Oriza L. Legrand Perfume Giveaway: The Ten Winners!

Random.org has spoken, and I have the names of the ten winners for the huge perfume giveaway so generously provided by Oriza L. Legrand Parfums (“Oriza“).

Congratulations

THE WINNERS:

I input all the names into Random.org, and its machine has spat out the list of winners. (If you’re unfamiliar with Random.org and curious about how it all works, you can read about the process, their certification by outside third parties to have true randomness in the selection, and more in their Frequently Asked Questions.)

Without further ado, the first ten winners chosen at random by Random.org are:

Oriza Giveaway Winners List

Congratulations to: Devon Hernandez, Lavanya, Elly, Bruno, Julia, Martin Drigotas, Trine, Tora, ‘Fume Ho, and Caro!

Each of those ten people will get ONE travel spray in a 10 ml spray of their choice of perfume. If you haven’t made up your mind yet, you have a little bit of time to read up on the 7 fragrances in the Oriza line, from the brief summaries in the first article below, to the proper reviews in the subsequent two pieces.

Part I – Oriza, its Paris store, and the return of its fragrances;

Part II – Reviews for Chypre Mousse, Horizon & Reve d’Ossian; and

Part III – Reviews for Relique d’Amour, Oeillet Louis XV, Jardins d’Armide & Deja Le Printemps.

Oriza Chypre Mousse labelThose of you who are pondering Chypre Mousse may be interested in the comments from Cacomixtle, a reader who bought the fragrance blindly on my suggestion, and who cried at its beauty when she put it on. In the comments to the second article, she wrote, in part:

Oh my god, Kafka, my Chypre Mousse came today and it’s so beautiful it’s making me cry. It’s the most perfume (for me) ever. I am absolutely in love, I have no idea how they made it smell like this, and otherworldly and haunting is such a perfect description of it…. I definitely smell the violet flowers too, and they’re my favorite sort (some violets smell like bathroom cleaner to me, meh) and so well melded with the velvet green. I swear I can actually smell ferns, and I do actually know what many ferns smell like!

The mushrooms (I’m assuming they used some kind of octanol-3 synthetic or natural isolate) is so very well done and multi-faceted without turning the perfume into mushroom soup (too easy to do with that particular molecule!), and good lord, this is well done! I totally get what you mean about the Lutenesque/De Profundis feel too…  […]

This perfume seems to fallen out of some Scandinavian fairy tale…. of the beautiful huldra with their tree bark backs and fox tails deep in the old forests. I’m so very enchanted by it, I never quite imagined a perfume could be like this. It needs a soundtrack and a landscape all it’s own…

Reve d'Ossian label. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Reve d’Ossian label. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Of course, there are other lovely Oriza fragrances, too, each with their special character and twist. My suggestion to you if you’re torn between choices is to go with your gut and your instinctive feel.

Oriza Horizon labelThat said, please feel free to ask me any questions you may have in the comments. After all, 10 mls is a big size and most of you are working blindly, so you want to make the right choice! Don’t hesitate to let me know your general perfume tastes, fragrances you’ve loved, and, perhaps just as important, your skin chemistry. Not all the Oriza fragrances have great projection or longevity. Some can be quite intimate on the skin, and a few can be a bit fleeting. I’ve heard from a few people that one of the most beautiful Oriza fragrances from the line, Relique d’Amour, doesn’t last a huge amount of time on them. By the same token, the lovely Horizon and Reve d’Ossian can be quite be soft after a few hours. So, read the descriptions, think it over, and I’ll help if I can.

CONTACT ME:

You have THREE (3) days to contact me with your shipping information and choice of Oriza fragrance. I will then forward that information on to Oriza in Paris. The deadline is end of the day, 11:59 p.m. my time or Central Standard Time in the U.S., on Saturday November 16th. (So, for those of you in places like France, it would be 7 a.m. on Sunday morning. The UK is -6hrs GMT.)

Please send an email to Akafkaesquelife @ gmail . com  (all one word, scrunched together) with the necessary information.

If you don’t, and if I fail to hear from you within the deadline, I will give the gift to the next person on the list, and/or move the winners up by one.

SHIPPING:

Oriza will send the prizes directly to the winners, and pay for all shipping costs. Given that the company is located in the Paris, and will have to individually prepare 10 travel sprays of all your varied choices, it may take some time (2 weeks, depending on your location and Customs processing) for you to receive your gift. It may take even little longer if your country has really nightmarish customs issues.

Neither Oriza L. Legrand nor I am responsible for items that are destroyed by customs or that are lost in transit for some reason.

Composite of old Oriza photos and adverts, created by forevergreen.eu .  http://forevergreen.eu/a-fleur-de-peau/reliques-parfumees/

Composite of old Oriza photos and adverts, created by forevergreen.eu .
http://forevergreen.eu/a-fleur-de-peau/reliques-parfumees/

FINALLY:

I would like to thank you Oriza’s two owners, Hugo Lambert and Franck Belaiche, for their enormous generosity, kindness and thoughtfulness in offering ten fantastic gifts. They have put their heart and soul into Oriza, trying to stay true to its great legacy, working to keep it relevant in today’s modern world, and doing it all on their own. I wish them nothing but the greatest success, and I fervently hope that this giveaway sparks new interest in a venerable house that goes back almost 300 years. 

I also hope the winners will let me know what they think of their perfume choice when they receive it and have the chance to try it. Better yet, if you love it, you can always tell Oriza, by emailing them at: Contact @ OrizaParfums.com (all one word, scrunched together).

For everyone else, you can always order samples of Oriza’s creations directly from the company. The full, complete set of Oriza fragrances comes in a sample package that costs €9 for 7 fragrances, each in a 2 ml spray vial. I think it’s a great deal, and the chance to take a trip back in time.

Thank you to everyone for stopping by, and may the fragrant winds always keep you safe. 

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Perfume Giveaway: Oriza L. Legrand & 10 Travel Sprays!

Oriza logo.

Oriza logo.

I’m incredibly excited to announce that Oriza L. Legrand (“Oriza“) has generously offered a really huge giveaway of ten (10!) prizes. Ten winners will each get one 10 ml travel spray of their choice of Oriza eau de parfum. There are no geographic restrictions, either, so you can be anywhere in the world.

Oriza is an ancient, once-renowned perfume house whose history goes back to Louis XV and 1720. It made perfumes for the Tsar of Russia, and numerous European royal families, as well as winning prestigious prizes in World Fairs of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The perfume house died in the 1930s, but it has been brought back to life by its current owners, Franck Belaiche and Hugo Lambert. I’ve met them both, they are true gentlemen, and, for them, Oriza is a labour of love. They want to return Oriza to its old glory while staying true to its heritage and history by offering its original fragrances, only with lightly tweaks to appeal to modern tastes.

One of the ancient Oriza bottles, in baccarat crystal as many used to be. This one seems to be for "Violets Prince Albert" and the winner of the First Place prize at the 1900 World Fair winner. Source: lylouannephotos.blogspot.com with the original on Flickr.

One of the ancient Oriza bottles, in baccarat crystal as many used to be. This one seems to be for “Violets Prince Albert” and the winner of the First Place prize at the 1900 World Fair winner. Source: lylouannephotos.blogspot.com with the original on Flickr.

Each of the fragrances is sophisticated, unusual, and smells like absolutely nothing else on the market. One of them — Chypre Mousse — stopped me in my tracks on my way to Serge Lutens, made me turn back, and buy it then and there without any further testing. Those of you who know me (and my feelings about Serge Lutens) will understand just how remarkable that is. Chypre Mousse is one of my absolute favorite chypres, an otherworldly foresty, leafy, damp, green, mushroomy fragrance that feels like a homage to Nature itself.

Source: wallpaperup.com

Source: wallpaperup.com

The rest of the fragrances in the line range from an Oriental patchouli-cognac-amber, to a Serge Lutens-like twist on white lilies, to incense-y High Church fragrances, to a delicate green floral that evokes Spring, and more. All of them are unusual, and all of them have a long history going back to their original release date in the early 1900s. Oriza’s modern fans include Catherine Deneuve and Isabelle Adjani, and, hopefully, now, some of you as well.

THE PRIZES:

Ten (10) readers will each get ONE (1) purse spray of 10 ml/0.33 oz of the Oriza perfume of their choice. Just to be crystal clear, the prize is not a full bottle, but a travel spray of 10 ml.

Reve d'Ossian bottle. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

Reve d’Ossian bottle. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

If you’re unfamiliar with Oriza L. Legrand, you can read my three-part series on the house and its perfumes. The reviews include other people’s impressions of the fragrances as well:

Part I – Oriza, its Paris store, and the return of its fragrances;

Part II – Reviews for Chypre Mousse, Horizon & Reve d’Ossian; and

Part III – Reviews for Relique d’Amour, Oeillet Louis XV, Jardins d’Armide & Deja Le Printemps.

You will find below a cursory, nutshell synopsis of my thoughts on the seven Oriza fragrances. You should be aware that my very brief description doesn’t cover the full (and very lengthy) list of notes in each perfume, or any possible issues of sillage and longevity:

Source: photocase.com

Source: photocase.com

Chypre Mousse: This one is almost impossible for me to describe, a perfume that isn’t really a “chypre” in the way that we usually understand it. It has notes of wet leaves, damp earth, mushrooms on the forest floor, moss, violet leaves, and dark resins. That description still doesn’t really convey just how unusual the fragrance is, or its haunting beauty. It’s truly spectacular. Some of its many notes include: violet leaves, galbanum, oakmoss, pine needles, vetiver, fern, clary sage, chestnut leather, green shoots, wild fennel, wild clover, resins, and labdanum.

Horizon. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Horizon. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Horizon: a patchouli fragrance with aged brandy and cognac, candied mandarin, spices, smoke, hints of leather, tobacco, ambergris, and vanilla. This is my second favorite from the line and the fragrance that I had originally intended to buy before Chypre Mousse swept me off my feet. Horizon is a beauty, a true patchouli oriental with discreet sillage after an opening burst of aged cognac. Unfortunately for me, it didn’t last a huge amount of time on my skin, but I find it really beautiful.

Reve d'Ossian label. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Reve d’Ossian label. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Reve d’Ossian: Frankincense, pine woods, dust, myrrh, resins, cinnamon, leather and amber. For me, this started out as a High Church fragrance in the vein of Bertrand Duchaufour’s Dzongkha before turning into a warm, ambered, cinnamon fragrance centered around myrrh.

Isabelle Adjani.

Isabelle Adjani.

Relique d’Amour: a very twisted lily that feels like something Serge Lutens would do. Another fragrance that starts out feeling like an old monastery infused with cold white smoke and dust, it soon turns into a sweet white lily fragrance infused with pollen, incense, myrrh, wax, woods, a touch of soap and powder, and green notes. It’s as though a ray of light shone through a monastery window to light on a vase of lilies, release their aroma, and have it mix with the other notes in a complete paradox. This is a another favorite of mine. It is also Isabelle Adjani’s perfume.

Relique d'Amour poster. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

Relique d’Amour poster. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

Oeillet Louis XV: Oriza’s homage to their original patron, King Louis XV, this fragrance is centered around white carnation with rose, powder, cloves, iris, and many other notes. On me, it opened sharply like Serge Lutens’ carnation fragrance (Vitroil d’Oeillet) before turning into something much more powdery, in the vein of a very old Guerlain creation, atop some mysterious green, fresh parts and a light, woody musk. You have to like carnations and powder for this one, but it’s very well done.

Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Jardins d’Armide: hardcore powder and floral soap. Too much so for me, though the fragrance has its fans in Ida Meister of Fragrantica. This one is the most dated of the seven, in my opinion, and feels very much like something from the 1800s. I had to scrub it, but I have no tolerance for intense powder or soap. The notes include: iris, iris powder, old rose, violet wild, glycine, carnation, almond, tonka, musk, and more.

Catherine Deneuve.

Catherine Deneuve.

Deja Le Printemps: a green floral with galbanum, mint, fig, vetiver, cedar, moss, orange blossom, clover, grass and more. On me, it opened exactly like Serge Lutens’ Iris Silver Mist. I can’t explain it, especially as the fragrance contains no iris (let alone that funky iris nitrile that Serge Lutens used), but it was shockingly alike on my skin. Then, the galbanum and other green parts take over, creating very much a Spring bouquet that people say evokes a walk in the countryside. This one is Catherine Deneuve’s fragrance.

If you’re interested in trying the whole line, Oriza offers a very affordable sample set of all seven perfumes. I have further details at the end of the post.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:

Vintage Oriza poster. Via Oriza Facebook.

Vintage Oriza poster. Via Oriza Facebook.

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment about what you found interesting or appealing about Oriza L. Legrand, its history, and its new mission — or — a comment about whichever one of the perfumes struck your fancy thus far. You won’t be tied into your perfume choice. If you win, you can always change your mind, and choose something different for what you want as your 10 ml travel spray. 

WHEN DOES IT START & END:

The entry period starts today, Friday November 8th, 2013 and lasts until the end of Wednesday November 13th, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. Central Standard Time (CST) in the U.S. which is -6:00 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

WINNERS & EMAILS:

The 10 winners will be chosen by Random.org, and will be announced sometime the next day on Thursday, November 14th.

Once I post the winners, you have THREE (3) days to contact me with your shipping information. Deadline is end of the day, my time, on Saturday November 16th. Please send an email to Akafkaesquelife @ gmail . com  (all one word, scrunched together) with your shipping details and your choice of perfume. I will then forward the information onto Oriza L. Legrand.

If you don’t contact me, and if I fail to hear from you within the deadline, I will give your prize to the next person on the list.

SHIPPING:

Oriza L. Legrand will send the prizes directly to the winners, and pay for all shipping costs. Given that Oriza is located in the Paris, it may take some time (up to 2 weeks, depending on your location and Customs processing) for you to receive your gift. It may take even longer if your country has really nightmarish customs issues.

Please be aware that neither Oriza L. Legrand nor I am responsible for items that are destroyed by customs or that are lost in transit for some reason.

FINALLY:

I’d like to express my enormous gratitude to Mr. Hugo Lambert and Mr. Franck Belaiche of Oriza L. Legrand for their generosity, kindness and thoughtfulness in offering so many fantastic gifts. Some companies may give away a small sample, but travel sprays of such a wonderful size and to TEN readers all around the world without restriction?! Amazing! I cannot thank Oriza enough. My real excitement, however, stems from the fact that more people will get the chance to experience a really unique perfume house whose high-quality creations are done with elegance, finesse, and sophistication. 

Good luck to everyone! May the perfumed winds take you back in time to the very heart of French history and to Oriza’s royal European courts. 

GENERAL ORIZA DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: All Oriza L. Legrand fragrances are eau de parfums with about 18% concentration. They come in a single size, 100 ml or 3.4 oz, and cost €120. You can buy them directly from Oriza’s e-Store that also offers perfume samples. All 7 fragrances in the range are offered in a single Sample Set for you to try. Each fragrance comes in 2 ml spray vials, and the whole thing costs a low €9. Shipping is listed as €9 extra, but a friend said he was charged only €7. Oriza ships globally, as I’ve had readers order the sample set from all over. Other vendors in Europe: Oriza’s perfumes are also sold at Marie-Antoinette (which was my favorite perfume shop in Paris), as well as one store in Sweden and one in the Netherlands. For details on the Swedish store, you can check Oriza Points of Sale page. The Netherlands retailer is Parfumaria.

Oriza L. Legrand: Relique d’Amour, Oeillet Louis XV, Jardins d’Armide & Deja Le Printemps

Yesterday, we looked at three fragrances from Oriza L. Legrand, starting with their mossy masterpiece, Chypre Mousse. Today, I thought we’d take a look at some of their more traditional floral scents. I should confess at the outset that pure florals aren’t generally my preferred fragrance group, so I responded much less to these than to Oriza L. Legrand chypre and orientals. However, they’re all very well done, with elegance and sophistication, and they have that unusual Oriza character that makes all the fragrances stand out as something very different from the rest of the things currently on the market.

RELIQUE D’AMOUR:

Relique d'Amour poster. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

The fragrance of an old chapel of a Cistercian abbey. Cold stone walls covered with damp moss. Waxed wood of the altar and old pews ornate with carvings. Linseed oil in lamps. Air smelling of incense and myrrh. But how fresh and spicy the smell of white royal lilies on this background! Subtle floral scent with green accents of leaves and powdery touches of yellow pollen. The beam of light breaks through the stained glass and illuminates this olfactory tumult of feelings varying from exaltation to humility and back. The silence which creates a sense of the divine call.

Top notes: Fresh Herbs, Pine.
Middle notes: Powdery Notes, White Lily, Pepper, Oak, Incense, Myrrh, Elemi.
Base notes: Musk, Moss, Waxed Wood, Woody Notes, Pepper.

The Relique d'Amour.  Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

The Relique d’Amour. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

I’ve changed my mind on the accuracy of Oriza’s description for Relique d’Amour, a fragrance that, for me, is really a lily scent first and foremost. I now think there is quite a bit of truth to the backstory, especially that ray of light illuminating the white flowers. I’ve also changed my order of favorites for the Oriza Legrand fragrances, moving Relique d’Amour up to third place in lieu of Reve d’Ossian. The simple reason is that Relique d’Amour has the oddest, and most Lutens-like, twist on white lilies, and I find it fascinating.

In a nutshell, if Serge Lutens took an enormous armful of white lilies to an old, dusty French church, accidentally dropped them along with a bottle of black pepper, and got on his knees on the waxed wooden floor to pick them all up, he would probably have been inspired to make Relique d’Amour, a completely different take on an Avignon church scent.

Source: .fotopedia.com

Source: .fotopedia.com

My mental categorization of Relique d’Amour as a “lily” scent means that I’m consistently and continuously startled by its opening, to the point that I have to sometimes pick up the vial to ensure I haven’t sprayed on the wrong perfume. I’m not a fan of the opening, but then I’m not a huge fan in general of olibanum, white incense fragrances with their dusty, aloof, very High Church feel. And the opening 5 minutes of Relique d’Amour are tough for me. It begins with a veritable explosion of black pepper that is so intense, you could sneeze. On its heels, other notes soon follow: herbs, freshly crushed pine needles, floral powder, and something almost aldehydic.

The Gegherd Monastery. Source: tripadvisor.com

The Gegherd Monastery. Source: tripadvisor.com

The troop’s rear guard is quickly brought up by a tidal wave of dust and white incense, in a combination that feels very similar to the early notes in Reve d’Ossian. It’s the olibanum-opoponax duo of myrrh cousins, infused with the dust of ages in a very old monastery filled with parchment scrolls. Black pepper is sprinkled all over the top of this ancient, olfactory tapestry, while underneath lurks the slow start of something floral. Oriza L. Legrand is completely accurate in describing the overall combination in those early moments as “the smell of an old chapel of Cistercian abbey.”

Source: picturenation.co.uk

Source: picturenation.co.uk

Thankfully, it’s a very brief thing. Five minutes into that sharp, difficult start, Relique d’Amour changes. It’s as if a ray of light beamed through the heavy particles of dust in the old monastry, shining a tunnel of white on a single vase filled with while lilies. It stands in the corner, its stamen heavy with yellow pollen, and the beam of light releases its sweet fragrance into the air. Suddenly, a wave of sweet, dewy, pollen-laden white lilies rolls over the intense cocktail of black pepper, dust motes, and dry, cold, white, slightly soapy High Church incense.

Relique d’Amour is suddenly transformed into something very different, centered on a dewy, sometimes dry, sometimes metallic, lily infused with incense. To me, it’s unusual the way the traditionally indolent white flowers have had their syrupy sweetness and narcotic opulence dried out by cold incense. There is more to the scent and flowers than that, however. There is a also drop of what feels like honey (undoubtedly from the wax element), alongside sweetened woods and a touch of floral powder. Lurking underneath are flickers of bright, fresh grassiness, evocative of summer and contrasting sharply with the feel of very old wood that has been cleaned with a gentle film of soap before being waxed to a high shine. It’s an odd mix but it is also oddly appealing, though it takes a few tries to get used to it.

Close-up of the pollen on a lily's stamen. Source: drgulyas.hu

Close-up of the pollen on a lily’s stamen. Source: drgulyas.hu

The combination of lilies blended with dust, sweet pollen, old wood, slightly honeyed, waxed wood, and undertones of soapiness feels like a complex set of contradictions. That’s probably why I repeatedly think that Relique d’Amour is the sort of startling paradox that Serge Lutens would do. The difference is that this twisted lily feels very old in nature, though that is probably a result of the dust and myrrh combination. Then again, Bertrand Duchaufour used that to great success in his (overly praised) Dzonghka, so perhaps Relique d’Amour isn’t actually so dated after all. 

Relique d’Amour’s sillage starts off as moderate, then turns soft. The fragrance is airy in weight, but initially potent and strong when smelled up close. Like a number of the Oriza fragrances, the sillage is far too intimate, polite, and low for my personal tastes. It also doesn’t last forever on my wonky, perfume-consuming skin. At the start of the second hour, Relique d’Amour hovers a bare inch above the skin, as soft as a nun’s white veil. It’s a bouquet of lilies infused by white church incense, the thinnest veneer of floral soap, green grass, and sweet pollen. An hour later, it’s a skin scent that is a blur of lily and sweet pollen.  All in all, Relique d’Amour lasted around 6.5 hours on me with 2 small sprays, and just barely over 7.75 with 4 large squirts. Something about all the Oriza L. Legrand perfumes — with the exception of the outstanding Chypre Mousse — doesn’t seem to work well with my personal skin chemistry. Others, however, seem to have much better luck, with a few consistently averaging between 10-12 hours from the same scents.

Source: wallpapermay.com

Source: wallpapermay.com

Mark Behnke of CaFleureBon tried four of Oriza’s floral fragrances at the start of the year, and Relique d’Amour was his favorite. (He concedes that they all have average longevity. In my opinion, Mr. Behnke’s skin normally retains scent like glue, at least as compared to my own, so I think that his estimate says something.) I largely agree with his review of Relique d’Amour which reads:

Relique d’Amour is my favorite of these first four releases but I think this will probably not be the most popular. My reasoning is that Relique d’Amour is that rare fragrance which seeks to paint a picture with olfactory notes. There is less of a pyramid in place and more of a sense of a specific place. I love poking around in old stone churches. When I have the opportunity to do this the smell of the stones covered in moss and the aged wood of the supporting timbers is a singular smell to me. Relique d’Amour is that moment of standing in an old abbey surrounded by the layers of residue from the oil lamps and censers. As I said Relique d’Amour really paints a singular picture and doesn’t really devlop so much as rise fully formed off of my skin. There is the raw pine of the timbers, a strong stony mineral aspect, a bit of lily, wisps of myrrh, elemi, and frankincense. All together they impart a weight of history and place upon Relique d’Amour and it is a place and time I want to visit often.

I don’t agree that Relique d’Amour would be the most difficult Oriza Legrand fragrance for people to like. (That would be Jardins d’Armide, in my opinion, but he didn’t test that one.) People actually seem to like Relique d’Amour a lot. For one thing, it is the fragrance that the famous beauty and French actress, Isabella Adjani, fell in love with and bought for herself. For another, there is enormous enthusiasm for the fragrance in the early comments on Fragrantica. One commentator who tested the perfume wrote:

The very first sniff is green, a freshly cut evergreen, not piney, not at all pine disinfectant-esque, second scent is a dusty old book, bookmarked with a love letter, left in an old church, it’s beautiful, incredibly atmospheric. You can see the daylight filtering through dust motes onto pews. It’s maybe not something you would wear on a first date, it is not the type of fragrance just anyone will understand. If you appreciate fragrance as an art form and not something you just splash on day after day, just because, then you may love to smell this for the pictures you will get from it.

The lilies come into the forefront soon after, enhancing the very church-y feel, but not sharp, as lilies can be, these are dominant but soft.

ETA, I reviewed before reading the description above, deliberately. I realise now after reading it looks like I just copied it! It is incredibly evocative and clearly does what the perfumer intended!

There are many similar descriptions of Relique d’Amour, all positive. I think the reviewer above is completely right in finding the fragrance to be more like an evocative mood than something easy that you can easily just spray on before you go to the supermarket. It’s not an every day perfume. It is not even the most approachable perfume. It is, however, very Serge Lutens-like in its twists and turns. I think it’s very original, and stands out a mile away.

OEILLET LOUIS XV:

Oeillet Louis XV.

Oeillet Louis XV.

Oriza L. Legrand’s roots go back to 1720 with the patronage and admiration of King Louis XV. So, in 1900, the house paid him homage with a carnation scent called Oeillet Louis XV. (The word for “carnation” in French is oeillet.)

Powdery and peppery, silky and spicy, Oeillet Louis XV soothes yet confuses with its paradoxes. Reminiscences of an ancient time, powder fades and gives way to spicy notes of clove. […]

White carnation is at the heart of this fragrance and is the source of its dichotomy. Symbol of true love under the monarchy, the flower embodied the fire of French Revolution. As a scent, white carnation is as intoxicating as the most subtle poison; a delicate blend of mandarin, monarchical iris and light wood chords, which cannot resist the violence of pepper and spicy clove. Pink carnation brings a note of bitterness, symbol of Mary’s sorrow. Legend has it the flower sprang where Mary’s tears fell as she saw Jesus carry the cross. […]

Top notes: Pink Pepper, Mandarin.

Heart notes: White Carnation, Carnation Absolute, White Orchid, Iris, Rose, Spicy Clove.

Base notes: Rice Powder, White Musk, White Honey, Woody Notes.

Source: Walltor.com

Source: Walltor.com

Oeillet Louis XV opens with sharpness. Great sharpness that feels as cold as ice. Like a blade that cuts through you, the fragrance bursts with the pungent, peppered, spicy, and metallic coolness of carnation. It seems simple and limited, perhaps deceptively so. The peppered carnation is infused with dewy floral elements, a light touch of powdered iris, and a damp greenness like young shoots. Something, somewhere feels like the tender sweetness of violets. Underneath the sharpness of the carnation and the bite of pepper, there is the subtle spiciness of cloves and the bitter sweetness of a neroli-like orange.

It all feels as cutting as a sharp crystal but, at the same time, there are glimpses of a spicy orange-brown, a peppered black, a tender violet, a powdery rose, and vistas of fresh, clean, crisp, grassy green. Soon, the iciness is softened and tamed by the floral powder which I think smells dated and old-fashioned. Actually, I find it to be a strange contrast with the pungency of the carnation, bitter cloves, spiced orange, and pepper. It pains me a little, but then my threshold tolerance for powder in perfumery is very low.

On my skin, Oeillet Louis XV doesn’t get much more complicated than that. In fact, from a distance, it eventually turns into something that is merely a cloud of carnation. Like many of the other Oriza L. Legrand florals, Oeillet Louis XV has weak longevity and average sillage on my skin. The fragrance is initially very potent up close, but there is only an small cloud around me, maybe about 3 inches. It soon turns soft and weak on my neurotic skin, a blur of carnation with a touch of floral (iris?) powder. It’s all very hazy, and fades away after 6.5 hours. As I’ve mentioned, my skin is not the norm. On Oeillet Louis XV’s Fragrantica page, the two votes thus far for longevity are split between “long lasting” and “very long lasting.” Sillage is put at “moderate” and “heavy,” though Mark Behnke found that Oeillet Louis XV … has sillage to burn.”

Mr. Behnke had a very different experience with Oeillet Louis XV than I did. Frankly, it sounds rather terrible to me, a plethora of powder that I’m glad I was spared. In his review, he wrote how it felt something suited to Madame de Pompadour, the King’s favorite mistress:

… Oeillet Louis XV is a very powdery focused fragrance and it feels in keeping with the famous hairstyle which bears her name as the powder keeps rising and rising until it is neatly arranged around clove and musk. Oeillet Louis XV begins with a double dose of carnation and then adds iris and rose. If you still don’t have enough powdery facets a heaping dose of rice powder is added. I’m not the biggest fan of powdery fragrances and I have to admit the early exuberance always took me right to the edge of my personal tolerance. Just as I thought it was too much the clove cleaved through all of the powder along with a sheer white musk and the powdery façade was laid bare. Now these two notes carry the development and the final stage is coated in a light bit of honey and balsam. If you love powdery fragrances Oeillet Louis XV should be on the top of your list to sample.

The only comment on Fragrantica for Oeillet Louis XV seems to convey an experience a wee bit closer to my own:

The carnation is treated here in the purest transparency and purest nature. The flower is like windswept, through the wild grasses, with large gray clouds in the sky. Really beautiful.    

The most detailed assessment I’ve seen for Oeillet Louis XV thus far comes from a commentator on Parfumo, “Drseid,” who seems to have had the best experience of all of us:

Oeillet Louis XV opens with a fruity orange and dewy rose tandem with a slight carnation undertone. As the fragrance enters the early heart the orange dissipates as the carnation takes the fore, building in intensity with the rose hanging around in the background bolstered by traces of additional clove spice and powdery iris support. As the composition reaches the late dry-down the slightly powdery iris dies but the now diminished carnation remains, joining prominent white musk with a vague natural woody undertone fading in and out through the end. Projection is average and longevity is very good at 9-11 hours on skin.

[…] The late dry-down is quite pleasant with the fragrance turning slightly sweet and just a tad woody, though the woods are quite subtle and at times elusive. The bottom line is the 120 euro per 100ml Oeillet Louis XV represents a mostly successful spiced carnation and rose presentation with just a touch of powder in the heart and a skillfully executed gentle light woody musk finish, earning a “very good” rating of 3.5 stars out of 5. Fans of fragrances like JHL by Aramis in particular will most likely enjoy this. [Emphasis in font to names added by me.]

I see very different perfume comparisons for Oeillet Louis XV. Something about its cold, cutting opening calls to mind the passing sniff I gave to Serge Lutens‘ icy carnation scent, Vitriol d’Oeillet which Fragrantica says has some similar notes in common: nutmeg, clove, pink pepper, pepper, paprika, carnation, wallflower, lily and ylang-ylang. For most people on Fragrantica, the Lutens fragrance is mostly a bouquet of carnation, pepper, and cloves, and Oeillet Louis XV can be that, too. The real similarity to me is in the iciness, the sharp coolness of the flower. Oeillet Louis XV, however, has significantly more powder, along with iris, rose and orange at its base, and subtle hints of some mysterious, grassy greenness that I can’t explain. For some inexplicable reason, for me, Vitriol d’Oeillet actually has the feel of some very old, vintage Guerlains in its floral powderiness, but without the latter’s Tonka vanillic signature and rounded warmth. As a whole, I think Oeillet Louis XV is well done, but it’s far from my personal tastes.

JARDINS D’ARMIDE:

Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Oriza L. Legrand says that Jardins d’Armide is a floral tribute to legendary gardens. Their description reads, in part, as follows:

Les Jardins d’Armide was the symbol of beauty, lush and beautiful, full of fragrant flowers and the rarest species. […] The Queen of Flowers, Rose, is at the heart of this enchanting bouquet picked in the Garden of Armida.

Iris from Florence and Violet Wild powder their glycine and eyelets India, while Honey, Almond and musk bring this tempting elixir incomparable strength. [¶] Jardins D’Armide, unparalleled powdery fragrance of Oriza L. Legrand.

Top notes: Old Rose, Orange Blossom and Iris Powder.

Heart notes: Florentine iris, Violet Wild, Glycine and Carnation India.

Base notes: Honey, Almond, Tonka and Musk

Jardins d'Armide. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

Jardins d’Armide. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

They weren’t kidding about the powder. Jardins d’Armide was a scrubber on me after just one hour. In fact, the mere memory of it pains me, and not even for you, dear readers, will I relive the experience by testing it again in full.

So, I’ll merely share with you my early impressions that I wrote to a friend who was interested in the scent, along with bits of my notes. On me, Jardins d’Armide opens with a massive burst of spicy pepperiness from geranium, followed by rose. Then, 2 minutes later, there is a soapy note that is like really expensive floral soap, along with a touch of floral powder. Initially, both elements are minor, but they increase significantly with every passing moment.

For a minute or two, before they completely overwhelmed me, there was something to Jardins d’Armide’s pungently piquant, spicy geranium that brought to mind Grossmith Phul-Nana with its geranium fougère opening. However, that fragrance has a very heavy neroli start, while Jardins d’Armide is primarily rose geranium fragrance with a LOT of powder and floral soapiness. Something about that last part, with its almost artificial, synthetic element, hurts my head when smelled deeply up close and right on the skin.

There is an old-time, very dated feel to the scent. Normally, I don’t mind that, but, here, the forcefulness of that floral synthetic soapiness with its tinge of floral powder and its underlying sweetness feels claustrophobic and cloying to me. I think my problem is that there is a sharpness to the floral powderiness of Jardins d’Armide, perhaps due to the impact of the geranium’s pungency. Whatever the reason, I couldn’t bear the fragrance, and had to get it off my skin.

Ida Meister of Fragrantica liked Jardins d’Armide much more than I did, though she confesses that those who don’t like powder “must flee.” (They really should! And I’d add floral soap to that list, too!) In her Scented Snippets, she writes:

This is languishing perfume. Very old-school, living, breathing swooning powder.  […][¶]

Did Jean Laporte of L’Artisan Parfumeur glean inspiration from the 1905-vintage Jardins? His 1985 Orchidée Blanche has long since been discontinued, but the similarity in feel is remarkable. Orchidée’s silvery iris/honey volupté is sorely missed by die-hard perfumistas everywhere [notes: bergamot, magnolia, nectarine, iris, honey, vanilla]. I have two bottles tucked away with which to compare: eerie! And absolutely wonderful.

Jardins d’Armide is possibly among the most tenacious perfumes I have ever had the pleasure to experience; it goes on and on, chock-a-block with exquisite components. Lavishly sensual with elegant manners, we can discern every individual element, and yet the sum is so round, so perfectly pleasing and harmonious. Jardins d’Armide does not apologize for its “old-fashioned” goodness—it revels in it. If you are not fond of powdery scents, then you must flee. If, however, you long to be cloaked in fin de siècle fragrant generosity wantonly larger than life—then I think you really ought to sample this. Other powdery florals appear anemic—pale and wan, anorectic in her wake. She is a Grande Dame, a Gibson Girl among waifs.

All I can say is that, if Mark Behnke thought Oeillet Louis XV had powder, he should never try Jardins d’Armide. He would need therapy afterwards. I told you at the start of this series that Jardins d’Armide was the one Oriza L. Legrand fragrance that I had an extremely negative reaction to, and I meant it. There is old-fashioned, there is old-fashioned powder, and then there is the hell-on-earth powder and soapiness that is this fragrance. I can’t even bear to talk about it any more, so onto the last one.

DÉJÀ LE PRINTEMPS:

Oriza Deja Le PrintempsOriza L. Legrand describes this fragrance as the essence of Spring:

A promenade in the woods awakening from a long winter sleep. Morning dew is glistening like beads on wild grasses which exude fresh flavor. The sun rises and its rays awaken wet flowers and the fragrant leaves of fig trees swaying by wind. Tree buds swollen with young leaves, flower buds ready to bloom, and the earth, with its smell of turf and twisted roots, full of vitality. The first lilies of the valley reveal themselves. It’s spring awakening. Spring has come.

Fragrance notes: Top notes: Mint, Orange Blossom, Chamomile. Middle notes: Fig Leaves, Clover, Mown Grass, Lily of the Valley, Galbanum. Base notes: Musk, Vetiver, Cedar, Moss.

Call me crazy, but the opening of Deja Le Printemps smells like Serge LutensIris Silver Mist to me. My notes are littered with “ISM??!!” notations, especially with regard to the first five minutes. On me, Deja Le Printemps exploded with a sharp, icy, alcohol-like blast that was just like frozen vodka, and just like that of the Lutens fragrance with its huge amounts of futuristic iris nitrile. That sharp, metallic, cold note is soon followed by sharp, pungent greenness from the galbanum, then by an oddly dewy, wet floral that must be the muguet or lily-of-the-valley. Greenness fills the base, with plushly soft oakmoss and the feeling of green sprouts pushing through the snow with Spring’s arrival. Flitting all about is a floral powder with a tinge of soapiness, and the slightest whisper of a pale, watery rose.

Despite the spring bouquet, there continues to be something that makes me think of iris. For whatever reason, Deja Le Printemps on my skin produced a very cold, rooty, almost carroty iris aroma, complete with its earthy, damp, icy feel and its touch of floral powder. I can’t account for it, and surely it’s the effect of the other accords, but I’m telling you…. Iris Silver Mist! That is only a part of Deja Le Printemps, however, as the pungent galbanum, delicate white florals, powder and green notes are equally significant.

Rex Preston, "Spring flowers, Bramley Wood" at redraggallery.co.uk

Rex Preston, “Spring flowers, Bramley Wood” at redraggallery.co.uk

At its heart, Deja Le Printemps is very much a Spring bouquet mixed with floral powder, and quite true to its description. Alas, it had low sillage on me, and poor longevity, clocking in just shy of 5 hours. In its final moments, it was nothing more than an abstract floral blur. I am not a huge fan of either green florals or many of the notes in Deja Le Printemps, particularly galbanum and iris, so I’m afraid I wasn’t enamoured by the scent. I’m not the target audience, however, and the fragrance is well-done as a whole. It’s also the Oriza L. Legrand scent that Catherine Deneuve fell in love with and bought for herself, so clearly it’s something that appeals to those with sophisticated tastes who enjoy green florals.

English countryside. Source: Pinterest.

English countryside. Source: Pinterest.

That conclusion is supported by the lone two reviews on Fragrantica. The first raves about the “retro” delicacy of the green florals, and how Deja Le Printemps is “the best Naturalist ‘pure green'” perfume, epitomizing a walk in the countryside between Spring showers. The second review is even more positive:

 This got my attention immediately! Probably because I’m in a phase of my life when I really enjoy green scents, and I love Nature. […] I fell in love with it after the first sniff. 🙂

The opening is very green and very fresh. I can smell grass, (fig) leaves, and clover. I don’t get much of mint. And I get no lily of the valley at all, but I really don’t mind. It’s probably somewhere there with the orange blossom making sure this green scent isn’t too green or sharp. But it doesn’t smell flowery or sweet at all. […]

This perfume is indeed like a walk through the countryside that’s awakening after a long winter. It’s very green, almost herbal, slightly woody, and actually quite subtle, yet very powerful. I adore it.

The fig note was much more prominent for the lone Parfumo review, as were the vetiver and a eucalyptus-like mint. “Drseid” writes:

Deja Le Printemps opens with what best can be described as a slightly aromatic eucalyptus-like mint and fig tandem with a fresh green grass undertone. As the fragrance enters the early heart the mint slowly fades, leaving the fig to directly mesh with the remaining green grass supported by resinous musky woody galbanum. As the composition progresses to the late dry-down a slightly sharp vetiver driven natural woody accord joins the remnants of the greens with a very faint tree moss undertone from the base adding weight to the relatively airy composition. Projection is on the low side of average, with average longevity at 6-8 hours on skin.

Deja Le Printemps did not exactly wow me when I first sprayed it on, but its eucalyptus-like fig and mint really does gain appeal as it gradually couples with the green grass and galbanum in the heart. That aside, it is the late dry-down with its welcome addition of vetiver and woods, however, that turns the composition into something special as they combine extremely well with the remaining greens and the aromatic fig. This whole effect indeed conjures visions of a spring countryside with fig trees in the background, green grassy fields and wild aromatic herbs growing within. The bottom line is the 120 euro per 100ml bottle Deja Le Printemps delivers what its name promises, earning a “very good” 3.5 stars out of 5 and a solid recommendation especially to lovers of fragrances like Eau de Campagne by Sisley. 

If you like green florals, then I think you’ll very much enjoy Deja Le Printemps. It’s not my personal style, but I can see the finesse and elegance. It’s a fresh, sophisticated scent that succeeds in its goal of encapsulating the essence of Spring.

PRACTICAL DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: All Oriza L. Legrand fragrances are eau de parfums with about 18% concentration. They come in a single size, 100 ml or 3.4 oz, and cost €120. You can buy them directly from Oriza’s e-Store that also offers perfume samples. All 7 fragrances in the range are offered in 2 ml spray vials for €9. Shipping is listed as €9 extra, but a friend said he was charged only €7. Oriza L. Legrand ships globally, as I’ve had readers order the sample set from all over. Other vendors in Europe: Oriza L. Legrand’s perfumes are also sold at Marie-Antoinette (which was my favorite perfume shop in Paris), as well as one store in Sweden and one in the Netherlands. For details on the Swedish store, you can check Oriza L. Legrand Points of Sale page. The Netherlands retailer is Parfumaria.

Oriza L. Legrand: Chypre Mousse, Horizon & Reve d’Ossian

Oriza logo. Sourc: the Oriza L. Legrand website.

Oriza logo. Source: the Oriza L. Legrand website.

An ancient perfume house whose fragrances have been brought back to life like Sleeping Beauty awakened with a kiss. Oriza L. Legrand (hereinafter just “Oriza”) is not a well-known house, but its perfumes have a unique character that is redolent of the past and the classic French tradition. Yesterday, I provided an overview of the brand, its history and how its fragrances have been tweaked from the 1900s to suit today’s tastes. Today, I’d like to briefly review three Oriza perfumes: Chypre Mousse, Horizon, and Reve d’Ossian. The remaining four, primarily floral fragrances — Relique d’Amour, Jardins d’Armide, Oeillet Louis XV, and Deja Le Printemps — are the focus of another post.

CHYPRE MOUSSE:

Chypre Mousse. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Chypre Mousse. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Oriza describes Chypre Mousse (at the link imbedded above in the title) as the essence of nature in autumnal woods:

After the first rainfall in September nature exude scents of humus, peat and wetland. [¶] This is the time for a promenade in the woods to enjoy the freshness after the heat of summer. [¶] Autumn encourages us to contemplate, to observate nature that gently prepares us for the coming winter and its frostbite.

The mossy paths, precious jewels of the undergrowth, are brightened by the last rays of sun. [¶] Cyprus-Moss evokes in us our surrounding nature which soon will be covered by the first fall of snow. [¶] Smell of damp undergrowth of scorched leaves and the scent of moss before picking mushrooms and chestnuts.

Chypre-Mousse, a Fragrance of the House Oriza L. Legrand launched in 1914 for the dandies of this world!

Top Notes[:] tonic & balsamic: Wild mint, clary sage, wild fennel & green shoots.
Heart notes[:] aromatic & flowing properties: Oakmoss, Galbanum, Angelica, fern, wild clover, Mastic & Violet leaves.
Backgrounds[:] Notes mossy & leathery: Vetiver, Pine Needles, Oak Moss, Mushroom fresh Humus, Roasted Chestnut Leather, labdanum & Balms.

Source: it.forwallpaper.com

Source: it.forwallpaper.com

As outlined in my earlier post on Oriza, I went to the boutique with the goal of sniffing and possibly buying a very different perfume, Horizon. I’m generally not one who buys a perfume without testing, especially given my crazy skin and how voracious it is. So, I sprayed both fragrances on my skin and on the sweater that I was wearing, walked out of the store to think about it, and headed on my way to Serge Lutens to buy my precious bell-jar. I went four blocks, sniffing myself throughout, then stopped dead in my tracks, and headed back. I had to have Chypre Mousse, then and there, without further testing. Suffice it to say, that is extremely unusual for me.

Source: photocase.com

Source: photocase.com

I’m not sure how to best describe Chypre Mousse. It’s not the typical oakmoss fragrance; it has neither the dark grey, mineralized, dusty fustiness of some oakmoss fragrances, nor the bright green, softly plush, fresh mossy feel of others. To me, it smells like the damp forest floor, wet leaves, dewy violets, earthy mushrooms, drenched forests, and a symphony of green, brown, grey, and purple. Again and again, I go back to Oriza’s description of “green shoots,” because there is something of youthful life that is pushing through the wet floor of a verdant forest.

Source: Cottage Environmentalist blog at fifthlake.wordpress.com

Source: Cottage Environmentalist blog at fifthlake.wordpress.com

Chypre Mousse opens with a pungent but sweet oakmoss that feels as though it’s sprouted right off the bark of a tree deluged by rain. There is a dark leather underlying it, covered in resinous, piney tree sap, swirled with darkened mosses, and speckled with reddish mushrooms. The strip of leather lies atop a mound of leaves whose autumnal oranges and browns have turned darker with dampness and water. All around are bunches of fresh violets, pushing out through the soil, past the green shoots, and in the wet space left untouched by the gnarled, woody roots of surrounding pine trees. The dewy, sweet purple flowers form a bright spot of colour in the dark, green forest.

Source: 123rf.com

Source: 123rf.com

The leather, wood, mushrooms, wet leaves, violets, grass, and moss are backed by traces of other notes. The sweetest black earth, the freshest of green herbs, the stoniest of grey boulders, the darkest of tree sap, and just the subtlest hint of smoky incense. The forest has come alive in a symphony that is leafy, earthy, green, woody version of Serge Lutens‘ delicate floral masterpiece, De Profundis. There is the same sort of haunting delicacy, of dewy wetness, of youthful life. The two perfumes are fundamentally different in notes, but they share a very similar feel. And, oddly, there is something of a chrysanthemum undertone in Chypre Mousse. Perhaps it’s the slightly piquant, peppered, floral greenness created by the other accords together that creates that strange impression. Whatever the cause, Chypre Mousse has the same haunting, evocative impact on me.

The most interesting aspect of Chypre Mousse may be the more unexpected notes. I have no idea what the “hummus” reference in Oriza’s list means, but the mushroom-y touch is fascinating. So is the combination of that leather note which has somehow been transformed by the other elements into something familiar, and yet not. This is leather that has been left out in the rain to have Nature and the forest absorb it, transforming it into something that is more a part of their world.

Source: modavesen.com

Source: modavesen.com

Yet, what I consistently found myself thinking about were the violets or pansies, whose tender refrain wraps its ribbons around you. The funny thing is, I never knew Chypre Mousse included them in my four or five early wearings, and I thought I was quite mad for detecting their delicate, purple hues in a scent intended to be a mossy, mushroom, earthy, forest one. In fact, long before I actually looked at Oriza’s list of notes, I sprayed Chypre Mousse on four people, and asked if they could detect violets. They merely scrunched up their eyes, responding with some form of dubious: “I guess.”

For them, Chypre Mousse was something indescribable, inexplicable, odd, but utterly mesmerizing. A swirl of unusual notes in a well-blended, seamless, elegant bouquet that they couldn’t place or categorize. One Paris fashionista who tested it took a single sniff of her arm, and immediately said, “I’ve never smelled anything like it. Where can I buy it?!” She couldn’t describe it, and neither could two others. A fourth tester was an experienced perfumista, and just looked at me with bewilderment. “What is this??!” Her initial response was uncertainty, but every passing minute changed that. She loved how she couldn’t put her finger on the scent or what lay underneath it. Even more so, she was astounded by the trails of aroma that followed in the air around her. As someone whose skin squashes both projection and longevity, she couldn’t get over it.

Source: wallpaperup.com

Source: wallpaperup.com

That brings me to Chypre Mousse’s sillage and longevity. It’s outstanding, even on my crazy, perfume-consuming skin. Two small sprays will create a large cloud all around me for the first hour, followed later by projection that extends about six inches. Later, when the sillage drops around the end of the third hour, Chypre Mousse continues to send out ribbons of scent in the air around you. And it lasts for ages. On average, I get around 10 hours with two small sprays, and well over 12 hours with more.

There are no entries for Chypre Mousse on Fragrantica thus far, but Ida Meister wrote a piece entitled Fragrant Snippets on a few of the Oriza scents. Like me, she was knocked off her feet by Chypre Mousse, and ordered a bottle right away. Her summation for the scent reads as follows:

It is Confession Time. I didn’t want to wait for another week: I ordered this edp PRONTO. 😉

Chypre-Mousse sings to me. All that lurks in the forest, humid and expectant after the first September rains. The exquisite aromas of the undergrowth; peat, mushrooms, humus. Moss and more moss; sheer delight for me, who craves that velvety green aromatic cushion beneath the nose, the feet, my fingers! A carpet of russet leaves underfoot, the seductive aroma of grilled chestnuts around the corner. Oriza may have had dandies in mind for Chypre-Mousse, but it is my ongoing intoxicating love affair with all things Green. I will wear my velvet cloak of chypre gratefully.

Chypre Mousse sings to me as well. I think it is an absolute masterpiece. To me, it doesn’t smell old-fashioned or dated for one simple reason: I’ve never smelled anything quite like it. From any age.

HORIZON:

Horizon. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Horizon. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Horizon was originally released in 1925, and Oriza describes the fragrance as the embodiment of its decade:

After World War I, the Roaring Twenties reflect the desire of the exotic and the need also through fashion and decoration. [¶] The East and particularly Asia, provide new HORIZONS. [¶] The frenzy for exotic travel and encourages artists to transcend the culture of the East in their creations: new silk, fine embroidery, pearl beads, woody scents, heady and sweet …

In the euphoria of the Roaring Twenties, the female body is revealed, it abolished the corset, the flappers open the eyes and smoking languidly.

Slumming it in the salons of Paris!

The materials, colors, shapes symbolize a new freedom and portend, at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties, the hope of a new HORIZON. [¶][…] [An] Oriental fragrance for boys and tomboys, fragrance of Precious Woods and Ambergris agreements Tabac Blond and Soft Leather.

Top Notes: Bitter orange, Tangerine Confit & Dried Rose.
Heart Notes: Cognac Amber, Aromatic Tobacco Leaves, Cocoa, Roasted Almonds, Old Oak & Patchouli.
Base Notes: Benzoin, Amber Gray [ambergris], Peat, Tabac Blond, Vanilla, Honey & Soft Leather.

Source: dailymail.co.uk

Source: dailymail.co.uk

Horizon called its siren cry to me the minute I read that long list of notes. Bitter orange and cognac? Patchouli and leather? Ambergris and tobacco? I was almost certain I would buy it, though things ended up differently when I smelled Chypre Mousse. But it was a very close thing. Horizon bloomed on my thin sweater with an explosion of Armagnac that was rich, nutty, and boozy beyond belief. I felt as though I’d actually had a bottle of aged brandy poured on me. Tendrils of smoke, patchouli, amber, and tobacco stirred underneath, but the main bouquet was a forceful explosion of booze in a kaleidoscope of reds, browns, amber, and gold.

It’s a different matter on skin. Very different, in fact, and significantly softer. I have to say that I’m glad I didn’t end up purchasing Horizon in the end for the simple reason that my skin seems to eat it up like a wolf who hasn’t seen food in weeks. I also can’t decide if Horizon is less complex on actual skin, or simply so much milder that all its layers aren’t as easy to detect. Whatever the case, Horizon is, for the most part, primarily just a boozy, cognac patchouli on me. You can definitely detect the other notes if you sniff closely and pay close attention, but, from afar, it is primarily a very soft patchouli cloud. I much prefer the deeper, more potent, robust version on fabric, alas.

Source: wallpaperswa.com

Source: wallpaperswa.com

On skin, smelled up close, Horizon opens with leather, patchouli, and cognac, followed by faint hints of bitter dark chocolate that grow stronger with the passing minutes. There are whiffs of caramelized, candied orange and something smoky. This is a true patchouli scent, in all its brown, red, amber glory, smelling spicy, leathered, ambered, and chewy, all at once. Lurking at the edges, there is subtlest hint of something nutty. It never smells almond-y to me, but more like toasted hazelnuts. The whole thing sits atop a base of ambergris that has the element’s special, unique characteristics: a very salty sweetness that is also slightly musky, marshy, sweaty, and rich.

Source: 123rf.com

Source: 123rf.com

There is a definite chewiness and earthiness to Horizon’s opening that soon changes into something lighter on my skin. For the first 25 minutes, the perfume is a dark, dense, orange-brown-black mass in visuals, but it turns creamier, smoother, gentler. There are slow stirrings of a very custardy vanilla in the base. At the 45-minute mark, Horizon seems softer and thinner in weight, with sharply reduced sillage, and a movement away from that very dark, leathery, chewy patchouli and leather opening. The orange bits have receded, the boozy cognac has started to evaporate, dark chocolate has turned into milk chocolate, and the patchouli feels infused with cream.

Source: popularscreensavers.com

Source: popularscreensavers.com

I’m consistently saddened by how quickly the fragrance becomes airy and light. It sits soft and low, with a scent trail that really only lingers for about 40 minutes before it drops to hover an inch or two above the skin. And then it drops even more. At the end of the second hour and the start of the third, Horizon sits right on the skin as a blur of creamy patchouli amber with the tiniest hints of milk chocolate, vanilla, and cognac. By the 6.5 hour mark, Horizon fades away as a blur of patchouli sweetness. It has to be me and my wonky chemistry, for Horizon feels quite potent and forceful in the first ten minutes. And a mere spray on my shirt continues to pulsate in full force days later.

Those with normal skin seem to have fared much better. Take, for example, Ida Meister whose Fragrantica piece on Horizon talks about the perfume’s longevity, along with how beautiful and modern it felt:

1925. Really???

Horizon smells utterly contemporary—it brings to mind Bois 1920’s Real Patchouly and Chantecaille’s Kalimantan. Truly well-aged patchouli is a joy, even for many who are phobic about it, having been previously traumatized by the cheap 1960-1970’s “head shop” astringent nostril-singeing variety.  😉  Horizon is as suave as it gets: ambery, boozy, honeyed and oaken. It feels utterly without gender. Horizon is a resinous silk duvet which enfolds you tenderly and possesses remarkable longevity. You can be a throwback to the Summer of Love or a CEO in an Ermenegildo Zegna couture suit; either way, it fits. It is heavenly in its own right, and a perfect illustration of classicism: if the design is excellent, it will remain so in the future. [It DID.]

On Parfumo, the lone review for Horizon is extremely positive, and talks about 12-14 hours of duration. The chap also mentions that his immediate reaction to testing the scent was “this smells like vintage Yohji Homme.” I may be remembering things incorrectly, but I believe I read somewhere that Yohji Homme was one of Luca Turin‘s favorite fragrances, and something whose loss or changes he’s mourned. Going back to the Profumo review, the commentator describes Horizon’s development, in part, as follows:

Horizon opens with a quick dash of almond before a slight powdery cocoa note emerges, mingling with a subtle dark dulled rose. As the fragrance enters the early heart the cocoa turns less powdery, blooming to full milk chocolate, as it mixes with the primary heart accord of boozy cognac and benzoin-laced semi-sweet amber. Natural woods and a touch of underlying anise join the remnants of the dull rose in support. As the fragrance enters the late dry-down, the cognac and dull rose dissipate while the relatively sweet amber remains dominant, now joined by traces of sanitized patchouli and suede-like leather. Projection is average and longevity is excellent to outstanding at 12-14 hours on skin.

You have no idea how utterly envious I am of such longevity. I loved the opening minutes of Horizon on me and, even more, the complete cognac-fest that exploded on my clothing. On the basis of smell alone, Horizon’s initial bouquet is extremely close to the ideal patchouli that I’ve been looking for since my old favorite from the 1980s, even if the subsequent development became very different. Alas, Horizon doesn’t ultimately work for me, but I’m sure that you will have better luck. It’s a lovely fragrance.

RÊVE D’OSSIAN:

Reve d'Ossian label. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Reve d’Ossian label. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

The romantic, 19th-century poetic style of Ossianism with its poems of fairies, dark forests and mysterious wood are the heart of the inspiration for Reve d’Ossian. Oriza’s detailed explanation on the fragrance and its backstory reads, in part:

Reve d'Ossian bottle. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

Reve d’Ossian bottle. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

The [Ossian-style] poems achieved international success (Napoléon Bonaparte was a great fan) and many writers, painters and artists were influenced by the works, including Ingres, Schubert and Oriza L. Legrand Perfumes. […]

“Rêve d’Ossian” is a perfect perfume for those who claim a difference and the rich heritage of the History. Dark and precious essences, wooden notes filled with the mystery of the forest with fairies and pixies…

Top Notes: Frankincense and Pine woods.
Heart Notes: Cinnamon, Benzoin, Tonka Bean and Opopanax [sweet myrrh].
Base Notes: Tolu Balm, Sandalwood, Leather, Labdanum, Amber and Musks.

Reve d’Ossian opens on my skin with sharp black pepper, myrrh’s white incense, warmly sweet cinnamon, aromatic pine needles, and dust. It’s like an old monastery’s library in the middle of some German forest. For me, the dominance of the dust and incense makes the opening share some thematic similarities to Bertrand Duchaufour‘s Dzonghka for L’Artisan Parfumeur and, to a lesser extent, Heeley‘s Cardinal. I’m not generally a huge fan of High Church fragrances with olibanum or myrrh, and even less so for things with great dustiness, so I’m rather pleased when the latter quickly disappears. Less than five minutes into Reve d’Ossian’s development, it vanishes, a small soapiness takes its place, and the whole thing turns more ambered.

FrankincenseQuickly, Reve d’Ossian turns into a warmer, woodier fragrance with flitting bits of green pine needles that feel as though you’ve crushed them on your walk through the forest and on your way to church. There is a dark resinous feel underlying the white incense smoke, a pungently aromatic overtone reminiscent of a wintery forest, and the feel of crisp, sweet, piney sap. Less than 60 minutes in, Reve d’Ossian turns soft, a hazy blur of the two types of myrrh incense — olibanum and opoponax — with a touch of amber and only a hint of the great, green, woody outdoors.

Source: de.123rf.com

Source: de.123rf.com

At the 2.5 hour mark, the focus of the perfume shifts away from the incense. Reve d’Ossian is now largely an amber scent infused with nutty, warm, soft sweetness of myrrh and a hint of olibanum’s soapy whiteness. It lies right on the skin with extremely weak sillage. The fragrance turns into more of a blur, and, at the start of the 6th hour, all traces of amber and sweet myrrh opoponax fade away. In fairness to Oriza, a greater application (around 4 sprays from the atomizer) yielded far better results, just close to 7.5 hours. The sillage, however, remained moderate to soft.

Reve d’Ossian is one of the few Oriza fragrances to have a Fragrantica entry. With regard to longevity and projection, the majority of the votes put it at “moderate,” though a few also vote for “weak” in each category. The few reviews thus far are all positive in nature with the most detailed, descriptive one stating:

It’s quite close to a balsamic Baghari by Piguet.
A surprising opening, aerial and metallic (aldehydes and terpineols?) notes of pine, old wood and foam on wet stone but it’s warming gently, blowing a strange impulse to this myrrh fragrance. The smell of warm lightly ambered paper, dry almost dusty leather binder. An impression of moor in the autumn.
It is so at odds with our modern conception of the perfume he could be the last release of Comme Des Garçons: Odeur 1900, without changing anything.
Truly a beautiful work of resurrection of the house, all these completely forgotten fragrances are high quality, both modern in their treatment and completely faithful to the spirit of time: a real success.

I haven’t tried Piguet‘s Baghari or the Comme de Garcons‘ scent to be able to compare, but I do agree with much of his description, especially the parts about a dusty leather binder and the dominant role of the myrrh. I also agree that it has a high-quality smell. That said, I think Reve d’Ossian has some problems with it: it has a linear aspect, it’s not enormously complex, and it has sillage issues.

Nonetheless, I liked it, even though it’s not the sort of scent I normally go for, and I thought it was done with a lot of graceful elegance. There was something very appealing about Reve d’Ossian, very softly comforting in its amber heart. I actually don’t think it smells very dated at all, and it’s hard to believe that it was originally created in 1905, more than 107 years ago. When you think of how many scents from the early 1900s were floral orientals or chypres like Mitsouko, while today niche fragrance counters abound with a plethora of “churchy” incense, amber scents, it seems clear that Oriza L. Legrand was far ahead of its time.

Next time, we’ll visit the remaining four creations of Oriza L. Legrand which are largely floral fragrances that are centered around carnation, lily, and assorted spring bouquets.

PRACTICAL DETAILS:
WebsiteOriza L. Legrand. There is an actual e-Store that sells the perfumes and offers perfume samples. All 7 fragrances in the range are offered in 2 ml spray vials for €9. Shipping is listed as €9 extra, but a friend said he was charged only €7. The perfumes themselves are all eau de parfum in concentration, at around 18% perfume oil, and cost €120 for 100 ml/3.4 oz. Other vendors in Europe: For a few other French vendors, like Marie-Antoinette in Paris’ Marais quarter, as well as one store in Sweden and one in the Netherlands, you can check Oriza Points of Sale page. The Netherlands retailer is Parfumaria.

Oriza L. Legrand: The History, The Store & The Perfumes

When perfumistas with vast, expensive fragrance collections and tastes similar to yours urge you repeatedly to do something because “you’ll love it,” a person tends to listen. Again and again, before my Paris trip, I was told that I had to go to Oriza L. Legrand, not because I am a history fanatic, but because of the sophistication, complexity, depth and elegant luxuriousness of their perfumes.

Chypre Mousse. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Chypre Mousse. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

I’m glad I listened, because I was utterly entranced. The history is fantastic, the boutique utterly adorable and filled with quirky personality, and the perfumes are lovely. In one case, so absolutely incredible that it stopped me in my tracks while on my way to buy my precious bell-jar from Serge Lutens. Those of you who know me (and my feelings about Serge Lutens) will realise that it takes a hell of a lot to make me turn around in my set journey to my perfume mecca — let alone to get distracted enough from Serge Lutens to buy another perfume, then and there, and after a mere 15 minutes!

But that is precisely what happened with Oriza L. Legrand‘s Chypre Mousse, a fragrance that I will review (along with some others from the line) in another post. The funny thing is that I had actually gone to Oriza with plans to investigate a completely different perfume, a patchouli-cognac-amber fragrance called Horizon whose lengthy list of notes had called to me like a siren song. It’s a beautiful patchouli-amber, but, in the end, it could not compare to the utterly haunting, unique loveliness that is Chypre Mousse. To me, Chypre Mousse is the damp, mossy, forest, leafy version of Serge Lutens‘ delicate floral triumph, De Profundis. My fellow blogging friend, Undina, once described De Profundis as a “homage to life,” and I think that beautiful phrase is also the ideal way to describe Chypre Mousse. I mean it quite seriously when I say that I think the perfume is a masterpiece.

Oriza logo. Source: the Oriza L. Legrand website.

Oriza logo. Source: the Oriza L. Legrand website.

I was impressed enough by Oriza L. Legrand (hereinafter just “Oriza“) that I decided to begin my coverage with a little overview of the brand. So this post will address Oriza’s history, its return to the perfume scene, and, at the very end, some of the fragrances that stood out for me. It will also focus on how the perfumes may have changed from their very original formulation. I was lucky to stumble across a superb interview with one of Oriza’s new owners in which he explains how he’s dealt with perfume formulas that go back to 1899 and the early 1900s, the tweaks he’s made in order to offer a slightly modernized version, some very famous fans of the new fragrances, and more.

In addition, I have to include some photos from my own time in the boutique. I loved the time-capsule feel of the store with its vintage posters or adverts from the early 1900s, its quirky collection of bow-ties made from vintage silk, and its brightly coloured window displays. As usual for this trip, my tiny camera wasn’t very cooperative. Nonetheless, I hope it gives you a little sense of what the Oriza boutique is like, especially if you are planning a visit to Paris. At the very end will be a discussion of some of my favorite Oriza perfumes thus far, along with their notes, and an explanation of how you can try the line for yourself.

THE HISTORY:

1720, King Louis XV, and famous beauties. Far before Guerlain, Grossmith, Creed or the like, there was Oriza L. Legrand. The brand originated with Fargeon the Elder who set up his first shop in the Louvre Palace’s central court, and who made a fragrance for the young king. It probably helped Oriza even more that Fargeon’s potions and creams were rumoured to be the secret of Ninon de Lenclosa great courtesan known for her beauty and eternal youth.

Composite of old Oriza photos and adverts, created by forevergreen.eu .  http://forevergreen.eu/a-fleur-de-peau/reliques-parfumees/

Composite of old Oriza photos and adverts, created by forevergreen.eu .
http://forevergreen.eu/a-fleur-de-peau/reliques-parfumees/

In a 2012 interview with the French blog, Flair Flair, one of Oriza’s current owners, Franck Belaiche, explains both the company’s name and what happened next:

As for the name of the house, it derives from Oryza Sativa, the latin name for rice, which was part of the cosmetics’ ingredients.

Then in 1811, Louis Legrand took over the house as he understood all the potential prestige it had. With its fragrant creations, he pushed it to its full extent. It is him who introduced the perfumes in the house although Fargeon, in his time, had created a fragrance for Louis XV, the young king.

He created the most refined, the most exquisite, the most complex things. Legrand was a true fragrance artist, like the perfumers one encounters in [Patrick Suskind’s book] Le Parfum. […][¶]

[Eventually] Oriza was one of the rare houses that provided the Courts of Russia, England, Italy and France. In France, it lasted until Napoleon 3. The house was also one of the firsts to turn its fragrances into lines of products. It has become the most natural thing now, but it wasn’t back at that time. For Déjà le Printemps, you had a perfume, a powder, make-up, soaps… You see, when I saw the industrial, powerful and innovative aspects of the house, I fell in love right away. I wanted to give it a second birth and give it its prestige back.

At the start of the 1900s, Oriza continued to enjoy success. It participated in the World Fairs, which were very big things back then and one of the rare occasions when the very best artisans, merchants, and luxury lines could present all their wares in one place. In essence, it was a sort of prestigious Olympics.In 1889, Oriza took home the Gold Medal for its perfumes but, in 1900, it received the very top honours with the Grand Prize. I’ve found a photo of the perfume which may have won and which may have been named after Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort.

One of the ancient Oriza baccarat bottles, as many used to be. This one seems to be for "Violets Prince Albert" and the winner of the First Place prize at the 1900 World Fair winner. Source: lylouannephotos.blogspot.com with the original on Flickr.

One of the ancient Oriza bottles, in baccarat crystal as many used to be. The name of this one translates to “Violets Prince Albert” and it seems to be the Grand Prize winner at the 1900 World Fair. Source: lylouannephotos.blogspot.com with the photo originally from Flickr.

Then, alas, things came to a crashing halt in the 1930s, and obviously WWII didn’t help matters. The house completely died.

THE RETURN OF ORIZA L. LEGRAND:

Franck Belaiche. Source: Flair Flair.

Franck Belaiche. Source: Flair Flair.

Decades later, a perfume lover stumbled across the Oriza name while doing research in a library. It was Franck Belaiche. As he told Flair Flair in the interview linked above, his background was in the movie and television industry, but he loved perfumes. So, he bought the brand with the goal of putting it back on its feet:

I’d spotted Oriza Legrand while doing some research and reading in libraries. Soon, I was fascinated by its story and how it was a precursor of so many things. The house seemed to me like it was one of the creating actors of today’s perfumery.  […]

What did you think when you bought it? What did you want to do with it?
I wanted to make it modern while keeping its essence and soul intact. I first had to select, among the 80 fragrances that had been created, which ones were likely to be adapted, reworked from their original formulas, and still be appealing. A good number of them are not easy to wear, especially since Raynaud and the steam extraction technique gave birth to many florals. But there were also a few synthetic molecules which allowed the creation of what we would call today “orientals”. I’ve had to work with the labs to see what we could do based on the formulas and also on the juices, since I have managed to get hold of some old, full bottles. I wanted to get close to the old perfumes while making them modern, without betraying them.

So from the beginning you wanted to make these formulas contemporary? It was never about saying “This is exactly what perfume smelled like back then”?
No, and let’s face it, that would have been impossible. First because of the raw materials that we can no longer use, and also because it would have mean making sent-bon (French for smell good). Besides, although these fragrances were high quality, they correspond to a time that is not necessarily ours. With Déjà le Printemps, just like the three others, we are very close to the original, but there is this little something that makes it modern. Careful though, reworking a fragrance does not mean making it attractive to a majority. Right now, I am working on the next two perfumes, which will come out at the end of January.

The whole 2012 interview is fascinating, excellent, and really informative. I urge any of you who may be interested in the technical aspects of how ancient fragrances are brought back to life, to read it in full. It addresses everything from the work process with the laboratory in Grasse and its chemists and perfumers, to the way that perfumes have changed since the time of Louis XV, and the company’s future plans. You can also learn more about Oriza, its current ownership, and the reconstruction of its scents from the lovely Caro of Te de Violetas who interviewed Mr. Belaiche back in September of this year.

One part I found interesting in the Flair Flair interview was Mr. Belaiche’s explanation for why all the new “re-edits” of the original Oriza line pertained to its 1900-era fragrances, instead of the 1720s one. As he explains, it would not have been easy to do a tweaked version of something like Violette du Tsar, a perfume created for the Tsar of Russia. Moreover, “not a lot of people would have enjoyed it, and then starting with old perfumes didn’t seem to me like a relevant way of bringing the house back to life.” (But aren’t you dying to know what that may have smelled like?!) Clearly, Mr. Belaiche is not trying to recreate fragrances merely for the sake of nostalgia and historical curiosity. Instead, he wants to do the house proper justice by making Oriza a viable, current, commercially successful brand with a long-term future. In other words, he’s not trying to create a museum, but a living and breathing house that has a chance of success beyond just the initial curiosity factor.

The Relique d'Amour.  Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

The Relique d’Amour. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

Judging by the interest of two famous clients who are known for having exquisite, expensive tastes, I think he’s off to a good start. In the Flair Flair interview, Mr. Belaiche mentioned that the great Catherine Deneuve and Isabelle Adjani are fans of the line. According to Mr. Belaiche, Oriza’s customers generally fall into two groups:

either they are foreigners from Russia, America or the Middle East, fascinated by the house’s story; or they are demanding customers from France who don’t want to wear what everyone is wearing. We were pleased to welcome Catherine Deveuve and Isabelle Adjani, who fell in love with the house. […]

[Their perfume choices:] Déjà le Printemps for Catherine Deneuve and Relique d’Amour for Isabelle Adjani.

I met Mr. Belaiche when I went to the Oriza boutique, along with his business partner and fellow Oriza owner, Hugo Lambert. They were both charming and very kind, though Mr. Belaiche seemed to blink a little at the extent of my enthusiastic outbursts over the fragrances and their quality. I don’t think he’s used to someone babbling a thousand words of English a minute, mixed in with French, while sniffing everything, taking photos from every angle, suddenly stopping in their tracks to announce “Aha! Armagnac! This has aged cognac in it!” in response to one fragrance, and being the sort of whirlwind that is rather uncommon to the very restrained French. I hope he took it as the compliment that it is — there are many niche perfume houses these days, I’m extremely hard to please, and I rarely find a brand to have impressively sophisticated, high-quality, original, creative or luxurious offerings almost across the entire line.

Relique d'Amour poster. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

Relique d’Amour poster and perfume label. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

I’d like to thank Mr. Belaiche for letting me take photos of the boutique, and I can only apologise to him for my camera taking such poor photos. While I’m at it, I’d also like to thank Mr. Lambert for providing me with a small decant of the beautiful patchouli scent, Horizon, to go with my purchase, even though he had to dig up a long vial from the back. As a side note, I wish I had managed to take photos of all the vintage Oriza posters and adverts framed under glass in the store. They were fascinating, and I’m so glad the new owners have kept the brand’s aesthetic, both in terms of the feel of their boutique and their perfume’s packaging. I’m a complete sucker for Art Deco, so I love Oriza’s brightly coloured labels with the old-style, vintage fonts.

Without further ado, here are a few photos of the Oriza store on rue Saint-Augustin:

The exterior of the colourful store.

The exterior of the colourful store.

Oriza 4-B

One Oriza store window, featuring Chypre Mousse and some of its collection of vintage bowties.

One Oriza store window, featuring Chypre Mousse and some of its collection of vintage bowties.

Some of the soaps from the Oriza line.

Some of the soaps from the Oriza line, along with boxed perfumes wrapped in wonderfully old-fashioned, patterned paper.

Oriza 5 B

Part of the Oriza collection of bowties made out of vintage silk fabric.

Part of the Oriza collection of bowties made out of vintage silk fabric.

One of the bowties up close.

One of the bowties up close.

Some of the original 1900s posters and adverts for Oriza fragrances, now framed and under glass.

Some of the original 1900s posters and adverts for Oriza fragrances, now framed and under glass.

THE PERFUMES TODAY:

I think Oriza is going to go places simply because the majority of its perfumes really don’t smell like anything else that I’ve encountered. (Chypre Mousse…. oh, Chypre Mousse!!!) They have the classique feel of fragrances created in decades gone by, much like the very old Guerlains legends. It is a feel that — somehow, I don’t know how — seems miraculously untouched by the impact of IFRA. Like Sleeping Beauties put to sleep in 1900 and awakened today, the Oriza fragrances have body, layers of notes, a very rich, concentrated feel, and the elegant signature of something that is both very French and very “perfume.”

That said, I don’t think the perfumes are generally something that a novice perfumista with commercial tastes would relate to very well. These are not scents that someone used to Estée Lauder‘s Beautiful or Viktor & Rolf‘s Flowerbomb would understand. I think that perfumistas whose tastes skew towards uncomplicated, light, clean, and wispy scents would also struggle a little. None of the Oriza fragrances that I’ve tried thus far would qualify as “wispy” or simple — thank God. They’re nothing like the By Kilian‘s with their largely straightforward, basic nature, or sometimes gourmand fruitiness. They’re too purely French to be like an Amouage or a Neela Vermeire, though they sometimes share both those house’s opulent sophistication. They’re full-bodied and with a vintage feel in terms of both their potent richness, their complexity, and their sophistication. If you like the early Guerlains, the complicated originality of some Serge Lutens creations, or the sophisticated weight of Roja Dove’s fragrances, then Oriza L. Legrand will be for you.

Oriza's list of perfumes with their original date of production.

Oriza’s list of perfumes with their original date of production.

Thus far, Oriza has seven “returned” fragrances. The list of the eau de parfums with their original date of creation:

  • Relique D’Amour (1900)
  • Rêve d’Ossian (1900) -(Fragrantica gives a different debut date for Reve d’Ossian which it lists as a 1905 creation, but I’m going by what was listed in Oriza’s own shop window in Paris.)
  • Oeillet Louis XV (1909)
  • Jardins d’Armide (1909)
  • Chypre Mousse (1914) (Fragrantica incorrectly states that this one is from 1920.)
  • Déjà Le Printemps (1920)
  • Horizon (1925).
Jardins d'Armide. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

Jardins d’Armide. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

Though I haven’t finished testing the whole line yet, the ones I have loved the most thus far have been three. Chypre Mousse wins, hands down and by a landslide, as one of the most fascinating, haunting, evocative chypres I’ve smelled in ages. It is then followed with Horizon and Reve d’Ossian in a neck-and-neck position. The florals that I’ve briefly and cursorily tested thus far have sometimes smelled dated to me, though generally not in a bad way. Only one of those triggered a strongly negative reaction: Jardins d’Armide, which felt too painfully difficult and old-fashioned with its heavy powder and its soapy feel. However, my perception has to be put in the context of one who dislikes powdery scents, and who loathes anything soapy, even expensive floral soap!

So, what are the notes in some of my favorites? Oriza provides the following details for my top 3:

CHYPRE MOUSSE:

    • Top Notes tonic & balsamic: Wild mint, clary sage, wild fennel & green shoots.
    • Heart notes aromatic & flowing properties: Oakmoss, Galbanum, Angelica, fern, wild clover, Mastic & Violet leaves.
    • Backgrounds Notes mossy  & leathery: Vetiver, Pine Needles, Oak Moss, Mushroom fresh Humus, Roasted Chestnut Leather, labdanum & Balms.
Reve d'Ossian label. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Reve d’Ossian label. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

REVE D’OSSIAN:

    • Top Notes: Frankincense and Pine woods.
    • Heart Notes: Cinnamon, Benzoin, Tonka Bean and Opopanax [sweet myrrh].
    • Base Notes: Tolu Balm, Sandalwood, Leather, Labdanum, Amber and Musks.
Horizon. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Horizon. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

HORIZON:

    • Top Notes: Bitter orange, Tangerine Confit & Dried Rose.
    • Heart Notes: Cognac Amber, Aromatic Tobacco Leaves, Cocoa, Roasted Almonds, Old Oak & Patchouli.
    • Base Notes: Benzoin, Amber Gray [ambergris], Peat, Tabac Blond, Vanilla, Honey & Soft Leather.
Chypre Mousse. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Chypre Mousse. Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

One thing that I need to emphasize about many of these note lists is that I don’t think they accurately convey the real nature of the fragrances. One reason is that the perfumes are superbly blended and a bit linear, so that you often get an overall effect, rather than a detailed, distinctive sense of each of their parts. For another, something about many of these fragrances is… well, for lack of a better term, other-worldly. I’ll be honest and say that one reason why I’ve put off reviewing Chypre Mousse is that I’m not sure I could even BEGIN to describe it properly and in-depth. I’m not one who is usually at a loss for descriptors or olfactory adjectives, but Chypre Mousse may be beyond my abilities. The smell is simply like nothing I’ve encountered.

Given how many of the perfumes really are a “sum total” effect due to their seamless, fluid, often linear structure, I fear I’m merely going to have to give descriptive snippets of each. At times, my account may amount to instinctive abstractions, as in the case of Relique d’Amour:

RELIQUE D’AMOUR:

    • Top notes: Fresh Herbs, Pine.
    • Middle notes: Powdery Notes, White Lily, Pepper, Oak, Incense, Myrrh, Elemi.
    • Base notes: Musk, Moss, Waxed Wood, Woody Notes, Pepper.

Oriza describes it as “the smell of an old chapel of Cistercian abbey.” I think that gives a misleading impression of the perfume, as do the notes themselves. It is far from a dusty, cold, dark, foresty, woody, High Church olibanum/myrrh scent. To me, it’s a very complex, unusual, quite twisted take on a lily scent that actually feels like a Serge Lutens, only very old in nature. Relique d’Amour is different, original, and stands out a mile away — and it won’t be easy to summarize it in the upcoming review. [UPDATE 11/6 — You can find my reviews of the full Oriza line at the following links: Chypre Mousse, Horizon and Reve d’Ossian in one post; and the 4 remaining, largely floral fragrances in this second post.]

All in all, I think Oriza L. Legrand is a line that is definitely worth exploring. Though there are no U.S. retailers (yet), it’s easy to order directly from the company. In addition to the full bottles of the perfumes, they offer a sample set of the complete line. It’s quite inexpensive at €9 for 7 fragrances that come in 2 ml vials, thereby giving you quite a few test wearings. I think it’s well worth the minimal cost, and I believe Oriza ships the samples world-wide. If you’d like to sniff very elegant, very French, perfumed Sleeping Beauties, brought back to life after more than a century and in a largely unchanged form, give Oriza a try.  

PRACTICAL DETAILS:
WebsiteOriza L. Legrand. There is an actual e-Store that offers perfume samples. All 7 fragrances in the range are offered in 2 ml spray vials for €9. Shipping is listed as €9 extra, but a friend said he was charged only €7. The perfumes themselves are all eau de parfum in concentration, and cost €120 for 100 ml/3.4 oz. Store address: 18 rue Saint-Augustin, 75002 Paris, France. Hours: Monday – Friday: 10:00 am to 7:30 pm; Saturday: 1:00 pm to 7:30 pm. Metro: Opéra ou 4 Septembre. Phone: 01 71 93 02 34. Other vendors in Europe: For a few other French vendors, as well as one store in Sweden and one in the Netherlands, you can check Oriza Points of Sale page. The Netherlands retailer is Parfumaria.