I wore Je Reviens on and off in the early ’80s. I’m sure it read as dowdy and anachronistic, especially on a twenty year old, but I’d never smelled anything quite like it and was taken by its plastic, synthetic beauty. I knew a few floral aldehydes and loved Arpège, Joy and No 5 but I knew nothing about the history of perfume. It would never have occurred to me to consider perfume as the product of an era, though I was aware that my other perfumes, Antaeus and Kouros, were newer.
What struck me about Je Reviens was that I could break it down and identify some of its qualities. Not notes, but descriptors. The other perfumes I knew existed as complete entities. I could no more easily dissect Joy than I could take apart a marble bust and show you its constituent parts. But I could read Je Reviens. I didn’t have a vocabulary for it, but I could tell that it juxtaposed its elements differently. It was powdery and buttery at the same time. I’m sure the cobalt bottle influenced me, but Je Reviens smelled both blue and yellow without ever mixing to become green. The different qualities fit together but didn’t blend like the bouquets in Arpège and Joy. I found abstraction in perfumery at the same time that I was discovering my proclivity for abstraction in other art forms. I started to think of perfume as a composition.
I still smell Je Reviens the same way, but I have more context for it. The contrasting qualities still sit next to each other without blending, but now I chalk it up to a particular use of aromachemicals, most likely vintage musks and a famously heavy dose of benzyl salicylate. It still reads as floral, but now I see it as densely woody with a stemmy, watery crispness and a background hint of smoke.
Je Reviens was released in 1932 and was a precursor to the the green florals and chypres of the ’50s as well as the the metallic ’60s-‘ 70s green florals. Although it comes from the ’30s it has a 1950s sensibility. The delineation of the notes the suits the rigid artifice and cocktail party mentality of the mid ’50s. It is a floral speedball seen through a blur of martinis and amphetamines. The plasticky aromachemicals amp the florals and give a gloss that slurs the speech just a touch.
I smelled the most recent version of this the other day. How very horrible it is. I can remember this fragrance from the 1970s, and whilst, then, I did not like it, I realised that it was a very clever, well put together, original fragrance. There was, at the time, nothing like it. What has happened? It is now a badly constructed, aldehydic mess. After, maybe ten minutes, all I can smell are Aldehydes. After that, I gave up and threw the smelling strip away.
What I smelled recently should not be called "Je Reviens".
I wore the cheap stuff in the eighties, simply because it was cheap and quite fun. However, I've just had the privilege of buying the Couture and I am shocked! Is this the way it's supposed to smell? The opening is reminiscent of the cheap stuff that I know and like, but then it becomes way more complex and beautiful. I am absolutely hooked. My signature scent has always been Rive Gauche, but I think I've just found another one.
This is simply one of the most magnificent scents ever created. If you haven't experienced this scent, you are missing out. I'm not familiar with the more modern re-formulations, so I can't comment on whether or not they hold a candle to the 1970s-1980s formulations that I'm acquainted with. I will always associate this with my mom's "going out" nights in the 1970s, yet it's a fragrance I enjoy wearing myself. I have a hard time describing it- it's one of those scents that you truly have to experience yourself, but I consider it thoroughly modern, in spite of it's long heritage.
I thought "hot diggity, a classy EDT that's on sale". I was probably buying the reformulated modern scent.
However, I was singing in a choir (so I heated up) & another choir member asked me to wash it off because it was making her ill.
This made me a bit wary about using it & I noticed it tickled my own nose a little. I think it is a teeny bit heavy on the violet & way too heavy on the courmarin.
I still like it enough that I might spray it on my feet & lower leg....or a whiff on the curtains of an open window.
06th June, 2012 (last edited: 21st June, 2012)