Friday, 19 November 2010

Ormonde Jayne - A Fragrance Capsule Wardrobe In A Slidey-Out Box

At the heart of my work in market research lies the concept of the "strike rate". This is basically the conversion rate of interviews you manage to set up from a given database of contacts. Sometimes the parameters are very straightforward: "Here is a list of 20 of the client's customers - recruit as many as you can." This is the case currently with my daytime job. By night, however, I am working on another project on the West Coast of the US (a shift pattern known as "time zone moonlighting"), and here the parameters are a lot more tricky.

For I am trying to achieve an "interlocking sample", which involves looking for a selection of people, each of whom must meet a kaleidoscope of different criteria which will add back to a larger overall segmentation. To take a totally different example, it is rather like looking for "bald, left handed, politically right wing speedboat owners in Oslo" AND "right handed, left of centre canoeists with a comb-over in Bergen" AND "ambidextrous, politically indifferent Harley Davidson owners with a full head of hair in Trondheim". You get my drift.

And all these variables have to total the overall requirement in the sample for bald people, people in Trondheim etc. Now my database is large - very large - and these highly specific respondents may well be out there, but the $64,000 question is whether I will find them in time, because the details on the database are sketchy at best, and there is a cut off point when you are supposed to have your ducks in a row and go out and interview these people, though you will invariably be knackered and cross-eyed when the time comes.

This morning, as I was still fretting over the difficulties of the US sample, I sprayed on Ormonde Jayne Orris Noir for the third day running. It is soft and comforting, and I haven't much time to agonise over my perfume choice at the moment. Then I remembered that of all the perfume houses I know, Ormonde Jayne is the one with the highest "strike rate" in the sense of my liking almost all the scents in its range.

And I hasten to add that the reason I say so has nothing to do with the fact that their PR lady recently sent me a Discovery Set - or only in the sense that as a result I have been able to test the last three scents in the line that I had not got around to sampling before, namely Orris Noir, Zizan and Isfarkand. By contrast, Jean Paul Gaultier could send me a pantechnicon crammed to the gunnels with every scent they make, tossing in a crate of body lotion and a metallic leatherette tote bag for good measure, but it would not endear the house to me any more. If anything, such a delivery would be likely to inspire a post along the lines of: "If you could only wear perfumes belonging to one brand, is there a house which could put you off scent forever?" With arguably a slightly snappier title.

But going back to Ormonde Jayne, my strike rate with their scents is not the only remarkable thing, but also the fact that they have the potential to form a "capsule wardrobe" of fragrances, ie a set of scents to cover all bases, whether in terms of notes, family, mood or occasion. Now it would be an easy enough task to put together such a thing from one's entire collection of scents - or if not easy exactly, it could be done with a bit of time and head scratching - it is the sort of thought process we naturally go through when people ask: "What would your top 10 or 20 perfumes be?"

But from a single house, and one with such a small range as this it is impressive. For sure, I could probably pick myself out a great capsule wardrobe from either Chanel or Guerlain, but there is more to go at with either of them. And compared to Ormonde Jayne, my strike rates with Chanel or Guerlain are much lower - it's a very rough guess, but maybe 30-40% for those two vs an 80% hit rate with Ormonde Jayne. So OJ scores highly on BOTH strike rate (as in "my liking the scents at all") AND on capsule wardrobe potential. Why, that is its own little interlocking sample right there!

To take just the nine women's scents, plus Isfarkand, which I think could easily be positioned as unisex, here is my own stab at assembling the capsule.

OSMANTHUS (fruity floral with herbal notes)

Casual everyday wear - cropped trousers and a top with a bit of interesting detail (ribbons, wacky buttons)

CHAMPACA (light floral with tea and basmati rice notes)

Serene and zen-like scent suited to gym or pilates/yoga wear ie stretchy, Lycra-enriched cotton bell bottoms and ballet wrap top and pumps.

TIARE (sparkling, citrussy chypre)

Crisp business attire or smart casual (pencil skirt, tailored blouse). There is a sort of review here.

SAMPAQUITA (light floral with exotic flowers)

Feminine, girly - floral tea dress for summer, or a flippy Boden skirt.

FRANGIPANI (heady floral with exotic flowers)

Ultra feminine summer holiday outfit with more va-va-voom and a come-hither look, eg sarong and bikini, halter neck maxi dress and jewelled sandals. Would make a good bridal scent contender.

ORRIS NOIR (dark woody oriental with iris)

Winter casual clothes - cashmere sweater, wool trousers or skirt, thick ribbed tights. Shades of slate, heather and periwinkle. Would go well with most of the Brora and Toast catalogue. The best choice for funerals, notwithstanding the comment on black outfits below - Ormonde Woman is a little too spiky for venues encouraging public displays of emotion.

ORMONDE WOMAN (dark woody oriental with black hemlock!)

"Little black dress" or other black outfit of any kind, as long as it has a bit of edge - asymmetry, unusual fastenings, scary funnel neck, apertures where you least expect them etc. A "go-to" scent for female investment bankers wearing wide gauge black pin stripe suits.

TOLU (resinous woody oriental - rich and sumptuous)

Very formal winter party wear - ie cocktail dress or full length gown in a fabric of velvet or brocade, preferably in shades of emerald green or burnt orange. May be accessorised with fur, depending on your stance on such things.

ISFARKAND - crossover with Champaca as a quiet meditative scent suitable for gentle forms of exercise and with Tiare as a discreet business scent. Also works well with a "boyfriend cardigan" and Ugg boots. Maybe also a coatigan, provided it is not too shaggy and hippyish.

TA'IF (dusty rose oriental with saffron and "EAT ME" dates)

"Wild card" scent in the range - combines the sombre, buttoned up snuggliness of Orris Noir with the rampant sensuality of Frangipani. "Covert pulling gear" is the closest outfit description I can come up with, which could range from dark skinny jeans and boots to a short vintage dress and a leather jacket. Touches of lace would not go amiss. Or red, but definitely not for the leather jacket. Escaping bra straps (ideally Aubade or Chantelle) in contrasting colours are permitted. May also be worn ironically with any of the above ensembles.

So there you have it - feel free to tweak and rearrange the outfits, the way I used to enjoy doing on those cut out paper dolls on the back page of Bunty... Meanwhile, I must dive back into the database of contacts and see if I can winkle out some no-handed Green Party keep fit enthusiasts in Kristiansand. Or their Stateside equivalent, obviously. And if my posts become sparse / "spotty" in the near future, you will know I have disappeared down the rabbit hole of my 16,000 entry Excel spreadsheet.

Link to Ormonde Jayne Site

Photo of Ormonde Jayne discovery set and perfumes from the company website, photo of a human jigsaw from, photo of a puzzle from, photo of a capsule wardrobe from, photo of Bunty comic from, photo of database from


MyPerfumeLife said...

Completely agree that OJ has the highest likeability factor of any range of scents. Only rivalled by Annick Goutal (in my humble opinion). I'm beginning to realise that I like female perfumers, and was going to start doing some research around this. But haven't actually managed to knuckle down to it yet.

Your day job sounds mightily interesting - just the kind of thing I love. I'm toying with the idea of going back to work, but with four children, the childcare costs are huge, which means it hast to be well paid, which means stress and commitment and probably travel. Don't know if I can face it all.

We should meet if you're ever in London. But you sounds busy.

Vanessa said...

Hi MyPerfumeLife,

That's an intereesting theory of yours about being more drawn to female perfumers. My job is interesting but this current project is a complete nightmare as the database is wildly inaccurate and involves a lot of screening.

I can understand the childcare conundrum, indeed I have always been amazed you find time for your blog - you are a bit of a superwoman already, I'd say!

Yes, it would be nice to meet up when I am in London again - I do come down periodically.

Unknown said...

I love OJ! You're right, she has so many great scents, for a small collection and they cover so many moods/occassions. I own Woman, Ta'if and Tiare but I keep thinking about getting Tolu and Frangipani as well.

Vanessa said...

Hi kjanicki,

Wow, you are a major OJ owner! If you like those other two, I say go for it - OJ perfumes are the scent equivalent of "investment pieces".

: - )

hebe said...

I love OJ scents, they are so complex that it seems I can spend years getting to know them, like a good friend who just gets better and better with time. I have (once) full bottles of Frangipani, Champaca and Ormonde Woman, and am in the process of falling in love with Ta'if and Tolu.

Interesting, I found most of the Juliette has a Gun (oops, originally typed that as "Gin") lineup in my best most secret perfume shop. This line appears to be similar in that there were absolutely none that I would kick out of bed, so to speak. This is the only other brand, other than OJ, that I've pretty much adored across the range.

Vanessa said...

Hi Hebe,

I was thinking about you when I was writing about Frangipani, as it happens, remembering that you were another fan of OJ.

I like that idea of "kicking" a range of perfumes "out of bed". In the case of Juliette Has A Gun, the most minor of scuffles should not be undertaken lightly. And even with Juliettte Has A Gin, there would be an element of collateral spillage...

: - )

Rose said...

I am very fond of Ormonde Jayne too- and I like the way you have reviewed the scents. Ormonde Woman is I think one of the best scents of the last twenty five years, it's so stunning to my nose. I don't see quite as you do- edgy yes but I think you could wear it with a sweeping ball gown, or very sharp riding boots and trousers. Frankly it is the kind of scent that makes me believe I could wear one scent (of course I can't but if I did this would be one of the ones in the running)

Ines said...

Oh well, I thought maybe I'd skip commenting on this post. I'm unfortunately not an OJ fan because my skin just cannot support those scents. I tried many and I just can't appreciate them and I wondered for quite some time if I was missing something everyone else seems to enjoy.
I haven't tried all of them, but so far no luck.

Vintage Lady said...

Precisely today MyPerfumeLife commented on my blog about Ormonde Jayne Perfumes. Not having tested any, I must keep an eye for a future visit online, hopefully they can be sent to Spain. I have added a link, so it will help me keep an eye on it. The names are beautiful, especially Sampaquita, and the scents must be so enjoyable, as for me especially the tiare scent.

Vanessa said...

Hi Rose,

You are quite right that there is probably more crossover potential for OJ Woman than I indicated. I allocated Tolu the ball gown territory, but OJ Woman would be Woman enough for that role too! Outdoorsy riding costumes sound spot on because of the dark green, foresty vibe to Woman - complete with crop of course...

: - )

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

You can't win 'em all, as they say. There are lots of things that other people rave about that I don't get the point of - it is such a subjective business.

Vanessa said...

Hi Vintage Lady!

I hope you can get hold of some samples in Spain, as it sounds to me as though you might ike a few of the line for sure.

Vintage Lady said...

Dear Vanessa,

Yes, absolutely!

Angela Cox said...

One day it suddenly dawned on my daughter and myself that we really prefer female novelists . We hadn't realised or set out to read them alone. I love O.J's Taif , Frangipani and Izfarkand .My house with the most perfumes I love is Frederick Malle .

Vanessa said...

Hi Angela

I probably prefer female novelists too, now you mention it. US and Canadian ones, even.

FM does have a lot of great scents, so I can see why that would be your favourite house.

Carrie Meredith said...

What a lovely and entertaining post! I've fallen in love with several OJ scents myself and have been trying to gather my thoughts and feelings for a review.

Vanessa said...

Hi Carrie,

Glad you enjoyed it! Ormonde Jayne does have some very distinctive and compelling scents, I'd agree.