Ormonde Jayne Frangipani Absolute : Fragrance Review


Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

The idea of wearing one type of perfume in the summer and another in the winter doesn’t sit well with me, because I may want a rich vanilla perfume on a chilly June evening and an uplifting citrus blend to arouse me from the slumber of winter. While I do rotate my selection every season, I choose my perfumes based on the moods that they convey. Ormonde Jayne Frangipani Absolute smells like summer to me—peaches eaten on the beach, white stars of night-blooming jasmine tangled in my hair, a breeze leafing through the pages of a book forgotten on the patio.

It would be pointless to save such visions of summer bliss for only a couple of months a year, and for this reason Frangipani is my year round staple. The moment I smell the crushed green leaves and unripe apricots in its top notes, in my mind I might as well be on a summer vacation.

The exhilarating verdant accents last for a few minutes before Frangipani blossoms into a lush gardenia. It isn’t a gardenia adorning Billie Holiday’s curls, but a dewy flower still on the branch. The India ink note of indoles that many white flowers share is subtle, but it is enough to make Frangipani seem natural. The layers of sheer jasmine and lily of the valley make the gardenia more abstract as the composition continues to dry down, and the dryness of amber and cedarwood serves as an elegant backdrop. The smoky vanilla is another surprising twist that Frangipani hides under its full skirt of white petals.

Unlike most Big White Florals like Robert Piguet Fracas and Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower, Frangipani is fresh and green. Easy to wear and uplifting, the Eau de Parfum has a lighthearted demeanor (the parfum is richer). Frangipani is beautiful, but perhaps not that original. It makes me think of a grown up version of Dior J’Adore, a fragrance I love but no longer wear in its post-reformulated version. But this does not detract from Frangipani’s appeal. It effortlessly goes from an office meeting to a cocktail party, from serious to elegant. As I catch whiffs of gardenia petals and crushed leaves time and again, I sign happily. Frangipani makes me feel the same delight as the warm sun caressing my face.

Ormonde Jayne Frangipani Absolute includes notes of linden, magnolia, lime, frangipani, jasmine, rose and tuberose absolutes, water lilies, plum, green orchid oil, amber, musk, cedar, and vanilla absolute. Available directly from Ormonde Jayne.

Sample: my own acquisition

Image: Frangipani Blossoms by 123rfimages, some rights reserved.



  • Undina: I really like Frangipani but I cannot wear it in Winter (even in such warm weather we usually have in Northern California). I need sun and warmth in the air to wear Frangipani. And, I must say, Hawaiian weather makes the whole experience even better 😉 April 11, 2012 at 4:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Hawaiian weather is magical! 🙂 But I know what you mean about Frangipani on a warm day–it blooms so nicely on skin. The peach really comes through. April 11, 2012 at 3:00pm Reply

  • Zazie: Wonderful review: I got married wearing this fragrance, and I brought it with me during my honeymoon…
    I see you mention the parfum: I have been playing forever with the idea of a splurge, but never caved in: I have no idea if it’s worth it!
    Does it have a more prominent floral heart and a much stronger base?
    Thanks! April 11, 2012 at 7:23am Reply

    • Victoria: See, you and I are Big White Floral girls–I got married in Frederic Malle Carnal Flower and wore Annick Goutal Un Matin d’Orage and L’Artisan La Chasse Aux Papillons during my honeymoon and the activities surrounding the weeding. They helped!

      The parfum is really lush and rich. The floral notes are more prominent, headier, while the base is warmer, with a stronger amber accent. If you wanted a fragrance with a more dramatic presence, I say–go for the parfum. But if you like a more romantic, lighthearted aura, then the EDP is better. April 11, 2012 at 3:04pm Reply

      • Zazie: Thank you!! That helps a lot: I will invest in the parfum, as for me the more floral the better!
        (as I wrote to Absolute Scentualist below, that’s the reason I really love the frangipani body lotion… and prefer it over the edp!) April 11, 2012 at 3:22pm Reply

        • Victoria: I realized that there is a big difference when I first tried Tiare in the EDP and then in the parfum. They were like two different fragrances. And the parfum ages really well. Mine smells even better today than 4 years ago when I first bought it. April 11, 2012 at 4:20pm Reply

  • Dl: Wonderful new site! your blog really is (and now looks like) the ultimate reference for perfume !
    Congratulations! April 11, 2012 at 7:56am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much! I will write a bit more on how it all happened–the move was a story in itself. I thought that it would never materialize and was ready to give up on the whole thing. April 11, 2012 at 3:50pm Reply

  • solanace: I agree with the last comment. Now your site is as beautiful as its contents are finely written and insightful. Congratulations! April 11, 2012 at 8:46am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! The whole project seemed so unbelievably daunting when I first started out, so I am still in a state of disbelief that it finally happened. 🙂 April 11, 2012 at 3:53pm Reply

  • Nicola: Love the look of the new site, that must have taken some work but I think it’s beautiful. As is OJ Frangipani, my gateway white flower scent. The bath oil is gorgeous too.
    Nicola April 11, 2012 at 9:11am Reply

    • Victoria: All of us worked very hard to make it happen. I’ve spent the past few days hunched over my computer to the point that my back is killing me today. So, thank you for your comments. I will pass them on to everyone who helped me. April 11, 2012 at 4:04pm Reply

  • Lindaloo: Your new site looks fabulous. Congratulations! And a big thank you for the no doubt hard/tedious work involved in transporting all the great info from your 7 years of excellent blogging. I delve in your archives often and with great pleasure. April 11, 2012 at 9:35am Reply

    • Victoria: Typepad doesn’t make the moves easy–no surprise there! Even so, I didn’t realize how hard it would be.

      Thank you very much! All of us are so happy to hear this. April 11, 2012 at 4:11pm Reply

  • Annemarie: That looks good Victoria! Very professional and structured. You have added a lot of possibilities to find interesting posts and the ‘find a perfume by mood’ option is really fun. Love the pictures for notes and flavors, makes me crave some sweets. April 11, 2012 at 1:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Annemarie! I was thinking that since I take my own food photos that it would be nice to display them. Plus, it makes it easier to find something specific. April 11, 2012 at 4:13pm Reply

  • Absolute Scentualist: Love the new site, Victoria. Wonderful job!

    Given BWFs are a favorite fragrance category of mine, I had to try OJ Frangipani, particularly after buying Chantecaille Frangipane in a whirlwind romance and falling out of love with it rather quickly. OJ Frangipani was just amazing and has planted the OJ Discovery Set seed firmly in my “want” category. Especially after I also tried Tiare and loved it so much for its non-traditional take on the flower.

    Victoria, do you find a big difference between the bath oil, extrait and edp concentrations of Ormonde Jayne’s perfumes? Since samples of the edps are all that’s available in the discovery set, I wouldn’t know which to buy in what concentration if I loved a few in specific, which I undoubtedly will. April 11, 2012 at 2:12pm Reply

    • Zazie: Hi AS, I am also curious about the difference between edp and parfum.
      On the other hand, I have frangipani in edp, bath oil and body cream: the fragrance is recognizably almost the same – with tiny differences.
      For example, scent-wise, the body cream is slightly more floral and more lush than the edp, the linden blossom note is more prominent and the citrus less jarring/spicy.
      I like the body cream much more than the edp, even though the differences are extremely subtle! The oil fills the bathroom with a tropical heavenly fragrance (closer to the cream than to the edp, but still very true to the perfume), but I think I smell the carrier or something… My verdict is that the body cream beats the other formulations, scent-wise. But it’s because I love the floral heart, and not the diffusive and piquant citrus opening of the edp. Hope that helps! April 11, 2012 at 2:34pm Reply

      • Victoria: Mmmmm, now I need this body oil! April 11, 2012 at 4:24pm Reply

      • annemariec: That’s great. Have you tried the body oil on skin, as a perfume? Maybe the carrier oil gets in the way of the scent? April 12, 2012 at 1:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much!

      I also love that Ormonde Jayne florals take a slightly different route to the Big White Floral. They are bright and sparkling, rather than creamy and warm (a la Fracas).

      Zazie knows the OJ body care range better than I do, so I trust her comments completely. As for the parfum and the EDP, I find that they are different in character. The parfum has more of a bombshell, sultry quality, while the EDP is fresher and more luminous. One is a ball gown, the other is a silk summer dress, if that makes sense. April 11, 2012 at 4:23pm Reply

      • Absolute Scentualist: Thanks so much, Zazie and Victoria. Your comparisons/contrasts are very helpful.

        Usually, I try to go for parfum when available (though Narcisse Noir somehow feels more animalic in the edt to me, strangely enough), unless I want a different concentration to spray with more abandon. I only keep Fracas in extrait however as I’m afraid of leveling the block if I apply that one too heavily, which I might with the edp. 🙂

        Owning the entire range for an OJ scent must make for a decadent layering ritual! I can’t wait to try more of them and have been eyeing that lily candle for ages. April 11, 2012 at 11:30pm Reply

        • Victoria: 🙂 Fracas needs a dropper, not a sprayer!

          And Narcisse Noir feels more animalic in the edt to me too. The parfum has all of that rich orange blossom, but the edt really makes the civet, amber and musk stand out. So good! April 12, 2012 at 3:26am Reply

  • Suzanna: I was lucky enough to be given a gift of the body cream, and now I want the parfum. The two together would be exquisite. April 11, 2012 at 3:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: I had Osmanthus soap and a sample of Champaca body cream. Both were fantastic. They are expensive for the body products, but in this case, the expense was worth it. The quality is very good. April 11, 2012 at 4:28pm Reply

  • breathsgelatin: This reminds me how much I want to try the Ormande Jayne discovery set. Lovely review!

    Also, seconding the comments about how gorgeous your new blog looks. April 11, 2012 at 5:51pm Reply

    • Victoria: The discovery set is fantastic. I so wish that more perfume companies did something like that.

      Thank you for your kind words! I’m so happy that you like the new look. April 11, 2012 at 6:28pm Reply

  • Alyssa: Lovely review, V., and as always you make me want to sniff again while reading your review–so many facets you describe that I never would have named for myself. Frangipani is one of my favorite Ormonde’s. There is something addictive about it–once I start to wear it, I crave more–and also, as you say, so adaptable. It has presence without being heady or overwhelming. I’ve always thought of it as having a salty aspect, as opposed to, say, Carnal Flower’s green quality or the creamy sweetness of Songes. April 11, 2012 at 7:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: Mmmm, so true about the salty note. Songes feels almost gourmand next to Frangipani. I like the dry amber in the base, which is such an unexpected touch to anchor its flurry of petals in place.

      And this contrast is what draws me to Ormonde Jayne florals. They are voluptuous without being overly heavy. April 11, 2012 at 7:35pm Reply

  • Dionne: I love the new look, and hey! It supports gravatars. I’ve found them very helpful in getting a sense of people’s online personas.

    Unlike you, I find I CANNOT wear perfumes outside of their season – I wish I knew why. But when people talk about wearing a summer perfume in winter to lighten the mood, it does the opposite for me. It’s like the fragrance is taunting me: “Hah ha, it’ll be months ’til the snow goes away.” Not fun. April 11, 2012 at 9:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Dionne! I love gravatars too for the same reason.

      Maybe, we just haven’t had a proper winter in our parts, so my tolerance for snow hasn’t been tested lately. I sort of see these perfumes as mood lifters. But there are some fragrances that smell so much of winter to me that I can’t imagine wearing them at another time. For instance, Yves Saint Laurent Opium, even the new lighter version. April 11, 2012 at 10:34pm Reply

    • annemariec: Ha! That is exactly how I feel, especially about the taunting! April 12, 2012 at 12:50am Reply

      • Victoria: For me, there are some perfumes that I wear when I am lounging around at home–lately it has been No 19 Poudre, for instance. I can’t wear them at other times. They are so associated with leisure that if I have them on during work, I feel the way you do about your summer fragrances. 🙂 April 12, 2012 at 1:06am Reply

  • Erin: Oh, thank you, thank you for your wonderful review of this, one of my favorite perfumes. Your description of it really captures what I love about the EdP, not being much of BWF girl myself: it so fresh and luminous. I have been wearing Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile EdP a lot lately, and it has a very similiar glowing brightness. I can’t in good conscience say Frangipani is the *best* OJ perfume, but it is the one I am most emotionally attached to and would miss the most if, for some horrible reason, Linda Pilkington closed up shop. I always think of the end of Robin’s review at NST:

    “At times it is fun, as a kind of parlor game, to try to pick my favorite 10, or 20, or 50 perfumes, but the real truth is that just thinking of actually paring my collection down to a finite number makes me break out in hives. So I will not go so far as to say that Frangipani is my favorite perfume, but it is certainly up there in the top ranks, and I would be very, very sad if I could never smell it again.”

    Congratulations on the new site, of course, as well, and thank you for all the work you have put into it and the Typepad version, lo these many years. It’s a daily stop for me and all your adoring fans 🙂 April 12, 2012 at 12:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: Erin, thank you for your kind words! You know, I was reformatting my archives, and Ormonde Jayne reviews were some of the earliest posts I’ve done. I realized that Frangipani, one of my favorites, was missing, and I just had to write something about it. It is so sunny, so uplifting that it makes me smile the moment I put it on. I don’t love all OJs, but most of the fragrances have this lighthearted presence that makes them into instant mood lifts.

      I so relate to what Robin said. I would put Frangipani in that category too, and I would be devastated if it ever got discontinued. April 12, 2012 at 2:01pm Reply

  • bluegardenia: I remember reading Robin’s NST review back in 2005 and wanting to try this. Well I finally have a sample! It is indeed beautiful. Far fruitier and more tart than I’d imagined (frangipani flowers to me are softer and more creamy, but that’s irrelevant). This is sparkling, in a grapefruity way, though I can see it really changing depending on skin chemistry. It calls to mind a few (somewhat random) fragrances that I’ve smelled over the years: Origins Spring Flower (sparkling, tart-sweet fruity floral), Clinique Happy (citrusy, sheer, and almost tobacco-y, in an ultra-lights, ladies’ cigarette kind of way) and even The Body Shop’s 90s classic Dewberry, a simple but brilliant beauty! Ormond Jayne’s version smells richer, more colorful, and more expensive than all of these. But it has their accessibility. I’m more of L’artisan type than an OJ type I think (the L’artisan line to me is beautiful and wearable but very interesting and visionary, while not quite as intellectual and inaccessible as Serge Lutens can be…though I do love some SL’s). But anyway this is really pretty! You are so right about the peppery gardenia note! The parfum sounds like it would be absolutely wonderful if it amps up the creamy florals. June 12, 2012 at 3:59am Reply

    • Victoria: I love Robin’s review of Frangipani. When she loves something, it’s impossible not to be tempted. 🙂 June 12, 2012 at 4:24am Reply

  • Alison: I love this fragrance, it is a way to bring a little tropical note into the reality of everyday life, but last time I decided to try the solid “butter” formulation for a change – huge mistake. It is dreadful, doesn’t smell like the regular perfume, and the formulation made my skin break out. This is the problem with having to order things from overseas, not only expensive but you have to live with your mistakes instead of just being able to return it to Nordstroms! I love the perfume, but I am going to wait until it is available in the USA before ordering again. January 13, 2013 at 2:42pm Reply

  • Gentiana: I just received some samples of O.J. perfumes. The first two I tried were Champaca and Frangipani.
    For me, Frangipani started with a strong citrus note – lime is listed, but I could swear it is some grapefruit there – maybe it’s how my nose interpreted the bitterness of crushed leaves you talk about + the hesperidic opening.
    After about 10 minutes – and still after an hour it is all about linden flower for me.
    A few minutes before begun to sing the white flowers, it is an uplifting dewy garden feeling in it, full of just-opened jasmines, magnolias, gardenias, lilies, tuberose in no particular order- no one is dominating – smells are graciously intertwined, plus the verdant accord still present. And some musky undercurent .
    And the plum… yesss, the plum.
    It is a very complex and beautiful scent.
    I am very keen to try the rest of Ormonde fragrances.
    I will have a wonderful weekend!

    And I wish you a wonderful weekend February 14, 2014 at 11:13am Reply

    • Victoria: Always a pleasure to chat about Frangipani and to hear what others think. It does changes quite a bit, doesn’t it! February 14, 2014 at 1:00pm Reply

      • Gentiana: Hello, thanks for the feed-back!
        Yes, it changes a lot.
        And, without having atomic silage, it is noticeable in a very uplifting way.
        And it HAS longevity!
        Yesterday I sprayed it on my wrist at about 5 PM. I wrote the review at about 6 PM (Eastern European Hour 🙂 ) The drydown was very well noticeable at midnight when I went to sleep.
        I woke up for some reasonat 3 a clock in night and suddenly felt a very pleasant smell… I identified it being the Frangipani from my wrist! Transformed in a gorgeous creamy plum scent. It remembered me a bit to By Kilian Liaisons Dangereuses certain stage of development.
        The plummy drydown was still there at 9 AM this morning.
        Very impressive perfume Ormonde Jayne Frangipani. I am seriously thinking to get a split or a bigger sample, something (no budget now for a FB)
        It is a perfect perfume for mood lifting in these dark-cloudy-rainy-foggy-damp-cold days… February 15, 2014 at 11:23am Reply

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