This weekend, I went for a long walk in Golden Gate Park. It’s such a big park that it is actually possible to get lost in it, and in the less busy parts you can walk for a while without running into a single other person, surrounded densely by trees and shrubs. What you can’t avoid are the scents. Earth, trees, the salty marine air, damp leaves, junipers. If I ever move away from San Francisco, this is something I know I will remember, and I will miss it.
Choosing my perfume for that walk in the park wasn’t difficult. I love trees. I love how their branches reach energetically for the sky. Some scents remind me of that feeling, either because they actually smell like trees or just because they smell so alive. Hermes Vetiver Tonka and Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman are two. Although they are very different, they share that wonderfully vibrant quality.
The notes in Vetiver Tonka (created by Jean Claude Ellena) are vetiver, neroli, bergamot, grilled hazelnut, dry fruit, cereals and tonka bean. (via) The notes in Ormonde Woman (created by Geza Schoen) are cardamom, coriander, grass oil, black hemlock, violet and jasmine absolute, vetiver, cedar wood, amber, and sandalwood. (via)
Both fragrances take me on a walk in a forest on a summer day. Some reviewers (here and here) have written about Ormonde Woman’s bewitching properties, but for me there is nothing threatening in Ormonde Woman. The woody notes, the spices, and the jarring note that seems to be hemlock are serious, sure, but the vetiver anchors the perfume to the real world. It may be an exploration of mysterious elements, but that exploration takes place during daylight hours, not under cover of night.
Vetiver Tonka takes this wonderfully real, living quality of vetiver and rounds off its edges for something more comforting. Vetiver oil comes from the plant’s root (via), and Vetiver Tonka spotlights vetiver’s earthiness. It feels organic, but not intensely “green” or smoky, as in many classic vetivers. Paired with tonka, bergamot, and nutty notes, the effect is softer and more feminine. Although my nose doesn’t smell cereals, I am not surprised to read them in the note list; they seem to fit. In this fragrance, Ellena captured my idealized vetiver, which may not be real but which is — for me — better than real.
Image courtesy Public Domain Images. Sample of Ormonde Woman provided by the company. Vetiver Tonka is my own acquisition. Reviews are never compensated, and posts are never sponsored. See my Media & Disclosure policy for details.