Ormonde Woman opens with a thick, vaguely Lutensian harmony of sweet woody notes with a slight “syrupy” texture, above all a cedar note quite on the sweet side (like in Lutens’ Cèdre, in fact) with detectable notes of citrus, violet, coriander, vanilla, jasmine, something mossy-herbal, an almost-sticky and warm texture of amber and something resinous and “pine-woody”, and a subtle salty-balmy aftertaste which I recall having found in Tolu as well by the same brand. The blend is cleverly made a bit lighter and brighter by a dusty-talc breeze which smells something like a “violet-flavoured” incense, even if it’s probably only violet with Iso E – a couple which reminds me of another scent by Lutens, Feminité du Bois, that in fact included cedar, violet notes and (correct me if I’m wrong) some 40% of Iso E Super. There are many differences though, but they seem to share a sort of common inspiration. The vetiver note emerges more clearly after a while, as soon as the scent gets a bit more dry, although it never gets prominent – it rather just lies there providing a “woodier” (I mean: more “realistic”) counterpart to cedar. Frankly, this fragrance smells much unisex to me, not to say more masculine than feminine – basically it’s a balsamic woody scent with a light and quite subtle sweet-floral breeze. The drydown is quite long-lasting and unexpectedly substantial, although a tad linear. A bit bland perhaps, but solid and effortlessly refined.
Ormonde Woman goes on with peppery green citrus top notes that are tangy, moist, and pleasantly bitter all at once. The citrus note bows out even more quickly than most to leave a refreshing peppery, herbaceous accord. The heart is all herbaceous, violet-seasoned woods in the manner of (believe it or not,) Geoffrey Beane’s Grey Flannel, though much lighter, sharper, and more transparent. In fact, so clear and simple is the texture that it can be compared with the most minimalist of Jean-Claude Ellena’s compositions. (Un Jardin en Mediterranée comes to mind.)
With time the herbal elements dissipate, leaving a very dry, clear cedar and moss base. Ormonde Woman is an extremely understated and transparent scent that does not project far from the skin and leaves no sillage to speak of. It’s not terribly long lasting either, so you’re likely to go through that expensive bottle very quickly if you wear it at all often. On the plus side, Ormonde Woman is a very sophisticated fragrance and belongs to a rare genus of dry, green woody scents aimed at women.
I don't think I have ever experienced such a dissonance between what I expected this perfume to smell like and what it actually does smell like. To say I am disappointed is putting it mildly. From everything I had read, I was ready to make this my next blind buy - a signature even! - but thank God I decided to send off for a wee sample first.
What is my problem? Well, the top notes of this fragrance bring to mind a very unfortunate smell association. To my nose, it smells exactly like a medicated cream from La Roche Posay that I use once in a while to calm down spotty skin. The smell is heavy, acrid, medicated, and quite unpleasant. Every time I put it on, I have to fight the urge to scrub it off my face and put something else on. So, this unfortunate smell association has caused this fragrance to be the first ever that I have ever considered scrubbing off. But I won't - I want to be fair and see if this gets better over the course of the day. I doubt I could ever get past the opening notes, but I promise to give it its fair due today.
Update: the same unfortunate smell association occurs on repeat wearings. Not for me.
The initial experience for me was green and spicy. The hemlock came through beautifully, would that it had stayed. It turned acrid in the dry down - too much cedar and grass oil and reminded me of a number of awful men's scents from the 1980s.
I would give this an A for effort, but like Jayne's Tolu, I'd send the perfumer back to the lab to re-work it to something unique and definitely better.
In both Tolu and O. Woman, I like the notes selected and the "idea" of their combination, but find the end result not up to par.
Perhaps my sample, although labeled Ormonde Jayne Woman, is actually something else. I have never experienced such a divergence from other reviews as I have with this scent. Upon opening the sample vials (edp and extrait) I smell . . . . . nothing. Absolutely nothing. On my skin it does bloom and increases in strength for hours and hours but never becomes a sillage bomb. However, I get no green, no musty mysterious bitterness, no challenging medicinal brew. I get sweet, then I get sweeter, and then I get sweetest. It is actually very much like Amouage Jubilation 25 for women but without any of the interesting skank. Boring and disappointing. I will give it full marks for the apparent quality of the ingredients. It does smell natural but not particularly expensive, altlhough it is. Maybe I should order the sample set from the website because I can't wrap my head around how something could be quite this different. Oh well, more money for my my wallet which will, in itself, be a unique experience!