Perfume Reviews

Positive Reviews of Tolu by Ormonde Jayne

Total Reviews: 16
Tolu is one of perfumer Geza Schoen's early perfumes and one of the perfumes that launched the Ormonde Jayne line in 2002. It's an interesting spin on the oriental genre and provides a glimpse of the techniques and style that would become Schoen's signature. It also demonstrates how a 'contemporary' style ages.

Contemporary independent perfumers have riffed on the oriental perfume since the niche trend started. Just as Christopher Sheldrake did with the Bois series for Serge Lutens, Schoen based Tolu on a close reading of the traditional model. Both perfumers deciphered it, focussing not just on the compositional 'recipe' but the logic behind it---the how and the why. Sheldrake's Bois perfumes were famous/infamous for their optimistic use of woody amber materials, and in this respect there is a lot of common ground in Sheldrake's and Schoen's methodologies. Where they differ is in their relationships to archetypal oriental perfumes.

Sheldrake bent what he found into a distinctly new shape. Shoen also took the genre down to the studs but came up with a different model for innovation: facsimile. Tolu is a clever rebuild of the traditional oriental perfume. In terms of scent Tolu and Guerlain Shalimar run on close parallel paths but they diverge sharply when it comes to texture. Tolu's stained glass luminescence has all of Shalimar's richness but none of the opacity and graininess that makes it seem dated to the modern nose.

Schoen recreates Shalimar's citrus accord with an evergreen/herbal mix. It has a whiff of turpentine, whose citric/lime facet replicates Shalimar's bergamot topnote. The aromatic herbal accord lasts well into drydown, making it an ingenious proxy for Shalimar's famously hefty dose of Guerlinade. As the name implies Tolu's resinous core stems from tolu balsam, which gives the perfume an unwrinkled matte appearance. Tolu's heart is significantly less sweet than Shalimar's but the vanilla is just as pronounced and tolu balsam's hint of cinnamon accents vanilla's woodiness. Leather is as prominent as it is in the Guerlain but without the smoky backdrop of birch tar it is sheerer and decidedly more modern. Shoen gave his perfume a sizable orange blossom note, which differs from the Guerlain's jasmine and rose heart, but adds noticeably to the perfume's suntanned glow.

Tolu's innovative reimagining of an historical genre with contemporary materials made it novel when it was released in 2002 but the particular style of luminosity does date it. It scores exceedingly high on 'radiance' which pegs it as a Millennial Perfume, a cohort of fragrances composed with famously high percentages of insistent woody-amber materials. To Schoen's great credit, Tolu has aged more gracefully than most perfumes of the early '00s. It reads as era-specific rather than outdated. Trend might have followed Shoen, but he lead through innovation.

Part of the charm and appeal of oriental perfumes has always been their over-the-topness. To the modern nose, though, they might be a little much for daily wear, like opera or high drag. For those who do favor the Emeraudes, Tabus and Youth Dews of the world Tolu's light version of a dense style might seem inauthentic, like a spray tan or a faked orgasm. But for those who find traditional perfumes a bit too heavily brocaded Tolu offers an oriental without melodrama.

02nd March, 2018
Despite not being wowed at first sniff, I have come around to the pleasures of Tolu. It has a bitter, spicy broom note that slices through the golden, balsamic sweetness of amber to create something that is both fresh and heavy, like a flourless chocolate torte that dissolves into fennel dust on the tongue. The kind of thing that invites you to take a second slice, even in summer. I can see this working as a sort of upmarket Dune.
29th August, 2017
Tolu is a beautiful resiny, balsamy oriental that just feels comfortable and is gorgeous in winter. The perfume has a strong herby opening (clary sage) with some florals that lifts it out of straight amber territory. The bath oil doesn't have as much herb and is more about the beautiful amber and spice (cinnamon) middle and base. For me, Tolu is about winter walks - the warming oriental part blends perfectly with the slightly bracing herbs to somehow evoke the feeling of being warm and comfortable outside walking in the park or in the woods in magical winter weather, rather than wrapped up indoors eating chocolates (which is also a fine pursuit!).
19th July, 2017
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rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom
The opening is a delight: whilst the juniper berry is not really top-notch - this is no Baie de Genievre - together with the sage, lily-of-the-valley and the orange blossom this quartet results is a pleasant mélange that is not without an original twist. In the drydown the floral is strengthened by a pleasant and fairly bright rose impression. The base is clearly dominanted by its - at times a bit bland - ambery core, combined with vanilla - not too intense or sweet - and the tolu, which on my skin is neither overly resinous not particularly spicy.

The sillage is moderate, the projection very good and the longevity eleven hours overall; the last hours are very close to my skin.

A lovely spring creation, with attempts of originality resilting in a well crafted creation that is, however, mainly due to the somewhat generic base constituents, less interesting towards the end. In the end: just barely a postive score based on its opening. 3/5.
12th January, 2017
If you enjoy rich, spicy, smooth and creamy scents with some sweetness, you will not be disappointed. For me this is an incredibly familiar scent that is both comforting and sensual, in every sense of the word. If you have ever spent time in the Canadian wilderness, the opening evokes the aromatic spiciness of the Boreal forest, as well as the amber and floral sweetness of rose and lily of the valley. This woody oriental is airy and profound at the same time, beautiful, just like walking into a clearing and seeing a stag illuminated through the trees for a moment, until he gone back into the forest again.
17th February, 2014
this is strong balsamic floral, with beautiful olibanum note, that is smoking has this powdery-aldehidyc wibe....tolu balsam makes it more exotic, just perfectly balanced sweetnes enriched by other sweet notes that remind of vanilla...but its more complex and balmy...

and the heart of the composition is orchid!! that makes it in a way unique...there are not so many perfumes with that exotic note..its like spiced up rose...but never raw, never overpowering, just perfect measure

i love the opening...and dont smell anything animalic in it, its more exotic then animalic, the dry down chnages to powdery as time progress

among my top 5 feminine scents of all times :)
21st February, 2013
Gorgeous, Rich, Resinous, Spicy and Warm composition from a lady who knows how to create an unforgettable scent that will stay with you for a lifetime.

I initially tried a sample from the discovery set and immediately fell in love with it; ordered a bottle and have since enjoyed many winter nights enveloped in this deep scent made with tolu, muguet (I love this note present at the beginning), rose, amber and frankincense notes.

I have also tried a mini candle, courtesy of the Ormonde Jayne Boutique in Bond Street which is absolutely lovely and hypnotic.

I shall be getting the travel spray set to be able to enjoy the scent while on my travels.

I do look forward to many years of pleasure surrounded by this beautiful perfume.

Excellent longevity and sillage.

Double thumbs up!

Thank You...x

19th January, 2013 (last edited: 22nd January, 2013)
Tolu will always be softer, smoother, creamier, better matched and more refined than anything it might remind you of. A smell as velvety as a toddler´s nape.
03rd January, 2012
Yes, yes, yes. Tolu, as in balsam. I'm such a nut about resins. I'm a total head case for them--labdanum, frankincense, oppoponax, pine and sruce--I'm there. I even love Youth Dew. So, here's another resin-heavy scent, this time tolu and labdanum accompanied by well-matched florals (some of my very favorites) and a few heady, camphorous top notes to clean and lift the formula. Best of all, it smells like a high proportion of natural ingredients.
14th January, 2011
Another one that I tried in London with Linda Pilkington at my side. Yummy blast of juniper and orange blossom ,lovely blended rose ! But oh the frankincense ,tolu ,amber - deep ,powdery . This is one of my favorites . Pretty gorgeous.
05th July, 2010
BayKAT Show all reviews
United States
This fragrance is teaching me something aobut myself: I covet orchid.
Give me a fragrance with orchid and I'll give you my hard earned cash or a glowing review. This is no exception wiht me: Love it!
I'll chime in with other reviewer's comments on this being a cooler weather fragrance. Yep, Ithis is my experience too.

Now Tonka is a note I"m seeing more and more of in my samples lately, most notably Guerlain's latest Tonka Imperial. Tonka is a sweetish, almondy note and gives the fragrance a gourmand flavor. I am not a gourmand kind of girl, however, and appreciate the earthy amber and frankencense (or whatever it is that steers this back into woody wonderland)

Do you like Black Orchid? Then you'll like htis. If Black Orchid isn't too nauseatingly sweet to you, then this is one you should try. five stars!
16th February, 2010
On first try this was absolutely sickening and necessitated immediate scrubbing. I believe the temperature that day was also in the 90s(F) and extremely high humidity. Now that we're experiencing a rather cool day (under 65), Tolu is perfect. Not the least overpowering now, it's warmth, richness and even powdery-ness is appropriate, welcomed and absolutely lovely. Just remember...not a good choice for warm days, definitely a fall/winter fragrance.
30th October, 2009
Starts strong and sweet with a blast of orange blossom, wonderfully tempered by shadowy juniper. Within seconds a lightly spiced and deep amber dimension opens up, leading you into the already noted resinous 'warmth' at the heart of the fragrance. As the scent progresses waves of vanilla, amber and the merest whiff of delightful rose weave in and out of the aroma, all accompanied by subtly blended spicing.

There certainly is a very luxurious sense about this fragrance, and I agree it seems perfect for autumn days. Lasting power is good - it eventually peters out into a delicate puff of powdery amber.
06th August, 2009
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Tolu Tolu Tolu!! I sometimes think this was also made bespokely for me in my more navel gazing moments! The Golden Frankinsense, the uplifting clary sage, the Moroccan Rose and the tonka beans (whatever they are!) are the most entrancing delightful combination. The warmth that it radiates and the colours - yes, real colours! - that it evokes are autumn in a bottle. It is pure genius and you can smell it the following morning in the most sensual way. I just cannot stop myself from dabbing more and more on each day! Even my 3 yr old appreciates it and of course, my other half loves it too, in that indifferent and then suddenly suprised way men have.
I have just ordered a bottle of the Bath Oil in Tolu to complete my love affair with it. Tolu is the nectar of the autumn gods!
02nd September, 2008
Penny S Show all reviews
United Kingdom
Tolu by OJ is really sexy. Perfect for a glamorous night out, but I’ve been wearing it everywhere. V. alluring and chic. Obviously has organic elements which is great for me because I love natural scents. Once the sage disappears it leaves a soft amber with the returning frankincense from the top note. May put away for the summer but it will be my winter perfume. It’s a very complex scent and it reminds me of old fashioned scents.
12th May, 2008 (last edited: 16th May, 2008)
illyria Show all reviews
United Kingdom
This reminds me strongly of Dune. It's nicer and far more complex than Dune, but still, the resemblance is unmistakable to me.
It's another good Ormonde scent, but I'm giving it a neutral rating because I dislike Dune so much! See, I used to work next to a woman who drenched herself in the stuff. She would even spritz at her desk when I was eating my lunch right next to her. Dune-flavoured sandwiches... mmmm... ;-)
Sadly, that memory lingers, so Tolu is wasted on me... but if you like a warm, long-lasting, complex amber, this may suit you.

Update December 09: I've had more time with Tolu now, and I have more of it than just one tiny vial. It helps to be able to spray more, it turns out!
I really like this now.
23rd April, 2008 (last edited: 07th December, 2009)