Perfume Review: Jean Patou Joy, Ma Liberte, Cocktail and Pan Ame
Review by Tom
Today, I am going to review a few fragrances of one of my favorite houses, Jean Patou. The reviews are going to be pretty random, since they are reviews of beensy bottles I got on eBay for about six bucks apiece.
I'm not going to write a real review here of Joy, since I don't have it and don't feel the need to actually go out and smell it to refresh my memory (My friend Johanna wears it beautifully and often). It's of course a perfect frisson of jasmine and roses, its opening with a bright shock of green, its drydown with a darker shock of civet. It's perfect, it's classic, it's criminally overlooked. Sad that so many women today eschew these fragrances in the pursuit of ever-more frilly and sparkly little-girl fragrances: ladies, little girls do not have power, or magic, or allure (if the man you're dating disagrees, RUN), WOMEN do. Joy, and scents like them are scents for women: utterly feminine, but with the strength and allure that adulthood and experience brings.
Created (according to Basenotes) in 1987, and since killed off, Ma Liberte opens with a soft lavender cut with the slightest whiff of tobacco: the kind in Tabac Blond. There's helitrope and citrus in there as well, and as it dries, there's a very powdery patchouli (don't be scared, it is faint) as well as cedar and sandalwood. Reading what I have written, this reads like a mens cologne, but that's totally not the case. It's very feminine, but I can see where it may have been lost in the sea of new releases: this whispers when most other fragrances of that decade shouted themselves hoarse.
Launched in 1930, this chypre apertif opens with a sparkle of citrus and lavender, every bit as crisp and refreshing as a martini made with one of those trendy bespoke vodkas. Honeysuckle, hyacinth and clove come in as the scent becomes more of a chypre and less of a cocktail. The drydown is very dry indeed; the flowers are never overpowering. This smells to me what Myrna Loy would have worn for drinks on the terrace at the Hotel Bel-Air. It's, well, classy: the female equivalent of Royal Bain du Caron, which is what William Powell would be wearing as he refreshed Myrna's vermouth-cassis and lit them cigarettes. Needless to say, this one I'd buy a full bottle of. (in a small voice) I could get away with it!
Fruity floral? Arrgh! Right?
I should hate this, but somehow I can't: the fruit note really is true to the slightly sweet woodiness of the way the pear smells, and the floral is more like a leafy greeness (it's supposed to be "violet leaves). Sandalwood and musk (surprisingly musky) ground the scent. It's not me at all (and I actually am not sure that it's going to be the bulk of the commenters either) but I do like it's spunky, happy fizz.
Joy, is of course available at fine deparment stores. Personally, I say damn the torpedoes and go for the full-on perfume versions. The older Patous (which I would love to sample) were available at the now sadly defunct Bullocks Wilshire, which had a truly spectacular first floor fragrance department (an atop which the climax of "Ghostbusters" was filmed). That they are not all more widely available to appreciate is very sad indeed.