Thursday 7 November 2019

LE PASSANT by Ormaie

The knowledge that you accumulate as you go through life is always, whether you believe it or not at the time, a valuable resource that can be called upon in later years. This can be even more useful in the fragrance industry because it gives you plenty of inspiration for creations and ideas in an arena where individuality is key. It’s this idea of translating experiences and memories into scent that has seen the launch of Ormaie, the new natural fragrance brand. Created by a mother and son partnership, it contains many jewels but Le Passant was the fragrance that immediately called to me, and I couldn’t resist.

Baptiste Bouygues and his mother, Marie-Lise Jonak, had never intended to work together on the creation of a line of fragrances but, after the seed was sown in Baptiste’s head, it quickly gathered momentum and became a reality. He had started to become disillusioned with the fragrances that were on offer, and even the uniformity of the bottles that they were presented in, so wondered whether he could offer an alternative. He decided to create a collection of natural fragrances and, in order to find out whether this was possible, he turned, as sons always do, to his mother.

When your mother is a well-respected Fine Fragrance Artistic Director then it makes sense to seek her opinion. Marie-Lise Jonak started her career at Symrise where, during her tenure, she oversaw the creation of Maurice Roucel’s Insolence for Guerlain. She left the company after almost ten years and moved to Takasago before eventually setting up her own company, MLJ Parfums, seven years later. Baptiste’s career up to this point was incredibly varied, including working in the gold mining industry, but he also had experience in the luxury market thanks to periods at Louis Vuitton and Givenchy.

Together with his mother they approached various perfumers to create a line of seven scents which all drew on their combined experiences. The fragrances were created under a veil of secrecy and finally released at the end of 2018. Alongside being a natural brand, they also wanted to return to the glory days of bespoke bottles and commissioned hand finished wooden lids so that each fragrance had its own individuality. From Yvonne’s rose right through to the evocative notes of Papier Carbone’s ink backed duplicate sheets, the Ormaie range is wonderfully diverse but the star has to be Le Passant.

It opens with an exciting crackle of bergamot, like the moment when a needle touches a record, but very quickly the aroma of marigold appears in all its fruity, boozy, herbaceous glory. This blends seamlessly with a combination of lavenders and immediately you start to get a nod to those classic masculine colognes. However, before you think we’re in fleeting territory, a blend of tonka bean and vanilla add a deliciously anchoring richness alongside the intriguing amyris. Similar to sandalwood, but with a note of peppery guiacwood, this last ingredient pulls the whole composition together to create a fougere that sits proudly alongside the likes of Caron, Carven, and Houbigant.

Le Passant is available from the Ormaie website at and exclusively from Harvey Nichols priced at £180 for 100ml. [Sample provided by Harvey Nichols]

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