June 15, 2015

Jardins D’Armide by Oriza L Legrand

Is it a coincidence that a certain perfume comes to you to fulfill a wish? I came to Jardins D'Armide by Oriza L Legrand through a combination of recommendations, circumstance, and premonition, so it must have been fated.

Recently and out of the blue I suddenly wanted a powdery fragrance. A category I did not know at all, but somehow I began to crave a deep powdery-ness. The perfect aromatic companion for a long hot humid summer in the city.

The lady-like refinement and old-fashioned feel of the classic powder-heavy perfumes had before always seemed to me not modern, not my style, not appropriate for my life, but having learned to respect my intuitive impulses in regard to perfume, I asked my online fragrance friends for recommendations.

One of them, Jardins d’Armide, I happened to have already as part of a sample set I ordered months ago from Oriza L Legrand; it was one that I had not yet tried. 

 I found it and fell in love immediately, it was exactly the right time for it and it and emanated exactly what I craved, a dry softness with depth, an abstract and gentle but present softness that lifted the heavy atmosphere. It suited me, and felt like something I could wear often, with its subtle shades of lightly spiced florals, a refreshing powder with depth, a musk with a cloudy softly dusky undertone. 

That soft depth grounds and holds itself to the skin and somehow refreshes itself continuously so that you can notice it on yourself as a soothing and beautifying aura that lasts all day.

Notes from the site are listed as:
Notes de tête : Rose Ancienne, Fleur d'Oranger et Poudre d'Iris
Notes de coeur: Iris de Florence, Violette Sauvage, Glycine et Oeillets d'Inde

Notes de fond: Miel, Amande, Fève Tonka et Musc

In English:
Top: Old Rose, Orange Blossom and Iris Powder
Heart notes: Florentine iris, Violet Wild, Glycine and Carnation India.
Base notes: Honey, Almond, Tonka and Musk.

Pastels of old rose, orange blossom and irises are shaded into dimension with the lightest touch of clove within carnation. That and a pale violet sweetness holds true throughout the life of wear on skin.

The full open softens down gently with time, turning the dial a little more toward the honey almond, again soft and plush shades of tonka and a cloud of musk that intensifies and holds the floral details, along with the cooling sweetness of iris and violet.

Further, I knew I would be taking a rare trip to Paris, and planned a day of visiting various perfume shrines, so I was lucky to get to the Oriza L. Legrand boutique itself.

After a lot of walking on that hot day, it was a lovely experience to enter the boutique. I left refreshed and with a full size flacon and some samples of things new to me (Heliotrope Blanc, another floral powder, and a new one on a theme of jasmine which is yet untitled, among others).

Jardins D’Armide was first released in 1909, this version is based on the records received with the sale of the Maison, established in 1720, to the new owners who have revived several of the original fragrances.

Nijinsky and Pavlova - 1909 via Wikipedia
I was further excited to find a little background research showed that the year 1909 when the Ballet Russe performed the second premiere of Le Pavilion de Armide at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris on 19 May 1909, danced by Nijinsky and Pavolva, which made a great impression on Parisians. 

Especially so as the feminine persona of Armide is based on a longstanding French theme in opera and literature (and I was excited to find reference to the novella Omphale by Theophile Gautier, author of Clarimonde, the muse of my ongoing perfume and writing project cited as a basis for this Ballet Russe dance) .

I believe that this ballet and likely Gautier’s story together to be the inspiration for the perfume, as both the Ballet Russe and the writer’s aesthetic were so influential in the cultural scene of Paris in 1909. Gautier's story is steeped in soft pastel shades and floral motifs that come to life within haunted tapestry.

The perfumes women wore often reflected the current cultural inspirations of the time, as they still do. 

As it happens the writer Theophile Gautier, was a great balletomane, deeply involved as a writer and partner of a great ballerina of the day, as well as a famous journalist, aesthete, sensualist and the originator of the phrase “art for art’s sake”. 

The legendary character of Armide, like Clarimonde, was a strong female figure of action, their enchanted lovers torn between the forces of love and duty to others.

Armide appears in many French operas and ballets over the centuries. She is a figure in an old epic poem, a Saracen sorceress who instead of killing a Crusader enemy falls in love with him at first sight. She brings him to a garden of enchantment to take him away from the forces of mutually assured destruction, to put love first. 

I find this parallels the Clarimonde theme, so I feel this perfume somehow reached out to me by more than coincidence. More the fragranced air of an affinity that I was meant to know.

It’s also a lovely perfume to fall asleep in, soothing and calming. I can rest my arm beside my face and breathe deeply and be transported on a number of levels of enjoyment. Soft beauty, rich associations with literature and music, history, Paris at the turn of the last century, and the sheer quality of the ingredients and composition add to the headiness of a close encounter with this perfume on skin.

As to the perfume’s theme, the legend of the Garden of Armide, we know the West learned much from the Middle East while waging the Crusades, especially about perfumes, spices, and luxury.

The perfumed beauty of the air in an enchanted garden, a strong spell cast by a Saracen (Muslim) sorceress over a Crusader (Western) knight, to hold the force of attraction and love in control over the forces of revenge and war -- this is a deeper theme than I expected to find behind the soft powder and spiced flowers, musk deepened with tonka bean and honey almond, as it creates an atmosphere of ease.

For all that it was first released in 1909, it does not seem old-fashioned or even lady-like after all.

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.
Disclosure: I purchased the samples and perfume directly from the perfumer.
Images above from the Oriza L Legrand site and Wikipedia.


AustralianPerfumeJunkies said...

Hey there Lucy,
Now I have 50 more reasons to love Jardin d'Armide. Thanks for adding the back story, now when I wear it I will think of you and the ballet, happy, happy associations.
Portia xx

Lucy Raubertas said...

Dear Portia, it has become a personal treasure. Suddenly the powder joins all these associations and seems so modern even as it is an olfactory slice of the past.