Ormonde Woman Eau de Parfum by Ormonde Jayne Review
Ormonde Woman has a natural and comforting feel that’s fresh without being clinical and powder-soft without smelling like cosmetics or plastic. There’s nothing else like it. It’s a fascinating mix of fresh and powdery notes that comes off as soft and poised, intellectual but gentle. Nose Geza Schoen has really created something original here for London-based natural perfume brand Ormonde Jayne.
Don’t be mistaken, though: Ormonde Woman’s soft-spoken composure contains a deep well of strength, run through with mystery, wisdom, and witchcraft. Ormonde Woman knows she doesn’t have to be loud or boisterous to be self-assured; her power is apparent when she enters the room.
The first thing I can smell in the opening is that delicious freshly-cut grass, surrounded by hints of warm spice that feel comforting and kind. The grass is fresh, green, and ephemeral, disappearing almost entirely within the first thirty minutes, but it’s a suitable note to open Ormonde Woman: it is witty and refreshing, but not too snappy, with a natural, gentle authenticity that matches the soft timbre of the rest of the scent.
This is no harsh, abrasive, masculine vetiver-lite sun-dried grass note; this is the mouthwatering vegetal scent of wet, succulent, dew-soaked bright green grass, with thick chartreuse stalks at the base and rich minerals in the dark, damp earth.
At no point does any of this freshness feel like cheap cucumber-melon calones: the grass has real dimension and depth, with wetness and green facets beyond simple concentrated freshness.
This refreshing burst of green is balanced with the powder, warm spice, and woodiness of the rest of the scent, creating a first impression that is a fascinating melange of wildly different accords combined skillfully with a light hand.
The body of Ormond Woman is largely made up of a powdery violet. This is not an artificial, plastic tile powder note, nor is it a makeup powder note of a compact or a lipstick.
It feels very faintly floral, but not overwhelmingly so: I only sense a faint floral nuance when I go searching for jasmine in Ormonde Woman, finding none and coming away with the very faint natural scent of a delicate, light-colored violet. The powder here is difficult to describe, but above all it feels gentle and natural, soft and yet with some genuine heft and weight to it, like a heavy grain finely ground to dust.
In fact, something about this powder most prominently reminds me of oatmeal — perhaps not literally, but in the heft, substance, and moderate sweetness of the powder, with a hint of warm spice, this smells a little like the way colloid oatmeal adds a gentle weight to the scent of shampoos and lotions when it is added for its hydration benefits.
The cardamom and coriander add a delectable warm spice and tiny touch of sweetness to the mixture, enhancing the oatmeal illusion. This is not a cinnamon-sweet snickerdoodle, but a wholesome and nutritious warm breakfast cooling by a windowsill.
The scent of porridge and spices wafts out and mixes with the early morning smells of dew on grass, tiny wild violets, and black hemlock growing in the distance. This is a quiet summer morning, contemplative and cool and soaked in fine mist, with the sun just beginning to come up.
The nature of the powder in Ormonde Woman depends largely on temperature. In a house that is a few degrees too warm, it feels plastic and stifling. In a slightly chilly home where stingy energy-conservers guard the thermostat in winter, however, Ormonde Woman is a natural wonder, a reminder of fresh summer mornings, a perfect bowl of warm oatmeal, characterized by woody and resinous warm spices first, and gentle, weighty powder afterwards.
I smell something like tea in this phase as well, which may be another trick of the warm spices reminding me of spiced chai, but there really is something with the faint, delectable warm bitterness of earl grey tea here, with a hint of juicy bergamot and a swirl of dark and smoky flavor. The dark smoke here is probably that of the black hemlock, also known as mountain hemlock, Canadian hemlock, or tsuga. Here it has a texture that really is similar to black tea to me, dark and smoky and rich.
There is also something damp, refreshing and woody to the black hemlock, blending together with the dewy grass in the opening. The cool freshness is a bit like a hint of spruce. I get the impression of a tall, dark, strong and powerful tree standing in the distance if our delicate summer cottage surrounded by wet grass and tiny wild violets. It is quiet and contemplative, a gentle giant soaking up the morning sun, a friend and protector to the kind and clever witch that lives in the cottage.
Along with this touch of stoic, cool spruce-like wood, there is a significant streak of warm woodiness running through the heart of the gentle and wise Ormonde Woman, opening with the more wooden facets of coriander and slowly revealing a comforting mix of woods mildly sweetened by amber. The warmth and gentle spice of sandalwood is most prominent, while perhaps the vetiver and cedar sing along with the fresh accord of grass above them in sympathetic resonance.
This is a largely linear scent, becoming fainter, softer, and gentler with time without much evolution of the notes. The freshness of grass is mostly gone within the first hour. About five hours in, a lovely honeyed sandalwood becomes more prominent in the base, lit up by amber the color of glowing orange Christmas lights. The warm spices and black hemlock become progressively more and more faint, while the powdery violet becomes a softer, lighter, gentler powder by the hour. By and large, though, Ormonde Woman is recognizable as the same scent from beginning to end.
Ormonde Woman lasts a respectable about six hours, with strong but not overwhelming projection. Hints and whispers of the scent linger for up to twelve hours afterward, floating up past your face in a faint puff of powder when you least expect them. This impressive longevity is paired with fairly strong performance, with just a tiny hint of Ormonde Woman detectable from several feet away for at least the first few hours.
This is a tiny wood cabin in the sort of dark coniferous forest I remember being the backdrop of numerous old Soviet cartoons (like this one). Despite this warm, wet, verdant September imagery — or perhaps because of it — Ormonde Woman is perhaps most gorgeous in winter. She is a warm and powdery comfort on a freezing cold day in January. It’s a comfort a little like that warm dusty smell your heating unit gives your home in the winter, cozy and soft. She is a dark forest-green cashmere sweater you wear while wandering the silent stacks of the library, feeling very pretty, very at peace, very still, and just a tiny bit melancholy, feeling this moment slipping by, never to be experienced just like this again.
Although she fascinates me, Ormonde Woman is ultimately too powdery for me to wear right now. I gifted the perfume to my mother, who adores it. Nonetheless, I’m sad to let it go, and know that I will revisit Ormonde Woman in time as I develop my palate and my ability to enjoy fine powdery scents, because there is no question in my mind that this is the very best. Even if you can’t stand powdery scents generally — as I do — this is one that just might expand your horizons.
I know I’ll come back to Ormonde Woman someday when I’m ready for her. I miss her. I ache for her. I’m not ready for her yet, but someday, the right moment will come, and she’ll be out there for me.
We all have perfumes like that, don’t we? Perfumes that feel like they’re waiting out there for us. Patiently watching over us, keeping us company from afar until the time is right to step into them again. It feels like Ormonde Woman is out there comforting me with her cozy powdery oatmeal aura even as a memory.
If you aren’t afraid of a little natural powderiness and enjoy the quiet, contemplative imagery I’ve outlined here, of dewy summer mornings in a small cottage surrounded by violets, with a strong black hemlock tree and a kind yet clever witch, Ormonde Woman is for you. Her still and silent early-morning strength will find the right wearer. You will feel extraordinarily lucky if that wearer is you.