Jean Patou : 1000

Created by : Jean Kerléo (restored by Thomas Fontaine)

Date : 1972

Genre : Floral chypre

Concentration : eau de toilette

It’s almost impossible to create a great chypre today… in fact, it is impossible.  Without oakmoss, you can never really get that earthy, bitter note.  Supposedly Mane Laboratories has an aromachemical which approximates oakmoss, but without the real thing, it’s a shallow victory, if a victory at all.

1000, by the great Jean Kerléo, was undoubtedly a magnificent chypre when it was launched in 1972 because even today, it is gorgeous even without the full chypre accord.  The bottle I have is the current Thomas Fontaine restoration, circa 2014 (after the Procter & Gamble fiasco).  I rediscovered it while rummaging through my magic closet and I’ve been wearing it for the past 2 weeks straight!

Victoria from Bois de Jasmin says,

It packs as much old-school glamour as a reasonable person could take, but that’s what makes it interesting. You can certainly find plenty of dramatic perfumes with a touch of vintage glamour, from Chanel to Frédéric Malle, from Guerlain to Parfums de Nicolaï, but 1000 holds its own next to No 5Hermès Calèche and Madame Rochas.

Claire from Take one thing off says,

1000 is a dry floral chypre, which doesn’t really tell you anything these days. It boasts whole acreages of roses and jasmine from Grasse, as well as fields’ worth of osmanthus in China that Patou allegedly had to buy in order to secure enough osmanthus for the formula. But far from being the orgasmic cornucopia of flowers you might expect – hot and glowing like the nuclear Ubar, let’s say – the effect here is muted and shady, as if all the flowers cancel each other out leaving only the sense of their richness rising to the surface like oil on water.

When I told a friend that I was wearing 1000, she said, “That’s rose, isn’t it?”  I thought, “Is it?”  And, here lies the beauty and complexity of 1000.  It is a very complex floral chypre with a smattering of aldehydes which makes it almost impossible to describe.  It’s most definitely a floral bouquet… but which flowers? On my skin, it reads like Chanel No 5… a sedate floral without any direct link to rose or jasmine or lily of the valley, which it apparently has.  The aldehydes are just enough to blur the image.  No wonder Luca Turin described it as “needlessly complex and hard to read.”

But for me, 1000’s complexity and illusive description is what attracts me to it.  If you’ve read my blog post on beauty, I describe beauty as illusive... almost a feeling.  For my whole life, I have seen so many beautiful things but don’t ask me to describe them.  It’s impossible, like making a great chypre today.

Luca Turin says that 1000 would make a great masculine and I absolutely agree.   There aren’t enough obvious floral notes to send it into feminine territory… and I’m not getting any sweetness nor powder EXCEPT in the drydown, so beware if these notes are not for you.

When I wear 1000, I think of old Hollywood glamour… sort of.  It’s not obvious glamour, it’s more discreet.  If I had to pick an actress, I would say Greta Garbo but not during her glamourous Harlow 30s, slinky-gown days nor her masculine Queen Christina days.  1000 makes me think of a screen test from 1949 (Garbo was 44 years old), 9 years after she retired.


Elizabeth Taylor : White Diamonds

White diamonds

Created by : Carlos Benaïm

Date : 1991

Genre : Glamorous white floral

Concentration : eau de toilette

Diana Vreeland once said, “I loathe nostalgia.  I don’t believe in anything before penicillin!”.  I know exactly how she feels.  As I get older, thinking of the good ol’ days seems so pointless!  As with life’s regrets, better to leave the past where it belongs… in the past.  As Ingrid Bergman said, “Happiness is good health and a bad memory.”

But I think even the least romantic of us can be pulled back into nostalgia every now and then… usually when we least suspect it.  And so when I saw the photo of Elizabeth Taylor on the cover of the White Diamonds’ gift set… something pulled at my heartstrings. It brought me back to younger days and late-night movies and talk shows. You know with all the talk of Cate and Angelina and Beyoncé channelling old Hollywood glamour… they never really get close to the original goddesses of the time… and Elizabeth Taylor was certainly at the top of that list or darn near it.

The creator of White Diamonds is Carlos Benaïm who also created Ralph Lauren Polo, Calvin Klein Eternity for Men and Frédéric Malle Eau de Magnolia.   No doubt about it, Carlos knows his stuff!  So when in 1991 he set out to capture old Hollywood glamour with White Diamonds, he hit the bull’s-eye!  White Diamonds is a creamy-rich, elegant white floral with a woody base that could easily be marketed by a prestigious French house at twice the price.  This fragrance is beautifully constructed… no jagged edges, not a shrill note to be heard.

According to Fragrantica, White Diamond’s composition is as follows :

The top notes are aldehydes, bergamot, neroli, orange and lily. The heart unites the classical trio, violet, rose and jasmine, accompanied by ylang-ylang, Egyptian tuberose and narcissus. The base is composed of oak moss, patchouli, musk, sandalwood and amber.

As you can see all the usual suspects are there but you’d be hard-pressed to pick out any individual note… at least I was, particularly in the heart.  The overall effect is symphonic.

The only problem I see with White Diamonds is one of perception.  Because it’s a celebrity perfume, one automatically assumes that it will be badly made and leave you with a chemical stink bomb after all the lovely notes have evaporated.  Not so.  This one is gorgeous from beginning to end.  Don’t let the blingy packaging and discount price fool you.  For added sillage, I’ve been putting a drop of the parfum on my wrist preceded by Chanel’s ultra-expensivo Crème pour le Corps from their Les Exclusifs collection. Together, they’re sublime. If you had told me the combination was the latest Lauder fragrance, I would believe you.  Serge Lutens?  No, because White Diamonds is better than any Lutens floral.  Guerlain?  Probably not because the genre is off. Tom Ford?  Yes. Chanel?  I don’t know.

If you see this package at the store, buy it and enjoy.

Jean Patou : Joy eau de parfum (UK version)

Created by : Henri Giboulet

Date : 1955

Genre : Aldehydic animalic

Concentration : Eau de parfum

What used to be called Eau de Joy has since been renamed Joy eau de parfum and as far as I’m concerned, it’s false advertising.  It should be called Joy eau de civet.  I mean I knew that the eau de parfum would be less floral and more aldehydic than the eau de toilette but all this synthetic civet is way too much.  So, it doesn’t surprise me that the people in charge of the Jean Patou line, Designer Parfums, have hired Thomas Fontaine to oversee “the fragrance development for its heritage brands… Worth, Jean Louis Scherrer and Jean Patou.”  And from the same press release, “Today Fontaine is recognised as a leading specialist in recasting vintage formulas for modern times.”  The man for the job!  (Thanks to FiveOaks from Perfume of Life for this link.)

Joy eau de parfum needs a “parfum initial” treatment à la Shalimar from Guerlain.  Joy edp is too heavy, too dense and too animalic.  It needs some lightening up with bergamot or powder or something.  Hopefully Thomas Fontaine will be able to bring it in step with modernity otherwise I can’t imagine it will be around very much longer.  I’ll admit though that in the first 15 minutes, I smelled the most beautiful rose note and I kept hoping that it would keep going in that direction… but no.  It went to civet and stayed there.

I understand that Joy eau de toilette is still beautiful.  The first time I sniffed the edt was a few years back and I remember the sheer beauty of it just knocked me over.  The rose and jasmine notes were so very clear… the most beautiful duet I think I’ve ever experienced.  But this eau de parfum needs a makeover.

I don’t mean to be catty (ouch) but this next duet pretty wells sums it up.

Today, I went to Montréal’s Expozine -Small Press, Comic and Zine Fair!  It was crowded and smelly but kudos to the participants who showered this morning with patchouli soap and oil!  Honestly, it was the best smell blast I’ve had in a long time.

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