It took a very long while for Orris Noir by Ormonde Jayne to grow on me. From its name, I’d expected it to be all gothic punk femme fatale, so when I sprayed it, and the gorgeously rooting, earthy iris that first greeted me whisked itself away within 5 minutes, vanishing completely, I was understandably peeved. “It’s not very noir, either,” I thought to myself, perplexed that Ormonde Jayne had gone down the Le Labo path of serious misnomers. And so I put it away, somewhat disappointed that the house I’d admired so much for ingenious masterclass perfumes such as Ormonde Woman (I really should get down to reviewing it, but I don’t believe words adequately express its beauty!) had come up with something such as this.
Thankfully, that’s not the end of the story. More than a year after I first came into contact with Orris Noir, and after multiple, repeated wearings, I’ve finally come to appreciate Orris Noir for who she really is – the bad-ass gothic femme fatale who transforms into the girl next door whom you’ve got a crush on, except you suspect she’s got a little secret that she’s not revealing. But that’s alright, because you like your women slightly mysterious, anyway.
In a way, Orris Noir reminds me of Audrey Tatou one of my favourite French films, À la folie… pas du tout (He loves me, he loves me not), in which she plays Angélique, who initially comes across as a sweet, innocent girl with a crush on Loïc, the other main lead. Through a flashback that arrives midway through the film, however, we are told things from Loïc’s perspective. It turns out that Angélique has been stalking him this whole time (horrors!). Angélique is eventually diagnosed with erotomania… and things seem to turn out for the best – or so we think. The ending of the film sent chills down my spine, but I shan’t give it away, although I have probably given too much away anyway.
So how does this relate to Orris Noir? Aside from the glorious opening, the rest of Orris Noir is actually a breath of spicy, woody, oriental incense that is equal parts easy to wear and intellectual at the same time. The iris, as I’ve mentioned, is barely there, if at all; however, it is perceptible through the cool, flinty accent that flows through the all stages of the perfume’s development – the mysterious side of the ‘girl next door’ Angélique that is hinted at but not revealed till later. There are pink peppers and something very much like pimiento powder in the opening. The fragrance also has quite a fair bit of Iso E Super and what seems to me like Ambroxan (I really have to re-smell the raw material, my olfactive memory is short-lived!), synthetic boosters that perfumer Geza Schoen favours that provide lift to a perfume and which can be found in, frankly speaking, far too many new releases these days, due to their low cost. I don’t mind them in small amounts because they do make fragrances nicer, although I do know that some of my fellow bloggers have averse reactions to them. Too much, however, and they begin to smell like every other fragrance on the market…
Thankfully, Orris Noir is anything but the lowest common denominator. Like Angélique, she is easy-to-wear, cool and airy. Calming even. And yet she’s not an open book, but has something mysterious going on about her, that only now seems to hit me. But it took me a really long time to notice all of this because the intellectual snob within me always drummed ‘Not Orris’ and ‘Not Noir’ whenever I took Orris Noir out for a spin, crowding out my other perceptions. I’m just glad that I gave it many chances where I normally would have put it away.
At the end of À la folie… pas du tout, the following words appear on screen: “Though my love is insane, my reason relieves the pain of the heart, telling him to be patient and not lose hope.” And indeed, if you ever gave up on Orris Noir because you thought she wasn’t ‘orris’ or ‘noir’ enough, perhaps you ought to be ‘patient and not lose hope’, for perhaps someday you’ll find that you’ve fallen in love with her as the mystery unravels. But wait… have I just reversed the roles of us and Orris Noir? Is Orris Noir Angélique, or are we? 😉
Orris Noir can be found in Ormonde Jayne boutiques in the UK and is available in parfum concentration (50ml) for £184 as well as in EDP concentration (50ml) for £80 and 4X10ml travel sprays for £64. The concentration I reviewed was the EDP, although I’d like to try the parfum as well. The range is also available in Harrods in the UK.
There’s also going to be a fantastic 20% off discount on 20th November 2013, so if you’re thinking of getting Orris Noir, you’ve got less than a week to decide!
~ The Smelly Vagabond