Some people might not understand why you’d want to wear a soliflore. After all, why smell like one flower — a flower you’re probably already familiar with — when you could smell like an original blend of notes? Following that logic, there would be no reason to look at paintings of the ocean once you've seen the real thing, even though seascapes vary in styles — think of those by Turner, Homer and Hokusai. If I had to pin a style to the Oriza L. Legrand soliflores Violettes du Czar and Heliotrope Blanc, I’d call them Victorian.
Oriza L. Legrand is a relatively new niche brand with an old history. According to the perfume house’s website, the house was founded in France in 1720 and originally famed for its creams and powders based on rice. Over the years, the brand grew, winning awards and furnishing products for royalty. During World War II, Oriza L. Legrand closed. In 2012, the house was bought and launched again with the mission of reviving the old fragrances.
Violettes du Czar’s notes include violet leaves, violet, iris, heliotrope, tolu balm, leather, amber and gaïac wood. If you imagine a czar as having mutton chops and a velvet jacket with gold ropes fastened over its front, this fragrance matches that vision. Violettes du Czar kicks off with funky, animalic leather that the violets give an earthy, rain-like scent. The leather dies pretty quickly, and the violets turn slightly medicinal and stemmy. The heliotrope is nearly as present as the violet at this point.
As Violettes du Czar reaches cruising altitude, the leather returns, but only to make the violets smell as if they were stored in a musty boot, and the fragrance is never as distinctly leather-violet as Balmain Jolie Madame, for example. The heliotrope vanishes. Before a few hours are up, I can barely smell the fragrance at all except as a bare violet leaf on skin.
Overall, Violettes du Czar is dense and telescoped, which is probably why it feels so Victorian to me. It doesn't have the airy, soprano-to-bass feel of a modern fragrance. Violettes du Czar is definitely unisex and might even skew masculine. It never turns overly sweet or face-powdery, like some violet fragrances can. (If you’re in the market for a unisex violet fragrance, be sure to sample Mona di Orio Violette Fumée, too.)
Heliotrope Blanc’s notes include orange blossom, heliotrope, violet leaves, almond, mimosa, iris, musk, rice powder, benzoin and tonka bean. With heliotrope, people seem to either love it or hate it, some calling it “doll’s head” or too powdery. I happen to love it. Heliotrope Blanc’s orange blossom is subdued, and both the almond and mimosa really punch up heliotrope’s powdery gourmand qualities. (Now I’m curious about a heliotrope sorbet.)
Heliotrope Blanc shares Violettes du Czar’s velvet-tight density, but Heliotrope Blanc lasts a lot longer on my skin — nearly all day with quiet sillage. All in all, it’s a classic take on heliotrope, but if you already own and love the lighter and more sparkly Piver Heliotrope Blanc, you might be set with heliotrope. Otherwise, heliotrope lovers still searching for their go-to heliotrope might want to try this one.
Oriza L. Legrand Violettes du Czar is $165 for 100 ml, and Heliotrope Blanc is $125 for 100 ml. Both come in gorgeous, throwback packaging, and Violettes du Czar even gets a tassel. For information on where to buy them, see Oriza L. Legrand under Perfume Houses.