The Gold Wreath of Gorgeous

– a review of Ormonde Jayne’s ‘Tolu’
Does it ever happen to you…that you read a description of a perfume, a list of notes, and somewhere inside, something stirs and moves and sighs? Do you ever have an intuition that no matter what, you know it in your bones…this will be fantastic?

This past spring, I was lucky enough to receive a Discovery set of perfumes from one perfumer whose work intrigued me no end by description alone. The perfumer was Linda Pilkington, the house was Ormonde Jayne, and call it a hunch or a sense of foreboding, but somehow, some way, I knew it would be good.

With one exception, every one of them was so delicious and so compelling, I loved them all with a passion all spring and well into the summer. I loved them so much in fact, I couldn’t write about them. I’d look at that elegant black-gold Discovery set and sigh…sigh with regret over the size of my microscopic bank account, sigh that these perfumes could be so stunning, and sigh that I just knew I had to write about them – and a few dozen others, too.

The precarious thrills of a perfume blogger! So many perfumes, so many words to find, so little time…

This is why I’ve decided to nip my burgeoning sense of guilt in the bud and write about one of my favorite Ormonde Jaynes…‘Tolu’.

Tolu balsam, which is made from a tree native to Peru and Colombia, is a dark, tenacious resin that smells simultaneously sweet and woody-spicy with hints of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. It is one of my favorite base notes in perfumery precisely for that reason.

You can imagine that once I got my hands on Ormonde Jayne’s ‘Tolu’, I really did hope it would live up to that giddy sense of anticipation I conjured in my head from the notes. Please, let this be good, let it make my day brighter, let it make me swoon with its scented, sensual pleasures…

Reader, it was. It is. It did!

Tolu’ is, in a word – stunning. Ormonde Jayne lists it as a floral-oriental, and I can see why. It starts with a bracing little kick of juniper and a bright and mellow clary sage, before the orange blossom sashays in with promises of floral marvels to come – the orchid, which I can’t detect to be honest, the muguet, which adds a flirty, light-hearted note, and the decadent rose, which is most emphatically present, waltzing around the perfume in perfect step with the orange blossom just enough to intrigue me further.

Be still my beating heart, I thought the first time I tried it, be still!

My heart never listened. Instead, it beat faster.

So seamlessly, so stealthily, so imperceptibly did the drydown arrive about a half hour later while I was distracted by life and other hazards, that it was only in passing I noticed what has to be one of the most heartbreaking, breathtaking, faintmaking drydowns I’ve ever encountered in a perfume.

Time for the tolu that gives ‘Tolu’ its name, its spicy-woody-sweet aura whirling around and around tonka bean with its vanilla flair, golden frankincense (another all-time favorite base note) and what’s listed as ‘amber’ and I detect as a labdanum accord. I’m not a major amber perfume fan girl, but surely there’s amber and there’s this…amber. It wraps around the skin like a golden aura of cashmere and silk, spicy-sweet, ultra-rich and intoxicating, and I never, ever want it to come to an end.

‘Tolu’ in the eau de parfum is very long lasting and tenacious, unabashedly womanly but not frilly or ‘girlie’, and like not a few Ormonde Jaynes, sultry, sexy and deliciously seductive. I wore this a while ago to meet with a platonic male friend, and he asked me in no uncertain terms to move slightly away. He said my perfume gave him ideas…

That’s the kind of reaction I always hope for!

The more I’ve worn ‘Tolu’ – far too much if the diminishing level in my sample vial is any indication – the more I’ve come to see it as a golden perfume, not just in color but in terms of its aura. Linda Pilkington recommends it for autumn wear, and I can understand why…something about that golden, warm cashmere/silk aura that goes so beautifully with the cool, gold light of October. I’ve worn it for big presentation days, and I’ve worn it for evening wear, and I have to say – wear this wisely. It’s that…sultry. And that sexy!

I’m at that thankless age where I’ll do whatever it takes to amp up the oomph. With ‘Tolu’, it’s like donning that golden wreath of myrtle, sacred to Aphrodite, found in Philip II’s tomb in Vergina. I suspect it was worn by a woman – myrtle crowns were considered propitious for women in Hellenistic Greece – and I like to think that the woman who wore it put it on last to lend a little of Aphrodite’s irresistible beauty as well…one golden wreath of gorgeousness, as if to say…this way, a woman walks, leaving an irresistible aura behind.

I don’t have a golden wreath of myrtle, nor do I have any of Aphrodite’s beauty to borrow, but for a little while longer, I have Ormonde Jayne’s ‘Tolu’.

A golden wreath of gorgeous I can claim for my own!

Top: Juniper berry, orange blossom, clary sage
Heart: Orchid, Moroccan rose, muguet
Base: Tolu, tonka bean, golden frankincense, amber

Disclosure: Sample provided by Ormonde Jayne for review.

Ormonde Jayne ‘Tolu’ is available in several permutations from the Ormonde Jayne website, and from Senteurs d’Aillleurs in Brussels. Ormonde Jayne ships worldwide.

Image: Gold myrtle wreath found in Philip II of Macedon’s tomb in Vergina, 4th century B.C.E, the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki.

10 thoughts on “The Gold Wreath of Gorgeous

  1. You've described it beautifully. Tolu is one of my favourites. It is a warm cashmere scent, but I also have taken it on a Caribbean vacation and loved it there too.

  2. Muse, I'm so glad you liked my review! Ah, yes, the myrtle wreath – isn't that amazing? All wrought in 24K gold…and that's just one of the wreaths they found!

    At the risk of my neck – and maybe my reputation, LOL! – I think that if you like Orris Noir – and I know you do – then you might like Tolu!

    When that sample goes, I'll cry…;)

  3. Krista – thank you! It's fast becoming one of my favorites, too! I can't wait to see what it will do in chilly weather, but I can imagine that the tropical warmth of the Carribean would make it bloom no less beautifully!

    I really, truly have to get my grubby little hands on a decant. Soon! 😉

  4. Your post inspired me to make Tolu my sotd today. It's lovely. All other OJ:s I've tried have (in my opinion) this aura of belonging on a person who is secure in herself and knows what she's doing. Tolu feels like that person finally is getting off work, is letting go of the tension and finally gets to slip into something comfy but sexy in order to relax with someone she loves. And that is a good feeling 🙂

  5. Flavour, you're absolutely right! All the OJs I've tried – and that would be all of them, I have to say – have a certain aura or vibe about them that means I really can't see any of them on anyone under at least 25, and likely 30! They take a certain level of self-assurance to pull off, but if you've got it…;)

    Glad to see I'm not the only one who loves Tolu! And I do mean…LOVE….I really, truly need to get my hands on a bit, OK, a LOT more than a sample as soon as I can!

  6. Heavens, my comment disappeared completely! I wanted to say I love the analogy of the wreath and the perfume. I need to get more involved in the OJ line, one that I have not explored all that much so far.

  7. Flavour – you're so right! It takes a certain…confidence/attitude to wear an Ormonde Jayne, and I think that's a most excellent thing!

    That favortie time of day…when you can finally sit back and go—“ah!” Tolu is good for that, too! 🙂

  8. Lucy – you should try them. They are all of them amazing – even the one I couldn't wear! There will be more OJ reviews to come, as I'm just getting started!

  9. As I keep saying, all OJ's scents, including masculine ones, work for me. I'm not ready to venture into buying 12 FBs but I will be gladly using all the samples I have for those perfumes for which I do not have either a decant or a travel set.
    As I was reading recently some mentioning of how much different people liked Tolu (great review, Tarleisio, I don't even wish I could write like you – I know that I never will) I kept trying it again and again. I like it. I never disliked it. But it's somewhere closer to the end of my imaginary ranking for this line in terms of personal preferences.

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