Ormonde Jayne Tsarina: Mysterious Madame

Portrait of Empress Alexandra Fedorovna, from wikiart

Tsarina captures opulence and passion. It demands furs, leather, brocade, heavy silks in sweeping dresses and fabulous jewels to go with her haughty heritage.

I have heard of Ormonde Jayne many times, and apart from a brief acquaintance with the lovely Vanille D’Iris, I have wanted to know more about this London based brand for some time now. The opportunity arose recently when Ormonde Jayne Tsarina was included in the Perfume Society Precious Perfumes Discovery Box. It was time to have a sniff and do a bit of nosing around. Sometimes, in the right light, I look like Velma off Scooby Doo.


Niche brand Ormonde Jayne is the brain child of perfumer Linda Pilkington, who founded the house in 2002.  Linda took inspiration from her global adventures prior to opening shop on London’s Old Bond Street and the brand has gone from strength to strength, earning the respect of critics and peers alike.

Linda Pilkington

My first foray into Ormonde Jayne is Tsarina. Everything about it is understated and muted, like a classy boutique hotel where money is never discussed.  I must confess, dear reader, that I found this one hard to review. It gave me a run for my money as  I’ll explain.

The opening notes are orange, bergamot, cassis and coriander. However, this is one of those cases where the notes listed do not match my experience at all yet is none the poorer for not co-operating.  The top notes might lead you to expect a cologne style citrus opening, but that was not my experience. The middle notes made more sense to me: iris, suede, jasmine sambac and freesia. The base notes are sandalwood, cedar, labdanum, musk and vanilla.

What this was like to my nose was a classy suede affair with buttery orris and a pile of good vanilla. The jasmine sambac emerges with more subtlety than I was expecting and in fact, it was the leathery, ambery tones of the labdanum that had more muscles than petals. Tsarina blended into this leathery vanilla buttery accord almost straight away and stayed put as it was. It didn’t really change or move, but lasted very well. I confess that I wouldn’t buy a  full bottle, but it’s easy to see why the brand has a following: the quality is superb, with deep resonance and quality ingredients, seamlessly blended.

This was what I call a “problem perfume” in that I had to think for a very long time as to how I was going to describe it.

In a survey of three Welsh people, one Englishman, and a cat, the verdict was mixed. The family and I all had varying views of Tsarina that were nothing like the notes described. It made me think of Elastoplast.  My husband said it reminded him of Lynx Tobacco and Amber, and my seven year old said it reminded him of flapjacks. You can see how I had trouble writing about it. In the end, leathery, buttery vanilla felt like the most accurate description.


Intrigued?  Find out more at the Ormonde Jayne website, or visit the shop on London’s Old Bond Street. My sample was from The Perfume Society Precious Perfumes Discovery Box, which I bought  last week.

8 thoughts on “Ormonde Jayne Tsarina: Mysterious Madame”

  1. Hi Gail, thanks so much for dropping by- it’s always a pleasure to hear from you. The cat, you won’t be surprised to learn, demonstrated indifference. I’m so touched by your kind words. I’m glad you like my blog. it means a lot during times of self doubt. xxxxx

  2. A classy boutique hotel! You have hit the nail on the head. All the perfumes I have smelled from Ormonde Jayne have been like that: seamlessly blended and pretty, but as you say, very muted. I think you might like Woman though, at least possibly (or at least you would find a friend or a relative who you would love it on). Warm and mysterious, with Black Spruce absolute at the core. But you are right: even the Tiare (which I actually quite like) manages to take something tropical and turn into something Kensington. It really is all terribly upper middle class.

    1. Oh I’m so glad you agree! i felt very out of my depth with this one and wasn’t sure if there was somehting I wasn’t “getting”. I’m glad I was on the right on the track. Thank you so much, as ever for dropping by. I appreciate it so much xx

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