If I could change one thing about my life it would be to ensure that I was better travelled than I am. In my head I long to be a great explorer scouring every corner of the earth. I want to walk the Great Wall of China, taste the street food in Mexico, eat lobsters in Maine (it all comes back to food with me), play with the cats at the cat cafe in Tokyo and float around the streets of Florence , but the problem is, I’m a bit of a wimp.
So, as much as I wish I’d visited all of these places, and I do truly hope to one day, I haven’t, in fact up until a few years ago I hadn’t made it further than France. It’s appalling, I know. Luckily for us armchair explorers, with Ormonde Jayne’s latest collection ‘The Four Corners of the Earth’ one can visit the most exotic destinations without even removing one’s pyjamas. So over the last couple of weeks I’ve been to the Gulf, Russia, Latin America and China…
For the Four Corners of the Earth collection Linda Pilkington and perfumer Geza Schoen have taken Ormonde Jayne on a trip round the globe, soaking up the sights, smells and colours of four distinct cultures without diluting the brand one bit, and this is what makes the collection so excellent; the fact that despite the strong influences of their respective homelands, each fragrance still very much follows the Ormonde Jayne signature of refined, elegant fragrances. After all, it’s not just where we go that shapes who we are, it’s where we come from too.
Mr. Butterworth, my rather lovely partner-in-crime and Mr. Ford, the dashing designer behind Tom Ford go hand-in-hand. Well, not literally of course. I know that you know that I’d never allow that kind of shenanigans! What I mean is that, whilst not being a fumenerd like you are I, Mr. Butterworth does have a certain penchant for fragrances bearing Mr. Ford’s name.
If you were to take a peek into mine and Mr. Butterworth’s bathroom you would find a big collection of perfumes and although we share a lot of scents there is most definitely a ‘his ‘n’ hers’ thing going on. So if you look hard enough you will see a small contingent of masculine fragrances that belong solely to the Butterworth (although I do occasionally raid his stash), and three of his favourites are by Tom Ford.
Tom Ford currently has four masculine fragrances and about a million unisex private blends to choose from. Mr. Butterworth, with his ever-discerning taste, has found love for Tom Ford for Men, Oud Wood and Grey Vetiver, you could say that he’s a little bit obsessed. Should I be worried? Let’s just say that I will be keeping a close eye on him next time we’re near the Tom Ford counter
I think the only thing more frustrating than the constant slew of oud-based fragrances is the fact that each time one is released I have to mention that we’re all a bit fed up with this oud avalanche that we’ve all been facing over the last few years. So, for this review I refuse to mention the frustration (I am aware that I haven’t succeeded in doing so) and instead say that at least Christian Dior appear to have got this whole oud malarky spot on.
In 2010 Dior, following on from the trend started by Chanel with their Les Exclusifs line, created La Collection Privée, a series of exclusive boutique scents. Part of this private collection was Leather Oud, a fantastically pornographic take on oud. Following Leather Oud’s success Dior, who know a good thing when they see it, have decide to launch a second, Oud Ispahan.
Oud Ispahan, which is named after the Iranian city, follows a more traditional route by pairing oud with its beloved partner rose. If the oud trend is considered boring, then the fact that most of its offerings are blends of oud and rose is even more boring, but fear not, Dior has done a good job with Oud Ispahan. Taking its inspiration from Christian Dior’s “fascination with a fantastical orient” along with the “intoxicating scents” and colours of such a place, Oud Ispahan is a very beautiful perfume indeed.
Ormonde Jayne is a house that has always sat on the periphery of my perfume sampling. I have tried a number of their fragrances in passing (I have tried a shocking amount of things “in passing”) and have even visited one of their boutiques, but I don’t feel that I’ve paid them the attention that they deserve. So when the lovely people at Ormonde Jayne offered to send me one of their discovery sets I was more than happy to accept, because Ormonde Jayne is a house that I want to get to know.
Launched in 2002, Ormonde Jayne is a British perfume house created by Linda Pilkington. The Ormonde Jayne philosophy is simple: “[…]quality and true luxury, the pursuit of beauty and elegance.”  There is something very appealing about the sleek simplicity of Ormonde Jayne and the lack of bells and whistles is appealing. But don’t let that fool you, the perfumes themselves are very complex indeed.
This review focuses on Ormonde Jayne’s two signature fragrances: Ormonde Woman and Ormonde Man, both of which have been highly praised by many and received five star reviews from Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez in Perfumes: The Guide. Both wood-based fragrances are as enigmatic as they are sophisticated and having spent sufficient time with them I can understand why they are so highly regarded.
Well, it looks like Nigel really came through on the old birthday front (thank you all for your kind wishes btw) deciding much against his better judgement to generously give me a big ole bottle of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Al Oudh as his gift. Al Oudh has been sat on my wish list for quite some time now (which makes me wonder why I haven’t reviewed it already) and out of the slew of ouds available I believe that it is one of the few thatt brings something new to the party.
Al Oudh now joins my three other L’Artisans (Vanille Absolument/Havana Vanille, Traversée du Bosphore and Nuit de Tuberéuse) all of which, Al Oudh included, just so happen to be Bertrand Duchafour creations, thus proving that I really do have a “thing” for le Duchafour, and who can blame me? The dude is clearly a genius and with Al Oudh his skill of turning common accords entirely on their head is in full swing.
Bertrand Duchaufour created Al Oudh for L’Artisan Parfumeur in 2009. It’s billed as an exotic, spicy and woody oud with accents of rose and dried fruits. L’Artisan describe it as “the elixir of sensuality itself”, which is a very fluffy way of saying that it is in fact sex on a stick, or sex in a bottle to be more accurate. Al Oudh may not be what you’re expecting from an oud but that is exactly what makes it so captivating.
We all have a lot to be grumpy about when it comes to Christian Dior Parfums. Not only must we be giving them the evil eye for the dwindling quality in classics such as Diorissimo, we must also be narked about the shoddy reformulations of modern classics like Hypnotic Poison, Pure Poison and Dior Homme/Homme Intense. So yes, it may just be me, but Dior could do a lot more to get in to many a fumehead’s good books.
One area where Dior isn’t letting us down is in their relatively recently launched (2010) “La Collection Privée”, which saw the original Dior Homme Cologne collection (Eau Noire, Bois d’Argent and Ambre Nuit) bumped up to a total of 9 fragrances, before being joined by two new fragrances; Leather Oud and Patchouli Imperial. My interest in in the former was officially piqued at Perfume Lovers London “Evening of Leather“, in which it was described by Lila as a “Sex God”, a moniker which is not to be ignored!
Leather Oud is definitely a stand out within La Collection, and I would argue that it is also a stand out amongst the onslaught of oud based fragrances that populate the market. On the creation of Leather Oud, Dior says: “Christian Dior searched the world, looking for the most beautiful fabrics that exist. Like the designer, the Perfumer (François Demachy) chooses the most beautiful raw materials, one of which is oud wood from Indonesia.”  It is this haute couture approach that makes Leather Oud such a success, it is a wonderful example of what happens when quality and artistry collide.
I have said it a number of times before, but things that are true must be said more than once; I am taking my sweet time working my way through Amouage’s back catalogue of scents and most importantly I am enjoying the journey immensely. What strikes me most about the Amouage line is the impressive degree of cohesion demonstrated amongst such an eclectic mix of fragrance styles, each of which is woven together by the silver thread of omani frankincense.
Speaking of journeys, none are more impressive than the ancient journeys of the Silk Road, the subject of which is the inspiration behind Amouage’s 2009 feminine and masculine duo. Creative Director Christopher Chong worked alongside perfumers Cecile Zarokian, Daniel Maurel, Angeline Leporini (for Woman) and Randa Hammami (for Man) to create two perfumes that represent the sheer scale and importance of these cross-continental journeys that no longer exist.
Epic is the moniker given to this type of journey and is bestowed upon both fragrances. Inspired by the legend of travels along the world’s spice and trade routes, and hued in imperial jadeite the name Epic could not be more perfect, and whilst it may lead you to believe that these fragrances are cinematic in their size, one should not be fooled, unlike other Amouage perfumes Epic Woman and Man are essays in soft elegance.