The perfumes of Oriza L. Legrand, originally from 1720, but recently revived and in new hands, are very classique. From the labels and packaging to the liquid inside, the wide range of fin de siecle-style eaux de toilette smell grand and very Parisien, yet unlike, say, the similar project by Grossmith perfumes London – another resurrected defunct perfumery of yore – not quite so ossified that you feel your skull chattering beneath your lace. While some of the scents from the line I have sampled are a touch too old-fashioned for me ( I know I am know as the ‘vintage man’ but I am not, in actual fact, into ‘zombie’perfumes, where disinterred, powdery, oak-mossed chambers of the past choke with dust), they are nevertheless impressive in their well-builtness and powdery heft, yet still with whiffs of relic (there is even actually a musty crypt scent called Relique D’Amour, which sums it all up rather perfectly). Some of the perfumes, though, are for me, are just really too grande dame, like the ‘new’ Royal Oeillet – a very old-school, musked carnation – or Marions Nous, which brings to mind Catherine Deneuve’s collection of bridal attic skeletons in Tony Scott’s The Hunger, crumbling like sand in their coffins yet still crying out, pitifully, to be loved.
Despite this, I think I will still probably go back and explore these scents further – rather a touch of anachronicity than be bored to death by Jo Malone. And yesterday at Isetan Shinjuku, as I surveyed all the pristine and polished department shelves loaded with niche, I did take quite a liking to the Oriza L. Legrand’s most recent release – Vetiver Royal Bourbon, though the sheer concentration of nothing-to-do sales assistants hovering about my every move (I literally counted twenty three of them to about six customers in that relatively small perfume hall – a space say twice as big as Liberty London and no more – a ratio that makes me start to contract inwardly with irritation when I am there to explore) dissuaded me from lingering there too long. I stayed long enough to know that this is my kind of scent though – my kind of vetiver, and I have not got any such creations in my collection at the moment. My New Orleans vetiver from last year I used up in no time; my reformulated Guerlain just doesn’t cut it (how I long to find a vintage bottle somewhere of Guerlain’s original Vetiver, god it was great – so deep, and smoky and endless and the new version just doesn’t deliver the pleasure), and as I have written before, I am not into these ‘refined’, purified, sinew- synthetic vetivers of the Frederic Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire model: they are too clean, and perfect, and overly persistent. Royal Bourbon was clearly a classical vetivert: natural, earthy, grassy and green, citric and bracingly herbaceous, but also with some curious twists up top like additions of thyme, mint, orris and juniper to give the blend a touch of audacity. Although I don’t wear vetiver in winter ( I have shocked myself recently at quite how traditionally, seasonally-inclined I am when it comes to perfumery – in August, smelling my vanillas and orientals I swore that I could never wear such perfumes again they seemed so sickly yet now they are all that I want), but I can definitely imagine getting this come May or June. For me, this strikes me as having just the right balance. Classic, and based on a certain tradition of quality, yet not at all fusty or mired in the past.