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I've long been an admirer of Irish designer Orla Kiely's stylish retro inspired homewares and soft furnishings but I had no idea she'd launched a fragrance (in fact now two) until I read a review on Dooyoo. It sounded like something I would like and I was able to bag myself a very good online deal; I hoped the actual scent would be as pleasing as the price.
Named simply 'Orla Kiely' this is a stylishly presented fragrance and the bottle and box echo motifs common in her designs - namely stylised flowers which hark back to the bold designs of the 1960s and early 1970s. Even the lid of the chunky flower shaped bottle has a round lid, representing the centre of the flower as you look at the bottle from above, and in a decidedly retro orangey-brown colour. My 100ml bottle feels rather satisfying in the hand but is really too big and cumbersome to be carried around in anything but the roomiest of handbags. The lid also has a habit of becoming separated from the bottle in my bag which can be quite tedious when you're travelling and have to remove everything from the bag to find the lid. The eau de parfum also comes in 25 and 60ml bottles which would be more suitable for carrying in a handbag.
The bottle comes in a sturdy box which also bears the familiar Orla Kiely motif of a stylised flower and leaves. When you lift the larger part of the box, the bottle of perfume is standing on a little plinth and fits into a slight recess. I often throw perfume boxes away due to lack of space but this is one that feels as if you ought to keep it.
'Orla Kiely' is an unusual scent and I can't think of another that I own or have tried that is remotely similar. It fits most comfortably into the 'florals' classification but it is the non-floral notes that are the most interesting. It opens with a slightly too harsh burst of green tea and grassiness, perhaps a hint of bergamot too, but this gives way to a rich fruitiness. This isn't a sugary fruitiness, it's the scent of rich, flavoursome figs and it reminds too of when black grapes are left as long as possible on the vine until they have absorbed all of the sun's warmth. In the background there's the faint whiff of peaches but it's not the aroma of juicy peach flesh, more the warm, dry scent of the skin of a peach before you bite into it. There are a lot of fruity scents around these days but I like that this smells very natural and doesn't have that almost sherbet-like sugariness that many of them have.
At the heart of this fragrance are the florals, easily identifiable as rose and geranium, though I've read that there's also osmanthus which I'm not really familiar with. There's something quite old-fashioned about this blend of florals but I quite like it and the opening with the figs makes me more disposed to love the florals. There's also chocolate allegedly though I don't get this at all though I do really like the basenotes of tonka bean, musk and sandalwood which add to the idea of depth that starts with those succulent figs.
Although some of the notes in this combination suggest autumnal scents, I actually find this very wearable in summer, even on very hot days. It has incredible staying power and hardly diminishes in strength over seven hours. If applied in the morning it fades to a slightly sweet muskiness by the evening. The sillage is average; it doesn't project brilliantly but that's perhaps no bad thing as I think that some of the elements in this scent are ones that won't be universally popular.
Prices vary a lot online; I bought mine a few months back and actually paid a only a couple of Pounds more for the 100ml than the same retailer was offering the 60ml for and paid less than £30. Sadly that offer from halfpriceperfumes.com is no longer available and the price has reverted to £55.00 for the 100ml bottle. However, Debenhams is currently offering the 100ml Orla Kiely gift set for £55.00 and this comprises 100ml eau de parfum, 250ml shower gel and 150ml body lotion (plus you can get your Debenhams Beautycard points if you have one); as Debenhams sell the 100ml bottle on its own for a shade over £56 this is good value. However, the best offer online is from cheapsmells.com which is currently offering it (as of July 18th 2013) for £36.76 for 100ml (delivery is free).