Ormonde Jayne is a delicious niche perfumer making scents for which even the experts can’t find fitting superlatives. Luca Turin and his wife Tania Sanchez, co-authors of Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, every serious perfume lover’s bible, give two of Ormonde Jayne’s scents their coveted five stars. Ormonde Woman, says Tania, is “a fully-fledged perfume with all the sophistication of Bois des Iles [a Chanel fragrance Tania rates as “perfect”], and of Ormonde Man Luca says: “Wear it once and you’ll want it again.”
Linda Pilkington, the spirit behind the brand, doesn’t just make lovely perfumes – they’re innovative too. As she says: “We don’t do lavender, lime, sandalwood” – the standard ingredients other people use. She was among the first to use hemlock, champaca (Tom Ford is now another fan), Ta’if (an Arabian rose) and other exotic ingredients from the East, which is no doubt why her perfumes are most often described as “elegant yet opulent”.
Pilkington has been selling her delightful concoctions out of a little shop in London’s Royal Arcade where she has built an international reputation. She also has what she describes as a “small presence” in Boutique One in Jumeirah, Dubai. Other than that, she has always wanted to keep her brand small. “I’ve never wanted to be in 300 outlets. My customer doesn’t want it to be available everywhere. Typically, a customer will go to Savile Row to get his suit made [she has a lot of male fans], have lunch and then wander in to see us afterwards.” But it is available online and can be shipped worldwide, so her customers can be sure of getting their fix wherever they are.
But the reason for writing about her now is that, after much pondering, she has decided to have a presence in Harrods Black Perfumery Hall. Here she is not only going to sell her 12 perfumes but she has come up with what she calls Perfume Portrait, “an innovative journey” to help each customer find the scent of their dreams.
Instead of being sprayed with a confusing number of aromas, each customer will be introduced to 21 raw ingredients, the major molecules that make up her perfumes. She is eager to point out that none of these smells anything like the finished article, but by declaring which ones they like and dislike, a customer can be guided by an expert to the perfume that not only meets but, she hopes, “exceeds all expectations”. She will train the staff rigorously and they will have to pass a stiff exam, “getting every single question right before they’re allowed to do any profiling”.
If you’ve always wondered which is the right scent for you and you haven’t discovered this precious brand, now is your chance. The Perfume Portrait is available at Ormonde Jayne in The Royal Arcade and at Harrods, where there is also a collection of three 17ml Ormonde Jayne eau de parfums (Tiare, Tolu and Ta’if) in a special boxed set (£190).
Ormonde Jayne’s bestselling woman’s perfume is Ta’if, featuring the exotic Arabian rose. It costs £180 for 50ml of parfum. Ormonde Man, meanwhile, has a big male following and costs £68 for 50ml of the eau de parfum.