Black Satin Bloom

– a review of Ormonde Jayne’s ‘Orris Noir’

With all the flowers used in perfumery and aromatherapy, there is one flower I truly worship and adore.

Not orange blossom for its instant-happy vibe, not the endlessly elegant lily with all its fragrant glories, not tuberose for its come-hither siren song, not jasmine sambac or grandiflorum, beautiful as they are, not rose in all its infinite variety, nor even violet, although I love violet, too.

Of all the blooms I love, there’s something about…iris. Some element of mystery, some near-indefinable cool I can never quite grasp and find eternally fascinating, and I own not a few irises. Chanel no. 19 in EdT and EdP, Dior Homme and Homme Intense, Guerlain’s Iris Ganache, Serge Lutens’ Iris Silver Mist, Odin NY 04-Petrana, Miller Harris Terre d’Iris…oh, yes, I love iris!

Orris butter, which gives us that haunting scent, tends to add elegance as well as a touch of restrained, chill aloofness, never more beautifully than in Chanel no. 19 and Iris Silver Mist. The point is – both of these immortal irises are cool, distant, even a touch intimidating.

Still another iris has made it into my iris-centric Hall of Fame, an iris – or should I say, an orris – neither cool nor intimidating, and yet…it has to be one of the most sublime iris perfumes I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.

May I introduce you to Orris Noir by Ormonde Jayne.

The first time I tried it, it was indeed swoon-worthy, so I did. I was not completely discombobulated until a few days later, when I was about to wash what I dub the Holey Cardigan of Alexandria – an ancient, gray wool cardigan that has been part of my lucky/superstitious writing uniform since I began to write in earnest. As I was about to toss it in the washing machine, I noticed a trace of scent so utterly haunting, it stopped me, well, cold. That chilly finger of perfumed epiphany raced down my spine and made me shiver in my laundry room, trailing goose bumps of a kind dedicated perfumoholics will know.

Orris Noir is that rarest of rhizomes – a warm, decadent, sensuous, come-closer kind of iris. It starts out spicy, warm with davana, coriander, pink pepper and a bright burst of bergamot that keeps everything suspended in air, before it settles down in to the main attraction, an iris so sumptuous and opulent with the added touch of jasmine sambac, pimento berries and bay, so plush it might as well be olfactory silk velvet in a singular hue somewhere between purple and black. The heart of this orris continues to sing well into its dark, smoky drydown of incense, myrrh, patchouli, Chinese cedar and gaiac wood, and if those notes read like a recipe for the very best kind of trouble, you would be right.

It takes a certain level of confidence and experience to wear Orris Noir, or I could easily see it wearing you. This is not a perfume for shrinking violets or demure demoiselles. It’s a purple-black velvet aura, or if you prefer, a thick, voluptuous swathe of midnight-black satin that glows on your skin like a hint of anticipation, a spicy suggestion of promises you might want to keep. Orris Noir will most emphatically get you noticed, but what you do with it is up to you! No other iris I’ve encountered is so warm, so inviting and so all-out seductive, not just to your surroundings, but to you as well. Wear it to make an impression, wear it for a special night out, wear it when you need just that little bit of extra oomph, wear it when you want to feel…fabulous, warm, spicy and above all else, when you want to feel feminine with a capital F, or woman with a capital W!

On a big night out a few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to road test Orris Noir. How well would it hold up under the harrowing, sardine conditions of a very hot, humid rock concert with about eight hundred metalheads, rockabillies and Gothaholics? Would it last long enough to make any impression if I did manage to make it backstage?

I applied half a sample vial, just to make sure. I wore Orris Noir in my hair, my pulse points, a few more I invented just for the occasion and my clothes. My companion mumbled something about not being responsible for the consequences if I got too close, which could explain why he spent most of the show at least nine feet away. But last it did and beautifully so, through the opening act and the headliner and through eighty loud, glorious minutes, blooming all the way on to a tour bus with four flirting testosterone bombs who definitely noticed the perfume a certain blonde in red and black was wearing. A woman knows how to tell. The blonde meanwhile – that would be me – felt audacious enough, sexy enough, even confident enough to flirt right back.

Thanks to Orris Noir, which forever after will have associations of a night to remember. If that’s not the right kind of association to have with such a haunting, seductive perfume, then, pray tell, what is?

Top: Davana, pink pepper, coriander seed, bergamot
Heart: Iris, sambac absolute, pimento berries (allspice), bay
Base: Incense, myrrh, patchouli, Chinese cedar, gaiac

Orris Noir is available from the Ormonde Jayne website.

Disclosure: Sample provided by Ormonde Jayne for review.

Image: Black Iris Publishing

19 thoughts on “Black Satin Bloom

  1. Great review. I've just ordered an OJ sample pack from The Perfumed Court and now I can't wait to try it.

  2. Matilda, in a way I rather envy you! You have so much to look forward to! If you have any ideas of British restraint, forget them! Both Tolu and Orris Noir are all-out decadent, opulent and above all rich perfumes…I'd love to hear what you think once you try them!

  3. Such a faithful description of one of the best orris perfumes out there– you are right on the money. I love that you can now associate the perfume with that ultra-omg evening, it really sounds like you made the right choice!

  4. Carrie, you do realize that the sample vial I took with me was the one you sent? 😉 Only fitting, I thought…

    Orris Noir is now at the very top of my FBW wishlist…and in the unlikely if not improbable event that I ever chance upon another ultra-OMG evening/day/what-have-you…then I'll wear Orris Noir! Should anything happen, I'll let you know! 😉

  5. Monica – I have a Woolmark program on my washing machine, and it washes any kind of machine-knit wool beautifully. (well, if I had a cashmere sweater, I would wash it by hand of course!) Besides, the Holey Cardigan of Alexandria is…ancient as well as holey, so it really doesn't matter too much! I'm never seen in public with it…;)

  6. I read this yesterday, then had to come back today to comment, because I was pressed for time yesterday. This is, as Carrie said, a faithful description of a gorgeous 'fume. AND, I'm glad we go to find out what you wore on that memorable night. This is the night you wrote about a few weeks ago, right?

  7. I like Orris Noir. It's not very… me. Not that that stops me. Oddly, though I keep mixing up my sample of ON with the Ormonde Woman one. They smell so similar to me.

    When ON came out, I remember several bloggers complaining that it wasn't very irisy. I'm not a big iris fan myself (my favorite iris is definitely No. 19, and I love Iris Poudre but it's *not* irisy!), so this was not a problem for me.

    So glad you hear that you enjoyed your concert and Orris Noir was just right.

  8. Another, this was indeed the night I wrote about a few weeks back! (I don't get out much!) So if a combination of red, black, Orris Noir and yours truly can make an impression on a presumably (very) jaded rock legend, then I guess I didn't do too badly!

    OMG. I'll have to get my hands on much more Orris Noir. Now, it comes with memories attached…;)

  9. Well, Muse, as I recall, you suggested Orris Noir, back in the day…and I'm with you in the sense that it's not very 'me' either, but then again…I'm wearing a lot of 'not me' these days, only to find that perhaps 'me' encompasses more than I think – or else that I'm gaining an eclectic taste in perfume.

    Strange about ON and your association of Ormonde Woman…I can't wear OW…at ALL. I can certainly appreciate it on other people, but on me, it becomes a monstrous, strange, malevolent life force…so I gave it to the villain in my story! 😉

    On the other hand…Ormonde Man reminds ME very much of ON…and I can wear that beautifully – and happily! Most passing strange…

    Ah, what a night! What a show! What a bunch of great guys, what a time I had at the after-party blowing soap bubbles…what a night!

    What a perfume! I've gotta have it!

  10. Ha! Back in June I voted on your wearing Orris Noir to your Big Event. I'm glad it worked out well.
    ON is my second/third favorite in the line. And your review describes it perfectly.

  11. I never placed OJ Woman and Orris Noir in the same category, till (I think it was) Dee mentioned that Orris Noir was like Woman with a purple cloak instead of green. When I tried it again, I realized she was right- they do have common threads- though I like Woman a lot more than Orris Noir (Woman is one of my faves from the line). Orris Noir has this one note- sort of a purple cherried note (if you will), like some of the Nicolais- that I don't love. So i gave my sample to my mom who seems to like this one a lot (and she is picky!!) Its dry down *is* lovely.

  12. Undina – so you did! And as you do, I love it to death! I foresee a decant in my future, or maybe a whole bottle. Live a little, right? With Orris Noir, I lived a lot! 😉

  13. Lavanya – I can't, for the life of me, wear OJ Woman, and it's not for lack of trying! I'd tell you why, but it's one of my next reviews! 😉

    But as I've said, Ormonde Man wears wonders…and reminds me a lot of Orris Noir, I wonder why?

  14. I had sort of a weird experience last night: I decided to wear Orris Noir because it's been awhile and I was inspired by your post. I sprayed it on, and a few minutes later, I noticed that something was bothering me. I felt sad, uncomfortable. When I first got to know Orris Noir, it was a difficult time in my life, and I think I associate Orris Noir with bad feelings and depression now. Isn't that unfortunate?? I had to take a shower and put on some Aftelier Tango to soothe my frazzled nerves and heavy heart. It worked. 🙂

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