The other day I was browsing used perfumes in a Yokohama recycling store. Should I buy  heavily discounted bottle of The Essence Of Central Park by Carthusia? Or a refill 93ml edt of Guerlain Jicky? How about Lily Of The Valley by Penhaligons? (such a beautifully coloured box). Or one of the l’eaus by Diptyque (always very appealing bottles). And do I want that Caron Le 3ème Homme?





The thing is, I can very easily live without all of these smells. I just wanted them in my collection. For sheer avarice. Just to look at and gloat. I get a great deal of pleasure from surveying the goods, of seeing my cabinets and shelves replete with flacons, some boxed, some not (depending on whether I like them or not visually), but always a deluge of scent at the ready for my delectation.





As I looked at the lower priced perfumes on the bottom of the glass case in the store that sells second hand designer clothes (old Chanel coats and Dior handbags, Yohji Yamamoto pants for more freedealing Japanese locals) I saw a very boring-looking thing called L’OrBio by a brand called Melvita.  Dulled by its visuals, I almost passed it over thinking that it couldn’t be worth trying.















(would you bother with something like this?)













(the oil strikes me as something less aesthetically unappealing). 






In the interest of all options closed, I decided to try it anyway. And was immediately in love.  I had, though, already picked out the perfume I was going to be buying (a big bottle of Geoffrey Beene’s Grey Flannel, partly because I love the label on the green flacon and it reminds me of my first ever summer in Greece), and we left the store with me saying I might have to come back for this one; smell this, D – wow what a perfect tiare scent! 



It really is. This leaves thick, overarching wannabes like Montale’s Tiare Intense in the dust: so many tropical summer perfumes go overboard in the sweetness and vanilla coconut to the point you get furred lips. This : L’OrBio, is gentle and takes its time in unfolding; an almost clovey beginning – fig leaf, cedar and bergamot creating a taut and crisp contrast with the delicious tiare, vanilla and benzoin in the base (Catherine, if you are reading YOU NEED THIS). Soft, radiant and effortlessly beachy, by the time we had got to the end of the sweltering street and gone for ice coffees on the other side of the station I was saying oh my god D I think I might have to go back and get this one. I can’t live without it. Ultimately, knees and heat exhaustion prevented us from doing so, meaning that instead of buying a perfume I would drink up greedily and wear all the time when I get into mentalita tropicalia, I bought a scent that I will only put on once in a blue moon, meaning I am stupid and pretentious. Had this been packaged in a beautiful bottle and housed in a flawlessly embossed box, I would be raving all over this one (I am anyway, but in a different way). Inarticulate dross and chemical vats of nuclear level amberwoods get marketed with illiterate copy (honestly, some of the crap I have read recently  – back to school, bitches!) and is put in a ‘tasteful’ container and a marketing ploy and the hipster brainwashed just lap it up, placing the perfume carefully in the corner of their exquisitely appointed ‘condo’, when it actually smells like shit and numbs all those who come into contact with it. THIS, delicious, voluptuous, like a beautiful creature from the Seychelles, gets ignored, left behind (by me, too, supposedly a scent connoisseur), because of its slightly prosaic packaging. There is a lesson in this.
















L’OrBio can’t help reminding me of course of Nuxe Paris’ legendary Huile Prodigieuse, a product I ‘cannot be without’. The Black Narcissus is not a beauty blog (how could it be?), but I do try to look after my skin, and this oily, sweet tropical magnificence is perfect when I have turned into a knackered, eyeballed hag with sallow, desiccated complexion like a hounddog. I am very intuitive about what or what not to put on my face: most of the time my skin says no thank you and I just wash my face with water. It is enough. Cleansers, exfoliators, toners and particularly ‘masques’ do not suit me (rash inducing; too harsh) ; I don’t need them  – too much chemical interference.  I just need moisturiser, and the full list of the products I use is this: organic virgin coconut oil (nothing is better for eye bags); Huile Prodigieuse (bring on that glow and health look); and Kiehl’s products for men such as the macho sounding Facial Fuel energising moisture lotion and the Age Defender cream, both of which I use in emergencies for their tingling, minty, refreshing aspects that are different from the replenishing grease of the aforementioned naturals. Sometimes I get it wrong and end up too oily, but on the whole, these products  – which last me half a year – save me from looking totally like the back end of a bus, particularly after a eucalyptus bath. When I first went back to work after the initial lockdown after shaving I was quite horrified by what I saw in the mirror, almost to the point of thinking that is not my face : a trip to Kiehl’s in Yokohama soon brought quantifiable results.






The eau de toilette of L’OrBio is so lovely I might have to now look into the oil as well as a skin moisturiser (and I am definitely going to go back to get the perfume or get it from the local Melvita stockist near the station). Huile Prodigieuse is a touch on the hysterically sweet tip, sometimes, like a full orchestra of Hawaiian ukuleles ; it can make me feel a bit sick in the morning when I am not in the mood.  As I sat smelling the back of my hand where I had smelled L’OrBio, I sank into its mellow, natural effortlessness. I was enjoying it so much. Because really, after all, perfume love should be about the smell. 










Filed under Flowers

22 responses to “EYES WITHOUT A FACE : : L’ORBIO by MELVITA (date unknown)

  1. I get heavily biased by the appearance of bottles as well. Glad to say that after weeks of sampling various perfumes, I finally ordered a bottle of Parfum d’Empire Osmanthus Interdite *despite* the look. 😉 Hadn’t heard of Melvita before but the notes of L’Or Bio sound pretty good. Enjoy!

    • Am I just a simple soul at heart?

      Just checked the latest Parfum D’Empire packaging. I quite like it. What is thy gripe?

      • No gripe at all, but the bottle looks pretty plain from the photo, isn’t it? I’m waiting eagerly for it to arrive. It’s temporarily not being distributed to the US anymore so I’m glad I got some of the remaining stock.

        With a grand collection, you could probably be as simple or embellished as you want at any given time, right?

  2. Robin

    Inarticulate dross and chemical vats of nuclear level amberwoods get marketed with illiterate copy (honestly, some of the crap I have read recently – back to school, bitches!) and is put in a ‘tasteful’ container and a marketing ploy and the hipster brainwashed just lap it up, placing the perfume carefully in the corner of their exquisitely appointed ‘condo’, when it actually smells like shit and numbs all those who come into contact with it.

    That is textbook N. Chapman. LOVE.

    I’ve had a few encounters recently with ultra-hip-and-hyped fragrances that fit the bill you describe. Let’s not forget how grotesquely overpriced they are! I think that’s what galls (me, anyway) the most. It’s offensive (and I am careful to use that word sparingly, especially in these oversensitive micro-aggression-aggrieved times).

    I have a bunch of vintage down-market Avon fragrances that I eye occasionally (they’re in my oven since I don’t use it) and periodically consider chucking out holus- bolus. Then I take off the cap of one of them at random and apply it to see if my opinion has changed. Nope. They’re all really good. Interesting (derivative in a good way, generally in the Chanel/Patou/Lanvin direction), attractive, good quality. Cheap like borscht. (You probably don’t know Avon, Neil, but it used to be sold out of little monthly catalogues distributed by neighbourhood ladies in Canada and the US.) (Wait! Just looked it up. Sounds like Avon is in the UK as well, or was?!) When I was a pre-teen I used to go a few blocks away to pick up my order and have a cup of tea with my elderly Avon rep. I remember the Honeysuckle to this day (long-gone, I suspect) and haven’t found anything to equal it. I suspect the current line-up is mediocre but vintage Avon — Timeless (1974), Charisma (1968), Moonwind (1971), et al, cheesy bottles and all — is some impressive bang for the buck. As you say, syphon any of them into a black and white condo-friendly bottle and voila: hipsters would rave (or not; not enough modern burnt-electrical-wire base notes for modern sensibilities). So I know what you mean about the snob element being a thing.

    • Samantha at I Scent You A Day is the Avon queen and a total non snob – I love her approach. But I also COULD NOT have those bottles prominently in La Collection. As you say, hide that shit at the back (but enjoy it secretly).

      • Robin

        Yes, hide them. I have one particularly grotesque Avon bottle with a flesh-tone bakelite cap in the shape of an angel (I assume) that looks like a cross-eyed gargoyle. I can’t look at it.

      • Robin

        I just got out something in a hideous bottle with a plastic deer cap. It’s Topaze (1959). It is gorgeous. Fragrantica: Topaze by Avon is a Floral Aldehyde fragrance for women. Topaze was launched in 1959. Top notes are aldehydes, coriander, peach, bergamot and lemon; middle notes are carnation, iris, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley and rose; base notes are sandalwood, tonka bean, amber, benzoin, civet and vetiver.

        And Avon Occur (1963) is supposed to be, I read, a “low-budget Bal a Versailles.” Exactly typical of what they were trying to do for the American housewife, bless her heart. Pretty cool of them.

  3. bibimaizoon

    I had never heard of Melvita. A brief perusal of their website looks like the company is one of those fabulous French drugstore brands that makes incredible products at amazingly fair prices (like Nuxe, Yves Rocher, Klorane, etc.) Tiare, fig leaf, jasmine, bergamot, & cedar? Count me in! Thank you for introducing me to this brand, their ginger and wild rose perfumes intrigue me also.
    Ad copywriting for luxury products (fragrance, makeup, skin care, cars, etc) has truly become hysterical dreck in the last 10 years. Reminds me of the narcissistic word salad Trump spews. Just a string of nonstop hyperbole, repetitive adjectives, and catchphrases that aren’t very catchy. Wouldn’t it be so ironically hipster if this trend towards illiterate & artless copy was inspired by Trump?

  4. Cath

    Yes, I’m reading this!! And please tell me now where I can source this marvel! 😄

    • Online at a Melvita store in Japan maybe?

      • Cath

        You had me browsing online all night, enabler! 🤣 It’s not available on their site any more, might have been a limited thing. Or limited in Japan. Things always suddenly disappear from the market here.

      • Hi Catherine. Sorry for the late reply – me and D went on a bit of a mad bender traveling all over the place and celebrating the beginning of the summer hols and I haven’t felt like being on any social media or on here.

        Also, I wanted to go back and check the perfume again as I feel that recently I have been over recommending things and feel responsible!

        I stand by the dry down. Divine (went and checked it yesterday at the shop and bought it) but the beginning is less easy on the nose than I had realized- maybe this bottle isn’t brand new but it was a bit like a curdled Hypnotic Poison initially).

  5. Tora

    I am commenting very late, because I ordered a bottle of the EDT after reading this. It just arrived from France yesterday. I opened the package this morning and put a large spray on my wrist. Wow. I am 15 again wearing my first bikini in Kailua, beaching and body surfing with my big sister. This smells like all of my adolescent memories of Hawaii. I went back a few times as an adult to windsurf, but this is not from that time. The vanilla in this is huge, and with the creamy tiare and jasmin, transportive. I was obsessed with making leis when I was 15, my sister had tons of plumeria treas in her yard. I even went to bed wearing the flowers wrapped around my neck. My cousin whose dad was the Commander at the Kaneohe air base, brough me enough pikake one day to make a lei, and that one I wore till it was wilted and brown. Melvita L’Or Bio smells like my idealized memories of my teenage self, I thought I was some tropical goddess.

    • WOW THIS IS FANTASTIC!!! I am really pleased that I raved about it now reading this, as even though the beginning of the perfume is a bit confused on me, as we were walking along the streets I also had some feeling of a memory coming back or at the very least that they had NAILED some kind of tropical perfection. I think the base accord is absolutely delightful. And so cheap!

    • Plus I have always wanted to go to Hawaii, even if just for the flowers. I worry the music would irritate me if I heard it everywhere too much, but I know I would adore the vegetation and the sea. I MUST GO. Which island is best? Kailua?

  6. K

    When i pass the scents in your mail i get this beautiful fragrance, its weird

  7. Karina

    I got the oil and soap after reading this (perfume sold out at the moment). I love it – the soap has a little green sth as well. The oil is lush. And when I’m feeling extra decadent I layer the oil with Songes and feel decadent and sun drenched.

  8. Appreciate your blog ppost

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