So, finally the reviews of the last two Orizas, Jardins d'Armide and Chypre Mousse. Both perfumes should, in theory, be right up my street. The first, Jardins d'Armide for its Florentine iris and violets, and the Chypre for...well, being a chypre. But the house of Oriza has so far been a surprise and my expectations have been turned upside down more than once.
Seduction, beauty, evil, love, hate and subsequent death, what's not to like? Operas have been written, ballets been performed, paintings been commissioned. Armide, the sorceress who bewitched the good Christian crusader Rinaldo and kept him in an enchanted garden has inspired many composers and painters and it's only natural that the story has found its way into a perfume bottle. Albeit in 1909, and herein lies the problem. Of all the Oriza fragrances I have tested, this is the most old fashioned, in an "hasn't aged well" sort of way. Where Reve d'Ossian or Relique d'Amour are interesting and fascinating nods towards good old times, Jardins is just old. Despite notes and accords that sound good on paper, the whole composition is a strange mix of soapiness and compact powder. The top citrus note never goes away but hovers over a sweetness that doesn't really know what it wants to smell like. The iris is just pure powder and can't ground this fragrance at all. At this stage ( 1 to 3 hours in) it's weirdly clean AND dirty. Not filthy, sexy dirty, just like someone covering up BO with too much fragrance. I did give up on it by that time, not scrubbing it off but wishing it away. To my surprise it did get rid of the soapiness after about 6 hours and a strong vanilla and sweet rose note greeted me, but it was too little too late. This perfume shows the limitations you have to consider when you recreate ancient recipes. Things have moved on a bit since the early 20th century. I would love to see someone taking the story of Armide or Circe as an inspiration for a scent and give it a modern, not afraid to be called Feminist twist.
I have always liked chypres. Even when I didn't know what they were. I prefer mine to be more on the feminine side with a dash of floriental. Not too green and not too mossy. Just a tiny bit.
Chypre Mousse is a great chypre, no doubt. It has plenty of different wild things in various stages of green-ness, and I keep finding new elements in it whenever I wear it. On the paper strip is was initially a lot softer than on my skin, where for the first 2 hours I found something lingering that I couldn't identify. I thought it was the fennel note, but after 3 wearings I'm not sure any more what sort of herby thing is stimulating my nostrils here.
|My image for Chypre Mousse|
I believe it's a scent for the Great Outdoors, for exploring Nature with a capital N. It doesn't evoke silks and velvets, but tweeds and old leather. Having said that, it is a very complex and not at all rustic fragrance. I'm thinking James Bond driving in his Jaguar in the Scottish Highlands here, not Christopher Lambert as Highlander in a rugged kilt. The notes listed range from wild fennel to oakmoss, angelica, clover and pine to mushrooms, earth and roasted chestnuts and they seem to come and go at random, not really one accord following the other. You could call it a linear fragrance, but each time I wear it it smells slightly different and I love the way you can explore aspects of it. Like any really great landscape its colours change dramatically with the light, but it has, there is no denying it, a masculine hue. Doesn't deter me, but means that it won't find its way in my Full Bottle collection. It has medium silage on my skin but excellent staying power. My image for it is based on a photo I took on a recent trip to Dartmoor National park, a terrain that would make a fantastic backdrop for that perfume. I can see myself wearing Chypre Mousse if we go on another hiking tour there, but more likely I will give it to M. to wear it. The hiking theme inspired my How and Where as well,
How and where to wear:
The sky above is endless, the weather changes within a blink of an eye and the moss under your feet is like a fluffy carpet woven by elves.
Although I had found it somewhat difficult to stick to the discipline of wearing and reviewing the 6 perfumes of the house of Oriza Legrand, I do think it was totally worth it. All the fragrances are rich and multifaceted. Even the one I personally didn't like had a story to tell and not one scent left me with this dreaded feeling of "Bof ". As mentioned above, I think reformulating and recreating old recipes is laudable but not necessarily always a good idea and I would love to see the house regarding its past but also working on a transition into something contemporary. Telling old stories with a modern voice, letting us explore new mythical gardens and fill them with a fresh breath of life. I will definitely keep an eye out for their perfumes and would highly recommend testing them if you haven't done yet.