concoction which was designed by Linda Pilkington as the answer to dozens of interviews with men as to what they would want their ultimate cologne to smell like; and Ormonde Man - the signature men’s fragrance that centers around one of my new favorite ingredients – Hemlock.

I bid Monica farewell and gleefully skipped towards the Picadilly line Tube station with my purchases in hand, beautifully packaged and my best friend Deirdre, covered in Gold and shimmering in the London sun. Yes, sun. ( and they  do ship to the US).

MARK DAVID BOBERICK - "MD" is an Interior Architect and Perfume Enthusiast who has been in love with scent for as long as he can remember and has been collecting fragrances since the age of 12. He is an alumnus of The Art Institute of Philadelphia. MD has written extensively on perfume, especially for Sniffapalooza Magazine and has been published in Men's Health Australia. For his article "Scents My Sister Loved" published in Sniffa Mag in October of 2009, MD earned a spot as one of the Top 5 Finalists for the American Fragrance Foundation’s prestigious FiFi award. He is also the first person in ten years to be granted an exclusive interview with Fragrances of the World author and perfume expert Michael Edwards. In 2009, MD conducted the first of what has become an in-demand workshop entitled "The Poetry of Perfume" in which he familiarizes his guests with perfume history and composition, and introduces them to many different perfumes from the classics to the niche and obscure. A lover of art and music, MD frequents museums, theatre, and the opera. He is also an accomplished theatrical set designer having already amassed a large portfolio of work for only being 26 years old. MD is an avid supporter of Nationwide Greyhound Rescue programs and adopted his 9-year old retired racer in 2009. MD currently resides in Cape May County, NJ.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for such a great post.
Kind regards