Ormonde Jayne launches ‘The Four Corners of the Earth’

by Katie on October 29, 2012

We met at Victoria station on a grim October day for a trip on the Orient Express. A lovely and 1920s evocative journey to Whitstable and back may not be a catapult to the ‘Four Corners of the Earth’ but it certainly enlivened our imaginations and whetted our taste buds for the unusual and extravagant.

If Ormonde Jayne’s existing stable of perfumes raise the bar in terms of ingredients, concentration and delivery, then Ormonde’s newest quartet entitled ‘The Four Corner of the Earth’ seal the deal in terms of luxe and longing. 

Initially inspired by an article she had read in The Wall Street Journal talking of the ‘brick economies’ and their influence, Linda Pilkington (of Ormonde Jayne) made it her mission to encapsulate these economies in a fragrance that depicted each of their essences. Realising the largess of her task and the time she had allocated to complete her project, Pilkington then turned to home city of London as inspiration. Using it’s cosmopolitan diversity as well as Pilkington’s past travels (train journeys across Russia and ranches in South America), she set to visiting different renowned ethnic areas of the Capital (such as Soho’s Chinatown) in order to experience the mood, the food, the tastes, the smells and the reality of this group. London, with it’s colonial heritage and one of the biggest and most diverse populations in the world can give the ‘four corners’ experience, it appears. Touché.

And what fragrances Pilkington has created, each with their own brand of luxurious oomph,  wildly different with their own brand of intrigue. Using the collaborative skills and knowledge of lifelong friend and maverick perfumer, Geza Schoen (the nose behind Escentric Molecules), she researched and refined to appeal to the sentiments of each of these brick economies – which is a wily, smart move in terms of sales as well as marketing. Target consumer rife, buoyant economies and combine with a hint of refined, niche, luxury London brand and hey presto, success surely awaits. It’s no surprise that Ormonde Jayne is one of the most sought after perfumery brands in the mecca of all things brick & economy, Harrods.

‘The Four Corners of the World’ experience begins with the weakest in terms of appeal to a Western nose (to my mind) but a haven for Oriental tourists, Qi. Qi’s lightness and airiness and instant high in the nose, green-tea tinged scent is calming, soft and rather whimsical like those ‘Ah grasshopper…’ Kung Fu type sayings. Pilkington explained the Chinese aversion to strong smells and their preference for a clean, inoffensive, balanced approach and this is certainly it. Qi, meaning ‘breath of life’ comes across as new and persistently as a baby’s cry. It is light, sharp and floral with a sharp green tinge that moves to slightly dusty and cloudy, like original Chinese tea with its middle tea notes and mix of osmanthus, violet, rose and hedione. It’s saving grace is it’s base note of benzoin, musk, moss and myrrh but Qi is, like most Chinese teas, an acquired taste, when us Brits are more used to a builder’s blend of stronger and more gutsy Tetley and Typhoo. (Qi is priced £260 for 100ml EDP).

Fast forward to an Indian take on Middle Eastern Oudh and we have lift off in Nawab of Oudh. This is the one I instantly turned to (along with lots of my colleagues) for its bowl me over prettiness, femininity and sensuality. Yes girls, it’s all here in one fragrance and yes, I can recommend it’s glorious full bodied finesse. This has to be worn to wow. 

The name, Nawab of Oudh, gives a slightly masculine tinge which is so far from the truth of the scent that it must be its one downside. Inspired more by India (than the Middle East) where prized Agarwood is grown and infected, giving the most precious Oudh in the world, Nawab of Oudh takes the wearer to a new and beautiful place. The most heady, soft, sensual amber kick blends with musk and ambergris with middle notes of orchid, magnolia, hedione, bay and cinammon to make a gloriously different, feminine, wearable Oudh that beguiles from first sniff. The jewel in the Nawab’s crown, oudh, is stirred in at the last moment to take the fragrance to heaven and back. Like a beautiful woman under a Niqāb, the scent hints at glamour and complexity underneath. Sweet, wondrous and knock-you-off-your-feet captivating, Nawab of Oudh is unforgettable. (Nawab of Oudh is priced £332 for 100ml EDP)

Now onto my most difficult to define, complex-like-a-chypre type perfume, Tsarina. Linda used the strength, beauty, blinginess and regal attitude of a typical Russian tsarina as inspiration. What comes across may be as complex, difficult and devastatingly attractive as the women who wear it. It’s a mystery that changes course. Just when you think you have her, she changes course again. As changeable as her moods, the constant is the sublime powdery musk ridden vanilla base. She’s a beauty. But an undefinable beauty. She appears regal and classic but has a haughty, egocentric ‘look at me’ facet that pulls you in. Tsarina’s a bit of an enigma. Like a Guerlain classic, the complex buzz keeps you hooked but is a tad more modern boutique hotel bar than Claridges or The Crillon. In keeping with the multitidinous Russian ruble and the taste for visible luxury, Tsarina’s appeal is her opulence. With middle notes of jasmine sambac, freesia, hedione, iris and suede, there’s enough old school in there for a girl to play with modernism. (Tsarina is priced £280 for 100ml EDP)

Saving (one of the) best till last, there’s Montabaco. Again, seemingly masculine, this fragrance kicks like an Argentinian mule in cashmere slippers from the beginning. Montabaco is more handsome than beautiful…but strikingly so like Katharine Hepburn, Edith Sitwell or Virginia Woolf. Full of character and big on personality, Montabaco combines the passion of the tango with the rough hewn living of a true Gaucho boy, tearing strips across the Argentinian plains. It’s a juxtaposition of two forms and that’s why it’s so interesting. As smooth as suede but with a kickback of tobacco leaf paired with tequila downed with salt and lemon. 

Montabaco is possibly the most unisex of the set of fragrances but also the most characterful. Like any woman who chooses to wear the trousers, Montabaco challenges conventions but charming while forthright. And, like all good men’s fragrances from yesteryear, there’s a strong floral side to Montabaco which makes is the choice for either sex. Magnolia, hedione, rose and violet  make up the mainstay while the soft, soft ambergris, tonka, suede and sandalwood bring down the tobacco leaf. There lies a defiant biting hint of sage and juniper that carries through to the dry-down which is no bad thing, indeed. Montabaco is as bitingly beautiful and as passionate as the continent that inspired it. (Montabaco is priced £260 for 100ml EDP).

The Four Corners of the Earth perfumes are available from Ormonde Jayne perfumeries in Old Bond Street, Pavilion Road, Sloane Square and Harrods, Knightsbridge and at http://www.ormondejayne.com/

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Monica November 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm

I do love Tolu from Ormonde Jayne and can’t wait to try one (or all) of these fragrances.I think Linda’s perfumes are beautifully unique. Your blog has made me so excited!


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