Olene is a jasmine bomb, with a sillage so nuclear that it would melt the olfactory glands of jasmine-phobes within 10 metres of its wearer. It doesn’t apologise for straight up punching you in the face with indolic fervour, nor does it care that you’re probably being smothered by a million tiny white flowers waving their petals like protesters would at a riotous revolution. As Tania Sanchez described, it is “death by Jasmine”.
Thankfully, I like heady jasmine fragrances.
Olène has to be one of the most literal renditions of jasmine sambac, with its closest competitor being A La Nuit by Serge Lutens, although A La Nuit tends to be slightly more camphoraceous and drier than Olène is. It really does make for a heady and hypnotic concoction that sparkles with unabashed radiance. However, as white floral soliflores are wont to do, Olène becomes soapier and cleaner as time passes, eventually fading to a fairly safe ‘woody musk’ base.
Personally, I find Olène to be somewhat lacking in complexity, but then again I doubt that was its goal to begin with. Olène, which was released in 1988, marks the beginning of the transition from the early Diptyques such as L’Eau and L’Autre, which were quirky little spice bombs, to the most recent releases by Diptyque, which have gone down the road of rendering various fragrance categories in a sheer, translucent style (Volutes = sheer honey gourmand; Vetyverio = sheer vetiver; L’Eau Duelle = sheer woody vanilla; anything from the recent L’Eau series = sheer floral). As it is, Olène makes for a narcotic, dewy-fresh, and relatively clean white floral, but I would hesitate to describe it as sheer. Unlike Philosykos, which was groundbreaking in its rendition of the fig tree, Olène doesn’t shatter the earth with its originality (although I may be being unfair to it, seeing as how it was created in 1988 – rose and violet soliflores were certainly commonplace by that time, being staples of Victorian England, but perhaps jasmine soliflores weren’t; I’m not as familiar with perfume history as I ought to be, and I apologise for that). Then again, neither does the rest of the Diptyque line, which often make for pretty, wearable, uncomplicated perfumes.
But if you’re looking to turn heads, without wearing actual jasmine flowers in your hair, then Olène would be perfect.
~ The Smelly Vagabond
While you’re on the blog, do pop by to Question Time with The Smelly Vagabond, where I’m eagerly waiting to answer any questions you’d like to ask me! 🙂