A cultural and commercial movement to re-establish ancient or vintage perfume houses was already apparent in 2007 and later on in 2009 when names such as Jovoy, Lubin, Robert Piguet and Grossmith appeared with a new lease on life. Reflecting a similar preoccupation with the past and what might be called "heritage perfumery" is the newly re-opened Oriza L. Legrand, a perfume house originally established during the reign of Louis XV, in 1720 when Versailles was known as the "perfumed court"...
According to perfume historian Elizabeth de Feydeau who signs book-style a preface to the website for the brand, the "maison" was created by a member of the Fargeon family of perfumers. The author wrote a somewhat fictionalized biography of the ancien régime nose in A Scented Palace. Courtesan Ninon de Lenclos is said to have been one of the spiritual god-mothers to the house as the founder liked to publicize the fact that he held his perfume and cosmetics recipes from such an authority on beauty and "galanterie".
In our own research, we find that one of the most famous products of the house at the end of the 19th century was the Oriza crème de Ninon de Lenclos. The term "Oriza" associated with that of perfumer L. Legrand was justified by the fact that the house specialized in rice-based perfumes. Oriza-Lacté and Oriza-Flowers were said to be made with rice and tropical flowers. A modern equivalent to that seemingly surprising information would be the silicone gel based perfumes. The starch from rice is considered a beauty ingredient for the skin in some cultures, even today.
The four perfumes to be released to fête this opening offer deliciously quaint names. They are called Oeillet Louis XV, Déjà le Printemps, Rêve d'Ossian and Relique d'Amour. The labels on the bottles are faithful reprints of Art Nouveau, Art Deco stickers.
Oeillet Louis XV as its name indicates is a carnation composition. The description offered by the brand mixes contemporary references and imaginary, retrospective ones. Launched in 1909 it was already then a homage steeped in nostalgia about the king who favored the house and said flower's spicy and powdery accents. The list of notes does not try to hide its efforts at adapting the jus to today's palette of ingredients.
Top notes of pink peppercorn and mandarin are followed by a heart featuring notes of Mignardise carnation, carnation absolute, white orchid, iris, rose and clove. Base notes are rice powder, white musk, honey and blond woods.
Déjà le Printemps is an evocation of the awakening of nature in the springtime first imagined in 1920. The air wafts of floral scents but also of earthier accents of smoke, loam, roots and grass. You didn't know it, but now you can smell it: spring has manifested its presence through typical fresh scents.
Top notes are mint, orange blossom, daisies. The heart rests on fig leaves, clover, muguet and galbanum. Base notes are musk, cedar wood, moss and vetiver.
Rêve d'Ossian was a creation of 1900. It initially paid homage to the poetic infatuation with Ossianism which appeared in the 18th century. You could dream, and still can, about a magical Celtic forest peopled with fantasy creatures.
Top notes are incense and sea pine. Heart notes are cinnamon, benzoin, elemi, tonka bean, gaiac wood and opoponax. Base notes are balms, sandalwood, leather, labdanum, amber and musks.
Relique d'Amour betrays a neo-romantic Gothic inspiration inviting us to step into an abandoned chapel in a Cistercian abbey and to sense the cold mossiness of damp old stones. Next, we direct our steps towards the altar and can smell the waxed woods, the scent of linseed oil coming from a humid painting, incense, a bouquet of Marial lilies...
Top notes are leaves and sea pine followed by powdery white lily, linseed oil, pepper, turpentine, incense, myrrh and elemi. Base notes are musks, polished wood, blond woods and pepper.
Available at Oriza Parfums
Image source: Corbis images