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I bought it when it was launched because it smelt almost the same as my Grandfather's signature scent, Carnaval de Venecia, a local high-end cologne for men that was a succes back in the 1930's - 1950's. At that time I was completely unaware that JHL's dry-down notes were very similar to that of Opium's (1997) and Youth Dew's (1953). Later, reading reviews in Base Notes, I came to know that Cinnabar (1978) falls in the same league.
These comments might convey several ideas, the first one is that JHL lacks originality, and to an extent, this is so: it does resemple the three fragrances previously mentioned. As a matter of fact, I had the chance of being complimented on my wearing JHL with the remark that "I didn't know Opium pour femme smelt so good on men" (true, if we are referring to the vitage formulation, not today's mess thanks to L'Oreal's failed sense of innovation).
The second one is that JHL does not smell masculine for those looking for the usual masculine blend composed of aromatics, spices and some masculine florals (ie, lavander). The aldehydes are prominent, as well as the florals and the spices, markedly cinnamon. So aldehydes and florals are the ones responsible for is femenity, and the spices the reason why its drydown makes sense to its claim - well, akin to Opium pour femme, a perfume that in this sense can be easily worn by men.
Now, what about Youth Dew and Cinnabar? Let's take the years they were launched: Youth Dew in 1953. In 1977 YSL launched Opium. As mentioned in many blogs and reviews, Lauder's owner thought herself being robbed and decided to launch Cinnabar (1978), but it did not catch up to Opium's succes. Common sense dictates that there could be an oportunity if the company relaunched it as a masculine, and here one might hypothetizise why JHL was launched in 1982.
As per the rest of the history, it is said that Chanel´s Coco, launched in 1984, was blended by Olivieir Polge with all these blends in mind.
Adding all up, perfume formulas are non-registrable, so the only option in order to protect a company's product is through branding. Any question as to why we are flooded by mediocre blends being aggresivley marketed through adverts in which famous celebs abound? Thanks God for independent perfume companies.
BTW, I like them all and would wear any of them, nuisances aside. After all, I could be as well wearing Carnaval de Venecia from a bottle dating from the 1940's.
13th March, 2011