Guy Laroche : Fidji

Created by : Josephine Catapano

Date : 1966

Genre : Green floral gorgeous (was)

Concentration : eau de toilette

I went looking for something to wear for the spring today.  Can you imagine that here we are in late March in Montreal and winter dumped another 10 cms. of snow?  And… it’s chilly, humid and windy!  I needed something to remind me of the summer.  So when I saw the Fidji bottle in the discount perfumer’s showcase, I asked to try it out.  When I think of perfumes my mother wore, I think of Crêpe de Chine, L’Air du Temps and Fidji, in that order.  And I’m happy to say that I was the one who introduced her to Fidji.  A girl I liked who lived across the street from our house wore it and I thought this girl was beautiful and classy and so I bought Fidji for my mother for Christmas and it became her signature scent for a long time.  I wanted to see if Fidji had held up or not.

The sales associate sprayed some on a scent strip and then on my skin.  I got a blast of “old school” gorgeous!  All the elements were there as I remembered them… green galbanum, a symphony of white florals, banana-tinged ylang ylang for that tropical edge and civet… but done so expertly, I thought… this is it!  What luck!  At my very first outing, I found what I’ve been looking for.  But… before pulling out my credit card, a little voice in my head spoke… “step away from the counter”… and I did… long enough to check out the notes on the Internet.  All the French classic ingredients were there… jasmine, rose, violet, carnation and a base of musk, patchouli, amber, vetiver and moss!  It was incredible… but still I waited and I’m glad I did because within 15 minutes Fidji had morphed  on my skin to be a soapy, floral, powdery concoction… the fresh green note had disappeared as had the ylang ylang. It wasn’t what it started out to be… but still I thought it wasn’t half bad.  But then, an hour into the fragrance… meh!  Beautiful Fidji had become a sweet, powdery nondescript scent that, although not unpleasant, wasn’t enough to make it into my magic closet.

And so… in the middle of the mall, a little ditty from about the same time that Fidji hit the market came to mind.

Hermès : Jour d’Hermès

Wheat Field with Reaper (1889) by Vincent Van Gogh

Wheat Field with Reaper (1889) by Vincent Van Gogh

Created by : Jean-Claude Ellena

Date : 2012

Genre : Green floral

Concentration : eau de parfum

Does anyone not absolutely love Jour d’Hermés?  You don’t?  Well then, I don’t believe you!  I’m not a great, big fan of Ellena’s recent, simple works but this one is sublime!

While researching this post, I found two very interesting comments in Ellena’s “Journal d’un parfumeur”…

“Mes parfums sont des parfums achevés mais non finis” and

“Ainsi je laisse volontairement des vides, des «blancs», dans les parfums afin que chacun puisse y ajouter son propre imaginaire ; ce sont des «vides d’appropriation»”.

Loosely translated, his perfumes are completed but unfinished and he likes to leave “holes” or “blank spaces” in his perfumes so that people can fill them in themselves.  Now that certainly rings true for the whole Jardin series and Terre d’Hermès.  But it doesn’t ring true for this beautiful and, dare I say, impressionistic Jour d’Hermès which recalls a field of wild flowers at sunrise.

Contrary to earlier works, Jour d’Hermès is completely polished, rounded and, well, finished. I’ve worn it now for almost two weeks straight and whenever I get a whiff of it, like in the middle of the long workday, it reminds me of field flowers… not hothouse flowers, not roses, not jasmine, not orange blossoms… wild field flowers about to open with the early morning sun coaxing them along.  And green!  Just when you thought green was out of fashion, this one has a green tinge throughout… right to the end of the day so longevity is excellent!

And, am I the only one that thinks that Jour d’Hermès reminds a little of Guerlain’s Chamade?  It’s kind of like a greener, more citrusy but very much lighter Chamade, isn’t it?  It’s like a daytime Chamade… or an eau de toilette to Chamade’s eau de parfum.

I think Jour d’Hermès has the potential to become a classic one day but not so much because of what it is but because of what it isn’t.  Jour d’Hermès is counterpoint to the intense florals of the day.  When tuberose, orange blossom and heady vanilla rule the landscape, in addition to all those fruity concoctions, I think Jour d’Hermès by Jean-Claude Ellena might be remembered as a singular masterpiece that bucked the trend and gave us an alternative… and that shows courage… and vision!

Who can wear Jour d’Hermès?  Everyone… young women, middle-aged and others “of a certain age”.  And men!  Jour d’Hermès would smell great on a man.

If you haven’t tried it, then by all means, go to the store and try it out.  If you have tried it… then you know what I’m talking about.


Geoffrey Beene : Grey Flannel

Created by : André Fromentin

Date : 1975

Genre : Synthetic green violet (leaf)

Concentration : eau de toilette

For those familiar with violet notes, Grey Flannel has violet in it but it’s the leaf, not the flower.  So if you love the fairly recent Balenciaga (2010), don’t go out and buy this one.  It’s very different.

The distinctive methyl heptin carbonate molecule (MHC) was isolated from violet leaves in 1903 and, although expensive, was used fairly commonly.  According to Luca Turin, MHC has a gassy-peppery aspect and it is LOUD although I wouldn’t know having never smelled it on its own.  In fact, I don’t remember EXACTLY what the Grey Flannel of the 80s smelled like.  I only remember it was green but also chic and complex… mossy, lemony (barely), woody.

I wore Grey Flannel in the 80s because I had tired of citrus scents and I was looking for something more sophisticated for special occasions.  I was a very different person then… working for a national railway as a management trainee and later at a high-tech company and wearing tailored business suits eager to climb the corporate ladder.  Of course, the ladder came crashing down during the recession of the early 90s… but I had alot of fun at the time and I often wore Grey Flannel when I wanted to feel like a businessman.

But today’s Grey Flannel is shrill and synthetic… it has no moving parts.  It feels not like a shadow of its former self… but more like the skeleton.  There’s no flesh which makes me suspect that it is almost entirely synthetic.  It’s got throw and it lasts longer than most other fragrances but the accord is so loud, you almost wish it didn’t have longevity.  When it was launched, Grey Flannel was a masterpiece but today it’s worth, sadly, what I paid for it at a discount store.  If you’re a man and you’re looking for something similar and you don’t mind wearing a woman’s fragrance, Chanel No. 19 is green, poisonous and wonderful.

I feel bad about what Grey Flannel is like today.  But I enjoyed the following video immensely (particularly part 2 when we see the archives), remembering what a genius Geoffrey Beene was and giving us an idea of how great the original fragrance was like.  By the way, those archives should travel, if they haven’t already!  They would make a great museum exhibit.

Have a nice week everyone!

Top image : Award-winning Geoffrey Beene in 1999

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