I first encountered Ta’if on a chilly winter day in London some three years ago, when searching for perfumeries that can be found nowhere else but in London. Ormonde Jayne’s miniature store front, furnished with polished black ebony and tangerine accents was an immediate fascination. Perhaps the fact that Linda Pilkington spoke fluent Hebrew helped too… She spent a few years in the Hebrew University studying anthropology, and so the conversation between me and my friend Yasmin was completely transparent to her ears…
In no time it was quite obvious that Ta’if was my favourite. Perhaps is was the humorous glint in Linda’s eyes when she mentioned saffron and dates... It smelled right to me on first inhalation, yet my nose was a bit tired of all the former sniffage (Penhalligon’s practically exhausted my sense of smell with their far more sharp creations just a few stores away from Ormonde Jayne), and I had to postpone my complete union with this scent until my return to the similarly chilly city of Vancouver.
I left the shop wearing Ta’if to try on one wrist (and Sampaquita on the other), and feeling happy that there is another Hebrew speaking perfumer in the world. In fact, Linda was the first perfumer I met first-to-face at that time. Perfumery is a solitary work, and even more so when you are an independent perfumer - the only board meetings you ever attend are your own, which will most likely involve clients rather than colleagues…
In the briskness of the foggy London night, there was something exalting about that cloud of roses and spice floating about me. And from than on, whenever I wear Ta’if I’m immediately reminded of that one chilly night in a bigger-than-life city, finding a perfume to be excited about and enjoying a rare moment of friendship that is usually separated with one big pond and the whole width of the largest country in the world…
Ta’if opens with saffron, dates and pink pepper, to an overall tangy-spicy composition. Than comes the dusty, desert dryness of cedar and the opulence of roses along with honeyed broom note. The base is ambery-sweet, powdery and musky, in what I would later discover to be a signature component of most Ormonde Jayne’s perfumes. This base may not be for everyone - especially if you dislike musk in any form, but on the right skin it is magnificent.
Unlike most perfumes with oriental elements, Ta’if is expansive rather than introspective. In that regard, it is reminiscent of other favourites of mine from the powdery rose genre – Tocade and Parfum Sacré.
Ta'if may be inspired by the roses of the desert city of Ta'if (see image above), but it reminds more of the illusion of softness the look of frosted roses evoke:
The official notes per an old Ormonde Jayne catalog:
Top notes: Pink Pepper, Saffron, Dates, White Peach
Heart notes: Ta’if Roses, Orange Blossom, Broom, Freesia, Lily of the Valley, Jasmine
Base notes: Amber, Tonka Bean, Musk, Vanilla Absolute
Like all the Ormonde Jayne perfumes, Ta'if is only available through Ormonde Jayne store in the Royal Arcade on Old Bond Street, and her online store.
Note: Despite its relative lightness, Ta'if must be applied with a light hand to avoid adverse reactions such as sneezing or eye-watering (I'm talking from experience here...). Sometimes too much of a good thing will not get you what you want...