Like Narcisse Noir, No.5, and Fracas, Patou's Joy is a monument from another era in women's perfumery. It's not the kind of scent that would be made today, except perhaps as an exercise in irony. Too bad.
Joy opens up with indolic jasmine, powder, a jolt of aldehydes, and a very well-integrated note of civet. The powder, indoles, and civet remind me (believe it or not) of Amouage's Gold for Men, only without the frankincense. Joy sweetens with age as the aldehydes calm down and tuberose and a very rounded rose note join the jasmine in the foreground. Within thirty minutes of wear Joy unfolds into a powdery, semi-sweet white flower bouquet. I can't honestly describe it as "light," but the dominant accord is certainly less heady and lush than it could have been. I consider this a good thing. The drydown is mostly sandalwood and powdery musk, with the civet still lurking in the shadows.
Is it "perfumey?" Yes. Is it "old school?" Yes again - but only in the manner of a true classic. Joy reflects another time and place, where sensuality was dressed in dignity and elegance. Joy is very adult and very ladylike, but there is also an element of animalic lust deep in its heart. It seems at once formal and romantic to me now, and I concur with earlier reviews that suggest it as a bridal fragrance - at least for a mature and self-assured bride.
I really wanted to try this at least once in my life so ordered a minute sample of the pure perfume from The Perfumed Court. When it arrived I realised the size of it - 0.25 ml - was going to make it difficult to handle so I diluted it with 0.5 ml of perfumers alcohol. I assume I didn't change its character by doing this.
I applied it to my wrists sparingly and could hardly smell anything so I used the whole amount. Thinking about it, even that probably wasn't enough. I assume a spray of perfume delivers more than 0.25 ml of product. I say this because it may well have affected my assessment.
The opening appeared to be pure rose, as in crushed red rose petals, but settled into a blend of rose, rosewood and a very brief impression of burnt rubber. I later got some honeysuckle followed by jasmine. It's all a bit too sweet. The drydown gave me dirty civet which I wasn't that keen on, but it was at least more interesting than what had gone before.
Because of the size of my sample I can't comment on sillage, except to say that I couldn't smell it unless I put my nose to my wrist. My husband didn't appear to notice it, but maybe he's become inured to my olfactory experiments.
I wouldn't buy it and even if someone gave it to me I probably wouldn't wear it. I have other perfumes in my wardrobe that I much prefer, even some that were dirt cheap.
Reviewing the vintage perfume:
The opening is based on a fresh peach top note that is combined with a strong aldehyde component, the latter not unlike Chanel's No 5 in some aspects. The drydown is a beautifully green and rich floral mix, with jasmine, lily-of-the-valley and tuberose dominating on my skin, with a pleasant rose added later on. The woodsy base is the underpinning for a dark musk, which gains a touch of an animalistic edge by added civet, but on me really only a touch; it is truly a floral-aldehyd scent in essence. The silage is excellent and the projection good, and I get about five hours of longevity. Beautifully blended without smoothing out the different constituents of this composition too much, it is supremely crafted, traditional and with depth. One of Patou's classic.
I've written and mentioned this a few times recently, so I suppose I'm trying to prove a point to myself: I don’t view my life as a narrative. I suppose this is one reason that, although I'm very emotional about perfume, I'm not terribly romantic about it. To call memory a reflection of experience gives memory too much weight. The reflected image suggests a more clarity than memory can offer. Memory is more a filter than a reflection.
The perceived jump from experience to memory is quick, yet in that instant so much editing occurs that I can’t call memory anything other than fiction.
When I think of Jean Patou Joy, I think of my mother. When she was a very young woman, her brother brought her a bottle when he returned from from France and the 2nd World War. She kept it until I suppose we all lost track of it somewhere in the past dozen years. I remember that she wore it very occasionally and that otherwise it sat in a box in a drawer. I loved the scent of that Joy. I imagine I loved it more than my mother did, yet the perfume and the story were both hers.
I have my own bottle of Joy and despite the fictions of memory, reformulation of perfume, and all the years, I still think of my mother when I open the bottle. This sort of memory is more pensive than visceral yet it's very important to me. I suppose you never know where you'll to find the big Rosebud moments in your memory, and I never thought the bottle of Joy would sweep me up and carry me away. But I'll tell you where the moment found me.
My mother is living with very advanced dementia. She hasn't been able to speak to me in years. Early in her dementia I used to talk with her by phone as often as I could, though we lived on opposites coasts of the US. Most of these phone discussions were about nothing in particular but only as she grew unable to carry on these conversations did I realize how important those small ways of keeping in touch were.
Clearing out some papers last week I found a couple of folded sheets of paper that for God knows what reason I printed out years ago. The contents of these papers were a compilation of four or five emails back and forth between me and my mother where she was asking me about a recipe for tofu that my partner David had. I laughed until I cried and knew that Marguerite would have, too. What could be more ridiculous than a decade-old string of emails about tofu? But here she was. I heard her voice, her laugh. I remembered.
So my lesson about memory and how wonderfully little control I have over it is to wear the perfume and relish the emails.
from scent hurdle.com
After I had used all of the perfume, i went to the department store for more. I was told by the clerk that the black bottle was used for the 1/4 oz perfume, and the 1oz. that I was inquiring about came in the crystal bottle with crystal dauber and gold thread. I didn't buy the perfume then because as much as I loved the fragrance I couldn't justify in my mind paying that much on myself I believe the 1 oz. was $600, as close as I can remember, and the 1/4 oz. black bottle was over $200. The next bottle of Joy that I got was a gift from my husband in 1976, and again the next two years for anniversary gifts, (he loved Joy on me too!!LOL). The scent would last all day, and you could still get a light whiff after a shower. I did notice that the EDP and EDT both had an oily texture to the liquid, that it no longer has.t
There was a long period of time between bottles of Joy. Somewhere around 2005, I believe, my hubby again bought Joy perfume for me, and although I liked the fragrance alright, it was not the Joy I loved. Not only was the smell different, it did not last even close to the time it used too.
I had mixed feelings after reading the articles in Basenotes after joining. I was relieved to hear others say Joy was different and,that I hadn't imagined that it had changed, to depressed that the Joy I loved so much was no longer available to me.
04th March, 2013 (last edited: 12th March, 2013)