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Ormonde Jane Woman is a very interesting fragrance; arresting, powerful, and very unique. It is a very intriguing blend of what I would categorize as ‘dusty’ smells—things that are not ‘powdery’ per se, but somehow feel dry and crumbly, as if the molecules are falling apart into little particles as they rise into the air. This is an unscientific way to describe the feeling I get when I smell violet, cedar, sandalwood, and some vetivers. Ormonde Jayne woman brings all of these together in one mysterious little fragrance, with the addition of ‘pure hemlock absolute’ which here sort of functions as a wild card, with a certain woodiness and round sweetness to it that somehow perfectly complements all the dusky dusty smells.
The pepper and cardamom open up with spicy strangeness this unusual yet magnetic fragrance, then give way to a mildewy powderyness that is the heart of the fragrance (and I mean mildewy in the best possible way—it is not rotten smelling, but definitely ‘decadent’ in a dark powdery sort of way). Behind this dusky powdery cord lies a deep dry woody vista stretching into the horizon as far as the eye can see in this dark olfactory night.
I see this as an impeccably-crafted, low-level, rather gothic scent, suggesting secret assignations in the garden, dusky old books, and raven-haired beauties clad in white nightgowns on a starless night. I love it for its dark splendor, as well as its absolute uniqueness.
The only downside is that Ormonde Jayne Woman dries down very quickly to a rather straightforward vanillic feminine with dashes of woody vetiver—I found myself wanting it to stay strange longer—but it quickly becomes a sort of bronzy, dusky Shalimar type, which is very appealing, but not what I’d expect from this at all…
full disclosure: I received samples to review from Ormonde Jayne perfumes, but this has not influenced my review, of course!
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An architectural capriccio with figures amongst ruins under a stormy night sky by Leonardo Coccorante, and Waterhouse’s Magic Circle courtesy of Wikimedia Commons