A voyage of discovery with Ormonde Jayne's Perfume Portraits

23rd April, 2010

Luxury London perfumery Ormonde Jayne have announced an exciting new way to further one's olfactory education and assist one in the creation of a fragrance wardrobe. Passionate perfumer Linda Pilkington demonstrated the new 'Perfume Portraits' when I took a recent visit to the Royal Arcade Boutique.

With characteristic warmth and enthusiasm I am greeted and my children asked after. This hospitable attention to detail is something that the company has become renowned for and is at the root of the new project.

Perfume Portraits has been two years in the making and the unveiling of the project shows that Ormonde Jayne's suave signature style has been used to shape the process. Linda explains that the idea is to introduce people to the range of 12 perfumes and help to discover new favourites within it, whilst also educating them as to their olfactory preferences. She then slides open a glistening glass drawer, hidden beneath a display of scents. In the drawer are rows of exquisite bottles with ceramic stoppers, looking for all the world like something from Alice in Wonderland that might read 'Smell Me'.

Of course that is exactly what they are for and Linda holds them just beneath my nose, one after the other, making a note of my gut reaction. "The idea is not to discuss and talk about why you do or don't like something. It is simply to get your initial reaction - yes, no or maybe" So we go through a series of 21 oils such as bergamot, black hemlock, mandarin... These oils are categorised into seven families: hesperedic, light floral, intense floral, balsamic, oriental, woody and atmospheric. The company says "The perception of smell consists not only of the sensation of the aromas themselves, but of the experiences and emotions associated with them. Smell can evoke strong emotional reactions and this is not an invention of poets or perfumers".

When the preferred oils have been noted on a personalised customer card, two or three Ormonde Jayne fragrances are suggested. These suggestions are based on the preferences stated as well as the answers to questions such as which occasion or season the fragrance is required for. The fragrances are sprayed onto the client's wrists, but not smelt, as first the Perfume portrait is discussed whilst the scents are allowed to develop. A favourite is then chosen from these two or three. The resulting portrait is retained instore and a copy given to the customer to help them, their friends and their family to make future purchases. A masterclass in craftmanship, customer service and fine perfumery.

My resulting favourite? Tiare.

Perfume Portraits will be available from May 2010 at Ormonde Jayne's Royal Arcade boutique and at the company's Harrods concession in the ground floor Perfume Hall. Look out for Ormonde Jayne's rebranded sample programme which will now include the complete collection, including the most recent release Tiare. The Discovery Set will be available at the end of May

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About the author: Danielle Cooper

As well as writing Jasmine Award shortlisted articles, Danielle was previously Basenotes' Community Manager.

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    • illyria | 23rd April 2010 19:26

      A nice idea from Linda. Especially for those who, faced with the scent collection, have no idea which they will like best. Such as me, the first time I encountered OJ!

      I'm a Tiare fan, too. It's perfect for spring and summer.

    • Leesee | 23rd April 2010 21:06

      In the spirit of the article, this is my initial reaction -- "I wanna go to London! I wanna go to Ormonde Jayne!"

      What an interesting idea -- thank you for the article, Danielle.

    • Kristen | 24th April 2010 09:46

      This sounds really interesting, I am already plotting to meet a friend in London...

    • DanielleCooper | 26th April 2010 13:15

      It is a really interesting experience - especially because Ormonde Jayne have some pretty unusual oils in their fragrances which you can smell as individual components.

      If anyone does make it into the boutique let us know how you get on!


    • bonsai | 26th April 2010 14:04

      I'd love to try it. Do you know if they charge for it? I don't "need" it though, I already know very well that I LOVE most OJ's and like the rest. ;-)

    • CAM1956 | 1st May 2010 15:55

      Therre's no charge & it takes about 20 minutes, & there's no need to pre-book - next time I'm in London, in December, it's on my list!

    • CAM1956 | 1st May 2010 15:57

      There's no charge, it takes abot 20 minutes & there's no need to pre-book - I contacted them to find out as it's on my "Must Do" list for my next London trip.