Olivia Giacobetti has a way of challenging the wearer without threatening. Jour de Fete makes you question your senses. It presents you with notions of softness, quiet and comfort at the same time that it makes you consider legibility and dynamics. It poses questions. What is the difference between quiet and soft in a perfume? Is low sillage a weakness or an advantage? Giacobetti's gift is to make perfumes that carry ideas, but not at the expense of pleasure and emotion.
The name itself captures the conundrum. Jour de Fete. It sounds like a party in a bottle, but if you come to it expecting music, cheering and applause, you'll be either surprised or disappointed. It's less a party and more like a discussion with a fascinating stranger. It has a black-box quality that I love in Giacobetti's other work. I've read others call Jour de Fete overpowering, undetectable, sweet, bitter, long-lasting and instantly disappearing. Everybody sees something different in the box.
Is there an opposite of a vanishing act? On applying Jour de Fete, I could just barely smell a hint of marzipan and play-do. It suggests scent as well as substances with particular textures. I had to strain to detect it. Within 15 to 20 minutes, I could smell it a bit more strongly. But what I smelled was more of a quality than a scent, per se. For lack of a better word, it smelled blunt. It's as though I was at the outer edge of something that actually absorbed sent. Now, eight hours later, I can't stop pulling my arm to my nose. It's remarkably composed. Simple, but suggestive. I have the same experience with Dzing! (another Giacobetti perfume for l'Artisan Parfumeurs) at its drydown. While the two smell nothing alike, at this stage, they both are evocative without suggesting or referring to anything in particular. They don't smell like anything else I can point to, but they make my mind race.
Giacobetti’s work is fascinating. I’d give anything to have the chance to sit quietly in the corner and observe her at work for a week.
To me it smells like banana milk at first sniff. In a pleasant way. Later I get some burnt almonds, but still there is some freshness around it. Very interesting, I never smelled something like this before.
I agree with the first impression of Play-Doh. This was my first impression as well, but shortly after it became something more enjoyable. Toasted almonds (very toasted at that) and vanilla. It's also slightly floral. As it dries, it mostly becomes a creamy vanilla, reminiscent of vanilla icing to me; I get a light dose of white musk as well. Projection seems close to the skin at first, but then it starts to project more as it dries.. weird huh. Longevity is about 8 hours for me.
The first time I smelled this at a L'Artisan boutique, I laughed and said, "Play Doh!" But it called to me, and I had to take home a sample. I found it oddly comforting and my daughter loved it on me. Jour de Fête ended up being the first L'Artisan I bought a full bottle of (and later, a backup bottle, since it's discontinued.)
After many wearings, the association with Play Doh has lessened-- now when I spray this on, I think of the vanilla candy coated Jordan almonds that it's meant to evoke. I like it every bit as much as I did at first. It is not a sophisticated scent, not sexy, just cozy and comforting, perfect for rainy days, for sitting and reading a book with a cup of tea in hand. I like it better than Etro Heliotrope, which is somewhat similar.
Whew, this is sweet! Almonds sprinkled with powdered sugar, marzipan and vanilla... It's not bad as far as gourmand scents go - the notes are natural and not sickeningly synthetic and the composition is even somewhat refreshed by a faint citrusy/green note that I suppose is the "green wheat", but I really don't see the point in smelling like a pastry shop. Besides, it seems the intense sweetness and dry powderiness combined makes me sneeze as though inhaling real powdered sugar.
L'Artisan Jour de Fete
Notes: Almond, pink laurel, wheat, orris, bourbon vanilla, cedarwood (from luckyscent.com)
I remember trying Jour de Fete a couple years ago and not being impressed. Reviews on BN and other online sources gave mostly mediocre or negative reviews, with complaints of the fragrance being too simple, and with no projection or longevity. I can't say I disagree with the main issues. However, having revisited the fragrance again today, I find that JdF is a diaphanous, doughy, slightly sweet and powdery fragrance which is soothing in a way that most other so-called "comfort scents" can't achieve. Jour de Fete reminds me of shimmery body products which, having given the skin a bit of sheen, somehow accentuate the bare loveliness beneath. Notes of almond, cherry-vanilla and crisp, almost green "raw bread" are the openers. The top accord fades quickly, giving way to a transparent vanilla, soft wood and perhaps a touch of tonka or opoponax. This is definitely a fragrance for the quieter moments in life, is unisex and also wearable for almost any age.