Oriza L. Legrand Marrions-Nous (Let’s Get Married)

Gloria Swanson, photo by Edward Steichen, 1924. Source: galleryhip.com

Gloria Swanson, photo by Edward Steichen, 1924. Source: galleryhip.com

Love and marriage, virginal propriety and lusty naughtiness. Marrions-Nous runs the olfactory gamut from the virginal, cool aloofness of an aristocratic aldehydic floral, through the consummation of lust with darkly skanky notes, before ending with a sigh as creamy smoothness. The fragrance was released by Oriza L. Legrand (hereinafter just “Oriza“) in 1928 and feels very much a product of its time, a decade when the cool hauteur of Chanel No. 5 had become a runaway hit that revolutionized perfumery, but one in which Josephine Baker also ruled the stage and naughty, animalic seduction was in the air. I find Marrion-Nous to have been influenced by both competing trends, resulting in an elegant fragrance that is one-part aristo in white, one-part Mae West and a Folies Bergère showgirl doing the can-can in black.

Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Technically, however, Marrions-Nous was inspired by “Gai! Marions-Nous” [“Great! Let’s Get Married”], a successful 1927 novel by Germaine Acrement that later became a famous play. As Oriza explains on its website, the perfume house was moved by the play to make an eau de parfum that was meant to be “an expression of sensory playfulness.” The various notes were intended to be symbolic parallels to the various stages of the romantic process:

Inspired by love and marriage, which are not always related to each other, “Marions-nous” offers the virginal touches of orange blossom, rose, jasmine, and hyacinth.

Charlotte Babcock Brown, gown by Jeanne Lanvin, photo by Edward Steichen 1928. Source: onewed.com

Charlotte Babcock Brown, gown by Jeanne Lanvin, photo by Edward Steichen 1928. Source: onewed.com

In an interplay of propriety and informal understandings, the marriage reaches its peak as the heart succumbs to the essences of carnation and iris and the comforting accents of aldehydes and Ylang Ylang.

On the chessboard of Love, mutual consent seals the arrangement… and we slip into the gentle clutches of sweet emotion.

Tonka Beans, Musk Tonkinese accord, Civet, and Sandalwood add their fragrances to the happy ceremony… “Gai! Marions-nous!”

Marrions-Nous bottle and box via Oriza L. Legrand.

Marrions-Nous bottle and box via Oriza L. Legrand.

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Oriza L. Legrand Heliotrope Blanc: Sweet Innocence

Norman Rockwell, "Mother Tucking Children Into Bed," 1921. Source: pinterest.

Norman Rockwell, “Mother Tucking Children Into Bed,” 1921. Source: pinterest.

Childhood pleasures and sweet innocence, captured in a bottle. Heliotrope Blanc surprised me, beguiled me, and charmed me against all odds. So many of its elements are things that I normally struggle with in perfumery, quite deeply at times, but there is something about this fragrance that is incredibly soothing and comforting for me.

It’s a cozy snuggle scent that made me think of Mary Poppins, almond milk and marshmallow cream, babies in soft blankets, a mother’s loving embrace as she puts her child to sleep, and childhood treats. Heliotrope Blanc’s sweet innocence completely blew away my longstanding issues with iris and powdery scents, leaving me coming back again and again for another sniff. In the end, I simply sprayed some on my sheets and pillows, and snuggled into them with a happy sigh. Apparently, one should never underestimate the impact of childhood comforts.

Source: mesenvies.fr

Source: mesenvies.fr

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Oriza L. Legrand Violettes du Czar: An Imperial Favorite

Russian Imperial Coat of Arms. Source: Wikipedia.

Russian Imperial Coat of Arms. Source: Wikipedia.

The Tsar’s violets — the signature scent of not one but two Imperial Romanov rulers. How many fragrances can make that claim? Oriza L. Legrand‘s Violettes du Czar can — and now the imperial favorite has been brought back to life after more than 150 years to be made available to the modern man.

It’s the coolest thing imaginable for someone like me who loves history even more than perfume, but almost everything about Oriza L. Legrand (hereinafter just “Oriza“) is historically fascinating to me. For one thing, out of all the European perfume houses who created scents for royal or imperial courts (there is a difference), only Oriza was chosen as “Purveyor to the Russian Court.” Oriza made a number of fragrances for the imperial court, but their Violettes du Czar was the signature scent of two of the more significant Romanov rulers.

Chromolithography of Alexander II, coronation. Source: WikiCommons, commons.wikimedia.org

Chromolithography of Alexander II at his coronation. Source: WikiCommons, commons.wikimedia.org

In fact, it was made specifically for Alexander II or “Alexander the Liberator” who emancipated the serfs. Later, it was worn by his grandson, Nicholas II, whose actions were one of the causes that helped bring about the end of the Russian Empire and who was murdered in 1918 by the Bolsheviks. Of course, Oriza also made fragrances for other imperial courts as well, including another violet one for Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort, but it is the Romanov violet that is the subject of today’s tale. It is a scent with several kinds of violet in it, from a particular variety from Nice (France), to the crunchy green of its leaves. In the ultimate symbolic parallel, the coup de gras comes in the form of Russian leather and golden amber. The end result is a scent that not only takes me back in time but, in all honesty, feels like something which a man like Alexander II would wear.

Source: Angelfire.com

Source: Angelfire.com

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Mid-2014 Best & Favorites List

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

We’re more than half way through 2014, so I thought it would be a nice time for a mid-year look at some of the perfumes that caught my attention. I used to do a list of favorite things that I had tried after every 100 posts, but that practice has fallen by the wayside due to the demands of my schedule. A few weeks ago, I was thinking of some of the fragrances I have covered since the beginning of the year, and the ones on my personal list of things to buy, so it seemed like a good time for an updated list.

Perfume reviewing is subjective and personal by its very nature, so winnowing fragrances down to a list like this is even more so. My criteria for selection varied. Some of the fragrances were not really for me, but I think they’re good examples of their genre and done very well. Others are on the list for the most subjective reason of all: I either bought full bottles for myself, plan to get them, or would love to do so, if their high price were not a consideration. Ranking things is an utter nightmare, but the Top Four are firmly placed in accordance with my feelings. The remainder of the perfumes are generally ranked within one to two slots, plus or minus, of where they are in my wholly subjective estimation. None of the 25 fragrances on this list are based on their date of official release, but on what I’ve covered since January 1st through to the end of June. And all of them are current releases, not vintage fragrances. Continue reading