Friday, 17 January 2014

Oriza L.LeGrand Part Two

The second part of my review of the delightful perfumes of French house Oriza L.LeGrand will start with one of the scents I was most looking forward to:


Just have a look at the bottle design. Isn't it pretty? I love the pattern on the label, but by now you probably know that I love patterns. The typeface makes all the right noises towards the roaring twenties and the description from the website is mouthwatering:

The materials, colors, shapes symbolize a new freedom and portend, at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties, the hope of a new HORIZON.
At the height of its history and in its own way to celebrate the Roaring Twenties and the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in 1925, the House Oriza L. Legrand created HORIZON, Oriental fragrance for boys and tomboys, fragrance of Precious Woods and Ambergris agreements Tabac Blond and Soft Leather.

And whether your time travel destination to celebrate all this decadence is Paris, Berlin or's most definitely  a big city. Urban. The 20's in deep rural countryside? That's  depression and hunger. No one wants to smell like that. So why oh why to I get this whiff of barnyard?  But one step after the other. I should get: Bitter Orange, confit tangerine and dried rose.  I do get orangey leather and and a hint of barnyard. Next should be amber cognac, oak, patchouli and tobacco leaves and almonds. And I do get patchouli, tobacco and something that could be almonds, with a hint of barnyard. I usually don't do this note comparison thing, but Horizon is leaving me not much of a choice, because it smells so different from what I expected. If I compare it to the other 20's retro scent I have recently tested, Speakeasy by Frapin, it feels about 100 years older. 
Don't get me wrong, that can be a good thing, but apart from a hint of booze and fags there isn't much that suits the Tanz auf dem Vulkan that I was looking for. I had to wear it 3 times before I understood something quite fundamental: This perfume REALLY tries to capture Paris in the 20's. Not Chicago and Berlin . This perfume isn't hinting at extremism, hunger of life and sexual liberation bordering on perversion fighting against a Prussian sense of Ordnung. It has an altogether gentler, happier and warmer approach. And if that includes a bit of barnyard, so be it. When I think of the 20's, I think of the the paintings of  Georg Grosz, but Horizon is less Expressionism, more Surrealism and Dada. Its structure is soft and warm, more Josephine Baker than Sally Bowles. And suddenly, with that in mind, I begin to like it. And the longer I wear it, the better it gets and it does have good staying power,  but there is  a lack of...Want. I like it, admire it, but I don't I want it. 2 out of three ain't bad, but not enough to justify a FB. 

How and where to wear:
Not an easy perfume to pull off to full effect, I suggest you wear it to a party and dance your heart out. I have the feeling that it will work incredibly well with a bit of fresh sweat.

And now to something entirely different:

Relique d'Amour

We all have perfumes and scents that transport us to places, remind us of people, bring up images. These olfactory connections can vary in strength and detail and are usually most significant when they involve people we loved (or hated), situations that had great impact on our lives and places we have experienced strong emotions.  But sometimes a smell hits us like with a déjà vu moment, that nagging feeling of having been there before... playing tricks with our minds and questioning our sanity. What happened to me with Relique d'Amour is a combination of both. It brought me back to a place where I've had a déjà vu many years ago.

I am not at all a religious person, but I do love visiting churches and do so whenever there is an opportunity. I've seen many many beautiful ones (Romanesque cathedrals being a favourite) and quite a few really ugly ones (usually poor old medieval structures blinged up to suit 18th century tastes and pseudo Gothic Victorian absurdities).  Sometimes feel a bit like an intruder, knowing full well that I am not believing in anything that is prayed for and preached in there but simply enjoying the architecture and art without any of the religious baggage. When I was travelling through Italy I obviously had ample opportunity for church tourism and it was in Pisa that I happened upon one of those unremarkable, late Baroque, not mentioned in any guide books churches which provide a welcome cool relief from the heat outside. Damp, cold stone, windows black from 200 years of pollution, pigeons in the roof. If you wanted to see more of the paintings that hang in various chapels you had to insert a coin (still Lira at that time) and a stream of light would barely manage to illuminate the minor work of a long forgotten pupil of some famous school. This was a place of worship with a dusty and gloomy atmosphere, only ever visited by the priests and old women wearing black and I wanted to leave again quickly, but there was a smell wafting intriguingly from one of the side chapels and I stepped inside. Here it was even darker and I could swear also colder then in the rest of the building. And all over the tiny place, the altar, the steps, the walls, the entry gates were draped lilies. In vases, wrapped into bundles, single flower stems, dried, freshly cut, rotten, decaying. Giving off a smell so intoxicating, so intense that I nearly stumbled backwards. I felt like someone had been walking over my graveThe hairs on my skin stood up and my heart skipped a beat. I had seen all this before. I was sure and it didn't feel right. I had to get out of the chapel, out of the church and into the next bar for a coffee. I can't tell you why, but that little chapel had scared me. Not to death, obviously, but really badly. It hadn't been my first encounter with the smell of lilies and  not my first gloomy church, but something in there had given me the creepiest déjà vu I have ever had. To this day. 

My visualisation of Relique d'Amour

And then comes Relique d'Amour and transports me right back there. After more than 20 years. You can guess now that it's a lily perfume. It starts with a very cold, almost icy accord and it takes some time for all the lilies to come into the open, but when they arrive they do so to an extent that is frightening. Well, to me it is. There is moss growing on cold stones, wax on well worn wood, a ton of  incense and other balmy things being thrown at me, but it will always and foremost be a lily. Magnificent and  beautiful. Melancholic and cold, pure and toxic, mysterious. In terms of colour it's a white, of course, but with lots of cold grey and black. Completely feminine but totally unsexy in my view, although M. seems to differ on the latter. By now I have worn it  3 times and the effect it had on me the first time doesn't repeat itself quite so vividly anymore. It will always remind me of that church and that moment, but it has become a fragrance that I can wear and appreciat  for its own sake. It is a very special creation and I'm glad to have been introduced to it. If I had the funds to buy a FB right now I probably would, because it's a stunning example of its genre from a collectors point of view. I know this is not a very neutral and informative review, but it is as it is...

How and where to wear:
You are dating an Italian man and are going to meet his mama? This will be perfect.

Given that these two reviews are much longer than I anticipated, I will stop here and cover the remaining fragrances in another, 3rd post. 

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