New Perfume Review Ormonde Jayne White Gold- Finishing Strong

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I have long been a fan of Ormonde Jayne but I had feared their best days had passed them by. In 2014 with the release of Black Gold that hypothesis was shattered by one of the best perfumes in the entire collection. It was followed up in 2016 with Rose Gold which was a luxurious rose bridging Arabic and European aesthetics. When I received the press materials for the final release in the Gold Trilogy I thought the new one, White Gold, would be hard pressed to be as good as the other two. It isn’t; it’s better.

Linda Pilkington

Creative Director Linda Pilkington has really outdone herself overseeing her longtime collaborator Geza Schoen on White Gold. Now that there are three releases it is easier to see the central axis upon which all three were constructed upon. The top accord was citrus combined with clary sage. The heart accord was a carnation, jasmine, and orchid triad which would be accentuated with other florals. The bases all contain ambrette seeds and their botanical musk. As I’ve now had the opportunity to compare them side-by-side it shows the precision of Hr. Schoen to take that spine and choosing different support and keynotes make it very different on a macro level while remaining the same on a micro level. Once I recognized the commonality it was hard not to notice it upon subsequent wearings of all three.

Geza Schoen

For White Gold, we begin with mandarin as the citrus source for the herbal clary sage to wrap around. The herbal quality will be enhanced using baie rose and a green leafy aromachemical. The effect is of trying to find a ripe fruit among the leaves. What makes it fun is as you search through those leaves what appears is jasmine. For White Gold jasmine is a keynote; more than just a component of the central spine. This is a gorgeous source of jasmine fully fleshed out with all its many facets on display. Hr. Schoen brings a bit of orris in to refine the effect. The base is a fabulous duet of botanical and synthetic musks as the ambrette seeds are met by some of the white musks from the laboratory. They rapidly find some common ground which cedar, vetiver, and tonka provide a sweet woody finishing flourish.

White Gold has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

The jasmine in White Gold is so beautiful that there are times it seems like it is a soliflore but that is an olfactory illusion. It is more that it is the most compelling ingredient in the room and it is difficult to remove your attention from it. You should because what surrounds it is every bit as good. The three perfumes which make up the Gold Trilogy are among the very best Ormonde Jayne has to offer and the best of those three is White Gold which finishes the effort strongly.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Molecule 04 and Escentric 04- Herr Professor Doktor Returns

There are a few perfumers who are also trained chemists. Obviously when I am with them we geek out about molecules that smell good. What has always occurred to me during those discussions is we are able to take them a level deeper because we understand the chemistry as well as the perfumery of it all. It seems like there should be a way for those of you who are not chemists to have a way to enter the discussion too. Enter chemist and perfumer Geza Schoen and his Escentric Molecules brand.

"Herr Professor Doktor" Schoen

In 2005 Hr. Schoen introduced the perfume world to an interesting concept in releasing a pair of perfumes. Molecule 01 would feature one aromachemical only diluted in alcohol; for the first one it was Iso E Super. Escentric 01 would be a perfume in which the featured aromachemical was present in high concentrations. It has turned out to be a winning combination allowing consumers to experience a single building block and then see it as part of a structure. It has been followed up by 02 which featured Ambroxan and 03 which featured Vetiveryl Acetate. Now we have arrived at a new pair of Molecule 04 and Escentric 04 around the aromachemical Javanol.

Javanol

As with all the previous pairs Javanol is being used because it has become used in many new releases. It is a cost effective sandalwood replacement. Focused more on the creamy sweetly woody nature of real sandalwood while removing some of the drier more astringent character. It is that kind of crowd-pleasing ingredient which goes a long way and lasts a long time. Things consumers seem to conflate with quality. When you smell Molecule 04 that creamy woody quality is front and center. Hr. Schoen in the press materials mentions he detects a grapefruit aspect. I’ve smelled Javanol many times and I must say I have never experienced it and don’t when I wear Molecule 04. Another thing about a fragrance like Molecule 04 if you choose to use it as a perfume you wear often you will likely stop smelling it on yourself but almost everyone else around you will still be able to. It is because Molecule 04 as a single ingredient leads to you filtering it out because you become habituated to the smell. It’s like working in a garage and not smelling the motor oil because it is just part of your environment. Same concept with Molecule 04 you won’t notice it but it isn’t gone.

While the Molecule half of the equation is of interest it is always the Escentric side which generally puts a smile on my face. In Escentric 04 Hr. Schoen puts a really big grin on my face.

What has made the Escentric series stand out is Hr. Schoen takes these materials which are base notes and moves them up the pyramid so that they aren’t the finish line they are there right from the start. In Escentric 04 he uses grapefruit in the early going. Presumably to accentuate the grapefruit character I miss in Javanol itself. What does stand out is Hr. Schoen’s use of baie rose. I know he spent a lot of time with this ingredient recently and in Escentric 04 he uses it in a very kinetic manner adding fresh herbal counterpoints to the grapefruit while underneath the Javanol lifts it all up. Orris and rose provide an almost traditional woody floral accord in the heart. The biggest difference is that Hr. Schoen has doubled down on his sandalwood aromachemicals adding Polysantol. This other sandalwood aromachemical amplifies the sweet woodiness and the creaminess. I am guessing just upping the Javanol level didn’t create the effect Hr. Schoen wanted as well as combining the two molecules. Whatever the structural reason is the aesthetic result is like a detonation of sandalwood with orris, grapefruit, and rose shrapnel flung in all directions. In the base, he brings back his original two molecules Iso E Super and Ambroxan to form a molecular quartet of synthetic woods which last for well over 24 hours on my skin.

Molecule 01 and Escentric 04 have overnight longevity and average sillage but remember once they settle into the synthetic ingredients it alters your perception of this.

When Hr. Schoen releases these pairs of perfume I call him Herr Professor Doktor as he seeks to educate and delight at the same time. With his fourth lecture, he has outdone himself. Escentric 04 is one of the best perfumes he has ever produced.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Escentric Molecules.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Boris Bidjan Saberi 11- The Technician’s Leather

Geza Schoen is one of my favorite perfumers because he shares my perspective of seeing the molecules behind perfumery. Where we differ is I couldn’t put those molecules together into anything resembling a finished perfume; Hr. Schoen has proven over and over that he thrives at this. Hr. Schoen is so technically proficient with using his molecules that when he works on his own it can come off as austere. Because I enjoy that style, especially from a perfumer like Hr. Schoen, I find it gives me insight into the places where he sees these building blocks fitting in a larger scheme. When he is working under the creative direction of a brand owner there is, by necessity, a shaping of that austerity into something which represents the brand. In Hr. Schoen’s latest release Boris Bidjan Saberi 11 there is a feeling that a middle ground has been reached between the two styles.

Boris Bidjan Saberi

Boris Bidjan Saberi is a Barcelona-based fashion designer born in Germany. His fashion is heavily influenced by skate culture and street wear. His ready-to-wear line is called “11” which is what this perfume is meant to be part of. Hr. Saberi is known for his leather work which he tans using all vegetal sourced materials. The fragrance is meant to capture Hr. Saberi after he has been about his workday.

Geza Schoen

What drew Hr. Saberi to Hr. Schoen is Escentric Molecule 01. The perfume which was pure Iso E Super had become Hr. Saberi’s signature scent. After making contact he found Hr. Schoen was interested in collaborating on the debut perfume. Because this perfume is meant to capture the smell of Hr. Saberi they already knew the base was going to be Iso E Super. Then the idea was to add ten other ingredients to bring it to a total of eleven. It took two years of work to finally agree on a finished product.

What is so interesting about 11 is that when you hear leather you expect something dense and animalic. Surprisingly that is not what they produced. Instead 11 is more green and woody than leathery. It makes it one of lighter leather-focused fragrances out there.

11 opens on a freshly cut grass note which I suspect is cis-3-hexenol. This provides that slightly moist green thread that Hr. Schoen will use throughout. I think about half of the 11 ingredients must be there in the leather accord. That accord also has several green vegetal effects to evoke Hr. Saberi’s tanning process. The last part of the heart is beeswax to give a kind of industrial glue aspect. The final note is the promised Iso E Super.

Boris Bidjani Saberi 11 has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

These two artists have created a unique leather perfume. The use of the green contrast throughout along with the choice to go for a lighter leather accord is what makes this stand out. I think Boris Bidjani Saberi 11 is an example of where the technician and the artist are on display in equal parts.

Disclosure: My sample was provided by the New York City Boris Bidjan Saberi store.

Mark Behnke

Ormonde Jayne 101- Five to Get You Started

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British perfumery has a long distinguished history. It makes England one of the great perfume-making countries in the world because of it. Like everywhere else in the world the beginning of niche perfume also had its early pioneers in the UK. One of those brands was Ormonde Jayne.

Ormonde Jayne was started in 2002 by Linda Pilkington. Ms. Pilkington left her career in the agrochemical business to start her fragrance career. As she put together the brand she also found the perfumer that she has worked with for the entirety of the Ormonde Jayne collection, Geza Schoen. Many of the Ormonde Jayne fragrances are among the best that Hr. Schoen has composed. Here are the five I would suggest you start exploring the brand with,

My introduction came from Ormonde Man. It was the overall sixth release from the brand in 2004. When I first tried it this was one of the first perfumes which really brought home to me why niche was different. This was one of the most sophisticated masculine perfumes I had ever smelled at that time. Hr. Schoen would take a spicy top of cardamom, coriander, baie rose, and juniper berry segueing into a heart of hemlock and oud before alighting on a sandalwood and musk base. To this day this is one of those perfumes which I wear for formal occasions. It always makes me feel like the kind of man I want to see myself as.

ormonde-jayne-orris-noir

The sophisticated style of the house would continue with the release of Orris Noir in 2006. Iris is used as a powdery foil to several darker notes as myrrh, patchouli, incense, and coriander swirl around it. Orris Noir is a study in contrasts beautifully played over three acts on my skin.

One of the things Ms. Pilkington has made part of her brand DNA is sourcing great versions of raw materials. Nowhere is that more evident than in the 2009 release Tiare. This is as close as Hr. Schoen is going to come to a soliflore as he allows the sparkling tiare form the central accord supported by jasmine and iris. Lime on top; sandalwood and patchouli on the bottom set the titular note out to be admired.

Ta’if was released at the same time as Ormonde Man in 2004 but it took me a few years to give it a try. Here Hr. Schoen makes a great floriental using saffron, broom, and peach as contrast to Turkish rose and orange blossom heart. The real star here is the stewed fruit sweetness of dates providing depth to the florals.

In 2014 Black Gold was a return to the style of Ormonde Man but this is a more casual version. Here Hr. Schoen starts with an herbal citrus top accord. The floral heart of carnation is one of the best I have ever encountered. The base is sandalwood and the botanical musk of ambrette. Labdanum brings this all home. Black Gold shows how much Ormonde Jayne has evolved over the past 14 years.

If you never explored Ormonde Jayne here are the five you should start with.

Disclosure: This review was based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Ormonde Jayne Rose Gold- A Rose of Two Worlds

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One of my favorite things to observe is the effect a creative director has on a perfumer. This is particularly evident when the perfumer is given the opportunity to have released other perfumes where they have been the sole creative force. It has been my hypothesis that clear-eyed creative directors can push talented perfumers to new heights. When I am having this conversation one of my favorite examples is the work perfumer Geza Schoen has done for Ormonde Jayne owner and creative director Linda Pilkington.

linda pilkington

Linda Pilkington

Hr. Schoen when left to his own devices he tends to design austere architectures. When Ms. Pilkington is collaborating the same precision is evident but Hr. Schoen creates in an almost gaudy way compared to his other solo perfumes. Two years ago with Black Gold Ms. Pilkington showed even using a pared down ingredient list Hr. Schoen could create this kind of opulence. I think Black Gold is one of the best in the entire brand. I admire it so much I was a little nervous in trying the new sequel Rose Gold.

If Black Gold was five exquisite ingredients; Rose Gold is three keynotes in top, heart, and base enhanced by a suite of supporting actors. It makes Rose Gold a perfume of three distinct phases.

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Geza Schoen

Hr. Schoen opens with a tart lime matched with clary sage. I love the assertive verdancy of clary sage. By using the lime as a citrus focal point it allows the clary sage to act as a rambunctious partner. For all that I am making it sound discordant it is anything but. It is an herbal citrus top accord which finds a heady harmony. The star of the heart is a Taif rose. This variation of Rose Damascena has a softer heart of spiciness to it. Because of that quieter quality Hr. Schoen adds in two other florals as support. Carnation is the bridge to the sage in the top with its green rose nature. Jasmine is the bridge to the oud in the base adding in its indolic charm. At the center of this the Taif rose glows like a golden tinted floral. Over a few hours oud and sandalwood insert themselves into the floral intensity. The oud particularly feels like a natural progression from the jasmine. The sandalwood provides an attar-like foundation. Much later the botanical musk of ambrette adds the final note.

Rose Gold has nearly 24-hour longevity and average sillage.

Rose Gold feels like a throwback rose encompassing Arabic and European influences. It is so well constructed that it took me well into my second wearing for that particular bell to go off in my head. This rose of two worlds makes the perfect counterpart to Black Gold where that one whispered in sensuous tones; Rose Gold enfolds you in its luxury. The best part is I never want to get out.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review The Beautiful Mind Series Vol. 2 Precision & Grace- Herr Professor Doktor Attends the Ballet

There are many things which start with volume one and you wonder when volume two will eventually arrive. One of the earliest fragrances I reviewed in my blogging career was Geza Schoen’s The Beautiful Mind Series Vol. 1 Intelligence & Beauty. Hr. Schoen spent time with Grandmaster of Memory Christiane Stenger and she was the creative director for that first perfume. Hr. Schoen wanted to create a fragrance that captured the brilliance of a brilliant mind. Of course volume one made one think there would be more but for five years there hadn’t been a follow-up. Then I received that promised volume two almost out of the blue two weeks ago.

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Polina Semionova

For The Beautiful Mind Series Vol.2 Precision & Grace, Hr. Schoen teams with ballet dancer Polina Semionova. Ms. Semionova is a principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre in New York City where she has been since 2012. The inspiration for Precision & Grace comes from this quote of Ms. Semionova’s, “Without intelligent work, there is no result, even if you have a great gift. The precision only comes with hours of work in the studio. Then, when I go on stage, I don’t think anymore. I release myself to the music. I fly.” This is a great place to start designing a perfume which captures early precision only to soar with grace, and humanity, at the end. This is what Hr. Schoen and Ms. Semionova have produced with Precision & Grace.

There would be very few perfumers who I think are as precise as Hr. Schoen who also know how to fly. For Precision & Grace the early moments are delineated fruit and florals which lead to a base full of animalic abandon as the dancer soars.

geza schoen

Geza Schoen

Precision & Grace starts off with a crisp pear note. When I first wore this I thought that was all there was but the second time I wore it I detected the other notes which act as modulators for the central pear note. Mandarin, bergamot, and especially lemon form an olfactory magnifying glass and it is their presence which creates that crispness that I can almost hear the snap as I bite into this pear. The same thing happens in the heart but this time it is two notes which combine, jasmine and plum. As with the pear it is the other notes which create the desired effect. Hr. Schoen takes mimosa and osmanthus and lets the mimosa act as tulle to the weight of the jasmine. The apricot quality of the osmanthus provides the same effect to the plum. They supply the figurative ballet dancer’s tutu to the body of the perfume. All of this has a clear purpose of construction but if Precision is all about exactitude; Grace will be something a little more human. For that part Hr. Schoen goes for a base consisting of real sandalwood and castoreum. A real sandalwood has a slightly animalic quality. The castoreum is present to make sure that slight becomes prominent. This is the seemingly wild abandon of the dancer unleashed. The transition from the fruity floral to the woody animalic is really well done. Every time I wore this the tonal shift made me grin with pleasure.

Precision & Grace has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

There are many times Hr. Schoen gets very experimental in his perfumed creations. I think that is the equivalent of Ms. Semionova’s “intelligent work”. It allows Hr. Schoen to take his cues from The Beautiful Mind of Ms. Semionova and produce one of the prettiest perfumes he has made in years. While I know Beautiful Minds are few and far between I am hopeful it won’t be another five years before volume three arrives.

Disclosure: This review was based on a press sample provided by The Beautiful Mind Series.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Ephemera by Unsound Bass and Drone- Does it Feel Good?

I started my reviews of the new Ephemera by Unsound line with Noise because it is going to be the easiest of the three to approach. That doesn’t mean the remaining two, Bass and Drone, aren’t as good because they are. Perfumer Geza Schoen continued to use music as his brief for the perfumes and MFO provided video interpretations. In the continuation of the conversation I began in the Noise review Bass and Drone live right on the edge of what is commonly considered pleasant smells. This is why these might be less easy to initially embrace. I think these are perfumes worth the effort because once they invade your consciousness they are darn hard to shake.

geza-schoen

Geza Schoen

Bass was founded on a piece of music from Kode9 aka Steve Goodman. He titled the music “Vacuum Burn”. It is his earliest olfactory memory of a vacuum cleaner which emitted a burning smell. Hr. Schoen goes for that odor of burning electronics, dust, and hair. That smell is going to be seen as flat-out unpleasant by many. I once responded to a forum thread on weird smells you like with hot electronics and the smell of hair burning. For me this means Bass accesses that affection for odd smells. Hr. Schoen does a fantastic job at bringing this to life. How he achieves this effect is to take woodsmoke and combine it with rum. The rum stands out very early on but eventually the smoke shrouds it and this forms the burning hair accord. The heated electronic accord consists of a combination in the heart of leather and black tea, on a platform of mastic. Hr. Schoen takes the mastic and uses it as a foundation to build this accord. The base notes are a rich animalic castoreum matched with oakmoss and a couple other musks. It forms a very human final accord as it reminds you there is a young child accessing a unique smell for the first time. Bass has 14-16 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

The video of Bass, above, captures the sense of heat and burning but the music especially does an amazing job of this. There is a sound of crackling burning punctuated with an irregular mouse click. When I wore Bass and listened to the track I saw the image of the vacuum on overload. I spent my whole hour commute one day listening to Vacuum Burn on repeat with my eyes closed breathing deeply the evolution of Bass. The time flew by.

The piece of music Tim Hecker supplied Hr. Schoen is the antithesis of the name, Drone. It is a languidly swelling soundscape. Early on I lean in to hear the opening notes; by the end it has me sitting back in my chair. Mr. Hecker wanted “a speculative Day-Glo incense from rituals where long-form sound induces levitation.” Hr. Schoen starts with us up in the air as he uses a different set of aldehydes and ozonic notes than he used in Noise. In Noise these ingredients radiated cold. In Drone they do almost the opposite as they convey an expansive openness. This is a fabulous example of what a very talented perfumer can do with primarily the same sets of raw materials. By balancing and combining in just the right way Hr. Schoen produces two very different effects. These early moments of Drone make me feel like I am gliding a few hundred feet above the ground. The heart notes bring me in for a landing in the middle of a stand of pine trees. Fir and juniper are the heart notes but this is mostly fir with the juniper adding in depth. As I continue to take in the airy opening accord over the fir Hr. Schoen pulls out a wonderfully weird synthetic vetiver which begins to insert itself in between the other notes oozing into the spaces and creating a new fragrant accord. The base notes are patchouli and ambergris and they form perhaps the most traditional accord of any of the three fragrances in the collection. Drone has a lot of unusual angles and shifts to it to the point that on first sniff I wasn’t excited. I wore it a lot and the combination of sound and visual really drew me in. Drone has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Drone was the complete package for me. The music by itself was the one I liked the best and the one which has made it onto a playlist with other non-perfume music. This time the video captures the smell and the sound perfectly. There is a moment in the video at the 1:14 point which visualizes the way I smell the vetiver combining in the scent as the music hits the crescendo it has been building towards. This is the perfect combination of sight, sound, and smell. Because of all of this Drone has become my favorite.

Now let me return to the thesis I brought up in the review of Noise, does a perfume have to smell good? I can see showing someone these three perfumes and they can’t find anything within them that smells good. That is judging them solely on a superficial level. What I think all three of the perfumes in this collection exemplify is if you have the vision to go more than skin deep and attempt to connect with more than just the sense of smell there is something beyond the purview of simple questions like “does it smell good?”. Instead the question becomes, “Does it make me feel good?” Where the answer to the first question might be variable; if you allow these perfumes and the music and the visuals the opportunity I think the answer to the second question is something much more affirmative. If you have any interest in the potential of what perfume can do this is a collection you need to try.

Disclosure: this review was based on samples I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Ephemera by Unsound Noise- Does It Smell and Sound and Look Good?

Whenever I try a perfume which is attempting to be avant-garde I always think of the words of the late perfumer Guy Robert. He said famously, “A perfume above all must smell good.” I think many of us who love fragrance would take this as a truism. I also think if we want to believe that there is such a thing as olfactory art then there has to be room for a perfume which can audaciously explore the line of what smells good. The last part of 2014 and the first part of 2015 has been an opportunity for me to explore this concept in a brilliant new collection, Ephemera by Unsound, from perfumer Geza Schoen as part of the Unsound Project.

geza-schoen

Geza Schoen

The Unsound Project debuted a collaboration between Hr. Schoen and three electronic music artists Ben Frost, Tim Hecker and Kode 9. This was all further accompanied by three videos by MFO. Each was inspired by the other. Hr. Schoen took his brief from the music especially composed for each fragrance. MFO created visuals which capture the music and the perfume. I have heartily dug into this experience as I have spent time just listening to the accompanying track on my headphones on the days I’ve worn each. I’ve sat in a darkened office with the visuals playing and the music at high volume coming from the speakers. This is as complete a multimedia experience as I can remember experiencing with perfume at the center of it all. It is this satiation of so many of my senses at the same time which makes this as memorable as it is for me.

We return to the central thesis though, “Does it smell good?” I am going to share my opinion on that over the next couple of days as I review each of the three perfumes Noise, Bass, and Drone on all of the levels that I experienced them on.

Noise as a perfume is a fragrance about chilly components. Hr. Schoen wanted to capture some touchstones from Mr. Frost’s olfactory memory. Mr. Frost asked for Australian brushfire, the showering sparks of an arc welder, church on Sunday- cold stone and frankincense, the bed of a pickup truck with the remnants of the tools of the hunting party. These are the kinds of things Hr. Schoen has captured in liquid form in the past. For Noise he boldly displays them as a fragrance equivalent of an Ice Princess. The beauty draws you in but if you stay too long the frostbite will devour you. He opens this perfume with a cocktail of aldehydes and ozonic notes. You’ve smelled all of these individually in hundreds of perfumes over the last few years. Like a music producer laying down tracks Hr. Schoen drops one aldehyde and another, then an ozonic note, then another aldehyde and so on until a bright olfactory harmonic is achieved. A slug of black pepper adds orthogonal spice. This moves into a heart of woody tinged florals. The note list says it is magnolia and orchid. I smell a bit of linden also and, as in the top, saffron is used as contrast. By using the woodier floral notes it keeps Noise aloof never allowing a full defrost to occur. The base returns to the metallic themes of the top notes but this time there is the hint of smoke in the distance and the smell of grinding gears. Hr. Schoen uses frankincense, amber, labdanum, cedar, and leather together to form this base accord. Noise assessed solely as a perfume is everything I can ask for of a fragrance willing to push my limits of what smells good.

When I just listened to Noise by Ben Frost while wearing the perfume I can’t say I found as much of the influences cited in just the auditory portion of this installation. What did pull it all together is the video above. The visuals capture my experience of the perfume as if they were pulled from my head by MFO. As I sat in my office surrounded by the music at high volume, pulsating, and the video occupying my entire visual field; right there this project came to life in a way I’ve rarely experienced with the multimedia explorations including perfume.

Noise has 16-18 hour longevity and above average sillage.

I will come back to answer the question of whether it smells good after I have reviewed Bass & Drone. On a more reductive scale Noise is one of Hr. Schoen’s most complete compositions ever. From a perfumer who excels in exploring the borders of perfumery Noise is perhaps the best example of avant-garde in his repertoire.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample set I purchased.

Mark Behnke

Reviews of Bass and Drone can be found here.

New Perfume Review Ormonde Jayne Black Gold- Collaborative Virtuosity

I am not sure what it is about Harrod’s but when a perfume line designs an exclusive for the Knightsbridge luxury department store they seems to go all out. I could name five perfume lines where the best perfume in their collection is their Harrod’s exclusive. I can add a sixth name to the list as the new Ormonde Jayne Black Gold is the best fragrance from Ormonde Jayne in many years.

linda pilkington

Linda Pilkington

Ormonde Jayne owner Linda Pilkington has been working with perfumer Geza Schoen from the very beginning of the brand back in 2002. From the very early days of their artistic partnership they have had a more intimate relationship than the traditional Creative Director-Perfumer hierarchy. Ms. Pilkington has used her love of travel to also allow for her to discover and access some of the more unique raw materials, from all over the world, being used in niche perfumery. As she finds her ingredients she has Hr. Schoen assist her in striking the right balance and by adding in a supporting cast so the special ingredients are displayed prominently. Black Gold is a prime example of this style of collaboration and composition.

In the press notes for Black Gold Ms. Pilkington describes the five keynote raw materials for this perfume. Two of the ingredients are fractionations of the absolute where a second distillation is performed and the oil is collected within a very specific, and narrow, temperature range. The concept is you can fine-tune an absolute down to a very specific scent profile. In Black Gold it is sandalwood and ambrette which are afforded this treatment. The other three are carnation absolute, labdanum resinoid, and an Andean version of pink peppercorn called Schinus Mole. All five of these are some of the most precious raw materials you could choose to work with and Ms. Pilkington literally took years to find and source all five. She brought these ingredients back to her home base in London and together with Hr. Schoen they created Black Gold.

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Geza Schoen

Black Gold opens with top notes that are all Hr. Schoen as his adeptness with citrus and herbs is right out front. Bergamot, mandarin, and lemon provide the tart and juicy citrus spine for clary sage and juniper berry to interact with. The result is a lively fresh olfactory appetizer. But now it is time to tuck into the main course as the first two of the focal points come forward. The carnation is one of the finest versions of carnation I have encountered and is combined with this Peruvian pink peppercorn which picks up the clove-like aspect of the carnation. I would say that I think this species of pink peppercorn is a bit less rough adding in a sophistication I usually don’t get from pink pepper. Jasmine, rose, and waterlily provide a floral foundation so that the carnation does not get lost in the spice cabinet. The base starts with the two fractions of sandalwood and ambrette. The sandalwood fraction is all about the arid quality the finest sandalwood has. The ambrette fraction swaddles that very dry woodiness with a powdery aspect along with the botanical musk that ambrette provides. The final piece to the Black Gold construction is the labdanum which provides a green glowing heartbeat to the final phases of this perfume. A very intricate underpinning of patchouli, vetiver, moss, and vanilla provide all the grace notes these three jewels need to shine to their fullest.

Black Gold has 24 hour longevity and very little sillage as it is extrait strength.

Black Gold is a beguiling fragrance that enchants with a whisper and fascinates with a unique set of ingredients. It is my favorite Ormonde Jayne fragrance since 2006’s Orris Noir. Ms. Pilkington and Hr. Schoen have created a spectacular sensuous perfume.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample purchased from Surrender to Chance.

Mark Behnke