Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
There are those who prefer vanilla and those who prefer chocolate, but for someone who cannot say no to anything indulgent, oriental fragrances fit the bill best. Ormonde Jayne Tolu is among such fragrances for me, a perfume I reach for whenever I crave something opulent and plush, yet not overly smoldering and decadent. Its bright herbal accord lends the composition a crisp, vibrant quality that makes for a beautiful contrast with the rich amber and incense heart.
Tolu plays with the cool and warm contrasts of a classical oriental genre. Its name is derived from an important perfumery raw material, which forms the core of this composition–tolu balsam. While Tolu is inspired by a classical oriental theme, it places its accents differently, emphasizing the leathery balsamic notes at the expense of seductively sweet ones. Tolu opens up on an exhilarating herbal accord, where the freshness of clary sage and thyme is set against the resinous warmth of juniper berries. The rich oriental notes assert themselves immediately, revealing a richness of vanilla, cinnamon, and amber. Transparent floral notes further lighten up the heft of the oriental accord. As the composition dries down, it takes on a leathery, ambery character, which is what remains on the skin for the whole length of Tolu’s excellent duration.
Tolu seems to me an homage to a great oriental classic, Guerlain Shalimar, as well as the animalic plushness of Dana Tabu (minus the latter’s powdery sweetness). It is in the same family as Serge Lutens Chergui, Annick Goutal Ambre Fétiche and Tom Ford Amber Absolute, yet Tolu is fresher and brighter. It is a chocolate mousse to Chergui’s triple layer cake. While it is certainly not a light fragrance, the emphasis on the aromatic herbal notes makes it much easier to wear. The herbal notes also modulate Tolu’s sweetness. As a result, it can work as a perfect masculine fragrance, especially for those men who love Guerlain Habit Rouge, Paco Rabanne One Million and Serge Lutens on the whole. While it is not as unique as some other Ormonde Jayne fragrances (Ormonde Jayne Men, Champaca or Taif,) it has a very appealing character and a memorable signature.
Ormonde Jayne Tolu includes notes of orange blossom, clary sage, juniper berry, lily of the valley, orchid, rose, amber, frankincense, tolu balsam and tonka bean. Available directly from Ormonde Jayne.
Sample: my own acquisition