The perfumes of Atelier des Ors are really not shy. Strong, direct, sensual, and unhindered, the brand ‘poetically magnifies each of its creations in a glittering ballet of stardust’ — literally, injecting swirling flakes of pure gold leaf into each flacon. A popular niche perfume house that does very well in that fabled treasure trove of extravagance, Harrods in London, it is easy to understand why : a well made rose oudh perfume like Rose Omeyyade with its raspberry uplift, heart of pure rose, and a lingering, rich woody finish, will appeal to a wide ready made customer base; in particular, loyal Middle Eastern customers, who apparently make up a large percentage of sales in the current perfume halls (hence, perhaps, the great selections available of a wide variety of agarwood based fragrances there). At 275 dollars, these perfumes are not cheap – but not astronomical, either (relatively; in comparison with a lot of high end oud); the appeal of the packaging and presentation – like a gilded dungeon of Egyptology or a pantheon of sun gods set against 1920’s silent movie black – easy on the eye also for the casual or occasional visitor among the crowds, lost in the boisterously eager, moneyed caverns of British luxury.

The perfumes are fortunately pleasing to the nose though as well: Lune Feline one of those instantly addictive vanillas with musk and tonka, that ooze up against an orchidaceous and slightly sandalwoody backdrop and are very inwardly and outwardly sexy, purring and overt; Larmes Du Désert an almost Lutensian spiced incense reminiscent to me of Filles En Aiguilles but tighter and more arid, with elemi and cardamon over myrrh and patchouli, a tingling, burnt crystallized effect that is chic and unhurried. Iris Fauve is ‘another iris’: powdery enough; warm enough (myrrh, musk, liatris, labdanum), removed enough (bergamot, vetiver) though a hint of nargamotha and cinnamon in the centre of the scent – quite acacia leaves in autumn – gives the perfume its own voice. In any case, this iris has an understated aura to that will work if you are an orris completist, with a soft emotiveness almost akin to the classic Ombre Rose – but watch for the sweetness in the last accord as it develops on skin.

Dense and sweet does indeed seem to be an embedded codeword of this house: a contemporary ‘opulence’ painted in thick strokes that doesn’t wimp out like many thin niche perfumes do, and is definitely in the positive rather than negative (and passive aggressive – my most hated trait, present in perfumery as well as human beings) – register. Patchouli seems to be one of the most used notes: Aube Rubis a pointedly darker, cassis-tipped more ferocious Angel Redux (for me, a ship that sailed away a long time ago), but if you like the glamazonish night scents of that ilk – and many still do – this will make an enjoyable, long-lasting substitute.

Personally, I think I prefer the fresher, ‘sport’ perfumes of the more recent Riviera Collection. After all the ‘orientalia’ of the main body of the perfume house’s offerings, it is quite nice to get a burst of sea air, of grapefruit, ozonic white flowers, even if this is probably not the right season or weather to be trying such scents. Blanc Polychrome is a proper après-tennis scent, perfect for off court or lawn whites, all zesting citruses and white flower buds and clean musks; it might not smell like it exactly comes from nature, but is great for a shower and a sparkling pick me up and to brighten the conversation. Less packed-to-bursting, and more simply enjoyable, is Pomelo Riviera, the perfume from the range I would probably pick for my own use; the cheering tint of pomelo peel – astringent, like a greener grapefruit – blended cleverly to neroli, bergamot, rose, a hint of jasmine, and a light aquatic note that feels like a sea breeze: a stimulating contrast to the heartier, more ambered and embedded fare in the main range. I would certainly like to smell all of these eventually, in order to get the full picture.

Are you a fan of this house?


Filed under Flowers


  1. Tara C

    I am a big fan of this house and own all the black cap orientalist scents except Bois Sikar which was too masculine for me. I have yet to try the Riviera collection or the white cap collection as I’m not a fan of citrus or fresh cologne type things, but if I get a chance I’ll give them a sniff. Love the luxe bottles, I can see why they would sell well at Harrods.

  2. Robin

    This is an interesting read. I like hearing about fragrance lines I haven’t tried or haven’t heard of. Thanks, dear N.

    You describe them well, but I can’t help but wonder if there’s some kind of base in the black caps that would bug me. I don’t like that wall-of-Cypriol thing, or harsh woods, things that stick in the nose, and many oud-type notes if they obscure everything else: my nose really recoils — even when it’s from a mainstream house like Lancome whose scents seem to appeal to the great unwashed. (And it’s strange, because give me any blockbuster vintage, no matter how much castoreum/civet/birch tar, and I’m perfectly comfy.) Otherwise, the compositions sound appealing, although “dense and sweet” isn’t particularly my wheelhouse, nor is powerhouse modern patchouli. I’m sure these are not safe blind-buys, anyhoo. The Riviera Collection sounds less problematic, but then those compositions don’t sound as though they’re worth the money. For that I want symphonic, profound, drop-dead gorgeous: certainly not fresh and sporty. I can get perfectly good fresh and sporty for fifty bucks.

    And I really don’t like the gold flake aesthetic at all. That money should be going into the fragrance. If that’s why the price is so high, I don’t want to be paying for it. It seems so showy and superfluous and runs in direct opposition to my ideas of where the emphasis should be. I don’t give a darn about packaging and presentation, really; I mean, it’s nice to have something good-looking, but it can’t be higher-end than the fragrance itself.

    Oh my god, listen to me. I sound positively cranky! It’s not you, my darling. It’s Atelier des Ors, and conspicuous consumption, or just another expensive niche line to by underwhelmed by, or whatever the heck seems to be rubbing me the wrong way. I’m sure you understand. xox

    • I do. Although I was thinking of you last night as I surveyed the base note of Larmes Du Desert, and it was a genuine frankincense resin smell, with that slightly dirty warm scent that real church after lingers have. At the same time, when D came in – he basically reacted as you have – ‘too…..headache inducing were his words’. I quite enjoyed all the stages of the ones I was wearing yesterday – but there isn’t quite that poetic twist perhaps that I was hoping for.

      • Robin

        Poetic twist. Ah, Neil, you know me well.*

        Mmm, and I do love genuine frankincense resin, all those resins. Anything Andy Tauer makes in his chem lab, for example, seems to agree with me, no matter how huge and stinky, so whatever’s going on with certain niche houses it’s part of a different perfumer’s palate. I think Duncan and I must have the same little info chip in our olfactory lobe that gets set off by the same frequency, the same synthetic fragrance dog whistle. And I do like synthetics in general, in theory, am fine with them. I am glad you don’t get set off the same way by the ones I do; it increases the possibilities for you. I wish I were the same, I do.

        *It’s a good feeling to know that you understand so many of your followers and their predilections. You have a much less sieve-like brain than I do. I don’t know how you keep track of all of us. But glad you do.

      • I am actually the same as you, almost entirely, with exactly the same triggers. Seriously

        The point of this review for me was to highlight the strengths, but also giving a gilded headache – which you got immediately.

      • Robin

        I’m grateful that you invariably exercise tact, or diplomacy, or just choose to always give a balanced review. It’s then easy for us to have the info we need to apply our own discernment process and draw a tentative conclusion about a fragrance or house. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I appreciate the respect you show. Coming down hard is not really good for anybody. I know that if you aren’t writing about a line, either you haven’t tried it or have decided not to devote any ink to it. As for Atelier des Ors, I still would like to try them. Heck, the floating gold is even growing on me . . .

      • No, you know I can write really bitchy and slamming reviews sometimes, like the recent Aqua Allegories or if I am just in a bad mood. But on the whole, I do try to be a bit objective. These, I would say, are very direct perfumes that don’t fade out to total rubbish – the base notes are also good, but there is a certain thickness that prevents any wistful thoughts enter the enjoyment process; they are just pleasing fragrances. Having been quietly surprised by how good the base of Larmes Du Desert is, though (better than the sweetness of Filles En Aiguilles), I might wear this one again come winter. And from me, that is really saying something.

      • Robin

        I admit it. I do like your bitchy slamming reviews. A house like Guerlain can take it.

      • I meant it unfacetiously though when I said about being genuinely glad they have some popular hits, and if some young handsome guy was wearing Ideal in small doses and some fresh hair gel or something in tandem chewing gum I can imagine changing my mind. It’s all about context.

        But on me…………oh no. A kind of soul death.

  3. Your post , along with all the comments has been very informative. I have been curious about this fragrance house for ages, although the gold flecks in the bottles seem a wee too precious for my liking, and the offerings sound worthwhile. A few people I know have the Larmes du Desert, which is the one that I am most interested in. I just don’t see myself spending the money on them, again-do I really care about gold flakes, but might invest in some samples if they offer a sample set.

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