Perfume Directory

Tolu (2002)
by Ormonde Jayne

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Tolu information

Year of Launch2002
GenderFeminine
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 119 votes)

People and companies

HouseOrmonde Jayne
PerfumerLinda Pilkington
PerfumerGeza Schoen

About Tolu

Tolu is a feminine perfume by Ormonde Jayne. The scent was launched in 2002 and the fragrance was created by perfumers Geza Schoen and Linda Pilkington

Reviews of Tolu

Right from the beginning I knew this was going to be a pleasure checking out this fragrance...absolutely beautiful...elegant and classy/classic Oriental without smelling old or stuffy...perfect blend of incensy resin with flowery flavors and touches of green...enjoy...
18th July, 2020
Excellent review by JTD below. I agree with most that is said and do not have much to add. It is a rather soft and resinous oriental. Somewhat floral but not much. Beautiful and long lasting. It is true that it reminds us of older oriental fragrances, but it does not feel dated at all. And it does not remind me of granny's fragrances.

It may lean a bit feminine, though not really. The floral aspect is soft and the resinous part dominates. I would say unisex.
23rd July, 2018
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.

(from scenthurdle.com)
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. In that sense, this is definitely a floral oriental rather than a straight up ‘golden’ amber. It certainly doesn’t maintain a strict tolu balsam fidelity. Rather, Tolu has that sophisticated French floral-sandy feel to it that I associate not only with Dune (Dior) but also with 24, Rue Faubourg (Hermes), albeit with the innovation of a sweetly resinous base to tilt it ever so slightly in the direction of Morocco rather than Paris.

The more I wear Tolu, the more I appreciate its subtlety. I used to prefer the caramelized full frontal of one-the-nose resin bombs and ambers to the almost too quiet, too ‘mixed’ cloud of balsams, orange blossom, and musks represented by Tolu. But Tolu is, I realize, a mood. It is very perfumey meaning it’s been worked and reworked to the same point of abstraction as Coco (Chanel), Dune (Dior) or even Alahine (Teo Cabanel).

Tolu is the quintessential going out perfume for nights along the Riviera, where women and men are beautifully dressed and the warm air smells like a mixture of flowers, salty skin, and the balsamic twang of Mediterranean herbs and umbrella pines lining the promenade. It’s easy to argue that there’s nothing very unusual about Tolu, but what it does, it does extremely well. I will always have space in my wardrobe for this perfumey, French-smelling take on the warm, golden balsams I love rinsed out with flowers, salt, and herbs.
29th August, 2017 (last edited: 16th June, 2020)
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
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

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