Perfume Directory

Jicky Eau de Parfum (1889)
by Guerlain

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Jicky Eau de Parfum information

Year of Launch1889
GenderShared / Unisex
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 787 votes)

People and companies

HouseGuerlain
PerfumerAimé Guerlain
PackagingGabriel Guerlain
Parent CompanyLVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton
Parent Company at launchGuerlain

About Jicky Eau de Parfum

According to Guerlain folklore, this was named after an English student whom Aimé Guerlain fell in love with. It was in fact named for his nephew, Jacques Guerlain.  It was the first 'abstract' perfume as it wasn't reminiscent of one individual note.

Apparently a fave of Sean Connery.

Jicky Eau de Parfum fragrance notes

Reviews of Jicky Eau de Parfum

Its fine. Basically just smells soft and powdery to me. Yea, there is nuance, it is a Guerlain after all. This just doesn't smell like something a young lady would wear. Old lady perfume. Good quality.
05th September, 2019
Oh yeah! My olfactory memory tells me that I have smelled this before; perhaps on a man. It's sooo familiar and I love it.
Since all the fragrance notes were used to create an accord, no one note stands out except for the lemon.
I love it. Oh, did I say that before?
Soft and powdery - long lasting - wear anytime
19th April, 2019
Oh dear. It’s like someone’s done a poo and has tried to mask the smell in the bathroom with Lavender Glade spray.

I don’t get any vanilla at all.

This is the current Eau de Parfum.

I’m disappointed. I love the older Guerlain perfumes
05th February, 2019
The thumbs down I’ve given isn’t for quality - I couldn’t bear to keep it on my skin long enough to ascertain that - but for wearability. On me, it’s ‘Icky Jicky’, smelling of nothing other than poop, pure poop. I scrubbed after about 5 mins: that’s all I could take. That’s only on *my* skin, though, and this stuff gets plenty of love from those who know what they’re talking about, so I’m not going to criticise it, just say that on me, it’s unwearable. Even though I’m a fan girl for the classic Guerlains, this is a tricksy one. Blind buy at own risk...
25th January, 2019
A lovely composition, with an admirable heritage, but the current formulation evaporates disappointingly rapidly. After an hour, or even half, I can barely find it, as I root around like a truffle-hunting hound.
12th December, 2018
Most who know of Guerlain Jicky (1889) have heard the story of Aimé Guerlain, who created Jicky for a love interest he had when he was a student in England, which was a country ahead of continental Europe at the time in the fragrance field. The name was supposedly taken from that girl too, but in reality it was the nickname of Jacques Guerlain, future perfumer for the house and kid nephew of Aimé. More importantly than the surface details about the creation of Jicky is what it actually was, and represented in the field of perfumery. 1889 was the same year the Eiffel Tower finished construction for the Paris World Expo "Exposition Universelle", a convention used by France to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Bastille Day and it's own achievments. Jicky wasn't the first French fougère to hit market, as that distinction goes to Fougère Royale by Houbigant (1882), but it represented something of an aesthetic shift away from imitating nature as Fougère Royale had attempted and instead just was an abstract scent which was very future-thinking at the time. It's hard to fathom how big of a deal this was back then, since many of the most popular fragrances we use are made up entirely of synthetics or have no common link to something found in the real world, but in 1889 such artifice was godhead, especially at a time of modernist sentiment in France. Reactions to Jicky were unsurprisingly divisive, and the smell downright disruptive compared to other "good and proper" perfumes of the Victorian era. Jicky's gender-fluid nature caused a great uproar with upper classes, as women were uncomfortable with the virility on display with Jicky, while men saw Jicky as impressive and a display of their prowess, adopting it as their own signatures. Street dandies or fops in particular fell head over heels for Jicky, especially ones of what was then unorthodox sexual appetites, and many a cross-dresser could be found doused in Jicky around the infamous Moulin Rouge, which also opened for the first time in 1889. I'm not saying that the stuff became the provenance of a very-underground gay scene in the late 19th century, but the widespread adoption of the perfume among these circles simply added to it's scandalous allure for "normal" folk who wanted to feel "liberated" of society's conventions of the day. Jicky later became the favorite of the Hollywood jet set, from forthright masculine actors like Sean Connery to female sex symbols like Brigitte Bardot. I imagine it takes somebody of great stature in this day and age to walk into a crowded room reeking of Jicky and not be reproached for it, since something this commanding can't be pulled off at social functions by the rank and file such as myself.

The smell of Jicky has been tweaked over the years as naturals have been replaced with synthetics due to ethics against hunting, or the over-harvesting of botanicals has made them too expensive to use, but the basic gist of Jicky has remained unchanged: a traditional green barbershop fougère reinforced with all kinds of oriental and animalic notes into a Hell-scape of warm aromatic spice and arrogantly blunt sexual intent. Various EdC, EdT, PdT, EdP, parfum, and parfum extrait versions have been released in Jicky's century-plus lifetime, with varying degrees of the animalic and aromatic content depending on the concentration, but this review is based on a pure parfum extrait specimen in the 1908 quadrefoil bottle. Rosewood and sweet citruses greet the nose upon initial impact of the perfume on skin, and the listed lemon, bergamot, and mandarin all come through over the rosewood hue (perhaps faded some with age however). A ton of green aromatics mix with a rounded French lavender and rose to produce almost a absinthe-like ghost licorice note, full of goodies such as bay, basil, and rosemary. A jasmine/rose tandem is also present, and the lavender in the heart pairs up with a sultry semi-dry patchouli and tobacco-like vetiver note. The whole thing is almost sickeningly sweet after the brisk cold and focused top subsides, which is one of the greatest switcheroos in perfume, and many renown perfumers don't even consider the heart notes to be in the heart, as they quickly collapse into the heady base and become part of it. This non-traditional structure of Jicky, introducing us with bright top notes before subjecting us to a pandemonium in the dry down, is part of it's endearing charm, as it wastes no time getting down to business after the opening moments. Styrax, civet, ambergris, and musk hit like a sweaty pair of underwear wrapped in a brick smacked into the side of one's head, but are mellowed by the then-novel use of coumarin, vanillin, and cinnamon, further rounded out by oakmoss. Supposedly leather exists here according to some materials listing note pyramids for Jicky, but I don't get any in this old example. Jicky is a rush of blood to the head, and the smell lasts for hours, although older productions of lower concentration probably were brighter and more fleeting, so I can't be sure. 12+ hours is the wear time for Jicky, and the sillage needs not mentioning. Jicky gets rather cloying in hot weather, and can irritate the nose in dry heat, so for your own comfort, keep this one for cool evenings or autumn air where you don't quite have to run the heat, and if you walk into a modern club with this on, good luck.

Wearing Jicky won't make you want to wear a feather in your hat or dance the can-can, but it will transport you back in time to a period where everyone could wear foundation makeup regardless of sex without garnering much of a stare, and when the Belle Époque was in full swing, with artistic flights of fancy spilling into the streets of Paris at midnight. It's all rather sensual, romantic, fanciful, and quite gay. I think the world could use a little more gaiety of this type in it, but Jicky isn't the likely vehicle to deliver it anymore just because of its uncompromisingly animalic oriental underpinnings combined with its otherwise fairly safe barbershop fougère top. The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde experience this perfume represents make it far too assertive for polite company in the 21st century, and I think the only reason Guerlain makes a pretty penny on selling it is from the morbid curiosity stirred up by it's long, tall legacy and mythic status in the perfume enthusiast community. Jicky is a huge part of Guerlain's own legacy too, and anyone mentioning Mouchoir de Monsieur (1904), Guerlinade (1924) and Shalimar (1925) really can't without touching upon Jicky, since all three of these later perfumes were the result of Jacques "Jicky" Guerlain playing around with uncle Aimé's formula; Jacques swapped notes to make a more masculine Jicky for the former, reduced the scent down to eight primary notes to create the now-famed "house accord" of Guerlinade for the next, and added a new synthetic vanilla to Jicky to create a prototype of Shalimar, using Jicky itself as springboard to develop Guerlain's own reputation as a house that builds new perfumes out of the ashes of old ones. There isn't much else that can be said of Jicky, and 130+ years later, this stuff is still a musky, murky shocker which isn't for everyone, and has no proper context in which it should be worn. Wear this for you, and wear this because you love what it represents to you, and how it makes you feel, for this is no other valid reason to wear a perfume anyway. You just know I'm going to give this old girl a thumbs up, but I highly suggest sampling before diving in, and starting with the EdP if you do, since it's the happy medium of all versions. I'm not going to put this on any kind of pedestal for you, because it really is by far one of the most impractical perfumes I've ever had the pleasure to smell, but Jicky is an experience like so many other historical or noteworthy perfumes, that needs to be had at least once even if it never makes its way into your wardrobe.
04th November, 2018

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