Last month, luxury perfume house Ormonde Jayne rolled out a silken carpet (metaphorically) in the form of perfume.
La Route de la Soie (the Silk Route) is an elegant, evocative interpretation of the perfumes and exotic bazaars of the legendary silk route. From China, through the middle east and to Europe, this perfume series takes us on an imaginative journey. It’s romantic – an idea of travel via perfume that conjures adventure, exoticism and the scents of the Orient, Middle East and Europe.
It is, as Ormonde Jayne describe it: “An odyssey, exploring the opiate pathway and flora of the spice routes. Established over millennia, The Silk Road stretched far and wide, running from China through Moghul India and Mesopotamia, crossing into Egypt, Anatolia and finally Europe.”
I can’t think of a lovelier journey in imagination in these times, when not only travel, but the senses too are in many ways restricted. La Route de la Soie evokes a textural presence – of silk, leather, spices and an abundance of fruits and flowers.
But these perfumes are also classically Ormonde Jayne – abstractions of evocative scents, neither literal nor obvious. The founder and owner of Ormonde Jayne, Linda Pilkington, continues to run the house as an independent business, and this informs Ormonde Jayne’s unique quality and style.
For example, Ormonde Jayne (along with perfumer for the house Geza Shoen) were first to introduce the note of oud to mainstream western perfumery, with Harrods in London being one of the first major outlets to stock the first perfume series.
Ormonde Jayne take pride in an excellent, tailored customer service – buyers can commission their own perfume, or request a particular size of perfume for example. Before choosing a favourite from the new series of seven La Route de la Soie perfumes, you can experience each of them in the Discovery Set, before deciding which ones most appeal. The sample set is encased in a gorgeous woven silk-textured warm orange with touches of gold – a beautiful touch of autumn colour for their October launch.
My personal favourite was Damask. Featuring exquisite rosa damascena, this charming perfume moved me in several ways. It’s an elegant presentation of a timeless perfume material – verdant, luscious – a contemporary rose classic. In some ways I was reminded of modern Hermes perfumes – a sophisticated, restrained scent – the idea of perfumed kid leather gloves. Damask feels more natural though and I also appreciate the fact that it’s an homage to rosa damascena, production of which was temporarily halted due to the Syrian conflict. It’s such a pleasure to experience this perfume and I’m sure it will be on my Christmas present wish list.
Each of the perfumes might be worn by men or women, a fact attested by the fact that both my partner and I enjoyed testing them.
Xi’an, inspired by China, is a peppery scent warmed by rich woods and given a surprise twist of rhubarb, creating an enjoyable balance of smooth wood, tingling pepper, and tartness. Tanger is a bouquet of perfume sunshine with juicy citrus – bergamot and mandarin – paired with sunny florals, ylang from the east and neroli (orange blossom) from the Mediterranean. Xandria, by contrast, is an earthier, subtly animalic scent – with an underlying fruitiness. Rosewood, apple and rum are rounded with the smooth sweetness of tonka, spiced with cinnamon on a bed of earthy and woody notes. It’s sensual, with a touch of smokiness that piques the nose without being too edgy.
Byzance leans towards gourmand – deliciously sensual, yet soft, I’d describe it as a supremely ‘easy-to-wear’ perfume. Tart blackcurrant in opening notes is soothed with a milky accord and woody musks, with orris lending a pleasing powdery cool touch. (Orris butter is derived from the roots of the iris flower – a perfume ingredient that has given a touch of class to almost all high-end perfumes over the decades). Indus in contrast is brighter, opening with an exuberant Persian rose which, at first, makes me think of vibrant pink. As the perfume develops on skin however, it becomes deeper, sultrier with plum and subtle patchouli. Indus makes me think of a couture silk dress, or sari in dark crimson – to my nose a dressy evening scent.
Lastly, Levant is, I think, the most light-filled of the series – it’s one of those perfumes that seems to remain air-borne throughout – retaining a fresh lightness. Bright florals of peony and lily of the valley are complemented beautifully with uplifting orange blossom, jasmine, and citruses.
La Route de la Soie urges you to indulge your senses – embark on a perfumed journey and embrace a rich diversity of inspiration. It’s a delight to experience and if you’d like to explore the Discovery Set, or find out more about Ormonde Jayne, visit their website.
You can also order a sample set here.