Lisa Hoffman Variations | Madagascar Orchid

Madagascar Orchid ($95) is the perfume oil that made me want to start making my own. I haven’t yet and likely won’t, but if I did, this is pretty close to what I’d want to end up with. The set of four fragrances is one that truly is the epitome of grace and beauty packaged in Lisa’s petite roller ball bottles.

Perfume oils aren’t the easiest to create. Some may argue that the fine art of perfumery trumps oils, but I’d say the better perfume oils pose a deeper challenge as any emerging scent needs to be blended just right so it can cut through a carrier and last on skin. The better ones created from a set of pedigreed hands do it just right. And, Lisa's oils are an example of this.

Formally trained in Grasse, France (the perfume capital of the world), Lisa uses her olfactory education to paint a different picture of essentials in her signature variations sets – four vials of interesting blends that offer contrasting twists to one chosen scent. After all, the body’s chemistry changes throughout the day, so why shouldn’t your scent?

Seasoned noses rarely get to find luxury within the niche perfume oil market. But, this is where such a seeker should start. Vial 1 (the morning variation) has a streamlined composition of Madagascar Orchid, Lemon and Bergamot. Crisp and modern, the effervescent flourish does open nicely with a sparkle and doesn’t depart radically away from its airy intent. Sweet, subtle and simply delicate makes this a pleasure to stroke on pulse points so early in the morning. 

Vial 2 (the daytime variation) becomes fuller in its floral expression as the translucent petals of Jasmine and Pink Peony softly flank the Orchid. There’s a demure float of sweetness here as the Tuberose doesn’t overwhelm at first stroke but rather blossoms freely from he heart. The pleasant warmth of spring makes this an ideal choice for office wear as it smartly veers away from any heavy cloud that Tuberose is known to bring. 

Vial 3 (the evening variation) turns sensual and striking as the smooth transparency of woods expresses itself in full form. No sweetness here, as the now honeyed Orchid teases you with some indescribable charm. Alluring and abstract, you sniff repeatedly while trying to guess just which wood bridges to the floral. Your guess is as good any, but I’m suspecting a tendril or two of Ylang Ylang has also been snuck in this bottle. 

Vial 4 (the bedtime variation) turns the Orchid into a startlingly tender floral inducing a tranquil sense of calm. Uncluttered in its spread, liner in its unfold, you can layer this over Vial 3 for a decidedly mesmerizing scent. 

Then again, you can layer any of the scents in any combination to create a uniquely you variation bringing some fanciful fun for when your mainstay scent becomes a bit of a bore. I’m quite besotted with this set as Orchid is done so virtuously well in all four versions. 

I'm an incurable romantic of sorts - always dreaming of doing the impossible. And, let's face it - I wouldn’t know how to make a perfume oil with the nuances of depth and complexity. The closest I'd come close to creating is something wonderfully weird, but shamefully conventional at my best. So, I thank Lisa for making this delicious mayhem of essentials that will keep me busy with my puerile attempts at blending.

Price: $$$$
Scent Classification: Floral