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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.
18 April, 2008