Thursday, 4 December 2014

Review: Oriza L. Legrand - Oeillet Louis XV, A Festive Fragrance For Nostalgic Souls

Robert Pattinson's early career included posing for cutesy Victorian vampire angels 

I’ve been waiting for a ‘context’ to strike me in order to write about one of my favourite ‘new -old’ perfume houses, Oriza L. Legrand. Alike Grossmith, OL.L are a grand historic firm brought recently back from the dead, with it’s origins hailing back to 1720 when a former incarnation of the business was an official perfumer to King Louis XV of France and the original gang of perfume junkies – his scent drenched Queen and court.

Whilst perusing their website last week, I was blessed with my first ‘christmassy’ sensation. I’d describe it as a tender wave of nostalgia and a connection to history (particularly my own). For whilst I sit resolutely on the fence regarding religion, I cherish Christmas, and all the festive images of cosy times past that it delivers.

Yo ho ho and a fearsome man of snow...

My favourite Christmas cards have always been distinctly old fashioned. The rosy cheeked Victorian kid playing in the snow, a slightly creepy santa capable of awakening the sort of fear that kept you out of the lounge in your early years, joyful flirtatious skaters bedecked in woollen finery, puppy/kitten (delete according to preference) adorned in a red ribbon snoozing by the fireside, and the ultimate depiction of Christmas – ‘amber-glow windowed posh house viewed from an inky skied exterior’.

Can you smell the woodsmoke in the night sky?

Such whimsical illustrations have been echoed in OL.L’s atmospherically festive packaging. Whilst not remotely connected to Christmas, their antiquated typography and bygone images are ideally suited to this time of year. A fact clearly utilised by their web designers, who have amped up the festive with this current landing page, screen grabbed for your pleasure. I truly hope this provides at least one reader with their first ‘christmassy’ of the season:

A festive landing page

I’ve given up using bars of soap, favouring the modern convenience of liquid dispensers that help you avoid the layer of sink gunk associated with the slimy underside of bars. However, were I gifted with one of OL.L’s beautiful soaps under the tree this year, I would unwrap it with tender care and preserve the paper in an opulent gilt frame.

Soap paper porn

The arrival of the OL.L sample pack provoked many days of playful spraying. There are no ‘blah’ scents in here. Each has a distinct personality that you will find to be splendid or rancid. Fans of herbs, earth and greenery will be thrilled by many of them. For me, the most splendid creations were Oeillet Louis XV and Relique D’ Amour (a pleasingly spooky lily). Of Oeillet Louis XV, the online boutique says:

“White carnation is at the heart of this fragrance and is the source of its dichotomy. Symbol of true love under the monarchy, the flower embodied the fire of French Revolution. As a scent, white carnation is as intoxicating as the most subtle poison; a delicate blend of mandarin, monarchical iris and light wood chords, which cannot resist the violence of pepper and spicy clove.”

And spicy it is. The carnation note (usually a chemical called Eugenol), emits a powerful whiff reminiscent of bay leaves and cloves, yet with a florality common to the rose or geranium. It is often used to create a superbly robust floral element in masculine and feminine orientals. If you’ve ever had the joy of sniffing a scented carnation (not the pallid whiffless ‘fillers’ in your florist’s bunch), you’ll be overcome by it’s fiery eroticism.

Perhaps the most famous carnation dominant perfume is Caron’s Bellodgia. Despite being a dedicated Caron fan, Bellodgia’s carnations thrive amongst a rather plasticky ‘dolls head’ base that renders it very odd to me. I could not wear it with any real joy.

Oeillet Louis XV’s carnation by comparison seems somehow ‘cleaner’ and more reviving, providing a (much more subtle) minted clarity that I have only smelt before in Dominique Ropion’s creation for Frederic Malle – Geranium Pour Monsieur. There isn’t much note transformation as you wear Oeillet Louis XV, as it remains fairly true to the initial spritz throughout it’s wear. Although it does sweeten a little towards the end where at this point I can smell one of my favourite childhood sweets – Cherry Lips, which didn’t smell or taste remotely like cherries. Alike Floral Gums, they just tasted ‘a bit perfumey’!

With it’s spiced peppery finery, this fragrance is an ideal choice for the upcoming nights where you don your most festive evening finery and lurk around being glamourous and a bit glittery. Hopefully someone will associate your perfume with the clove spiked orange pomanders that we poke about with at Christmas and you will in turn make them feel truly ‘christmassy’.

Oriza L. Legrand's sample packs are bargainously priced and are filled right to the top. I would highly recommend buying one of these to help you choose your full bottle, as for me the ones I expected to adore were not my favourites when I tested them. 

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The angel awaits you in the Oriza L. Legrand boutique


  1. Loved the concept of 'soap paper porn' and this made me smile: ‘amber-glow windowed posh house viewed from an inky skied exterior’. Not forgetting the twin bay trees outside of course, and a natural wreath on the door.

    Not sure the spicy carnation scent is calling my name, but am mildly intrigued by the 'spooky lily'. And I generally enjoyed this romp through vintage Christmas imagery.

    1. The spooky lily is a little soil-like, I think that's why it's spooky. It is very pretty though. I was interested in Chypre Mousse primarily from this brand but I found the fennel note far too strong for me.
      TX Maxx's soap shelves are the lusty equivalent of The Playboy Mansion to me...