If I have any feeling of discontent about any of Ormonde Jayne's creations, then it's got to be that some of her fragrances are simply too big for me. Of course, that's blaming it all on the perfumer, which isn't really fair. Instead, I suppose I should say, I'm not big enough for some of her fragrances. Still, Tolu rounds out my top three favorite Ormonde Jayne fragrances, where the other two are Frangipani and Champaca.
The notes in Tolu are:
Top: Juniper berry, organge blossom, clary sage
Heart: Orchid, Moroccan rose, muguet
Base: Tolu, tonka bean, golden frankincense, amber
This is a juicy incense of a fragrance, and it lasts forever. The opening is bright and slightly sweet, but it settles quickly into a floral-incense combination. As I said earlier, I'm not really big enough for Tolu, but I love it anyway. I feel as though I'm wearing a cashmere sweater that's a few sizes too large (wait, that's in again this season, right? Where'd I put my leggings? Ha!). I'm not sure how to explain "too big" any other way, except to say that I don't fill it in. I'm sort of small--not dinky, just short, somewhere between 5'2" and 5'3", and a decent weight for my height. I say all this to give you a frame of reference: I am what some might call petite. But what I feel like a little bit when I wear Tolu (although less so than when I wear Osmanthus, which overtakes me completely) is one of those petite women who, in an effort to not be thought of as small, has gone large with everything: huge jewelry, high heels, big hair, too much makeup. She bought up all of the castoff suits at some Hollywood auction for Dynasty, and she wears one every day.
Now that I have that picture, I can't get it out of my head. It reminds me of a time in college when I had a brief crush on someone, and one night I was driving home and thinking of him when I smelled a very distinct scent: skunk. My brain locked in the association, for better or worse. Every time I thought of the boy after that, I then remembered the smell of that skunk. No fault of the boy, to be sure. He was quite clean. But the crush was over. Not quite the same, but you get the idea.
Anyhow, so many women pick perfumes that wear them, instead of the other way around. They aren't necessarily the women in the elevator wearing too much--over-appliaction isn't the problem (although at times they can go hand-in-hand). More often they are women who get into costume every day of their lives. You notice their perfume as you notice everything else about them because it seems somehow forced and artificial, discordant. The scent, no matter how pleasant, simply does not fit its wearer. Of course, you could argue that just because a scent is unexpected does not mean it's inappropriate. But I would answer that I think you can have a scent that's unexpected and still fits. I push back the sleeves of Tolu and readjust the neck. I squirm and rearrange. And it's too bad, because the amber in this scent is quite comforting, even if it doesn't quite fit.
*photo from Ormonde Jayne