Not Such a Silk Road…

I have “dysfunctional relationships” with Ormonde Jayne (brand): while I love it and have been loyal to it for many years, it seems that it doesn’t love me back. I do not mean me as a blogger – that is normal and expected even from a much “blogger-friendlier” brands. But I always had a feeling that they didn’t love me enough as a customer either.

Being a fan, over years I bought numerous perfumes directly from the brand, both full bottles and travel sets, in store and from their website, full-priced and discounted. And in all these years, with all perfumes bought, I got a single free sample.

I do not think it happened by chance: it seems like a rather well calculated business approach. And while I disagree with it (I would expect that someone who’s already paying for one perfume from the line is more likely to buy another one, given a chance to try it, but what do I know about business?), obviously, it has worked well for the brand, at least for the last 10 years that I’ve been following it. So, I do not hold it against them.

Recently, I got a scare: on one of the blogs I follow I read about a possible discontinuation of Ta’if – one of my top three all-time favorite perfumes. It was a false alarm, we confirmed right away that it was still available on the brand’s site. But I immediately decided that, just in case, I would need to get a back-up bottle of it soon, which I recently did, taking advantage of the sale the UK site had.

Even having to pay for the shipping via DHL (dangerous goods and all that), the price was much better than I could get from the US distributors. And since I was already paying for the shipping, and because who knows when I will get to travel to the UK next time, I decided to participate, again, in the brand’s favorite game: buy a discovery set. This time it was a discovery set for their newest line – La Route de la Soie (The Silk Road).

 

Ormonde Jayne La Route de la Soie (The Silk Road)

 

The collection includes four already released perfumes and three perfumes that will be launched this Fall.

Byzance

Top notes: Blackcurrant Buds, Milky Accord, Pink Berries; middle notes: White Wood, Wood of Cashmere, Iris Butter; base notes: Moss, Suede, Madagascar Vanilla, Balsamic Accord.

Damask

Top notes: Blackcurrant, Italian Lemon, Pear; middle notes: Rose, Jasmine, Pink Berries; base notes: Mineral amber, Musk, Vetiver.

Levant

Top notes: Bergamot, Mandarin, Tangelo, Rose Petals; middle notes: Lily of the Valley, Peony, Orange Blossom, Jasmine; base notes: Cedarwood, Amber, Musk.

Tanger

Top notes: Ylang Ylang, Italian Mandarin, Italian Bergamot; middle notes: Rose Petals, Wood of Cashmere, Neroli; base notes: base notes: Moss, Dry Amber, Madagascar Vanilla, Balsamic Accord.

Indus

Top notes: Blackcurrant Buds, Lychee, Nutmeg; middle notes: Persian Rose; base notes: Musk, Chinese Patchouli, Incense, Armenian Plum.

Xandria

Top notes: Rum, Rosewood, Apple; middle notes: Ceylon Cinnamon, Tonka Beans; base notes: Dry Amber, Musk, Guaiacwood, Earthy Accord, Oudh.

Xi’an

Top notes: Black Pepper, Nutmeg; middle notes: base Cedarwood, Rhubarb; base notes: Musk, Indian Sandalwood.

 

If you are in the mood for reading reviews, you’ll easily find several for the first four, and Neil (The Black Narcissus) has just posted a quick review for all 7. If you were to ask me, for myself I liked Tanger (cheerful and the most classical-Ormonde-Jayne perfume from the collection) and Byzance (I don’t know how, but for my nose it has the same strange “hot iron note” that I like in Serge Lutens’ Gris Clair), and I think Xandria smells nice on my vSO. Damask is quite pleasant, I’m just not sure if it’s different enough from other roses I already have (though, since the FB price isn’t that bad, it might be worth trying if you are looking for an ambered rose). The other three… None of them was offensive or even unpleasant.

 

Rusty and Ormonde Jayne La Route de la Soie (The Silk Road)

 

If these perfumes are ever offered in OJ’s new 30 ml format, I might be tempted to buy a bottle or two. If no, then most likely we’ll part our ways once the samples are gone: even though I still have warm feelings toward the brand, I think they are doing just fine without my support.

But do I think this set is worth buying? It depends.

If usually you do not buy perfumes for testing, or if Ormonde Jayne perfumes have never worked for you, you can safely skip this set.

I’m convinced that it is not worth £42 (plus shipping), which the brand does not offer to redeem even partially against a full bottle purchase (I know, it works for them, but I’m trying to be a voice of reasoning for others who are not in love with the brand).

BUT

If you are an Ormonde Jayne fan, as I am, and you have a sampling budget, I would suggest you took advantage of their current private sale*: until September 7th, this set is offered at £30, including free worldwide shipping (other sets are also on sale). These are generous 2 ml spray samples in a nice box. As far as sampling goes, not only you could – you probably often do do worse (at least, it’s true for me with those $4-$6 + tax + S&H 0.7 ml dabbers from Luckyscent and other similar places). And since it’s a very new collection, you should be able to partially recoup your losses would you decide to sell it after testing or offer it in a swap.

 

* If you are in the US and have a credit card that doesn’t take a fee for foreign currency transactions, check if their conversion rate is better than PayPal’s (true in my case – I used a Capital One card). Also, if for whatever reason the online checkout doesn’t work for you, contact the UK support directly (customerservices@ormondejayne.com).

Disclaimer: No affiliations whatsoever: I’m just a slightly grumpy customer of Ormonde Jayne (I paid the full price for the set!) and a happy customer of Capital One.

 

Images: my own

28 thoughts on “Not Such a Silk Road…

  1. You must have read my mind. I was trying to order this very “Silk Road” set just a couple of hours ago. The Ormonde Jayne website kept kicking me out so I gave up. I had tried to order another sample set earlier in the summer, but I got a not so friendly email from OJ that they were not shipping to the US at the time. Arrgh, Errgh, but now it seems they are shipping to us poor American plebeians so hopefully I can get the website to work and try those samples. I generally really like the Ormnonde Jayne vibe/aesthetic. I, too, adore Ta’if, as well as Ormonde Woman, Frangipani and Vanille d’Iris. I’ll let you know what I think of the Silk Road set once I get my paws on it!

    I agree that they are a bit stingy with the samples. They’ve never sent me even 1 free sample. Oh well, I still love their products. I guess they are just not as into freebies with purchases as we are in the US. I’m so used to Luckyscent and Tigerlily giving me free samples with purchase or a % off if I order something I’m sampling that I guess I’m spoiled.

    Hope everyone has a great weekend. I’m cleaning out and painting kitchen cabinets. It’s a much bigger job than anticipated. My husband said, “What did you get us into? This is a major undertaking.” As usual, I dove in and didn’t really think it through. Thank goodness we’re retired so we can work on it some every day and hopefully finish before too long.

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  2. Good morning Undina!
    I tried to warm up to Ormonde Jayne several times but it seems this brand just doesn’t work for me in general. I remember meeting Linda at Pitti Fragranze one year, when Vanille d’Iris was released. As a blogger I asked if I could get a sample to test it peacefully I got a vial that was used and only had maybe 0.5 ml left.
    It seems pretty unusual that with a full bottle purchase the brand does not include free samples to encourage further testing. Normally I get lots of extra samples when I buy a perfume from the brand directly or even from a niche perfumery that distributes them.
    I don’t want to argue about the quality of these fragrances but their prices, after conversion from GBP to PLN turns very high for my budget. And even though I like their bottle design I don’t need 100 ml.

    But I have to give them back that I was once contacted by them and I was sent a sample set of Elixir collection. I liked Osmanthus Elixir a lot.

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    • Not giving out testers to “press” (no matter how big or small – you’ve already paid to come there, it should say something about your intentions) is even stranger. But what do we know? :) I bet being at Harrod’s, Selfriges and other “big” places, they are doing just fine without “spoiling” their customers.

      To be fair, the one sample that I did get from the brand was this time when I bought a 120 ml bottle of Ta’if and a discovery set (I got Ta’if Elexir sample).

      Speaking of bottles, that 120 ml bottle is extremely uncomfortable to handle: I can’t hold it securely. It’s a pity: from using even bigger Chanel and Dior bottles, I know that it’s an issue of proportions.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have been lucky with being sent OJ samples in the past, but I wonder if it depends on whom you speak to? The courteous helpful staff I’ve chatted with over the phone have been very generous! Like you, my favourite fragrance is Ta’if, followed by Tsarina, Tiare and Passionate Love, but I don’t get along with the others, even the popular Woman – I thought I would love that, especially as it contained hemlock (!), but on me it smells like babies’ diapers …

    I was also fearful of Ta’if being discontinued, but one of the lovely OJ people explained that it is only the candle that has bitten the dust – something to do with not being able to keep using the oils that are necessary for this particular version of the fragrance. Which is a huge shame as it is the candle that introduced me to Ta’if and began my obsession! But I shelled out for the diffuser, and wow – it’s powerful and lovely.

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    • I think that the staff also erroneously assumed, at least in the past, that outside of the UK customers were “one-off” and didn’t try building any relationships with them, while local customers, like you, seemed like a better prospect.

      I have a couple of Ta’if candles in the set (with a bath oil). So, I’ll use them up before they loose the scent (as it happened with my bath gel :) ). Too bad they aren’t available any longer, but, on the other hand, I wouldn’t want to use that scent too often: it’s too special for me to use it without a special occasion.

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  4. I had a lot of love for the brand in my early days. The perfumes were wearable yet different enough and high quality. They were also fair value for money. Then they started releasing the exclusive oud fragrances and the over priced – in my view – Four Corners collection (if that was the name?). It felt like they were chasing the customers more interested in the exclusivity than the perfume itself. I couldn’t bear Vanille d’Iris and that was the tin lid for me.

    I agree it is disappointing that they don’t do more for loyal customers.

    £42 is a hell of a lot for a sample set you can’t redeem against a purchase.

    I still adore my bottle of Ormande Woman though.

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    • My heart belongs to the classical collection as well. From the later ones I kind of liked Tzarina (that’s why I got it), but everything else… Most of them went past me mostly because they weren’t striking enough to wow me at the first try when I had a chance to do that in one of the “exclusive” locations, and without samples they didn’t get a chance to “grow on me.”

      As much as I do not like it, I still think that, as a brand, they probably do it right: they are a well placed niche brand that doesn’t count on the repeat customers that are not local to their selected locations. Their perfumes are quite pleasant to warrant a “souvenir” discovery set purchase, and most people will not pursue a full bottle sent from abroad after finishing (or not) those sets.

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  5. I love Ormonde Woman. Visited the shop in London a couple of years ago and came away with a travel spray set. Was able to sniff the whole line in the shop, but no samples… in contrast, I walked out of Nicolaï and Goutal in Paris with a whole stack. Once I use up my Woman travel spray I may buy a bottle, but I’m “off” discovery sets these days so I don’t expect to try anything new. It’s ok – I have sooo much perfume and doing a no-buy has reframed my mind to not need more.

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    • I’m kind of glad I’m not the only one with that experience :) Once a friend of mine, on his trip to the UK, went to the store on my request and bought me two travel sets. I instructed him to ask for a couple of samples with a purchase. He did. And was offered… to buy a discovery set. Can you imagine that? A man is buying two perfumes (those travel sets were 40 ml each) – and at the store they don’t see fit to provide any free samples – not Ormonde Jayne Man or Zizan to try for himself, not one or two other in addition to those that he was buying… Oh, well.

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  6. I was excited about them when I first discovered their original line, but tired of them and passed them all on. No further interest in sampling unless I happen to be in front of a tester and even then I do not get enthused.

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    • I think it depends on where in one’s perfume journey we came across this line. The original collection was quite different from the most perfumes wildly available 12-15 years ago. So, back then it was easier to fall in love with those perfumes. A lot changed since then. So, whoever hasn’t formed a bond with the brand, probably won’t these days.

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  7. I actually like the line and was contemplating getting Tiare recently when Twisted Lily had it for 50% off…but then I thought that even though I really like it, I don’t know if I need to have it. That said, I never understand when companies don’t provide samples especially with sales. That is beyond stupid and is a cheap way to market for future sales. Oh well. I see that Rusty has put aside fitting in a box to fitting in a small bowl :)

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    • I was eyeing Tiare and Orris Noir at that sale as well :) But I still have a 10 ml travel spray of each of them left, so at the rate I’m using any perfumes, I doubt I’ll need more for the next 2-3 years – so, I passed.

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  8. My first exposure to them was via the Four Corners of the Earth/Gold Trilogy discovery set, which I bought and don’t remember it being as expensive as it is now. Most were quite nice, but none wowed me enough to shell out for a full bottle. After a visit to their shop in London last year, I came away with travel sprays of Montabaco and Osmanthus. I haven’t smelled this new line yet but don’t have FOMO about it either.

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    • I think it’s similar to literature: there are some books that one has to read as a child or a teenager, because later in life they won’t have the same effect. Ormonde Jayne is a great “starter” niche brand (especially their original collection), but as we expand our horizons, there’s only that much Iso E-Super one can admire ;)

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  9. Of the Silk Road set, Tanger would be the standout scent for me. I was also struck by how many had blackcurrant in them.

    I have only ever received one free sample of an OJ perfume, and I was with you at the time. But that was thanks to a promo in Selfridges, not the brand directly. And didn’t we have to ask as well? I cannot recall now, but I know I picked White Gold and found it underwhelming.

    In my time as a perfumista, I have really championed the brand, and had such a good strike rate with their original line it was like a capsule wardrobe. I agree with Tara that they lost their way – or lost me, more like – when they came out with all the exotic nomenclature from distant lands.

    Glad to hear Ta’if is still with us!

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    • Yes, my second free sample of this brand’s perfumes I got when you and I visited Selfridges. And yes, we did some dancing to get one free sample each. Mine was Rose Gold: quite nice, but not to pay that line’s price for it. And I still partially blame their demeanor: not all the perfumes I buy are an absolute love for me; many I like; with some I feel that I want to “support the brand.” But when I do not feel that “loving me back,” I loose interest.

      Black currant was an attraction for me – and none of the perfumes in this line does it as well as it is in Enchanted Forrest (which I would have bought already, but I do not need 100 ml of the strong black currant perfume!). The other two extra-popular notes in the line (not counting Iso E-Super, which I’m sure is present in most of them :) ) are amber and musk.

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  10. Hey Undina,
    I bought a sample set in the very early days.
    Remember those excellent 10ml x 4 black travel sets? I went in on a few splits of those. They are a perfect amount.
    There was the brouhaha about her calling herself the perfumer and I went sour on the brand for a while.
    Then in Oz the perfumery that stocked them was selling out so I grabbed discounted bottles of Sampaquita and Ormonde Woman. The only other one I really yearn for is Vanilla d’Iris.
    That sample set you got would be cool but I seriously don’t need more.
    Portia xx

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    • I have several of those black travel spray sets. It’s a perfect size, as you said, nice for sharing, and very convenient for traveling (my Tiare and Frangipiani traveled with me to at least 3 different Hawaii islands).
      After trying Sampaquita that you shared with me, I can confirm that my samples were off: it’s a completely different perfume than I experienced before. I’m not sure whether I’ll like it enough to search for more, but it was interesting to finally try it :).

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    • Vanilla de Iris is one of my all time favourites. But have to correct you on one thingy, I have met Linda in the shop in Mayfair and Selfridge’s three times, and she really is the Perfumer behind the collection. They posted a video with Gaza Schone explaining their relationship on their Facebook page. It’s a collaboration but she is the real perfumer. (She’s really open and genuine actually, very sweet).

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  11. Pingback: Saturday Question: Do You Like Discovery Sets? – Undina's Looking Glass

  12. What to say about OJ? I got the discovery set of the original line and got tired after smelling the women’s line; however, it yielded travel sprays of OJ Woman, Tiare and Taif, thanks to hosting and participating in splits 😉. I also have press kit leftover travel sprays of 3 of the Four Corners of the World when the brand decided to go “higher end”; I got these on my trip to London in 2013. I may be tempted to get the Silk Road discovery set because you made it sound so appealing. I hope I don’t encounter the same issues as Rickyrebarco mentioned way up above!

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  13. Please don’t think any less of me 😊 , Undina, but I haven’t had the pleasure of trying any OJs yet. On the subject of sampling, though, I think brands should go out of their way to keep loyal customers very happy.

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