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?