What’s in a Name? Gender & Jicky


Jicky from Guerlain is my all-time favorite fragrance, but I’ve written surprisingly little about it on here. I want that to change so, from time-to-time, I’ll be doing write-ups about various aspects of Jicky.


It starts with the name.

“Jicky? What the hell does that mean?” At least that’s what I asked myself the first time I encountered Jicky in person at a Guerlain boutique.

The myth of the Jicky name only adds to the confusion. Created by Aimé Guerlain, the story that seems most likely is that Jicky was the nickname of his nephew, Jacques Guerlain. As stories go, that one isn’t overly exciting, and Guerlain itself seems to enjoy confusing the issue by perpetuating the legend of a love story. As the legend goes, Jicky was the nickname of an English girl with whom Aimé fell in love while studying abroad in England. They couldn’t marry each other because the families didn’t approve, so Aimé returned to France and created a fragrance in her memory.

Whether or not the myth of Jicky is true, it certainly makes for a fabulous story. The one thing that both stories have in common is that, whether referring to a man or to a woman, Jicky is a nickname. It’s intimate, almost a term of endearment. It’s fitting for Jicky the fragrance, considering the deep civet note, it’s definitely an intimate scent.

I first tried the Eau de Toilette version of Jicky. The cool shimmering lavender, that hallmark of the fougère genre, is the star of the show here for me. This makes the EdT very accessible for the men’s fragrance market. Jicky also exists as an EdP (which Guerlain now offers in the bee bottle) and as a parfum extract. These higher concentrations are warmer with higher doses of that smooth, rich coumarin. I love and own the extract. However, the EdT is what first made me fall for Jicky.

For what it’s worth, Guerlain lists Jicky under women’s fragrances on their website, but it’s accompanied by a marketing note declaring it to be “the first unisex fragrance in perfumery.” The thing about Jicky is that it defies categorization. It is neither strictly a men’s nor a women’s fragrance. It’s both, and it probably was the first fragrance to appeal to both. But, to me, unisex almost sounds like another type of classification, and Jicky is beyond that.

Because what I find really striking about Jicky is that it’s a self-possessed fragrance. I always get the feeling that it doesn’t conform to you, your skin chemistry has to adjust to it. When you wear Jicky, you are Jicky. That’s its magic. You are the myth.


Further reading: Monsieur Guerlain’s definitive write-up on Jicky.

The image is from Fragrantica

Memoir Woman by Amouage

amouage memoirNotes: absynth, cardamom, mandarin orange, pink pepper, wormwood, clove, incense, pepper, jasmine, rose, white flowers, musk, French labdanum, oak moss, styrax, and leather.

I don’t know what it is about this time of year, but I always find myself craving Amouage’s Memoir Woman. February is the shortest month of the year, but it can often feel like the longest. Sometimes you need a little something extra to get you through this last bit of winter. Amouage is a brand known for opulence and, just from glancing at the cluster of notes listed above, it’s easy to tell that Memoir Woman is definitely something special.

For me, Memoir Woman starts out dark and becomes brighter as it develops. The opening is a zesty dose of aldehydes, pepper, and orange fruit. The leather note is also present for me right away. It conjures up the feel of a deeply luxurious black leather, like grabbing a black handbag on your way out the door for the night.

As the leather develops, smoke begins to waft and curl its way around the skin. Smoke and incense fragrances have been playing very quietly with my skin chemistry lately, but not Memoir Woman. This is a bold fragrance and the smokey note is no exception. Because of the clove note, I get the distinct impression of smoking black clove cigarettes. My friends and I used to smoke these in college (thinking we were so grown-up!) so there’s a bit of a nostalgia factor here for me.

I know the only fruit note listed is the mandarin orange but, after a couple hours of wear, I get the impression of red fruit. It’s both sweet and tart, and it has some texture to it, almost like raspberry jam. Perhaps it’s the combination of the pepper and the florals. Whatever it is, it’s quite appealing. And the composition never crosses the line into being too jammy or sticky sweet.

The leather note is at the heart of the dry down. It’s a little less dark here, but no less rich. I sense soft musk and rose, and there’s a lingering sweetness rounding things out. The perfume still casts some projection even in the late dry down stages, and it lasts for ages. The scent lingers on clothes, on my scarves, and on sheets. If I wear Memoir Woman to bed, my bedroom smells like this dry down stage in the morning.

I’ve tried its counterpart, Memoir Man, and I far prefer the Woman version. It just feels that much more rich and full-bodied to me, and it’s the one I find myself returning to again and again. Amouage runs on the extravagant side of the price scale. I personally have not splurged on a full bottle yet, but I hope to eventually. Amouage is the perfume house turn to if you’re in the mood for decadence, and Memoir Woman is my preferred choice for indulging.

samples and full bottles of Amouage fragrances are available from Luckyscent, which is where I keep replenishing my sample of this fragrance.

Image and info on notes are both from Luckyscent.

L’Orpheline by Serge Lutens

serge orphelineNotes: aldehydes, cedar wood, fougere accord, coumarin, clouds of ambergris, patchouli, incense, and cashmeran.

This new Serge Lutens release is based on the simple notes of musk and incense. However, as always with Lutens and his partner in perfumery, Christopher Sheldrake, it’s not necessarily a simple fragrance. L’Orpheline opens with a gentle cloud of musk and light cedar. The aldehydes add some lift here so that the composition doesn’t appear too heavy right off the bat. I get a quiet, warm sensation of myrrh, but nothing hugely smokey from the incense.

Even though the incense isn’t dominant for me, it’s easy to see incense’s influence on the fragrance as a whole. The opening of L’Orpheline is similar to stepping into a cathedral, taking a seat somewhere in the wooden pews, and soaking up the hushed atmosphere. L’Orpheline continues with this hushed, muted tone. Despite the musky and woody notes, this is never going to be an overwhelming kind of fragrance, which makes it excellent for daytime wear.

But the muted aspect doesn’t mean that L’Orpheline is a “weak” fragrance (in fact it’s an Haute Concentration eau de parfum). I’ve been wearing this in some very humid weather, and it really blooms on the skin. It takes on a soft and comforting texture without ever feeling heavy. I haven’t felt that it’s inappropriate for hot weather because the composition retains that cloud-like feeling all the way through. The musk and cedar develop a lightly sweaty aspect that runs in an undercurrent beneath the soft cashmeran cloud. This lends a sultry air to the scent, it’s even a little bit sexy!

“L’Orpheline” translates to “the orphan girl.” It is known that Serge Lutens was separated from his mother at a very young age. Without getting into psychoanalysis, it’s safe to assume that the theme of this fragrance holds a lot of personal meaning for Monsieur Lutens. What, then, might he be trying to communicate with the creation of L’Orpheline? It’s certainly an odd perfume, not an obvious blockbuster the way some of his previous fragrances have been. And yet, a blockbuster isn’t always what’s necessary.

L’Orpheline is subtle and chic enough to wear to the office. It’s also elegant enough to wear out, and soft enough to wear as a comfort scent. L’Orpheline is all of these things, and also firmly its own creation. The quietness of this fragrance demands that the wearer stop, listen, and figure out how best to wear this, demonstrating that loud showiness isn’t always necessary to draw attention. L’Orpheline definitely won’t be for everyone, it won’t even be for all Serge Lutens fans. But it’s undeniably striking in its own subtlety.

Serge Lutens is available from Barneys New York. Full bottles and samples are available from Luckyscent, which is where I got my sample.

Image is from Fragrantica, and info on notes is taken from Luckyscent. It’s worth noting that Fragrantica lists musk and incense as the only notes, while Luckyscent goes into more detail.

What I’m Wearing: Summer Edition

Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge MonetWater Lilies and Japanese Bridge by Monet

I love sampling and writing reviews of different fragrances, but what I’m sampling doesn’t always correspond with what I’m wearing day-to-day. And since I do significantly change up my fragrances depending on the season, this seemed like the perfect time to take a break from the regular review format.

The month of June here has been humid, stormy, and grey in general so far – not the most picturesque start to summer. And while it hasn’t gotten outright hot yet, the humidity means the heat has been felt nonetheless. So, here are a few fragrances I’ve been wearing to combat or complement the weather:

Jo Malone; Peony & Blush Suede: sometimes I wake up in the morning knowing exactly what outfit and what fragrance I want to wear, while other times I have no clue. Peony & Blush Suede is the scent I’ve been defaulting to when I can’t figure out what to wear, and for one simple reason: it’s never the wrong thing to wear. This is good for the office, for running errands, even for working out (if you’re into perfume at the gym). Peony & Blush Suede is sweet, but the bright red apple top note keeps it on the refreshing side, and the humidity and I are both thankful that this never falls into sticky-sweet territory. It dries down into a very soft, appealing skin scent (I see the suede influence). I’m almost out of my 30 ml bottle of this, and I use this one so often, I’m considering ordering the 100 ml version next.

Dolce & Gabbana; Light Blue: Light Blue has become a veteran of the mass market, so much so that it’s practically ubiquitous these days (I’ve noticed Sephora is promoting it especially hard this summer). That doesn’t mean Light Blue is unworthy of the attention. In fact, this scent is a deceptively interesting blend: a mass market sheer fruity-floral that isn’t sweet. The zesty citrus top notes give it an effervescent champagne-like quality, while the dose of cedar grounds the composition, making this the rare sheer fragrance that still manages to pack a punch. The longevity is remarkable for an EdT, I easily get 8 hours of wear time from this. I’ve been wearing Light Blue on and off for ten years now, and I find myself returning to it again and again as a dependable warm weather fragrance.

Diptyque; Tam Dao: The opening of Tam Dao is so sharp, dry, and green that it’s almost medicinal. It could be off-putting to some, but on the hottest of days, I crave that blast of greenness, it’s the only cure for the heat. And anyway, sandalwood is the star of the show here, the prickling green opening merely paves the way. As the sandalwood makes its presence known, Tam Dao takes on a creamy texture. But this isn’t the rich creaminess of something like Tom Ford’s Santal Blush; this isn’t vanilla-based. The creaminess is only here to give texture and depth, while the sandalwood remains dry as a bone. I usually associate woody fragrances with Autumn/Winter, but Tam Dao is perfect for summer, exerting enough of a dry, green edge to cut through any hot day.

By Kilian; A Taste of Heaven: This is one of the strangest green fragrances I’ve yet tried. A Taste of Heaven is literally green juice in the bottle, presumably done to imitate absinthe, it’s inspiration. Luckily, this isn’t quite as lurid green as absinthe, but wearing it may be just as much of a trip. Despite the lavender and bergamot, I can’t say that this is a particularly refreshing green fragrance. It has fresh qualities for sure, especially when first sprayed on. But this also takes on a creamy texture, and where Tam Dao remains dry, A Taste of Heaven is vanilla-based, and so it takes on a gourmand aspect. The vanilla and tonka bean give this an edible quality, so that A Taste of Heaven always ends up reminding me of cream soda. I enjoy spritzing this on and letting all the different aspects unfold, from the fresh, aromatic, and lightly spicy beginning to the textured dry-down. This is a weird, yet appealing choice for a summer night out.

What fragrances have you been enjoying so far this summer?

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Hello, all!

It’s true, I’m adding yet another perfume blog to the mix here. You might be thinking Do we really need one more person writing about perfume? All I can say is, taste in perfume is about as subjective as it gets, due in large part to that maddening, finicky, mercurial, wonderful thing called skin chemistry. Thanks to skin chemistry perfume rarely smells the same on different people, and I know the same perfume smells differently on me on depending on what I’m doing or where I am. So, with this in mind, I’m hoping to offer a new perspective and a new voice to the perfume discussion.

Instead of doing a full review of anything just yet, I thought I’d start off by naming a few of my favorite scents to give an idea of my tastes. In general, I shy away from heavy florals and I gravitate towards spice.

  •  Diptyque; Eau Duelle My go-to daytime fragrance. I can’t get enough of the peppery topnote or the boozy, frankincense-laced drydown. For an EDT, I get exceptional wear time out of this (about 10 hours) which makes it great for long days at the office.
  • Caron; Poivre My dressy going-out scent. Seriously, give me any type of pepper in my fragrance and I’m happy, but Caron’s version is my current favorite. I said I usually don’t go for florals, but I live for the way the pepper and clove blend with the carnation in this elegant fragrance.
  • Serge Lutens; Five O’Clock au Gingembre My seasonal favorite. I think of this as christmas in a bottle, and wear it all throughout December. I find that nothing is more comforting than the smell of baking gingerbread but, being a Serge Lutens, this fragrance is also as chic as ever.
  • Guerlain; Jicky My all-time favorite. Jicky is sometimes temperamental and difficult to love. It’s definitely not right for every occasion, but thankfully there are those rare and treasured moments when nothing except Jicky will do.

I’m currently attempting to come to grips with Miller Harris’s L’Air de Rien, so expect a write-up of that coming soon!

I appreciate your patience as I work on getting everything set up around here. Thanks for reading!

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