Ormonde Jayne Vanille d’Iris ~ perfume review

orchid petals

I had to bide my time creating this, because it contains pure orris butter, which is so expensive…Then the rest of the perfume had to match the grandeur of this beautiful orris butter, so we worked with absolutes, using Madagascan vanilla, anything creamy, anything soft that would make it deep, rich and opulent. To make it really special, we created our own molecule. We created a part of the vanilla pod that you can’t buy, the smell of the soft brown sugary bit when you scrape down the seed pod. — Linda Pilkington of Ormonde Jayne1

Ormonde Jayne and I used to be great friends, but we parted ways around the time they started doing what I call upscale luxury — it was already a luxury brand, now it’s just more so. A little comparison shopping, which of course you can skip if niche fragrance prices don’t interest you: Champaca, one of my favorites from the early days of the brand (it came out in 2002), is now $240 for the large bottle (120 ml), rather steep but given niche prices these days, not necessarily out of the question.2 But the prices for the Four Corners of the World quartet (2012) range from $415 to $536, and Black Gold (2014) is an eye-popping $720. Perhaps they are all beyond category, I couldn’t say since I haven’t smelled them and I probably never will.

So I was happy to see a new fragrance in the “regular line” — something for us plebians! — last year, Vanille d’Iris…

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5 perfumes: iris fragrances for spring

Iris sanguinea

Spring is still tentative where I live — we’ve had a few lovely days here and there, but plenty of days where there’s still a decent chill in the air. If you’re like me, you’ll do your best to pretend it’s sunny and 70 degrees even when it’s not, so it’s time to put away your darker, richer iris perfumes and reach for lighter, happier variations on the theme. Below are my five favorites for spring, and if you missed them, do see my list of iris picks for summer, iris picks for fall and iris picks for winter. Next up: a year of vetiver.

Do add your own picks in the comments…

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Jo Malone Orris & Sandalwood ~ fragrance review

Jo Malone Orris & Sandalwood Cologne Intense

On learning that the Jo Malone line now includes Orris & Sandalwood Cologne Intense, my thoughts went something like this:

Orris & Sandalwood? I love both those notes. This might be amazing!

Of course, it’s Jo Malone. Does that mean it’s simply a literal translation of the two notes?

And if it were, is that so bad?

There was only one way to get to the bottom of it, and that was to sample.

Perfumer Pierre Negrin developed Orris & Sandalwood. The Jo Malone site lists its notes simply as orris, sandalwood and amber. It doesn’t take a genius to add jasmine and vanilla to that list — and black pepper. Lots of it. Frankly, I’m not sure why they didn’t just call it Pepper & Orris and get it over with…

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5 perfumes: iris fragrances for winter

iris on black

A light dusting of snow on the ground this morning reminded me that yes, we’re deep in mid-winter. If you love iris, this is when you can wear the richest and darkest irises in your collection. I’ve picked my five favorites for cold weather, and do add your own in the comments! And if you missed them, do see my list of iris picks for summer and iris picks for fall. The spring post is coming up in April, and then I’ll move on to a year of vetiver…

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Valentino Donna ~ perfume review

Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey for Valentino Donna

If you adored Lancôme La Vie Est Belle1 or any of its various spawn (Giorgio Armani Sì, Nina Ricci L’Extase, Salvatore Ferragamo Emozione et. al.) and you were hoping for more candied iris powder, do try Valentino’s new-ish Donna, which I’d call the latest in the series except that I’m so far behind that Donna has been out for months and there are probably umpteen new fragrances in the same vein that I haven’t even smelled yet. Ah well.

Donna is the feminine counterpart to last year’s Valentino Uomo, and it maintains that scent’s emphasis on sugar, or to put it as Kevin did in his review, loads of sugar, at least in the opening…

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