Bolt of Lightning opens with a super "high-pitched," piercing bitter-green accord before very slowly moving to its heart. As the composition enters its early heart the "high-pitched," piercing green accord loses just a bit of steam, still remaining relatively acrid; while a faint white floral tuberose starts to grow in the background. The further the composition moves into its heart, the piercing green recedes more and more as the tuberose increases to the point that it eventually takes over as the star. During the late dry-down the piercing green accord is all but absent as the tuberose turns milder, even a bit sweet and creamy through the finish. Projection is below average and longevity average at about 8 hours on skin.
Bolt of Lightning is indeed a shock to the system. Immediately after application the acrid high-pitched green accord is enough to scare away most anything in its path (and many wearers, I suspect). At this point the tuberose goes near completely unnoticed, as the greens are so potent and off-putting one can't help but focus all their attention on them. Luckily, the extended open starts to very slowly soften, and by the one and a half hour mark the tuberose starts to take some of the sting away from the greens until eventually it all but swallows them up. Those that hang around for the finish are in for a treat, as the fine tuberose turns a bit creamy and a hair sweet, as maybe just a touch of sandalwood is used to soften it late. The real question at hand is can one (and indeed *should* one) hang around for the payoff?... Each individual will have to answer that question for themselves, but in the case of this reviewer the torturous open and early heart sections are not outweighed by the relatively pleasant late dry-down. In short, the answer in my opinion is "No." The bottom line is "Bolt of Lightning" is a very apropos name as the composition is one half initially intolerable and shocking and one half excellent, earning it an "above average" 2.5 to 3 stars out of 5 rating on the whole and a neutral recommendation.
My overall impression was that it was a nice, long-wearing perfume that smells almost exclusively of gardenia. I never picked up the indoles and cadaverine scents of which others spoke, and I do not find it in any way redolent of the ozone and lightning strike odor others extolled. For this type of scent experience, I suggest trying the Shadow scent. Still, Bolt of Lightning is pleasant if not a little ordinary. It wears well and doesn't grow stale or fetid.
The SA at Bergdorf's was so generous with his time and attention (I spent over an hour there), and the fragrance wears like a crown of tuberose. There are worse things you could do with $875, but, obviously, there are many better things. If you buy this, buy this because you love it, and wear it for yourself, not to impress anyone. A memorable tuberose. I am haunted by this one a bit...in a good way.
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My first visit to JAR PARFUMS in rue de Castiglione, Paris was soon after it opened, it is possibly one of the most magical places you are likely to encounter. From the street you will see a dimly lit interior the colour of deep Lilac soft and rich. This also happens to be the colour of the soft suede pouches JAR has used to present his jewellery for more than three decades. The large glass window is empty except for one small pebble shaped bottle of amber coloured liquid which seems to be floating in the air - Diamond Water. The interior appears empty. Every surface of the panelled interior is covered in deep Lilac velvet. The back wall has a large mirror on it reflecting the crystal chandelier with two shaded wall brackets creating pools of warm light either side. As you walk into the hushed interior a door opens and the charming boutique guardian appears to help.
In the middle of the room there is a mirrored table under the chandelier with what appears to be a number of over-sized glass petri dishes with some material or fabric hidden under the lids. Painted on the ceiling is an exquisite mural of a Bold of Lightning in a stormy sky. There are two chairs if you feel the need to sit. You are then invited to sniff the contents of each of the glass dishes which in fact contain pieces soft chamois soaked in each of the seven perfumes Ferme les Yeux - Diamond Water – Jarling – Shadow – Jardenia – Golconda – JAR (the perfume without a name often referred to as Bolt of Lightning).
You are told to just let your sense of smell inform your views, no more and no less. You will not be given the ‘notes’ or told anything at all about what you are smelling not even if it is gender specific. This is a very deliberate and important part allowing you to experience the perfumes without any preconceptions. For many reviewers this has been a major criticism of the JAR Parfums, I disagree. All you are simply asked to do is to allow your own perceptions to inform your views and experience without your preconceptions of what to expect by knowing the notes and ingredients. We mortal beings are creatures with an ego and if we encounter something beyond our experience and understanding we will either elevate it to the level of the divine and the supernatural or reduce it banal criticism.
Very few people know and understand perfumes unless they happen to be a perfumer with an extraordinary talent and a highly trained sense of smell. In our modern times with the massive amount of advertising we are exposed to and the proliferation of vast amounts of information (and misinformation) we mortals like to think we are more knowledgeable and better informed than we really are. So the deliberate way that JAR perfumes does not engage with this leaves many frustrated. A perfume, a smell, a scent is something we experience in a very personal and intimate way. JAR perfumes only asks that you to do exactly that but on its own terms.
Then you will be asked if you wish to sample any of the perfumes on your skin. I suggest that you choose carefully and try one or two on your skin. You will not be told the prices unless you express an interest in a purchase but you will be encouraged to let the perfume develop on your skin and not make an immediate decision. All the bottles are small and pebble shaped, with simple gilded caps. They are presented in small soft suede pouches the same deep Lilac colour as shop interior and set into very simple boxes with the name of the perfume (or simply a bold of lightening) and JAR Parfums Paris.
All the perfumes are complex and it will take several hours for each of them to develop on your skin so I would not recommend an immediate decision.
However, I loved JAR immediately, it was a revelation in what a perfume can be and it has never in my mind been surpassed. I was not even sure if I will ever wear it but I know I had to have it to smell just to remind me of the smell. It completely changed my perception about smell and perfumes and ultimately about that I will choose to wear on my skin.
I happen to love tuberose, the real flower not the notes you sometimes detect in perfumes. It is heady, rich, green and very powerful. The tight buds give you a tantalising hint of their power mixed with the green of the stems. As the buds start to open the scent can be almost too potent, but always deep and sensual. It is floral but not sweet and you can soon start to detect the smell of decay as the flowers start to die. In South East Asia this flower is associated with death since it was traditionally used at funerals to mask the smell of the decaying corpse in the heat of the Tropics.
So JAR made me think of tuberose; I do not know if this is relevant to the creation of this perfume and I did not care to ask. The complexity of the perfume is such that you cannot but let your olfactory senses be overwhelmed and stop your discursive mind from trying to analyse and understand. As the perfumes settles it becomes a presence on your skin - very powerful without the need to assert itself. And it will last for a long time. I will occasionally take out a jacket or a sweater from my wardrobe, one which I had not worn for a while and I will instantly know that I had worn JAR the last time I used it.
I have had the same bottle in its pouch for almost ten years and it has travelled with me all over the world. It never fails to captivate and enchant me when I smell it and wear it. And it still retains all its unique and characteristics smell. The soft suede pouch helps to protects it from the degrading effects of daylight. Incidentally, I keep my few other perfumes in my wardrobe for this same reason.
Much has been said about the cost and exclusivity of the JAR perfumes and the fact you can only purchase them in the boutique in Paris and in BERGDORF GOODMAN in New York. The JAR parfums are not for everyone, I do not believe they were ever intended to be. They will not appeal to most people and will not be considered worth the cost by almost everyone, but I doubt if anyone can deny that they are masterful creations. And what is essential is that what you are paying for is what is in the bottle, the perfume and the experience of purchasing the perfume is part of it. There are no advertising campaigns and the bottles they are sold in simple. The legendary, masterful and very private Mr Joel A. Rosenthal has created something unique as only he knows how to. How the rest of the world does and sees things is utterly irrelevant because Mr Rosenthal knows what he wants to achieve and will not accept anything less then perfection in his own vision. I believe if you value something then the cost is immaterial.
Incidentally, the Bergdorf Goodman boutique is a miniature recreation of the Paris boutique with the same enchanting experience on offer. To those who criticise the exclusivity of JAR Parfums this should be another clue as to what the creator intend for you to experience. To go through the effort of recreating the experience across the Atlantic with so much care and attention is an indication that this is as important for the creator as the perfumes.
And perhaps the most important clue about JAR Parfum is right there in the shop window for all to see:
Diamond Water the paradox of value
the poor Jar salesman, he even admitted i smelled like a pickle.
This fragrance is tuberose, top to bottom. The decaying smell at first, the white floral dry down, the absurd price tag, all it comes down to as far as I can tell is the juice is mostly tuberose absolute, which does cost a lot, but not upwards of $700/bottle unless there's really nothing but tuberose absolute in there. Honestly, there is something fantastic about being pampered and wowed in smelling fragrances, and they are generous with the time spent with a customer.
Opens up with a seriously foul, rotting vegetation note, but after twenty minutes transforms into one of the most beautiful fragrances I've ever smelled -- an airy, fresh, lightly green and subtly sweet concoction, like warm sunshine on wet roses, thanks to a golden, shimmery musk shot through the heart of it. A creative and intelligent piece of work. The price may stink, but the perfume itself is awesome.
Bolt of Lightning is the most expensive one in the JAR line at 530 euros for a bottle of 30 ml extrait. It starts out with unidentifiable cool green notes and then after about 45 minutes evolves into the smell of grapebubble gum (the penny kind in the individual red and yellow wrappers). The light powdered sugar dusting that covers the gum is also well evident in the notes. After an hour or so, it changes into a very light white floral fragrance with a decided touch of gardenia. All I can say is, I am glad that I only purchased a tiny sample of this. At that price, I would be furious about smelling like grape bubblegum!
After sampling Bolt of Lightning and other JAR fragrances, I just had to visit the JAR store in Paris (not affiliated). The following is a brief account of my visit:
No appointments to smell the JAR perfumes at the JAR store on rue Castiglione are necessary, unlike the rules to view JAR’s jewelry line which is sold at a different location. Anyways, you arrive at the JAR store, ring a bell to request entrance and then are ushered by an immaculately dressed man into a silent room which has one small round table and two chairs. The room is sparsely decorated in the French ancien regime style and is painted a dark aubergine. The ceiling has an elaborate crystal chandelier and, as a touch of whimsy, a mural of a thunderous dark sky with a giant lightning bolt. Bottles of each JAR perfume sit nearby on an elevated lighted stand which seems like an untouchable shrine. I did not dare go near them. Once you are seated, you notice that on the table are a number of glass containers which look like covered petri dishes and each contain a piece of crumpled fabric doused in scent. The JAR representative’s role is to silently open each glass container one at a time and hold it up to you for a sniff of the saturated fabric. He is extremely courteous even though he will ONLY tell you the name of each perfume and nothing else. JAR’s policy is that they do not reveal any notes or comments about their fragrances. It is all meant to be a big secret, I suppose. So there you are, sniffing the contents of each glass container and you want to have a conversation about what you smell with your companion but somehow you get the feeling that it would be uncouth to say anything in the presence of the JAR representative about the perfumes.
On the whole, the JAR fragrances are extremely idiosyncratic and very expensive (for a 30 ml bottle, they range from 220 - 530 euros), and would not appeal to the mainstream consumer. For example, I cannot imagine what the average person would think of the distinct dill pickle notes in “Shadow”. However, I get the impression that the weirdness and cult-like secrecy is by design. It is almost as if the JAR perfume line is a side hobby for Joel Arthur Rosenthal and he really doesn’t care if his perfumes sell or not. There is certainly no pressure to buy anything but given the silence and somewhat forbidding atmosphere, you do not feel like lingering either. We thanked the JAR gentleman who graciously shook our hands and then left the strange little world of JAR perfumes.