Jicky Revisited

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I have documented my love for Jicky many times over the years on this blog (here and here) and I like to check back in with my current thoughts on it every now and then. There is something about January and the start of the new year in particular that makes me want to revisit it. So, here are my current thoughts on the Jicky extrait!

I’ve had my extrait bottle since 2011, which means it’s been quite a few years now. The juice is aging in a beautiful manner and is still mostly in tact. The main difference when I smell it now is that the citrus notes are beginning to fade, which is natural. I get a burst of lemon when I open the bottle, but it fades very quickly on the skin. The lavender, however, has become even more bold. I haven’t smelled a lavender quite like this before, even in other concentrations of Jicky. It’s a really full-bodied smell, combined with the spices of the extrait, it’s a rich lavender.

There is definitely civet to my nose in the extrait, although it is not like the huge civet of the EDP. There is no “dirty diaper” smell.  I believe the civet here is an animalic note as it would have smelled in the 1890s. It’s a skin sweat smell that mingles with your own body chemistry in a natural way, the way it would have done before indoor plumbing and daily showering became widespread. This civet wouldn’t knock your socks off unless you have never smelled an animalic note before. Rather, it’s smooth and blends effortlessly with my skin chemistry. It’s animalic with a little salt-like sweat note that I actually find really appealing. It goes well with the lavender, which remains the dominant note to my nose even through the heart notes.

Of course, the courmarin and vanilla come in for that Guerlainade base, which is lovely and always a comfort scent for me. The Jicky extrait wears very close to the skin and sometimes I really have to sniff to get the base notes. In this exceptionally cold winter weather we’re having right now, my skin is just devouring fragrance. Especially since the extrait has such a high concentration of oil, my skin is drinking it in. I don’t reach for my Jicky extrait as often in the summer, but it certainly wears longer in humid weather.

It sounds a bit silly, but the extrait has become meditative for me. Maybe it’s the development of the lavender note, but the extrait has taken on an introspective and almost intellectual vibe. It’s suited to bedtime wear and, indeed, I most often wear it as my scent to bed. I don’t wear it out and about in public very often these days. The truth is, my Jicky extrait has become like a companion, a familiar old friend to me. And I sometimes don’t want to share it with other people. Writing this down makes me realize that it should be shared because it’s such a beautiful composition. I will make an effort this year to wear it out and about more often. As Marie Kondo would say, Jicky sparks joy for me. And I want it to do the same for other people, too.

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The photo of my extrait bottle was taken by me. I believe Guerlain has slightly changed the packaging and label of the extrait since I purchased mine in 2011. And, of course, the EDPs are all packaged in the bee bottles now.

Vol de Nuit by Guerlain (vintage EDT)

Notes: orange, orange blossom, galbanum, Mandarin orange, bergamot, narcissus, lemon, aldehydes, iris, vanilla, violet, Indonesian carnation, jasmine, rose, spices, sandalwood, musk, orris root, and oakmoss.

Guerlain’s Vol de Nuit famously takes its name from the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry novel of the same name. In English, it’s Night Flight. The novel tells the story of pilots making the night flight from Buenos Aires to various destinations around the world to deliver mail. The Guerlain extrait bottle features an art deco airplane propeller motif and it’s my personal favorite design of the Guerlain extrait bottles. Vol de Nuit was released in 1933, and we have to keep in mind that flying was not common then. People and luggage weren’t packed onto industrial-sized aircrafts the way we are now. Back then, it was usually a solitary and dangerous voyage, a fact which Saint-Exupéry emphasizes in his novel.

I have a small decant of vintage Vol de Nuit EDT from The Perfumed Court. I don’t know what batch it’s from as I don’t have the full bottle or the batch code. The opening of my decant is green and bitter. It’s definitely galbanum and a hint of bergamot. I don’t get much of the orange citrus notes or the aldehydes. I’m guessing those top notes have faded a bit over the years. The bitter green opening quickly settles down and the composition forms a floral cloud on my skin. There’s still a bitter edge, but it’s significantly softened by jasmine and iris in particular.

For some reason, I get more lemon in the heart notes. About an hour into wear time, I get a lovely lemon mingled with jasmine. It gives me a bit of a Chanel vibe. The iris and that Guerlain violet make an appearance. The soft texture of the florals combined with the violet note makes me think of Guerlain’s iconic météorites powder. But this isn’t really a makeup/cosmetic scent. There’s so much going on, and there’s always that undercurrent of galbanum.

Though not listed in the note pyramid, I smell cocoa powder in the heart and moving into the base. The powdery iris is still there, bolstered by a creamy orris. But there is definitely a dry, cocoa powder note to me. There’s a spiced musk and a weighty, damp oak moss. This will sound strange, but the texture of the dry down, and the oak moss in particular, reminds me of damp cotton balls. You will be familiar with this if you’ve ever soaked a cotton ball to remove eye makeup or nail polish. It’s a weird texture. It’s dense and weighty but still soft.

It’s this texture that is missing from the current EDT formulation. I don’t currently own a bottle of Vol de Nuit but I always test it when I’m near a counter at Saks or Bergdorfs. I still love the scent, but the composition is more sheer. It’s a shame, and I just hope that LVMH doesn’t get the idea to tell Guerlain to completely phase out Vol de Nuit. I think it’s an important piece in Guerlain’s heritage. Vol de Nuit is actually one of my favorite classic Guerlains along with Jicky and Mitsouko. It is my perfume dream to own the Vol de Nuit parfum extrait in the art deco bottle one day.

I’ve seen many comments (on fragrantica and elsewhere) labeling Vol de Nuit as “cold” or “aloof.” I’ve seen similar things written about No. 19 so it may be the galbanum note that people react to. I find this strange because Vol de Nuit is very emotional to me. It’s nostalgic with an undercurrent of sadness. Think of Saint-Exupéry’s novel, which was Jacques Guerlain’s original inspiration for this composition. Of course this fragrance is a challenge, just as the night flight mail delivery was a challenge. Vol de Nuit is not an easy scent to wear or appreciate. It gives off an air of seriousness and of sadness. It is not seductive in a typical way. But, for me, it’s one of the most rewarding scents. You simply need to let Vol de Nuit settle into the skin and pay attention as it tells its own story.

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I ordered my sample/decant from The Perfumed Court.

The info on notes is from Fragrantica.

The photo is my (almost empty!) sample pictured with a painting called: “The Old City Market, Warsaw, at Night” by Jozef Pankiewicz from 1892. I found this painting while leafing through my Taschen book on Impressionism. The nighttime atmosphere reminded me of the nostalgia of Vol de Nuit.

Festive Fragrances

Happy December, everyone! We made it to the last month of the year.

Yesterday, I made a post on instagram about my three favorite perfumes to wear this time of year. I think of them as my festive fragrances. As you can see, the scents are:

  • Mon Numero 10 by L’Artisan Parfumeur
  • Plum Japonais by Tom Ford Private Blend
  • Fille en Aiguilles by Serge Lutens

I have previously written about these three here on the blog. They are all within the same genre, and they all bring some sparkle and brightness to a time of year where we don’t have much daylight.

What are your favorite scents to wear around this time of year?

34 boulevard Saint Germain EdP by Diptyque

Notes: pink berries, citrus, clove, cinnamon, cassis, tuberose, iris, geranium, rose, violet, sandalwood, vanilla, woody notes, and amber.

Diptyque is one of my favorite houses. I love their candles, scents, and even body products. But, I could never get along with the Eau de Toilette formulation of 34 boulevard Saint Germain. It just did not work with my skin or suit me at all. When I read that Diptyque had released an EdP formulation, I figured it would be more of the same with my skin chemistry. However, Luckyscent included a sample of the EdP with one of my orders and I couldn’t resist testing it. I’m glad that I did because I love the EdP and I’ve drained the tiny original sample.

As expected, the EdP is heavier and more rich than the EdT. This heaviness is lifted by a berry note in the opening. When I initially looked at the note pyramid, I thought it was going to be a pink pepper note. But it’s more of a tart pink berry, very similar to a cranberry note. I also get a cassis liquor note, although this is not boozy. It’s probably just my brain associating cassis with drinking creme de cassis in kir royale cocktails. I don’t get much of the citrus notes listed, but I definitely get the cinnamon and clove. The effect of this opening makes 34 boulevard EdP holiday party appropriate. It definitely has a festive feel to it.

The heart notes come in, and it’s fairly linear from here on out on my skin. It’s lots of vanilla, more cinnamon, and a rich sandalwood. This is a composition with a lot of depth. However, the sandalwood and vanilla don’t come off as creamy on my skin. It leans the tiniest bit dry, but still warm and enveloping. It gives off quite a formal air. You can certainly wear this dressed down, but it really calls out to be worn for an occasion. I don’t mind the linear nature here because it settles into the skin nicely. And being the EdP concentration, it lasts forever. This is one I can wear to bed and can still smell traces of it in the morning.

The bad news for us as perfume lovers is that, since this is an EdP, Diptyque is able to set a higher price point. At $190 for 75 mls the 34 boulevard EdP is quite pricey. I’m putting it on my Christmas wish list and am hoping to come by it that way. At this time, The Perfumed Court offers samples and decants of the EdT but I don’t see the Eau de Parfum yet. If you have a Nordstrom or Saks nearby, I recommend trying this in person. It really settles into the skin in a lovely way and it lasts for hours!

Have you tried 34 boulevard Saint Germain as an EdT or EdP? I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts. I love Diptyque and I’m so happy that I can finally embrace something from the 34 collection!

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The 34 boulevard Saint Germain EdP is available from Diptyque and Luckyscent. I received my sample from Luckyscent.

The info on notes is taken from Fragrantica.

The photo is of my 34 boulevard sample vial and my beloved Figuier room spray, which has lasted me two years so far!

Now Sampling: Serge Lutens

I’ve been sampling a couple of recent Serge Lutens releases and I thought it would make sense to group them together for a write-up. So here we are!

Le Participe Passé

Notes: artemisia, bergamot, pepper, fruity notes, Egyptian balsam, resins, caramel, cumin, leather, and patchouli.

This one opens green and bitter from the artemisia. It almost smells like celery to my nose. It’s green and vegetal. It’s an odd opening, even by Serge Lutens standards, and yet I keep applying it just to smell that strange, bitter artemisia.

The composition quickly settles into a more typical Lutens dried fruit note and a beautiful resin note. I’ve never smelled this particular Egyptian balsam before, but it’s very smooth and a little bit aromatic. It blends with the vegetal artemisia, creating a harmonious green, balsamic scent.

This scent is named after my least favorite tense to conjugate in French and it seems that Christopher Sheldrake and Serge Lutens purposely composed this one to recall some older Lutens releases. Perfume aficionados will know that Uncle Serge has had some, shall we say, eccentric releases in recent times. (I couldn’t get on with Dent de Lait at all.) Le Participe Passé is more similar to some older Lutens orientals, like Ambre Sultan. But there is the unique artemisia opening here, making Le Participe Passé its own scent and not just a copy of previous classics.

Baptême du Feu

Notes: gingerbread, powdery notes, tangerine, castoreum, osmanthus, woody notes.

This one is right in the Serge Lutens wheelhouse of warm, wintery, festive scents that just call out to be worn around the holidays. It has some similarities to two of my Serge Lutens staples: Five O’Clock au Gingembre and Fille en Aiguilles.

Baptême du Feu opens with a zingy orange citrus note and a warm gingerbread note that draws you in. The osmanthus functions as an undercurrent holding everything up until the castoreum comes in. And we must talk about the castoreum here because it is of course, an animalic, and it’s not subtle. To me, castoreum smells like a rich, black leather with a dank and oily undercurrent, which is really where the animalic nature comes out. If you don’t like animalic notes, steer clear of Baptême du Feu. The castoreum heart lasts for a good three hours on me before fading to a more approachable woody base note.

Baptême du Feu is rich with a lot of depth. It has foody gourmand notes sprinkled throughout the composition without ever turning into a gourmand like Jeux de Peau. It’s very grown-up and contemplative, but also some sensuality. I think this is the type of scent that a lot of people are looking for from Serge Lutens.

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Both Baptême du Feu and Le Participe Passé are available from Serge Lutens. I got my samples from Luckyscent.

The info on notes is from Fragrantica.

Photo taken by me.

Autumn Nostalgia and Burberry Brit

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Is it me, or is this year flying by? I recently noticed I hadn’t posted here at all during the month of October and now we’re already into November! Some real Fall weather is setting in here, as the days are getting both colder and shorter. One reason I haven’t posted much lately is that I haven’t been trying many new scents. I’ve been wearing what I have in my collection, which is a good thing! Plus, sometimes, you just have to go with what the nose is craving and, for me, that’s been some old fragrance favorites.

With the arrival of November, the weather has taken a sharply cold turn this week, and there was even some snow in the forecast! (Which didn’t end up materializing.) This meant I was scrambling to dig out my earmuffs and gloves. I also found myself searching around in my closet for another cold weather accessory: Burberry Brit. I knew I had an old, well-loved 100 ml bottle stashed away and, sure enough, it was at the back of my closet, where I had stored it away from sunlight during the warmer months.

Burberry Brit is certainly not the most elegant or complex scent out there. It is essentially a vanilla scent, jazzed up by a fun lime top note and one of the most comforting almond notes I’ve come across. There’s a lovely woody note in the base to add depth, which I have always thought was cedar, but Fragrantica informs me is actually mahogany. The magic of Burberry Brit is that it’s both comforting and sweet, while not coming across as cloying or juvenile. I wore it into work today, and I could just as easily wear it out for dinner or drinks and be satisfied with my scent choice.

To my nose, Burberry has been infusing more of the floral peony note into recent formulations while amping up the vanilla to make the composition come across as more traditionally feminine. It is also now explicitly called Burberry Brit For Her. I find this really irritating, as the original formulation was perfectly unisex, and an utter classic for being so.

Burberry Brit was one of my signature scents throughout college, which likely contributes to my nostalgia for it now. Still, there is something about cold weather at this time of year that just makes this scent come alive. Sometimes you simply have to wear a personal classic. For me, that’s Burberry Brit.

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Photo taken by me of my 100 ml bottle.

(Incidentally, Burberry has recently redesigned the bottle and the packaging as well.)

No. 19 on the 19th

vintage No. 19 ad

It’s that time of year again. I know Chanel has decided to commemorate Coco’s birthday with the release of Gabrielle this year. Still, I don’t think there’s a better way to mark the 19th of August than by wearing her own fragrance, No. 19 itself.

I’ve written about the EdT here before and it’s still my favorite formulation. I also own a bottle of the EdP. And I’ve recently acquired a 14 ml bottle of the parfum after finally taking the plunge into the world of fragrances on ebay. This particular little parfum came to me completely sealed and in the original Chanel double box. I was curious about the authenticity but, when I broke the seal and smelled the parfum, I was sure. The nose can tell, and I feel like No. 19 is a difficult one to fake. (Though it’s always possible someone mixed a bit of real No. 19 in with a fake concoction.)

The parfum opens with an intense galbanum note, with just a hint of tangy bergamot. The galbanum is much more rich here than the EdT. It transitions to an earthy, powdery texture but that green galbanum is still there. It’s funny, I find the parfum more powdery than No. 19 Poudre. There’s some real warmth to the parfum, too. The EdT is all shimmering, cold, and green galbanum to me. A touch of warmth starts to creep into the parfum with the earthy orris. And I believe there is some true oakmoss in my formulation (or at least closer to real oakmoss than anything we’ve gotten recently). It seeps through the composition like ink, green and slightly damp.

I find this is a true parfum, and by that I mean it’s very potent (you don’t need to apply much) but at the same time, it’s a smooth composition. It wears close to the skin, and it won’t overwhelm your senses like a powerhouse. When I wear No. 19 in any form, it envelops me in a mist that’s almost like a fairy world. It invites me to this green grassy world, delicate florals dancing in the background, and with that mossy undercurrent snaking through all the while.

There is always something wistfully sad about No. 19 in any of its formulations. Maybe it comes from knowing the history, knowing that this was Coco’s personal fragrance and that it was the last Chanel fragrance to be released during her lifetime. I think it has to do with something integral to the composition, too. A lot of people describe this scent as “arrogant.” Perhaps it is. That green galbanum is the star note, so bitter and cold. I think what people miss is that No. 19 has some real emotion to it, and that it’s seductive in its own way. Particularly with the parfum, there’s a juxtaposition of cold and warmth that’s beautifully magnetic. Maybe it’s not sexy. Maybe it’s not flirty and fun. But it’s Chanel through and through.

 

 

Jicky: purchasing my priciest perfume

 

This post is a little bit of a follow-up to my previous one, which contained a mini-rant about the skyrocketing price points on the niche fragrance market, in particular. The difficult thing about it is: perfumery is an art. It truly is. But the fragrance industry is a business. Art and business are always tough to reconcile when questions of value and worth arise. It’s all good fun smelling beautiful creations from the likes of Kilian and Amouage. It’s not always so fun when it comes time to make a purchase.

I thought I would share my own experience with purchasing the most expensive fragrance I own: Jicky in the parfum extrait. I first encountered Jicky when I was in New York with my grandparents. I was lucky, we were staying at the Waldorf, where there’s a Guerlain boutique in the lobby. I first tested the Jicky EdT and fell in love with the stark, shimmering lavender note. I didn’t yet know the history behind Jicky or that there was a parfum extrait. I just knew that I was magnetically drawn what I was smelling, and that I needed to keep smelling it.

Over the course of the next few months I did a lot of reading up on Jicky. I read every review I could find online. I learned about the extrait, the bottle design, the (likely invented) story of Aimé Guerlain and his first love. My reading also taught me a lot about the history of Guerlain in general. It was exhilarating in a way, learning so much about the history of perfumery. It made me hungry to try more from Guerlain. It also made me desperately want to *purchase* more from Guerlain, which I’m sure makes the business execs happy to hear.

Fast forward several more months. I had now been accepted to grad school. I should’ve been saving my money. Instead, I took a weekend trip to New York and made a beeline straight for the beauty department at Bergdorf’s. I walked right over to the Guerlain counter (which is strangely sort of hidden away in a corner) and announced to the sales associate that I wanted to purchase Jicky.

I had a wavering moment of panic, as the sales associate produced the luxe gold box that houses the parfum extrait. Surely I should ask for the canister EdT bottle? Well, yes, I should have done that! But I was swayed by the decadence of it all. Instead I reached for my wallet and paid $300 plus tax for my prize, my treasure, my very own bottle of Jicky.

Immediately upon leaving Bergdorf’s, my phone rang with a call from my bank wanting to know if I had just made a $300 purchase in New York City myself, or if my card had been stolen.

What did I learn from this experience? Notify my bank ahead of time when I’m traveling. Don’t spend $300 on a fragrance when you should be planning for grad school. Also, that it’s simply not necessary to own every single perfume, even when you feel that magnetic pull of “I want this.”

I still own my bottle of Jicky and I absolutely love it, and probably fawn over it more than is normal. I still wear it. I will always wear Jicky in some form. Jicky is a piece of art, and a piece of Guerlain history. I’m really lucky to own it. But is any fragrance worth over $300? The Guerlain parfums are $350, and I feel like they could (and will) go even higher with that price point. All I can say is, I hope that I’m a little wiser with age now. And I hope that I can balance that sense of wisdom and responsibility with my passion for perfume.

Chance Eau Fraîche by Chanel

Notes: lemon, cedar, pink pepper, jasmine, water hyacinth, teak wood, iris, amber, patchouli, vetiver, and white musk.

It’s hard to believe that Chance Eau Fraiche has been out for ten years now, but it was indeed originally released in 2007. I remember it well, as I was studying in Paris at the time. I got sucked in by all the advertising and fanfare that comes along with a new Chanel release, and I saved up my euros to buy a 50 ml bottle (A 100 ml bottle was too far out of my price range at the time. Even the 50 ml was pushing it on a student budget, let’s be honest). That bottle was well-loved, and Chance Eau Fraiche has been my companion every summer ever since.

The top notes start with a lively, juicy lemon, which is typical enough for a summer scent. The interesting thing about Chance Eau Fraiche is that the lemon is paired with cedar as part of the top notes. This is unusual, especially for a women’s fragrance. The cedar note comes through quite strong on my skin, and I love it. The shimmering lemon note keeps the composition balanced and gives it that “fraiche” quality.

Another interesting thing about Chance Eau Fraiche is that I find the heart notes green and aromatic, where I would normally sense aromatic notes in the opening. The main mid-note I sense is jasmine. More than a white floral, it’s a green floral here. The water hyacinth must be what I’m sensing as the fresh, cooling aromatic note. The jasmine brings more of a rounded, full-bodied aspect that balances out the cedar.

I’ll be honest about the dry down, I don’t get many of the listed notes at all, except for a subtly smoky vetiver. I sense the cedar all the way through the composition, including here in the base where it blends with the vetiver for a deliciously dry and woody phase before the scent fades away.

I decided to write about Chance Eau Fraiche now because it’s a favorite of mine. Recently I noticed that the Chanel website lists it as “limited edition” although I believe it just means that one of the sizes is limited (the 1.2 oz bottle) not the fragrance itself. Still, perfumistas are used to precious favorites being discontinued, and it gave me a scare. It would be a shame if Chanel were ever to discontinue this one. The composition is unique and dynamic, especially in a very crowded and same-y women’s fragrance market. It’s also beautifully wearable, particularly during these hot and humid July summer days. Even if it’s not limited, I’m stocking up on Chance Eau Fraiche, just in case.

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Chance Eau Fraiche is available directly from Chanel and you should be able to find it in person at any Chanel counter.

The image and info on notes are both from Fragrantica.

Rousse by Serge Lutens

Notes: amber, Mandarin orange, cloves, resin, cinnamon, and cedar.

Rousse is a special one to me. It was initially released in 2007 and it is sadly now only available as part of the exclusive Serge Lutens bell jar line. I suppose it wasn’t a terribly big seller. On the one hand, I can understand why. But, on the other, I love Rousse. It’s the perfect type of warm spice you’d want to wear in the doldrums of January/February. And it’s my go-to for Valentine’s Day.

I was lucky enough to snag my 50 ml spray bottle shortly before it was announced that Rousse was moving to the bell jar line. You can see it has the old Serge Lutens Palais Royal logo, which I love. I still have a substantial amount left. The juice has definitely changed over the years but, like a fine wine, Rousse has aged well. The fiery hot cinnamon is still very present. It always reminds me of Red Hots and various Valentine’s Day candies.

Rousse was initially famous for a waxy lipstick note paired with the cinnamon. It’s much less waxy now. I find it has developed into a warm rich musk and something like orris butter. I can’t find any specific floral notes listed for Rousse. (Least of all on the Serge Lutens website. Uncle Serge is always cryptic.) I’m guessing there’s a touch of iris and some kind of white floral. Kafkaesque guesses that it’s magnolia, which makes sense to my nose. Whatever the floral note, it’s become much more prominent and creamy over time.

Overall I think Rousse has become a little bit more smooth with time. It still has a quirky edge to it though, so it’s not completely mellow. That cinnamon still crackles right off of the skin with heat and intensity. The supporting notes seem to have become more rich and creamy, as though Rousse has now grown into itself. If you happen to track Rousse down, it’s absolutely worth it. There are so many greats from Christopher Sheldrake and Serge Lutens, but this one is a real gem.

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Rousse is available directly from Serge Lutens in the 75 ml bell jar bottle.

Image taken by me. Info on notes from Fragrantica.