Roses de Mai Marathon: Ta’if

Aaah. That’s what my nose felt like when I spritzed on some of Ormonde Jayne’s Ta’if this morning. It’s just that beautiful. The fragrance is, of course, named for the famous Taif rose of the Middle East. 

As with all the Ormonde Jayne fragrances, apparently, the nose behind Ta’if was Geza Schoen. It was launched in 2004. On the brand’s website, it appears that Ta’if has been replaced on the English website by Ta’if Intensivo, which lists the same notes: pink pepper, saffron, and dates in the top; rose oil, freesia, orange flower absolute, and jasmine absolute in the heart; and broom and amber as base notes. The accompanying section of “Linda’s Notes”, referring to founder Linda Pilkington, still refers to the original creation of Ta’if, so I think this is a new name, not a new scent, to reflect the fact that this version is much more concentrated. The sample I have, from the original discovery set I got a couple of years ago, is just labeled Ta’if so I know it is the original; and regular Ta’if is still shown for sale on the brand’s US website, which says:

Ta´if is an intoxicating and audacious rose scent from the town of Ta´if which sits above the shores of the Red sea and overlooks the Arabian desert. This perfume dislikes daylight preferring dusk, the night, parties, promises and assignations. It is an opulent composition which makes a bold entrance and is confident enough to sweep everyone else to one side – a real belle of the ball.

Fragrantica also describes Ta’if as a fragrance for “evenings and glamorous occasions”, and that is exactly right. It’s very elegant and beautifully made without being edgy or daring. It is different from many rose fragrances I’ve smelled (and hallelujah, it’s not overwhelmed with oud, the fragrance fashion of the last decade). It is definitely “couture”, not “designer.” So let’s go to a glamorous occasion filled with couture, shall we?

What I smell at first spritz is the combination of dates, saffron and pepper with the rose. They don’t precede the rose note so much as they usher it into the room. And sweep regally into the room that rose does, like a beautiful woman arriving at a ball.

Actress Blake Lively in red jeweled dress at Met Costume Gala

Blake Lively arriving at Met Gala 2018 with Christian Louboutin.

The rose has elegant companions, that might even have attracted much attention in their own right, but beside her, they are supporting players at best. The top notes I smell most are the dates and the saffron, but the pink pepper is also evident.

Actress Blake Lively in Versace dress of red velvet.

Blake Lively and entourage, Met Gala 2018; image from

All of these step aside when the rose enters. Rich, warm, spicy without being too heavy, beautiful without pretension, this rose glows.

Actress Blake Lively in red velvet Versace gown.

Blake Lively, Met Gala; image from

The rose stays at center stage for a long while. You can tell that the other notes are there, hovering around her, and they are also very elegant; but even the jasmine is there to complement the rose, not outshine her.

Met Gala 2018: Lively, Morano, Louboutin.

Blake Lively with designer Christian Louboutin and director Reed Morano. Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue.

As Ta’if dries down, the fragrance becomes warmer and softer. The amber and broom in the base notes are evident. Broom is an interesting scent to choose for a base note. It is a yellow floral, with a scent that reminds one of honey and pollen, per Fragrantica. It is used in Zoologist’s Bee, for example, as a heart note, and the perfumer behind Bee specifically mentioned the honeyed quality of broom in a recent interview. When the base notes really make themselves known, the rose has left the party, leaving a rosy afterglow in her wake.

Back of Blake Lively, red and gold embroidered ball gown.

Blake Lively, Met Gala 2018; image by Mike Coppola/MG18/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

Yes, it’s love — and I may just have to put Ta’if on my future wish list in a size larger than the 2 ml spray in my discovery set. I sometimes, but rarely, go out to glamorous occasions; although now that my friends’ children are starting to get married, my opportunities might increase! So I don’t really have “occasions” to wear Ta’if, but I’ve been very content to have it on my wrists and neck at home today. I wouldn’t wear this one to the office, though — not because I think anyone would be offended or overwhelmed, but because that’s a little too much cognitive dissonance for me. I chose the photos here because the Met Gala is the most glamorous occasion I can imagine happening in the USA! It usually takes place on the first Monday in May, but this year’s event was canceled.

I know Undina is a great lover of Ta’if — any others among you? Have you tried other fragrances by Ormonde Jayne?

16 thoughts on “Roses de Mai Marathon: Ta’if

  1. I want to experience that outfit, including the hairpiece!
    Not well versed with Ta’if, but have read so much about it by now, I’ll have to pay special attention next chance I get. On my last trip to the OJ boutique, I bought travel sprays of Montabaco and Osmanthus. Do you know what their signature is? They all have a luxurious, “behind glass” feel to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know what their signature is, but I’ve read elsewhere that others who know their fragrances well do perceive a “family DNA.” Not surprising if they were all created by the same perfumer and creative director.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I visited the OJ boutique a couple of years ago and came away with a set of travel sprays. I didn’t choose Ta’if since I’m just not a rose person, as I have mentioned before. I do think it’s one of the most beautiful OJ perfumes; just not my jam. If you are ever in London it’s worth stopping by and creating your own set!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sadly, we were supposed to be in London this very week with all our kids, and heading together to Paris on Sunday, celebrating our 30th anniversary and two graduations. But as I’ve said to my kids, think how privileged we are to even have the opportunity to feel sad at losing that trip. Next year? Fingers crossed!


  3. Gorgeous photos and review of Taif. I have no doubt it smells beautiful I hope to experience Taif one day. My favorite Ormande Jayne is Rose Gold.It’s complexity is so much more than rose. I imagine Taif to be similar.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I thought of Undina immediately when I saw your post 💜😻
    I have not tried this fragrance. I tried a few samples over the years of various OJ and Irris Noir the last time I was in Manhattan at Saks Fifth Avenue. I didn’t feel the need for full bottles. My wallet thanks me 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I appreciate, but don’t love Ta’if. Never had the need for a full bottle. But spray Frangipani anywhere near me and it’s like catnip! Love love love it. I have had a few love from this house – Orris Noir, Champaca, Zizan and Sampaguita. Quite the hit rate. There’s definitely a chemical family relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You got me worried for a minute! They still have “reglar” Ta’if ( – and now I feel anxious whether I have enough, or do I need a back-up bottle 🙂 I tried the “intensivo” version last year in London, but while I didn’t dislike it, I thought that it wasn’t as good as the original one.

    Beautiful illustrations!

    Do you subscribe to OJ newsletter? From time to time they have 20% off – just in case you decide you do need something more than 2 ml.

    Liked by 1 person

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