I originally invested in Orris Noir as a poor man's substitute for the far more expensive Tsarina, having identified a creamy-milky, anisic iris as the underpinning to both. Now, after taking the time to study both at leisure, I can say that while Tsarina is by far the creamiest, more luxurious white' leather scent I have ever smelled, in retrospect it doesn't turn me on as much as Orris Noir, which, although less beautiful' than Tsarina, has more conversation.
Orris Noir has three or four distinct layers. The first is a doughy iris as dense as under-proved bread dough studded with dried fruit. A couple of years on, I now smell this as a rosy iris bread that's been soaked in sweet milk, like the egg-rich Easter crown baked once a year in the Balkans. The second layer is an anisic myrrh with the same crystallized texture as found in other myrrh scents such as Myrrhe Ardente, albeit more golden and less overtly itchy-scratchy. The third layer is a minimally smoky cloud of wood or incense that lifts the perfume and makes it radiant (probably a combination of the Iso E Super and the Chinese cedar). Last but not least, there's a bright, fruity jasmine that fizzes as sweetly as a glass of freshly-poured Coca Cola. Somehow, all of these elements hang together as naturally and as lightly as a silk shawl.
Orris Noir is a fantastic advertisement for the Ormonde Jayne style of building a fragrance, in that it is composed of many different layers, all of them as light as air, but which when laid one on top of another become a dense, velvety mass. I love Orris Noir for what it is a beguilingly soft spice oriental rather than hate it for what it is not, i.e., noir or even orris. Indeed, if Ormonde Jayne had named it something else, Orris Noir might have gained the respect granted to other similarly soft, hazy resinous-floral orientals such as Bois d'Argent (Dior) or Jasmin de Nuit (The Different Company). This is one perfume in my collection that has improved greatly upon (re)acquaintance.
Orris Noir is peppery with sweeter spices and a soft leather at first, with what I think is a cool iris coming in soon after. It's oriental and somewhat syrupy but kept light and bright by the pepper and spice. This is one of the perfumes that make me wish I could confidently name notes as well as pick them out. There are many lovely things in here, making for an interesting combination. There's some rose and a little fruit along with the pepper and spice, brightening up the oriental woody and myrrh base.
The bergamot and the iris notes blend in with the davana essence to a pleasant, fresh-floral opening with a slightly boozy incense touch topping it off.
The drydown adds more incense with a slight slant towards a whiff of myrrh, and a soft and somewhat dull patchouli arises in the base together with a somewhat bland woodsy undertone; in the Coda of this olfactory symphony the balsamic undercurrent echoes until the end.
The sillage is moderate, the projection good and the longevity ten hours.
A pleasant spring composition, with a nice opening with a creative touch that is followed by a less convincing end game. Overall - just - a thumbs-up. 3/5.
If there's a house style to Ormonde Jayne it is wait for it/wait for it/subtle/subtle'. It's non-pushy, non-showy, confident in itself. There are exceptions in the line-up of course, but those are the perfumes I find misfire.
Orris Noir is a gauzy mélange of buffed notes. Even though warm spices (pimiento, pepper) and resins form its backbone, they are handled in a manner that is smooth and glossy. The soft, mildly sweet, doughy iris is married happily with a gently shimmering myrrh accent the whole thing seems to tremble in the air around the wearer, until the iris takes on a more suede-like aspect. The abiding impression is of understated luxury, the finest leather but in a shade somewhere between cream and beige with just the hint of a blush.
Orris Noir puts on weight in the later stages, the projection becomes more full-bodied and the oriental richness more pronounced. This is the territory that Ys Uzac's later Satin Doll captured much more successfully.
As a fan of iris note, I can't help but feel a little disappointed with ORRIS NOIR. The iris note presents itself within minutes of application, doughy-powdery and slightly fruity. But it swiftly exits center stage and fades into the body of incense, spices and dusty woods, becoming a warm yet unsweetened resinous scent. The vibe is distinctly oriental, desert-inspired.
Despite my earlier disappointment over the ephemeral iris, I feel drawn to the fragrance's subtle yet confident style. It glides smoothly over skin like expensive silk, my skin smelling as though I'd just walked through a wall of fragrant smoke. Think of it as a more discreet version of Sahara Noir if you will.
Sillage and projection settings seem fixed at 'modest' but I'm not complaining. That's my default mode anyway. Longevity is excellent.
As I sit and ponder, I think I may have cracked the code on this one. The iris is too dark or 'noir'. That's why it's not easily visible amidst all the myrrh and incense smoke. But who cares about fragrance naming conventions when the scent is capable of speaking for itself?