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.

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.

What’s in a Name? Gender & Jicky

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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.

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

The image is from Fragrantica