Monday, 13 January 2014

Oriza, L.LeGrand perfume reviews, Part One

A few months ago fellow perfume blogger Kafkaesque mentioned the French perfume house Oriza L.LeGrand and their good value sample sets on twitter. A quick look at their website showed some rather beautifully designed labels and retro bottles, and as I'm easily persuaded by nice looking things, I ordered it. The set has been sitting in my drawer for quite some time, but now that I have sampled them all I want to write down my combined impression of all the scents in two posts. First of all, I'm never quite sure what to make of these reenacted perfume houses, and in all honesty I don't really care whether they have been powdering wigs since the 18th century or produced soap for the Pope when he took refuge in Avignon, but I'll give you the back story in short:
Oriza L.LeGrand was founded in 1720, the company claim to have invented the solid perfume in 1887,  won prices at a number of World Trade fairs and then went off the radar until 2013.  It has now been revived with a collection of, so far, 7 perfumes and various candles, soaps and skin care products. The samples I ordered came in a little envelope with a leaflet proudly stating:"Aux Armes de France & de Russie" which I thought was a bit trying too hard. I have tried all 7 fragrances , 6 of them in depths. Overall I have to say that the scents are very, very interesting and intriguing. They are aiming to be true to historic recipes and the description and the typographical design of the labels give a good idea of what the perfumers intended to create. Not one of them is in any way trying to be modern, subtle or "ironic".  

To have that out of the way first: I can't review Oeillet Louis XV. It's a carnation so true to it's name that it makes me gag. Sorry for that, but I have a real problem with carnations. If anyone wants the sample, please drop me a note, I'm happy to give it to a carnation loving home.

Reve d'Ossian
Is inspired by 18th century cycle of The Celtic poems by James Macpherson of which I know very little (Mendelssohns Fingal's cave ouverture doesn't really count, I assume). This is a dry woody incense perfume, reminding me not so much of a full on Roman Catholic church incense (more of that later) but of the little cone things you can put inside wooden figurines to make them "smoke". Raeuchermaennchen. Very popular in Germany, those.

And may be because it reminds me of childhood, I like the fragrance. It has a pine wood, fir needles and christmas quality to it, the incense typical melancholy and it just smells good. There is also, but that is probably down to my memories playing havoc, a savoury, dried and cured meat element hidden somewhere. The note description lists Tonka Bean and cinnamon, and I can detect those sweeter notes, but I wouldn't call RO a sweet incense. This is a perfume for winter. Proper winter. Not that sludge and rain we have had since November. It has quite a low sillage on me, stays linear during the dry down and lasts about 6 hours on my skin. It's a very nice alternative to some of the stronger, more acrid scents of the genre, and I will wear my sample when I need some real winter comfort. I've chosen mostly muted colours and lots of black for the image, but it's a warming scent, and I've tried to find an abstract way of representing the element of flames and smoke. It would actually make a nice pattern for a rug,  placed in front of the fireplace of a mid century decorated home.  

My visual interpretation of Reve d'Ossian

How and where to wear:
You come in from the cold and the heating hasn't kicked in yet. A wood burning stove or open fire would be great, but your fireplace has been ripped out when they converted the Victorian terrace house into flats sometime in the 80's. Put the kettle on and take a good sniff.

Deja le Printemps
Spring has sprung. Green things are forcing themselves through the ground. Hello grass, hello birds, hello flowers. Deja le Printemps is a very very green fragrance with some sprinkles of colour, but the spring it represents is in its early days, so not all that much is out in the open yet. Some herbs, a bit moss, and a lot of:
My visual/typographical interpretation of Deja le Printemps

A fresh, herby grassy scent, quite strong in the opening, that, given it's green notes, lasts remarkably long (6 hours) on me. I can sense camomile, mint, and all sorts of other plants you would find on a meadow in spring but nothing is sticking out too much for attention, at least not in the beginning. Later in the dry down the lily of the valley makes a more distinguished appearance, and behind all the freshness lurks a sinister element, some sort of fairy living in dark and dangerous woods, preying on foolish humans. As much as I admire the structure and the execution: this perfume is quite extraordinary, but not for me. I'm too much of an urban creature. I will, however, give this scent to M. and see what he makes of it. I have a feeling that it will work better on a man, urban or not. 

How and where to wear:
Be a (naughty) Faun for a day

This is the end of part One of my Oriza LeGrand post, I will cover the remaining fragrances Chypre Mousse, Horizon, Relique d"Amour and Jardin d'Armide
in the next days


  1. I'm eyeing that sample set but I'm not ready yet: I might end up buying just a couple of samples of those that I'm the most interested in (Deja le Printemps and Chypre Mousse) locally.

    I'm curious if you decide to go for a FB of any of these after testing (but I'll wait for the other reviews).

  2. I find the scents all worth trying, apart from the carnation.
    Chypre Mousse will be in the last installment...