I don’t mean rhinestones!
But diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”
– Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Marilyn Monroe knew a thing or two about glamour, I’d say, and in her iconic performance of the Carol Channing-composed ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in Gentleman Prefer Blondes she said it best when she said that, when it comes to diamonds, a man better get you the real thing, or else. Like diamonds, niche perfumery should be subject to such a discerning set of rules because, let’s face it, there are many pretenders out there – tons of cubic zirconia brands that offer a pretty package but not much in the way of honest olfactory beauty. Niche fragrance is all about offering something special, something unique and something more luxurious than the mainstream fair, and many brands provide sparkle, but none of the lasting interest that they should.
One brand that I recently discovered with both style and substance is Orlov Paris. I’m a sucker for a good story and theirs is one that is refreshingly devoid of tacky gimmicks. Brand founder Ruth Méaulle is a Gemologist who loves fragrance as much as she does diamonds. Having worn some cracking scents in her life, the likes of Carnal Flower and having gifted equally wonderful fragrances to her mother (Amarige) and husband (Vétiver Extraordinaire), Méaulle realised that she had followed one perfumer with each of these fragrant choices: the legendary Dominique Ropion. So it makes sense that, when Méaulle decided to start her own fragrance house, Orlov Paris (Orlov being Russian for ‘Our Love’), Monsieur Ropion was the only nose she could work with.
Each of the fragrances within the Orlov Paris collection is inspired by a legendary stone, with the first five taking their inspiration from iconic diamonds. The best seller, Flame of Gold, is named after the Diamonds International award winning canary yellow diamond of the same name, which weighed in at a whopping 29 carats. Originally set in a necklace but later purchased by Texas oilman E.E. “Buddy” Ogelmen for his wife, Oscar-winning actress, Greer Garson, the location of the diamond today is unknown. Like the stone, Flame of Gold the fragrance is mysterious and dazzles with warm light in shades of yellow, glowing with amber, vanilla, leather and cedar wood. Talk about divine.
Musk, Amber, Indonesian Patchouli, Cedar Wood, Virginia Leather Accord and Vanilla
How Does it Smell?
Flame of Gold starts out with herbs and resins. On first sniff, one could be mistaken for thinking of Calvin Klein’s Obsession (and that’s not a read, Obsession is all kinds of awesome, my friends) but the whole presentation of this fragrance is entirely more luminous and far less dense than the CK, which certainly works in its favour. So to start off with we have some aromatic herbs that give a classic eau de cologne vibe, a heap of fuzzy, snuggly benzoin (I just want to smush my face right into it like a pillow) and just a mere hint of the tsunami of vanilla and amber that come much later on in the development. So far so good.
The heart is cut with facets of leather and cedar wood, both of which serve as a dry contrast to the delectable sweetness of Flame of Gold’s other components. The whole thing could be a thick and cloying overdose of sugar, if it weren’t for the juxtaposition of spiky cedar and smoky leather. Patchouli, in just a wisp and a hint, hides in the background just to diffuse the warmth, like gauze, allowing the smokier tones of the leather to rise up for a time. As it all heads into the territory of the dry down, this dryness cannot help but collapse into the golden pool that rises up, but while it lasts it provides Flame of Gold with a masterfully complex temperament that is a testament to the talents of Dominique Ropion.
Flame of Gold reveals its fiery core in the dry down. It is, at heart, a fragrance all about amber and vanilla, and it’s just so velvety soft and cosy that one really does want to wrap themselves up in it. Thankfully, the amber isn’t the traditional sort, which is usually combined with exotic spices to create hot and rough edges. In Flame of Gold the amber and vanilla are symbiotic, swirling together like caramel to create the smoothest, silkiest dry down. What’s more, there’s a refreshing transparency to the almost waxy nature of this duo that really plays into the lustrous nature of demands. There’s enough warmth and texture to satisfy, but this amber is one of the most palatable ones out there. It’s delicious without being edible and plush without being oppressive.
Much like diamonds, Flame of Gold is addictive. It’s a fragrance that I find myself craving, often stealing a spritz when nobody else is looking. As far as warm amber and vanilla scents go, it’s pretty spot on, somehow managing to be entirely enveloping yet remarkably transparent. Again, like the stone from which it takes inspiration, Flame of Gold is multi-faceted, offering up glimpses of different odours, a touch of herbs here, a wave of amber there and shades of Obsession here, and there, as it plays out on the skin. Having briefly sniffed the four other fragrances in the collection (as well as the two Elixirs), I can say that multifaceted luxury is a consistent theme across the line, with five fragrances that smell as classic and complex as painstakingly cut diamonds. Do check them out if you can.
Flame of Gold is available in 75ml Parfum for £200 exclusive to Harrods. Four other fragrances; Cross of Asia, Sea of Light, Orlov and Star of the Season, are also available. Orlov and Star of the Season are also available as Elixirs for £250/75ml.
Sample, notes and quotes via Orlov. Images are my own.