During the perfume portrait, you discuss what kind of fragrance you are looking for (e.g. summer, evening, signature scent etc), and what other fragrances you have enjoyed in the past. You can also detail any particular smells or fragrances that you don't like (for me, tuberose, sandalwood, and anything by Calvin Klein, which all seem to give me terrible headaches).
You then get to sniff 21 different ingredients/notes (from 7 different fragrance families, 3 oils in each), and all you have to do is say whether you like each note or not. When your perfume portrait is built up from the smells you like, you are invited to sniff the Ormonde Jayne fragrances that correspond with it and choose two to try on your wrists.
What I learned is that I like a lot of smells, or perhaps I just particularly like the notes that Linda Pilkington uses in her fragrances. There were very few that I didn't like the smell of and one of those was Orris, which surprised me as I love Orris Noir. Linda explained that this wouldn't necessarily rule out a fragrance; you might not like a particular note on its own, but if you like the other notes in a scent you may like it in combination with those.
The two scents that were selected for me to try, given that I was looking for a summer fragrance, were Champaca and Tiare. This was the first time I've smelled Tiare and you can read my first impressions of it after wearing it for a day here. I opted for Champaca in the end (my review of that is here) more than in part because Mr London loved it on me when I had a sample to try. I'm still thinking of Tiare though, and I will be putting it on my birthday list.
This is a lovely way to introduce yourself to Ormonde Jayne or to explore the line further. You receive a copy of your portrait, and a copy is kept by the boutique/counter, so it's very helpful for husbands or partners who aren't very good at remembering what fragrance their other half wears. Linda said that she quite often gets gentlemen shopping for a gift for their wives/girlfriends who, when asked what fragrance she wears, reply, "Oh, it's Ormonde Jayne." That's not very enlightening when there are 12 fragrances in the line!
I also had the privilege of being able to talk about perfume generally with Linda, who is passionate about the vision and integrity of her brand; the products are all manufactured in-house, she insists on the best quality raw ingredients and the bath and body products are paraben-free. She has no immediate plans to launch another fragrance; instead Ormonde Jayne is focussing on helping customers to understand which fragrances are likely to work for them and how best they can wear them. There are 12 beautiful fragrances in the line and Linda said that she is very happy with them and does not want to produce fragrance upon fragrance just to come out with something new. She explained that creating a fragrance is not something she can do on command and she won't compromise on what she creates;
"It's like, if someone said to you every year, 'Write a book,' and then the next year, 'Now another one, now another one...', you'd get to the stage where you'd say, 'No, I don't think I want to write another book right now.'"Neither is there any ambition to rapidly expand the number of Ormonde Jayne stockists or counters; Linda is committed to ensuring that the customer service of her brand maintains its reputation for excellence. I've remarked before that I don't feel that the experience at Jo Malone counters is the same since Ms Malone left the company and the number of counters expanded quite rapidly a few years ago and so I was very glad to hear this.
The Perfume Portrait service is available at the recently opened Harrods counter, and at the Royal Arcade Boutique. The products are also available online at www.ormondejayne.com.
Disclosure: a bottle of the fragrance selected was provided without charge.