Guerlain Jicky: Clair de Lune

Source: space.desktopnexus.com

Source: space.desktopnexus.com

Elegance that defies time and age, the crystal clear clarity of moonlight, the refinement of a dandy with the soft warmth of the lady, the natural freshness of an aromatic country garden, and a play on light and dark, cleanness and dirtiness. Those are a few of the things encapsulated for me by Jicky, a Guerlain legend that just celebrated its 125th birthday and is reportedly the oldest fragrance in continuous production. In this review, I’ll focus on modern Jicky, solely because it is the version most people have access to, and limit myself to the Eau de Parfum concentration, often called Parfum de Toilette. The eau de toilette is most common form of the scent, with the lightest, freshest, and most citrusy aspects, but I think the PDT/EDP may be truest to the spirit of the original Jicky.

The gold bottle of Jicky in EDP or PDT concentration. Source: FragranceX

The gold bottle of Jicky in EDP or PDT concentration. Source: FragranceX

Jicky was created in 1889 by Aimé Guerlain. The legend is that he created it in memory of a girl he loved whose nickname was “Jicky,” though it seems that he may have named it after his nephew instead. It is a fragrance that is considered one of the very first “modern” creations, both in terms of its use of synthetically extracted molecules and in terms of being truly unisex. In fact, Jicky seems to have been originally marketed as a men’s fragrance before women took it over for their own. I think it is a masterpiece that anyone of any gender who enjoys aromatic perfumes centered on lavender should try for themselves.

From a technical and perfume aspect, Jicky is significant for a variety of reasons. There is the issue of the synthetic coumarin molecules used for one of the first times in perfumery (after Houbigant did it for his perfume) and the unisex angle, but Jicky is also important because it serves as the template for many of Guerlains which followed. According to Monsieur Guerlain, who runs an unofficial website about Guerlain’s fragrances and an undisputed expert on them, Jicky was the first example of what later became known as “Guerlainade,” the signature elements in the base that is evident in almost all of the house’s creations to this day and which people often summarize simply as a lightly powdered, vanilla tonka sweetness. (It’s a little more than that.) Many people find Jicky to be extremely similar to Guerlain’s Mouchoir de Monsieur, but it also seems to be the template for Shalimar, and some people argue that the latter is simply an oriental version of Jicky that has leathery resins and more vanilla, but not its boyish, herbal, outdoorsy, and dirty, masculine, civet elements.

Old Jicky ad featuring the pure parfum bottle. Source: Guerlain website.

Old Jicky ad featuring the pure parfum bottle. Source: Guerlain website.

One thing that is important for people to understand about Jicky is that it is an aromatic fougère. It is a genre that is often today associated with male fragrances and colognes, which is perhaps why some women find Jicky to be too masculine a scent. However, the fougère is one of the oldest, main, and most classical perfume groups. As Fragrantica explains, these fragrances center on coumarin, as does Jicky in large part:

Name of the olfactive group ‘fougere’ derives from French word ‘fougere’ or ‘fern’. Coumarin can be found in the center of compositions. Perfume-originator of this group is Fougere Royal by the house of Houbigant, created by Paul Parquet in 1882. The perfumer extracted the synthetic component coumarin and used it in perfumery for the first time. Coumarin can be found in nature in several plants, such as Tonka beans, and it possesses intensive scent of freshly mown grass. Fougere compositions include notes of lavender, geranium, moss and wood.

To me, coumarin smells largely of fresh, sweet, dried hay. Yet, it also derives from tonka beans which often have a strong scent of vanilla with a slightly powdery nuance. Both aspects are a critical part of Jicky, along with the lavender which is another key component of the fougère category.

According to Monsieur Guerlain, the newest list of notes for Jicky are:

bergamot, neroli, verbena, lemon, orange, rosemary, geranium, lavender, mint, absinthe, tuberose, jasmine, rose, sandalwood, cedarwood, patchouli, vetiver, civet, orris [iris], tonka bean, vanilla.

Source: 550px.com

Source: 550px.com

Jicky opens on my skin with lavender and green, fresh anise, followed by tiny sprinkles of rosemary and thyme for a very crisp, herbal, aromatic bouquet. In the background, there are bright, juicy citruses, and the merest whisper of something darker from the civet, musk, and rosewood. Initially, they hover just out of sight like a shadow, before floating into view like wisps, then retreating back to the periphery.

Civet. Source: focusingonwildlife.com

Civet. Source: focusingonwildlife.com

As I’ve discussed elsewhere, civet is something very traditional in French perfumery and was originally derived from the anal gland secretions of civet cats. Its “dirty” aroma can smell fecal or urinous in large doses, but perfumers love it in small doses for the radiance and warmth that it adds. Here, in reformulated, diluted, post-2010 Jicky EDP, the note is too light and subtle to take on some of civet’s skankier, more hardcore animalic aspects, but it does add a slightly musky dirtiness to Jicky. It is initially an intangible, almost abstract whiff at first, but it nonetheless provides a sharp contrast to the cleaner, lighter, fresher notes.

The odd thing with regard to the civet’s dirtiness is that its appearance, timing, and strength seem to depend on how much Jicky I apply. In earlier tests when I used less (roughly 2 big smears amounting to 1 spray from a bottle), the note didn’t show up until the start second hour, was very muffled, stayed largely in the background, and then faded away after another 60 minutes. However, when I applied more amounting to the equivalent of 2 small sprays from a bottle, the civet showed up from the start in a much more significant way, and was not a muffled note at all.

Even odder is how it moves through the fragrance in those first 90 minutes. It ebbs and flows, like a wave hitting the shore, appearing quite noticeably almost like clockwork every 10 minutes, before retreating to the periphery. Every time I thought it had finally vanished, it reappeared again. Once, it felt vaguely sweaty, but it usually combined with the woody elements to add a vague”dirtiness” and woody skankiness. The strange 10-minute cycle continued for the entire, opening 90-minutes, before the civet finally retreated to the background in a more muted, muffled way. My suggestion for those who aren’t keen on skanky notes is to apply less of the fragrance, or to have some patience because the true beauty of Jicky lies elsewhere.

Source: Usafilm.info

Source: Usafilm.info

Jicky’s heart centers around three notes, one of which is lavender. It feels silvery, as if it had been purified of all its abrasively pungent, medicinal, harsh tonalities. As regular readers know, I have a deep-seated phobia regarding lavender that goes back to my childhood in the South of France. Fragrances featuring the note can often send me running for the hills in horror, and my perfume nightmares are centered around the ghastly, very potent, Provençal lavender sachets exploding like minefields, drowning me in the revolting, dried, purple things. I’m shuddering even typing these words. There are only two lavender fragrances in the world that I love, and it’s taken me a long, long time to reach even that point. So, it should tell you something when this lavender-phobe says that the note in Jicky is lovely. It’s refined, elegant, and consistently makes me think of silver light.

Source: nature.desktopnexus.com/

Source: nature.desktopnexus.com/

A large part of the appeal is how the lavender has been impacted by walloping, massive amounts of coumarin and tonka which are threaded through every molecule of the plant here. Not only is the lavender purified in feel, but its softness is sweetened by hay and vanilla tonalities. Wisps of fresh, green anise arrive from God knows where to add brightness, as well as a licorice undertone that further underscores the sweetness. Tiny speckles of bergamot and lemon are seamlessly swirled into the mix to provide a sparkling freshness.

Source: yourhomelinens.com

Source: yourhomelinens.com

Jicky’s opening stage is my ideal for a clean scent. This is not the artificial, often sterilized, always synthetic “clean” of so many commercial scents today with their laboratory-created, ghastly fabric softener, Bounce, and white musk notes. This is a “clean” that evokes crisp, white sheets being hung out to dry on a clothes-line in a country garden, absorbing the natural freshness of the lavender bushes and herbal garden around it, the sweetness of distant flowers, and the warmth of the sun. This is a natural, beautiful “cleanness” that feels incredibly comforting.

Marlene Dietrich with Cary Grant in Blonde Venus. Source: glamamor.com

Marlene Dietrich with Cary Grant in Blonde Venus. Source: glamamor.com

And, yet, it is also far more. I think Jicky oozes with elegance, a minimalistic but simultaneously complex smoothness, and an androgynous dandyism. It is the embodiment of a raffiné icon, from the 19th century trendsetter and societal darling, Beau Brummell, to the stylish Marlene Dietrich in a tailored man’s suit. It doesn’t feel modern to me; it feels timeless. It may be 125 years old and centered around one of the most classical, traditional, and earliest fragrance genres, but Jicky seems to float through the air, through time, through gender classifications to become something more. It has an effortless elegance that defies a date, an elegance for every man and every woman.

Source: wallpaperswa.com

Source: wallpaperswa.com

It smells so simple at its core. And, in truth, Jicky isn’t a particularly complex fragrance on my skin, regardless of that long list of notes. It is primarily a triptych of lavender, coumarin, and tonka vanilla which opens with fluctuating degrees of civet and anise, before it turns to a drydown infused by creamy woods. Yet, Jicky feels as though everything has been carefully calibrated to be as seamless and as smooth as quicksilver. Again and again, I think of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” piano piece, and of the lightness of the moon in a twilight sky tinged with lavender purple and with whispers of darker shadows at the periphery. Tonka vanilla surrounds the silvery orb like a creamy halo, but the key is that light which symbolizes lavender purified to the point where it feels as clear as a musical note trembling in the air.

Photo: Edward Steichen. Flatiron building in twilight shadows. Source: eleanorjane.co.uk

Photo: Edward Steichen. Flatiron building in twilight shadows. Source: eleanorjane.co.uk

I’ll be honest, the civet rather ruins the experience for me when I apply a larger dose of Jicky. It’s fine at a lesser quantity, because it adds an intriguing contrast that is muted enough to be genuinely appealing and interesting, a perfect shadow in the background. Yet, when the note is more prominent at a higher quantity, adding an occasionally raunchy dirtiness, it takes me out of the poetic, comforting, soothing bouquet. It feels rather disconcerting, like this is something that simply doesn’t belong, much like one of those high school exam questions where you’re given a list of things and asked “Which one of these things is not like the other?”

It’s not as though I have issues with civet or dirty, animalic notes, either. After all, I just raved about vintage Bal à Versailles which is considered by some to be the queen of civet skankiness. With Jicky, though, the dirtiness is such a sharp, jarring juxtaposition to the silvery light and the natural cleanness that it feels like a disconcerting, almost alien encroachment. I realise that this polarity is precisely the reason why the fragrance is considered to be so brilliant. It is most definitely a clever construct, an interplay on both light and dark, clean and dirty. I fully realise all that on an intellectual, theoretical level. Yet, on an emotional level, I’m not quite so enthused because I truly love the purity of the scent without it. I rarely like lavender fragrances and now that I’ve found one that moves me to virtual sonnets about its elegance, there is the blasted murkiness to ruin it. You can understand why I may be a little grumpy.

Patience is the key, however. Every time I’m about to wrinkle my nose to bemoan the loss of that beautiful, lavender-vanilla-hay sweetness, the dirtiness vanishes. Not just every 10 minutes like clockwork in the first stage, but almost permanently as a major element in Jicky roughly midway during the second hour. There are exceptions, where the civet pops up its head briefly in the background to give a tiny wave, but generally the dirty darkness is gone in any significant way.

Artist unknown. Source: pinterest via eBay.

Artist unknown. Source: pinterest via eBay.

At the 90 minute mark, Jicky turns deeper, creamier, and with a greater degree of both the vanilla and the hay. The touch of anise greenness and all lingering herbal elements have disappeared. Instead, taking their place is a certain tonka graininess. It is not powdery, but, rather, the sort of textural quality that I often experience with tonka. The bergamot pops up once in a while, along with a subtle, wholly abstract, “floral” accord in the background. The latter is not something that can be teased apart into jasmine, rose, or iris. Rather, it’s merely a generalized, “floral” impression on my skin.

What is interesting is the hay or coumarin note. It has started to play the same game that the musky civet did earlier, waxing and waning like the tide. At times, the note feels amorphous, and without distinct, individual edge, but you can definitely sense it swirling in the mix. On other occasions, however, the hay surges past the lavender to become the driving force in Jicky, before dropping back a few paces. Eventually, the sweet hay does, in fact, take over completely as the main note on my skin, along with the tonka.

"Shell Life" by David White. Source: skytopia.com

“Shell Life” by David White. Source: skytopia.com

The 3rd hour heralds the start of Jicky’s long drydown phase. The perfume begins to turn woodier, as the rosewood and sandalwood start to trickle up from the base. The latter never smells like Mysore sandalwood in and of itself, but the wood has a lovely creaminess that is lightly spiced and similar to Mysore’s gingerbread tonalities. I suspect the aroma derives from the combination of the rosewood, the sandalwood, the sweet myrrh, and vanilla. The overall effect is to add greater body and nuance to the bouquet which, from afar, still smells primarily of lavender, dried hay, and sweet tonka.

Jicky doesn’t change in any significant way for the next three hours. It is generally a lavender and hay combination with an occasional, very faint streak of civet skank, all resting atop a thin base of creamy tonka and creamy woods. It is a gauzy, soft, light affair that clings to the skin like a private kiss.

Source: stonecontact.com

Source: stonecontact.com

The main change on my skin concerns the lavender which slowly, very slowly, begins to fade away. At the start of the 6th hour, Jicky is primarily a soft, creamy vanilla-hay fragrance with abstract woodiness, the faintest smidgeon of lavender, and an occasional, brief touch of civet. The perfume remains that way until its final few hours. In its dying moments, Jicky is merely a blur of slightly dry, vaguely tonka-ish sweetness.

All in all, Jicky Eau de Parfum lasts consistently over 9.5 hours on my skin. With a small dose equivalent to 1 spray, the longevity came in at roughly 10 hours, though it seemed close to dying at the start of the 8th hour. With a larger amount equal to 2 sprays, Jicky lasted just under 12 hours on my perfume consuming skin, but, again, you had to put your nose actually on your skin to detect it by the middle of the 8th hour.

As a whole, I think Jicky has average to soft projection. The opening bouquet is very strong at first, but the scent as a whole is airy, lightweight, and soft. Jicky is not a powerhouse either in terms of density or projection. The larger quantity that I’ve described above initially gave me 2-3 inches in sillage, but it took a mere 45 minutes for Jicky to drop to an inch above the skin where it remained for a while. Jicky turned into a gauzy skin scent on me 3.5 hours into the perfume’s development, but it wasn’t particularly hard to detect up close until much later. When I dabbed on a smaller quantity, roughly 1 spray from an actual bottle, Jicky initially projected 1-2 inches, then followed the same general pattern as described above. In short, average projection and good longevity.

Jicky is a polarizing scent that people either love or hate, and it’s due primarily to the civet skankiness, though some women also struggle with the aromatic fougère qualities that they occasionally find to be too masculine. Bloggers generally love the fragrance, but comments on Fragrantica are largely mixed.

Source: Elle.com

Source: Elle.com

What is interesting to me about the comments there is not the usual discussion of whether Jicky’s dirty aspect is too much or just perfect, but something else: the extent to which it resembles other Guerlain fragrances. A number of people argue about the ways it does or does not resemble Shalimar, not to mention Mouchoir de Monsieur. 92 people voted that Jicky is similar to the latter, while 5 chose Shalimar, but the actual comments on Fragrantica focus heavily on how Shalimar is Jicky+. In a nutshell, Jicky with the addition of oriental, leather, dark, and balsamic elements, as well as a more significant quantity of vanilla. You can read the comments for yourself, as I’d prefer to give you some blogger perspectives instead.

One has to start with Monsieur Guerlain, the unofficial site about all things related to Guerlain fragrances and whose expertise I admire. While he has a post on vintage Jicky, the more applicable one is his 2008 discussion on Jicky as a whole. There, he lays out the perfume’s history, explains why it is a technical masterpiece on a structural level, and then analyses its aroma:

Parfum, EdT, PdT. Multifaceted and subtle, Jicky shows a somewhat different portrait in each of its concentrations. The Parfum, with its focus on the base notes, is smooth and deep, at moments strangely unassuming like the milky skin of a baby, at others warmly carnal as a woman’s body. The EdT is much more open and zippy up top, lightheartedly emanating citrus-soaked purple lavender, herbs and tonka bean, a delicious mixture of sweet pastry and all the smells of Southern France in the summer. If one wants an all-in-one Jicky, the choice is PdT which has every part fully represented and given off in delectable succession, with extra sandalwood and the spicier of the three.

Reformulation. Given the fact that Jicky was invented along with the automobile and the light bulb, it’s no surprise it hasn’t stayed exactly the same. Vintage Jicky was Guerlain’s finest example of the use of sandalwood oil in a perfume, glowing and slightly earthy, and Luca Turin remembers the Jicky of his childhood as “raunchier, more curvaceous, less stately” — all those turbid, spicy and leathery materials are no longer available to the perfumer. Jicky is now undeniably politer. A side effect of the tidying up is lower tenacity, an oft-heard complaint about today’s Jicky.

Recommended: Parfum or PdT from the late 1980s.

Source: Monsieur Guerlain.

Source: Monsieur Guerlain.

His assessment of how the PDT or Eau de Parfum is the best all-in-one representation of Jicky, with a spicier tonality and more sandalwood is one reason why I’ve focused on that formulation here today. Another is that I’ve smelled the Eau de Toilette, and don’t find it as appealing. It’s far too thin, especially in its post-2010 reformulated state, and also too citrusy for me. The Parfum is too expensive for most people to obtain, and is also said to have much more of a herbal/lavender focus which, for reasons explained above, made this lavender-phobe reluctant to try it.

Barbara Herman. Photo: CaFleureBon.

Barbara Herman. Photo: CaFleureBon.

Jicky is not for everyone. It really isn’t, and I think those who are unaccustomed to civet may have some difficulty, especially if they’ve never experienced an animalic note or are used to the cleanness of most modern, commercial fragrances. Barbara Herman — the vintage perfume expert who blogged at Yesterday’s Perfume before writing her book, Scent & Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume — gives a good account of her initial reaction to the scent. Please note that her review dates from 2009, and talks about an earlier eau de toilette formulation of Jicky, as well as the vintage pure parfum. Both are much, much skankier than the current, very watered down, tamer, post-2010 and 2012 versions, but her account still serves as a cautionary tale:

Jicky is not a love-at-first-sniff scent, unless you are blessed with an adventurous nose or cursed with anosmia (the inability to smell). I sampled a modern formulation at Saks Fifth Avenue last year when I just began to get into vintage scents, and I was truly baffled. After spraying it on, I couldn’t believe that people said they loved it. Are they faking, I wondered, because they’re supposed to love a classic?

Between the blast of citrus and lavender, followed by the stink of (synthetic) civet, Jicky was a fragrance I was horrified that anyone would have worn. I began to wonder if perfume simply meant something different at this time.

I have since developed a more complicated nose, and able to appreciate other perfumes I’ve loved with enough civet to make them mysteriously erotic [.... So I then] got a sample of vintage, parfum-concentration Jicky. Like a junkie seeking a hit of civet but having to wait for it to kick in, I was a little disappointed that the parfum concentration was so well-blended and rounded! Unlike the modern EDT, which gives you a one-two punch of lavender/civet, the vintage parfum Jicky took its sweet time to take off its underpants, as it were.

Like a horny teenage boy faced with a gorgeous, brilliant woman, I was not inclined to appreciate having to make small talk with Jicky before she showed me her carnal side. But, it had to happen. I got to know Jicky first as lavender, then as bergamot, easing into vanilla, and then, in the afterglow, the civet that hovered over these bright notes like the smell of sex after a romp between two freshly bathed people. [Emphasis added by me.]

Source: naturesgardencandles.com

Source: naturesgardencandles.com

On Temptalia, a guest post from “Caitlin” in 2012 called Jicky “a life-changing scent.” It mirrors a lot of my own feelings about the perfume’s strange beauty and the “jarring” nature of the civet. At the same time, it offers an accurate, succinct analysis of Jicky’s smell, and how it differs from concentration to concentration:

Confusion is not an emotion I expect to feel when sampling a fragrance, but that was exactly my experience the first time I came across Guerlain Jicky (Eau de Toilette, $98; Eau de Parfum, $122; Pure Parfum, $317). I had never before experienced such enticing notes mixed with something a little strange, something a little off-putting. The thing is, that jarring note wasn’t quite off-putting enough. It was off-putting in an interesting way, in a good way, if that’s possible! Jicky was the first fragrance I found to be truly compelling precisely because of its oddness. [¶] [...]

Jicky is famously divisive. It was initially a complete flop with women. Jicky was much more successful with men during its early years, and Guerlain now classifies it as unisex. Jicky’s contentiousness comes from the sense that it smells ‘dirty’ both in the sense that people find it too reminiscent of sex and too much like actual dirt. The animalic civet note is the troublemaker here, but I actually love this note in Jicky!

To me, the civet brings much needed balance to the fragrance. Jicky’s opening is a whirlwind of lemon, bergamot, and lavender. It’s intoxicating, but it teeters on the brink of smelling too medicinal. When the civet kicks in, it anchors the fragrance with more warmth and depth. There is an undeniably ‘dirty’ aspect to the civet but, again, balance is the key to Jicky. The cool lavender top note persists well into wear time and blends effortlessly with the warmth of the civet.

The Jicky Eau de Toilette is a bright and sparkling composition that focuses more on the citrus top notes, while the Eau de Parfum is more civet-heavy, and the extrait of pure parfum emphasizes the herbal lavender note. I have worn and enjoyed all three concentrations at different times; it simply depends on your mood as to which one you would prefer. [...]

Jicky is not straight-forward or easy to love. I have returned to this fragrance again and again, and each time I feel simultaneously puzzled, pleased, frustrated, and seduced. But I love Jicky in all its beautiful strangeness. Worn at the right moment, there is nothing like it.

Honestly, I think her assessment sums up Jicky better than the reviews from a hundred professional perfume bloggers. The perfume has an incredible allure, even in its reformulated version, but also an oddness that requires some patience and an open mind. If you’re not into skanky perfumes, I think you should keep in mind my experience with how differing quantities can alter the nature and prominence of the civet note, and perhaps start slowly by applying only a small amount.

At the end of the day, Jicky is a complicated scent that you will either love or hate. I think it is a play on light and shadows that is brilliant and a masterpiece. Its refined, smooth elegance also feels utterly timeless. Nonetheless, happy 125th birthday, Jicky!

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Jicky comes in a variety of concentrations, but the eau de parfum or parfum de toilette version reviewed here costs €100, £73, and roughly $90 (at a discounted price) for 1.7 oz/50 ml bottle. It is available at Guerlain boutiques, and is listed on its U.S. and International website, but Guerlain doesn’t sell the fragrance online except on its French website where it is priced at €100 for a gold refillable spray. I don’t know if they ship to the rest of Europe. In the U.S.: Jicky is available in the weaker EDT and the very expensive pure parfum form at all the high-end department stores, like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, and Bergdorf Goodman. However, none of them seem to carry the EDP discussed here, so I don’t know its current retail price. The good news is that it is available at a discount at a few places. Amazon sells it for $89.64 through one 3rd-party seller, with roughly $7 extra for shipping, while another Amazon vendor has it for $94.99 with free shipping. FragranceX sells it for $102.75. Outside the U.S.: In the U.K, you can find Jicky EDP/PDT at Selfridges, as well as at Harrods. The latter has something called Jicky Habit de Fete which is the same EDP but with a name that references the gold bottle. It has the same £73 price that you’ll find elsewhere. Debenhams has Jicky EDP in a plain glass bottle for a lower price of £58.50. In Ireland, you can find Jicky EDP Habit de Fete at John Lewis for the £73 price. In France, Jicky is obviously available at Guerlain stores. French Sephora only has the eau de toilette or pure parfum form. For all other countries, you can use Guerlain’s Store Locator on its website. Samples: If you’d like to give Jicky EDP a test sniff, you can get a sample from Surrender to Chance where prices start at $5 for a 1 ml vial.

43 thoughts on “Guerlain Jicky: Clair de Lune

  1. What a lovely review–I particularly liked the comparison of the beautiful, smooth lavender to moonlight, and now I’ll think of Clair de Lune the next time I wear Jicky.

    I’ve only smelled the modern edt, but I loved it immediately, after finding other classic Guerlains like Shalimar and Mitsouko “difficult.” It surprised me, because I do tend to think of lavender as masculine (my great-grandfather wore a cologne or pomade with it), and I had begun to think that maybe I should just give up on the older Guerlains. I’d ordered it as part of an STC sampler and left it for last, and it pains me to think that I might not have tried it if I hadn’t already paid for it. I hope that your review encourages anyone who hasn’t tried it to seek it out. I’m certainly planning to seek out the edp now, as I tend to enjoy some skankiness in perfume.

    • I’m so glad you found a Guerlain you like, Laurels! And for it to be Jicky, no less… that’s surprising, as it may be a more difficult scent than, say, Shalimar. I would be fascinated to hear your thoughts on the EDP version as compared to your EDT, and to see how the civet is on your skin and if you experience a lot of it. Do let me know if or when you get to try the EDP. :)

  2. I’ve only smelled the modern version very briefly because I was on a mission to sniff other things and basically gave it a passing sniff. The next time I’m in that store I’ll give it a proper sniff. I know the vintage seems to be the way to go with this scent but I have seen where some people prefer the modern. I suppose if I have no vintage to compare it to I might not have tainted expectations and might like the modern. I do like lavender and at the time I wasn’t aware it had a good dose of it.
    The question that I must ask is…are you starting to like lavender? Wasn’t lavender right up there on the list with laundry musks for you?

    • Lavender was never as high on my list as white musk, which I loathe even more, but I still struggle a LOT with lavender. It’s taken me years to get to the point where I’m willing to even go near a scent with the note and to actually put it on my skin. I doubt I’ll ever willingly seek out pure lavender scents with eagerness, and definitely not hardcore ones. My mother uses a lot of lavender oil these days, and it gives me a bone-deep shudder whenever I smell it. I’ve actually walked around holding my nose, because I can’t bear to smell it and my only other choice is leaving entirely. The smell is…. *shiver* But I now seem to have a small appreciation for SOME lavenders, at least when they are very purified and the traditional aroma squashed down under a heavy blanket of tonka and vanilla.

      It’s interesting to me that one of the 2 “lavender” scents I love is from the Guerlain relative, Patricia de Nicolai and her Amber Oud, which has a very powerful Guerlain vanilla-tonka thing going on (in addition to my beloved patchouli). It’s not really a true lavender scent at all, which is probably why I like it.

      As for Jicky, I would be interested to see what you thought of it and, in particular, if you found one version to be more skanky than another. I hope you let me know if you try any of them. :)

  3. Fragrances featuring the note can often send me running for the hills in horror, and my perfume nightmares are centered around the ghastly, very potent, Provençal lavender sachets exploding like minefields, drowning me in the revolting, dried, purple things.

    hahaha! I have that same dream, only I’m loving it! I love lavender fragrance, soap, you name it. Even try to grow it, although the conditions are all wrong here. Anyway, despite all of that, I’ve never tried Jicky! That shall soon change.

    • Lavender soap…. *shiver* ;) :D With regard to Jicky, as a lavender fan, I think you might love it, but I’d be really interested to know WHICH version caught your heart. The EDT is quite easy to find and even the parfum seems to be available at high-end dept. stores, but I hope you can get a sample of the EDP discussed here. I’d love to know what you thought of it, James.

        • PS, I was in the mood for lavender, but since I don’t have Jicky, I was inspired to wear L’Occitane Eau d’Occitan today at work; and Kiki VdE for dinner out tonight. Like the first a lot for work, and the second is merely my favorite lavender ever.

  4. I’ve read short reviews of Jicky, including the lengthier Barbara Herman review in her book, but yours has really pushed me to sample it. I’m slowly learning my perfume notes & am now very curious to start trying the classics. I’m not crazy about lavender either, but the lavender/Tonka combo in Fourreau Noir is beautiful, & civet doesn’t scare me. You really gave me a clear picture of what to expect.

    • I think it would be great for you on your perfume journey to try the classics, especially if you can compare modern versions to the vintage ones. Vintage is a key thing for any really serious perfume lover, imo, if only because of the quality of the ingredients and the use of certain things that are now banned. You should definitely try some vintage Guerlains, namely Habit Rouge and Shalimar in your case, since I don’t know about the powderiness of some of the others like L’Heure Bleue for you, in specific. I’d be interested to know what you thought of Jicky, as well, in all its various versions. :)

  5. I hated Jicky at first, until I tried the vintage parfum. To really experience the true essence of Jicky you must sample the vintage parfum. It was warm, smooth, and very well blended.The current inerations of Jicky pale in comparison, as they are all severely neutered. So unfortunate. The current edp was a stinkbomb literally. The synthetic civet smelled so out of place and felt too sharp in contrast with the lavender, Coumarin and vanilla. The vintage parfum is excellent! I wish I had a full bottle of it. I will treasure my sample from STC .Great review!

    • I have lavender issues, so I don’t know about trying the vintage parfum. Interesting to read your assessment of the current EDP, since I know you love civet and have no problem with vintage Bal à Versailles. It sounds like it was the sharpness of the civet that was the problem, or was it the fact that it was “neutered” in the EDP as compared to the vintage extrait?

      I agree that the civet is a jarring contrast in the EDP, as compared to the lovely trio, but there wasn’t a lot of civet on my skin. What there was didn’t last long in any appreciable, significant form, especially if I didn’t apply a lot of the perfume. If there is so much more of it in the vintage Extrait version, it would probably feel equally out of place, no? This is not a scent where I would want a lot of civet, I don’t think. Either way, given my lavender phobia, I’m reluctant to go out of my way to try the vintage or to buy it. If a sample falls in my lap, I’ll try it, but otherwise… :)

      • The civet in Jicky vtg parfum is very subtle and gives a plush depth to the whole composition. In stark contrast to the jarring, sharp nature of the what’s in the modern edp. The lavender is subdued as well. I think you like the vtg parfum! It is definately worth sampling for sure! I would say its a stripped down Shalimar parfum minus the powderiness, gourmand sweetness and leather. It is very nice indeed.

  6. When my beloved Crabtree and Evelyn Sandalwood Cologne was murderously reformulated in the 90’s I discovered Jicky. I have no idea how or where or even which strength I wore. I also wore Habanita and Eau de Charlotte at this same time. I remember feeling very elegant and sophisticated when I wore Jicky. I do not remember the civet aspect, just the clean sweet lavender vanilla. It is interesting to note that my favorite lavenders have the lavender/vanilla/tonka thing going on. I am super happy you reviewed this, and I am quite happy to learn that the modern version is lovely, too. Thank you!

    • Interesting about you and the lavender combination which appeals to you, because it seems to be the same case for me! Well, not all of them, not always, but in the few instances that I get over my lavender phobia, it always does seem to involve that exact same trio as well. That said, I still prefer Patricia de Nicolai’s Amber Oud to Jicky, if only because it lacks the jarring civet note completely and has my beloved patchouli in its place.

  7. Your explanation of the ingredient civet explains a lot, because to me Jicky smells like something that came out of the back end of the horse the lady is riding in the picture above.

    • Hilarious. :D Animalic notes like civet can certainly take some getting used to, but it’s also a question of skin chemistry, as some skin amplifies the note to an extreme. Other people are almost anosmic (can’t smell) the musky aspects. Sounds like you’re one of the unlucky ones, all around. In case you’re interested, civet is generally urinous, like pee, and is usually compared to a cat’s butt in high doses. I personally don’t think it is one of the animalic notes that creates a fecal smell.

      If you’re at all interested in learning more about some of the traditional foundational blocks in French perfumery, especially civet, there is a hilarious New York Times article on the subject by the former perfume critic, Chandler Burr. It’s called “Meow Mix”: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/21/style/tmagazine/21chanel.html?_r=1&

      I highly recommend it. Funny as hell.

  8. Ok, as a fellow lavender-phobe, who was able to enjoy Forreau Noir based upon your recommendation, I think Jicky will be a “must-try”!! I remember giving it a brief sniff (just the atomizer, not even a spray) many years ago, and dismissing it immediately as an older, masculine “tonic”.
    This will be a definite revisit, cat’s a*# and all!! :)

    • “Cat’s a*# and all” — hahaha. Hopefully, it will be mild on your skin and vanish quickly. As for the seeming “masculine” aspect, I think that really comes down to one’s perceptions about fragrances with an aromatic nature. If one associates lavender and some herbs with men’s fragrances, then that is how it may translate to one’s nose. But a lot of women’s fragrances have lavender too, from brands like L’Occitane to others. Here, I think the vanilla and tonka creaminess helps counter any of the brisker, cooler aspects.

      The cat’s ass, though…. that may be an acquired taste. LOL. ;) :D

  9. Thank you, Kafka – another masterpiece !!!!!!!!!!!
    “Jicky is me” – or at least I like to think of it that way. Jicky (for me) ia a parfum for a Tomboy Woman, who’s both, elegant and stylish, even if it’s a somewhat raw elegance and style.
    Created 125 years ago but not a bit old fashioned (in fact, rather quite the opposite). BTW, Jucky is the only parfum I use a vintage version…

    • Thank you for the kind words on the review, Mi’Lady. :) As for Jicky, I’m glad it suits you so well. I like your characterization of the Jicky Woman as an elegant tomboy with style, but a bit of an edge as well.

      How much civet skankiness is in your vintage parfum version? And have you tried any of the modern ones since the major reformulation in 2010 or 2012?

      • Yes, there is definitely lots of skankiness – and it lasts through the whole day (both, the parfum and the skankiness). I have a fairly large collection of parfums and (unfortunately) I tend to forget some of my gems and then I’m especially happy about a reminder like your review. In fact, your review makes me want to get the edt version too ….

        • My review was for the Eau de PARFUM not the Eau de *Toilette,* but you may like the latter’s added citric touch at the beginning, or it might just round out your collection. :)

  10. Beautifully written, and so thorough. I liked reading this very, very much. Someone sent me a sample of Jicky (I think prior to the 2010 reformulation, but am not positive) and I was surprised by how much I liked it. Though it’s definitely not my taste generally speaking, I found it very beautiful, refined, old-fashioned, etc. Wearing it I was definitely able to feel the weight of the history behind it, if that makes sense. Despite how much I enjoyed it, I haven’t worn it since, but this review makes me inclined to dig out the sample again to try it!

    • Thank you for the kind words on the review. Do you know what concentration is your vintage sample? EDT, EDP, or Parfum?

      As for the reformulation, I wish I could figure out if there was one in 2010 and another in 2012, or just one. It’s so unclear to me, based on what I have read. I suppose we’ll never know as perfume houses never announce it. I think a lot of houses reformulated further starting in 2012 due to the proposed EU changes by the SCCS, but I think there definitely was one reformulation on or around 2010 at the very least.

  11. Wonderful cultural connotations (the dandyism, Debussy, the gender-bending aura) that explore the aesthetic aspects of (this) fragrance. Thank you.

    Because of your review, I have decided to purchase the edp version. Thankfully, it can be found around here. I have already tried it on my skin, and I believe you have captured all the intriguing aspects that make up the brilliant scent that Jicky is.

    • How wonderful, Dimitris! I’m hugely pleased that I could help in some small way to make you find a great new perfume love. Do you find it to have a gender-bending aura on your skin? How is the EDP on you, and what parts do you find the most appealing? And, are you now tempted to explore Jicky in other concentrations and, possibly, in vintage form? (Yes, I *WILL* get you obsessed with Vintage if it’s the last thing I do. ;) Heh. My not-so-secret agenda, my friend. lol)

  12. Dear K.,

    The “gender-bending” aura I attribute to the persistent powdery – vanillic substratum that persists throughout the various stages of evolution (on my skin, at least). But I can see how comfortably this fragrance can be worn by men.

    I was quite thrilled to detect some animalic, civetous hints adding their friction to an exquisite guerlinade base. Very warm, sensuous, aristocratic I dare call it. Your review has done more than full justice to it! I bought the edp, by the way, to savour the deeper, warmer notes. And yes, I know you are right when you insist on me trying vintage …..

    Now, If I am not violating the rules by posing a question that does not relate directly to the topic discussed here, I was hoping you could give me your opinion on a fougere fragrance which I could take with me to the warm and dry Peloponnese for my summer vacations. I was thinking of 1) Houbigant Fougere Royale (the history intrigues me, I know the complaints about the reformulations etc., … by the way you don’t seem to have written something about it, and I was hoping to find something by you on this fragrance), 2) Caron Pour un Homme (the dry lavender-vetiver combination sounds appealing, plus the history behind it, and I must tell you the historic-cultural connotations of fragrances, and the people with their histories behind them, are very important to me). Thankfully, both can be found in Athens right now (the market has shrunk considerably because of the crisis). Please tell me what you think and make any suggestion that comes to mind.

    Amouage fragrances will be available in an Athens niche shop within the summer, but that is a matter I hope to discuss with you in the autumn (your review of Opus VII has whetted my appetite!). On Saturday, I will try Jovoy’s Private Label, as well, and I will let you know in the pertinent thread.

    OK, I will stop here for now. Thank you again for making me take Jicky into my life.

    D

    • You can ask whatever you like, regardless of thread or post, Dimitris. You aren’t violating any rules. :)

      The questions regarding fougères is a difficult one for me to answer because I don’t have a huge amount of experience with them. The category is heavily based on lavender, and, as I wrote in my Jicky review, I have a longstanding phobia regarding the note. It’s taken me years (decades, actually) to get past my dislike (read: total, abject horror and fear) of it. I’m better now, but I still have enough issues with lavender to make me hesitant to explore anything that focuses too strongly on it (i.e, fougères). I’m also not hugely enthused by fragrances or colognes with a heavy citric element, and vetiver can be a problem on my skin as it can turn into heavy mint or spearmint on me at times. So, when you put all those things together, fougères or fougère colognes are something I’ve generally stayed away from. Something like Caron Pour Homme with a lavender-vetiver focus is something that I would have huge difficulty with, so I’ve never tried it.

      Although I specialise in Orientals, there are a few things with a quasi-fougère character that I’ve tried lately and enjoyed. I don’t know how easily you’d find them in Athens, though… One extremely classic, really enjoyable scent with a DEFINITE fougère character all the way through is Oriza L. Legrand’s Foin Coupé Fraichement. For someone like you with your love of the history, cultures, and people behind certain fragrances, the entire Oriza L. Legrand line is something you should consider. They have the most incredible history imaginable, far exceeding anything like Guerlain, Caron, or Grossmith. And the fragrances have a very classical, traditional character with a retro, vintage vibe that is fascinating. The green Chypre Mousse is almost too otherworldly for description with its mosses, wet leaves, forest floor aromas, earthiness, violets, and mushrooms (yes, mushrooms!). It is one of my favorite scents that I discovered last year. Foin Fraichement Coupé is a true aromatic fougere that goes back over 100 years in age. Read up on both fragrances and the house as a whole. I think you’d be fascinated. And they have a great sample pack for most of the scents (but not the Foin Fraichement, alas).

      Another scent I liked starts with a very cologne, barbershop vibe before ending differently in the most beautiful creaminess. Profumum Roma’s Antico Caruso. So, I strongly recommend that one as well for you, given the aromatic opening.

      If you’re a fan of strong, hardcore vetiver, you may also want to look up my review of Oriza L. Legrand’s Vetiver Royal Bourbon or the even more intense, smoky, peaty Profumum version called Fumidus. If you like something like Jovoy’s Private Label, you may adore Fumidus or the lighter Oriza version (which has some differences). I hope all of that helps. But, definitely, check out my Oriza reviews as a whole. I think you’d be fascinated by the line.

  13. Thank you dear K. I will definitely check the Oriza L. Legrand line and history. I am intrigued by your high esteem of them.

    Now, bear with me for a second because I want to relate to you in a nutshell an incredible – I believe- stroke of luck whereby I have spotted two bottles of YSL vintage Kouros and a bottle of vintage YSL M7 in a completely humdrum, down-and-out little fragrance apothecary on the outskirts of Athens a few hours ago (and upon leaving my dentist’s office -of all places!- after a quite painful ordeal!). Spraying this Kouros on me had a huge emotional impact on me (it conjured up memories of bygone times), and as for its being genuinely vintage, I don’t have a shadow of a doubt. Please tell me in few words, should I buy them? I believe you would agree I should.

    I am meeting with the said dentist (!!!) tomorrow morning again, I understand we must be having around 9 hours difference since you are located in the US, if you could send me a brief answer I would appreciate it. The thing with me is I get impulsive and then I tend to regret purchases made at the heat of the moment. Your opinion would be valuable.

    Needless to say, lots of thanks for your responsiveness and patience.
    D

    • BUY THEM!!! If it weren’t roughly 11 o’ clock at night for you, I’d tell you to leave your house this instant and buy them, but tomorrow will have to do. My God, why did you not buy them right away when you smelled them and could tell it was a vintage bonanza??! You mad, mad man, one must never leave such treasures behind. At the very least, you could sell them (particularly the vintage M7) on eBay for a small fortune. I love the latter quite a bit, but its lifespan and sillage on my skin is terrible. Hopeless case, though better than the 2nd stage reformulation of vintage M7. (And let’s not start on the modern one.)

      Oh, vintage Kouros….. I feel such nostalgia and sadness. And I’m still stunned you didn’t buy the bottle immediately and run from the store screaming about the joys of fortuitous heaven. Dimitris, from now on, you must PROMISE ME, if you ever find a vintage treasure that you are absolutely certain is authentic vintage, and which transports you joyfully, then you will buy it there and there! (Well, assuming the price isn’t insane.) My god, man, how I envy you. It’s almost enough to make me wish I had a plan ticket to Athens to go see what else is in that shop!

      I know you said you sometimes regret your impulsiveness after the fact, but you could sell either of those very easily on eBay if that happens. (Do you ever sell or buy on eBay?) But, seriously, the next time that you are transported in a HAPPY way, tell your doubting side to “ai sto dialo.” ;) The whole point of perfumes is to have the sort of emotional, transportative reaction that the vintage Kouros gave you. :)

  14. Thank you dear K! I will buy them tomorrow. I have done a little research on vintage vs reformulated Kouros (check out:

    http://raidersofthelostscent.blogspot.gr/2014/01/kouros-scent-of-gods.html

    I am pretty sure the bottle bottom was metallic which guarantees it is pre-L’Oreal, doesn’t it? If I tell you the price in which he is selling, you won’t believe it: 52 euros for the 100ml, 39 euros for the 50ml. I will buy both, of course. But first, I will check the bottle, packaging etc. to make sure it is before the L’Oreal take-over. Do you have any suggestions as to what I should check apart from the bottom? The raidersofthelostscent page is quite thorough yet the whole thing is quite complicated. I understand there are 5 different periods yet the crucial time is when the damned L’Oreal conglomerate took over, which is 2009?. Do you think the metallic bottom is a safe enough indication? should I check anything else? And if, say, I have made a mistake and the bottom (of the tester actually, because I can’t unseal the closed boxes) is not metallic, should I drop the whole thing? the guy swears he has had them fro ages in there, and judging from the state of affairs in his little shop and the M7 which is undoubtedly vintage (the old rectangular dark brown box), the chances the Kouros is also an old brew. Keep your fingers crossed. The smell on me was divine. Actually it was still there after 3 showers and numberless hand washing (it’s a heat wave in Athens right now, I am not a clinical cleanliness case). The whole thing feels genuine!

    Please write if u can, I won’t be turning in before roughly 2am Greek time, I am thrilled, excited, and grateful for your responses. I am not keen on the M7 but I will get it, and If you ever decide to visit Greece again (which I hope you will), I will be only too happy to offer it to you.

    • Dimitris, don’t get the M7 if you are not keen on it. I don’t see you as the sort to sell it on eBay, though you’d probably make quite a bit of money if you did. I’ve seen some of the vintage bottles go for about $170 at the very cheapest, often far (FAR) more. (The true vintage ones are totally solid in their sides, not clear on the vertical sides, as the 2nd stage reformulated one was.)

      Re. Kouros, the site you linked seems to have covered it and to such an incredibly impressive degree, too! He’s far more of an expert on the bottling differences than I am, and I just stick to the metal base as a guide. (And, also, if the bottle looks like super cheap plastic, as in the photos on the Raiders site.) But I understand your concern in this case since the bottles are boxed and you can’t check them. You used a tester, but based on what you’ve said about the shop, it is precisely the sort of place where one finds such treasures. I would buy both Kouros bottles, skip the M7 entirely, and just enjoy the incredible stroke of luck that you encountered. The fact that it lasted through 3 showers…. My God, I bet the boxed versions are just as glorious. But, yes, there is no denying that there is a risk.

      However, given the price he’s asking, I’d still buy them and take the risk. Whatever vintage era they may be, there is more than 90% chance that they are, in fact, vintage of SOME era, and pre-L’Oreal. (Don’t get me started on that revolting company and what they’ve done to the poor YSL brand. Horrifying. Ils devraient avoir HONTE! They should be ashamed of themselves!)

  15. Dear K, on re-reading the final paragraph, I realise I ve made a mistake. I meant, I am not too keen on the M7 yet I will get it since you recommend buying it whereas I will keep the small Kouros for you should you decide to visit Greece! the Kouros, not the M7!, damn it!

    • You are very kind, generous, and sweet, but I am more than happy to live vicariously through you. And, in fact, I *AM* living through you. I feel as though I had stumbled upon a dusty, hidden treasure trove. One hears about these sorts of things often, though it never has happened to me personally, so I’m thoroughly gleeful and happy at “our” little adventure. ;)

  16. Ils devraient souffrir un mort douloureux, les connards!

    I will definitely buy the two bottles. Even if they are not totally vintage, the sillage and longevity were great. And the price, a joke. The fragrance will keep me company throughout the summer. Actually, I loved the physical, sensuous warmth it enveloped me into …
    I will let you know tomorrow. By the way, I will be leaving Athens next Wednesday to a place with minimum signal for wireless internet! so it will be hard to communicate. But a ravishing landscape, nevertheless, so no complaints.

    Thank you so much.
    Have a nice day.

  17. Good morning! I have just come back having bought a 50ml bottle and a 100ml tester (with a slightly faulty vaporisateur, yet it is 90% full!!!!!!!) of vintage (beyond a doubt) Kouros! Your advice was well heeded!

    Both bottles are enamel, feature metal base, metal ridge supporting the cap, batch numbers at the back (8CBA for the small bottle), full engraved YSL info at the bottom “sole”, etc. Now, there is a unsealed 100ml bottle in the same apothecary but I am not sure it’s vintage. It features the ingredient 2YF02-3, which according to the

    http://raidersofthelostscent.blogspot.gr/2014/01/kouros-scent-of-gods.html

    page points to the first period of the L’Oreal phase. However, some other clues (the reference to Neuilly France at the bottom of the box) suggest that it may be the last phase right before the L’Oreal coup. I will look into it and may take the risk and purchase it as well. The said ingredient disappeared entirely after 2011 making the fragrance even weaker. So it might be worth purchasing the bottle anyway. It must definitely be better than the latest formulation.

    I also made a comparison between my vintage and the latest stuff at Sephora, and the difference is immediately perceptible. The new formulation is not that bad actually. It still is a fragrance nicer than the majority of standardized designer fragrances. BUT, the animalic, musk, “sweaty”- physical aspects have been considerably toned down. Unfortunately.

    If you have any clue as to the ingredient I mention above (2YF02-3) and the possibility that it still may be vintage or not, please let me know. In any case, I am happy I got the two vintage bottles, and for the total price of 44 euros!!!! (the tester was given gratis because it is faulty. Actually the scent it emanates is the strongest I have smelled so far!)

    Thank you for prompting me and for sharing this with me!
    Lots of best wishes for now. I will be around until Wednesday.
    D

    • Congratulations on a fantastic deal and a rare find, Dimitris. It sounds like the final total was even cheaper than you had initially indicated, and there is nothing I love more than a good bargain. I’m afraid I have no clue about the 2YF02-3 note, or its dating. Depending on the price of the 100 ml bottle, it may be worth it for you to buy it anyway, or maybe your 150 ml total will be enough for now. It’s going to have to be a personal evaluation.

      I hope you enjoy your summer holidays next week, but since you have full internet access in the meantime, go read about Oriza L. Legrand. ;) lol

  18. Dear K,

    A (final) update on the vintage Kouros which I believe I should communicate to you and the readers of this blog to dispel a certain ambiguity concerning the safe clues to determine whether a Kouros bottle is vintage or not. And I am speaking from experience now, and after having done a lot of research on the net as well.

    The “raidersofthelostscent” link that I forwarded above is simply the best way to get to know the different stages through which the fragrance has gone. Yet they seem to have missed something which is massively important. The criterion of the metal base and shoulder on the bottle is not absolute, I am afraid. In short, right after L’Oreal took over (2009 officially) they must have launched some batches with the metallic parts, which, however, bear the inscription B.I.R. NEUILLY FRANCE at the bottom of the paper box, YET NOT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BOTTLE METAL BASE! These bottles feature the ingredient 2YF02-2 (which, according to the raiders link was used during the Gucci final period (vintage therefore, according to them).

    Now, I am certain that this line with the bottle metal parts and the BIR inscription is L’Oreal. The 50ml bottle that I bought recently is one of them. Therefore, apart from the metal base etc., one should check the paper box to make sure that the BIR inscription (standing for L’Oreal labs according to the raiders) is not there. The metal parts criterion IS NOT ENOUGH.

    A comparison between this BIR fragrance in my possession and the 100ml tester that I bought from the same place 2 days ago bears out my allegation. The BIR fragrance is a lot weaker with toned down musk and animalic aromas. L’Oreal’s subsequent lines used the 2YF02-3 ingredient and then excised it altogether. Every later stage weakened the fragrance. The tester that I have in my possession, which is beyond a doubt vintage (from the 2nd period, the Sanofi as the raiders call it), is a powerhouse, animalic, musky, powdery, balsamic, the lots!

    In short, to determine that the bottle is vintage, first check out that the metal parts are there (cap, shoulder, base) and then make sure that the paper box bottom does NOT feature the infamous BIR acronym.

    Hope this has helped somehow. This was a fabulous fragrance and what they have done to it speaks volumes about the commercial ethos (immorality rather) of our times.

    • Dear D., you’ve become a Kouros expert in a short time! You should write to the Raiders site to share your new insights about the bottles. It’s a shame that your 50 ml boxed one turned out to be a L’Oreal version, but at least you have to 100 ml ones (if you include the Tester) that are the real thing. Enjoy them. I know you’ll smell great!

  19. Dear K,
    A few recent thoughts on Jicky and a request for your opinion.

    I tried Jicky edp on me yesterday and today and I found its sillage and longevity disappointingly weak. Now, I have been really frustrated by the situation. I’ve read complaints about this issue before (in boisdejasmin, I think), but frankly I was taken by surprise. The guerlinade base and the complexity are all there, of course, it’s just that the fragrance won’t last on me beyond a mere hour or so! After that, it’s a mere powdery sensation. Actually, to make sure, I applied something like 7-8 sprays on me (yes, 8!!!) all over this morning and went out to see what would happen. The perfume faded away within a couple of hours. A comparison test with Habit Rouge edp revealed the latter as significantly stronger on me. Please let me know what you think. As I have told you, my skin devours fragrances, true, yet I have had some which lasted a lot more on me (eg., Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanilla).

    Another recent baffling experience concerns Maitre Parfumeur’s “Ambre Precieux”. The stuff from the sample vial was divine on me and very long-lasting. Yet the tester fragrance felt more acid, less velvety and very weak in sillage and duration. I decided against purchasing it because of this. Now, I have heard stories about enhanced quality samples used as a decoy but I did not want to believe them. The storage conditions in the store, by the way, seem pretty decent. Mind-boggling, really.

    Now, someone close to me will be in Zurich soon. Do you happen to know whether there is a good parfumerie there where one can get some less commercial fragrances? Otherwise, I will have to wait until I visit Paris (hopefully around Christmas) and get my hands on Oriza Legrand etc.

    One last note on the more positive side. I have spotted one last Habit Rouge (edp) Limited Edition -L’echappee du chevalier. It is the one with the leather case, soft check inner lining and the year 1965 embossed on the side. Given that 1965 is the year in which I was born and my unwavering love for the fragrance I will purchase it tomorrow. And England’s Penhaligon’s have arrived in Athens. Do you have any experience with them? Some of their orientals seem enticing. I will check them out tomorrow and let you know.

    Too many questions, I know. Please bear with me.

    • In order:

      1) your skin seems particularly aggressive in consuming scents. That’s my only explanation for the Guerlain.

      2) I believe I’ve read that MPG’s Ambre Precieux may have been reformulated. Your sample vial sounds like an older version. I haven’t heard of enhanced “decoy” samples/testers. It sounds like an impractical thing to do in terms of the reality of what stores have as content, how people go through testers, how tester bottles need to be replaced in any decent or popular stores, etc. etc. So, again, I suspect you simply had an older, richer scent, while the store carried the newer, reformulated one.

      3) In Zurich, they should go to Osswald. Hands down, no question. The NYC store is super with very luxurious, expensive niche fragrances across a wide variety of lines from Roja Dove to the SHL 777 that I’m always raving about to many others (Amouage, Profumum Roma, Arquiste, Neela Vermeire, etc.), and I believe the Zurich one has twice the content.

      4) I don’t have any experience with the Habit Rouge Limited Edition scent you mention. As for Penhaligon, I was unimpressed with those scents which I have tried, and I suspect that the brand’s aesthetic is not my own. The ones I sampled were some combination of gauzy, light, commercial in nature, unappealing, dull, synthetic, lacking opulence, and/or insipid. As a result, I haven’t been motivated to explore the line extensively.

      We all vary in our aesthetic styles and tastes, so you should try them for yourself. For me, I’ll stick with my SHL 777 line which I think is one of the absolute best I’ve tried in terms of scents across the board, along with other more opulent, luxurious, interesting or innovative houses. (Amouage, Serge Lutens, Roja Dove, Parfums MDCI, Profumum Roma, Neela Vermeire, etc.) For me, Guerlain is purely mainstream in nature, while Penhaligons, L’Artisan Parfumeur et al. aren’t really niche or interesting.

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