Guerlain Jicky ~ fragrance review

Old Piano

Guerlain is so straight — and obsessed with LOVE — that I often feel I’m reading snippets from a paperback romance novel as I peruse the Guerlain website. Chamade is ‘a surrender to love'. Chant d'Arômes is ‘the most exquisite love token a woman can receive’. Mitsouko was inspired by ‘an impossible passion’. Nahéma represents ‘the duality of woman’…a ‘daughter of fire’. Vol de Nuit? It’s dedicated to a tragic love story (written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry) and ‘to women who know how to live with danger’. Even Guerlain men’s colognes are given romantic touches and a female component: Mouchoir de Monsieur conjures a world where men offered ‘a delicately perfumed handkerchief to the woman one loved’. The hokiest Guerlain advertising line concerns L’Instant de Guerlain pour homme: ‘It’s her... He knows it... This is it!’

I don’t think a perfume can ignite passion or love between people, so you’ll find me rolling my eyes or laughing as I read Guerlain perfume ad copy, and Guerlain Jicky’s ‘creation story’ is no exception. Supposedly, Aimé Guerlain, while studying in England as a young man, fell in love with a British girl who he nicknamed “Jicky.” Aimé’s and Jicky’s love was unrequited and Aimé returned to Paris alone and, decades later, created Jicky, the perfume, in honor of his lost love. Another story has Aimé naming the perfume after his favorite nephew, Jacques (“Jicky”) Guerlain — the boy who grew up to create Mitsouko, L’Heure Bleue and Shalimar. I prefer the nephew version of this story: it keeps Jicky “in the family” and makes more sense, since Aimé was a confirmed bachelor.

Here’s what we do know about Jicky, the legendary perfume: it debuted in 1889 and has been in manufacture longer than any other fragrance; it used new synthetic perfume ingredients, coumarin and vanillin, along with a decidedly un-demure dose of civet; and for decades, it was favored by men before being adopted by (and marketed to) women.* Before Jicky, perfumes were ‘written’ in clear, easy-to-read letters: ROSE, JASMINE, LAVENDER (short-lived soliflores and quasi-soliflores were the norm). Jicky was written in personality-filled cursive; its blend of natural and synthetic ingredients resulted in a complex and powerful perfume — Jicky was not easy to “read.”

I bought my first bottle of Jicky Eau de Toilette in November of 1995 right before taking a three-week trip home to Virginia to visit my mother. When I arrived, the weather was cloudy and cold, and every day seemed to begin and end with spooky fog shrouding the landscape. I slept in my grandmother’s room, a room that had been uninhabited for 15 years, and the tiny space smelled of old wallpaper and books, and the lavender-, violet- and rose-scented soaps and boxes of talcum powder my grandmother had placed in each bureau drawer and closet. I wore Jicky every day of my trip, even sprayed it to freshen the air, and its aroma permeated not only my grandmother’s room, but the entire upstairs of the house.

Everyone who wears perfume or who pays close attention to scents (be they food smells, the scents of animals and plants, the earth itself, or the aromas coming from buildings — libraries, schools, grocery stores) knows that sometimes, one smell or fragrance, will attach itself to a place, person, event or time period. Jicky infused a quiet, autumnal moment in my life, and thru no fault of its own, came to represent approaching winter and “the past.”

Guerlain Jicky perfume

Jicky’s original list of ingredients included mandarin, lemon, bergamot, rosewood, orris root, rose, jasmine, patchouli, vetiver, leather, amber, civet, incense, tonka bean and benzoin. I have not smelled “vintage” Jicky, but it must have packed a punch. Today, according to Guerlain, Jicky contains bergamot, rosemary, lavender, rose, “fern harmony” with geranium, tonka bean, woods, vanilla and opoponax. The Jicky Eau de Toilette I bought in 1995 was “louder” than today’s formulation: it was clear, shimmering and icy and the top notes seemed to last longer; but what comes out of the Jicky bottle today is unmistakably Jicky.

Jicky Eau de Toilette opens with a blast of citrus so tart it can make your eyes water and a strong coumarin-tonka bean note, a note familiar to those who’ve had the good luck to smell Houbigant Fougère Royale. Jicky’s coumarin note seems to crystallize in the air, and then collapse under its own weight, revealing smooth herbal and forest accords. As Jicky develops, I notice puffs of civet, a touch of barbershop, not gourmand, vanilla and faded lavender. Overall, Jicky Eau de Toilette is not ‘smooth’ on me; there is a dissonance in the fragrance that I’ll “blame” on the civet — Jicky seems to be perfuming (trying to mask) something ‘indecent.’ Within 30 minutes of application, Jicky Eau de Toilette becomes muted and smells a bit like the faded soaps and powders in my grandmother’s dressers.

Jicky Eau de Parfum has creamier, denser citrus and much more civet than Jicky Eau de Toilette. Jicky Eau de Toilette is sparkling and shiny compared with Jicky Eau de Parfum’s dark, simmering muskiness. Jicky Eau de Parfum reminds me of Yves Saint Laurent Kouros and if you apply Jicky Eau de Parfum lavishly, you will be noticed. Jicky Eau de Parfum has a lovely dry-down of sweet woods and vanilla. Jicky extrait starts off with loads of civet and vanilla-tonka bean on a background of rather fugitive citrus; Jicky extrait is too much and too little at the same time; for my nose there is more variety and effervescence in Jicky Eau de Toilette. As I expected, the civet note in Jicky is increased as the formulations become richer: in Eau de Toilette the civet seems far away, in Eau de Parfum the civet is in the room and in extrait it is perched on your shoulder. Strangely, the fainter civet note in Jicky Eau de Toilette seems to last longer than the stronger civet in Eau de Parfum and extrait. I like all versions of Jicky, but Jicky Eau de Toilette is my favorite and the only one I wear.

Wearing Jicky reminds me of my grandmother (who, as far as I know, never smelled it) simply because I sprayed Jicky in her room each day on my trip home. Jicky reminds me of my mother and her dog, Asa, because I hugged them both each day on my trip and they smelled of Jicky too. Jicky reminds me of late autumn and fog, and the damp woods and seething November seashores my mother and I visited together on my trip. One day, on a walk, my mother and I went into a deserted house in the middle of a field. The house’s screened doors banged in the breeze and as we explored the gray, dim, musty, cobweb-strewn rooms with their raggedy curtains, layers of dust, and cracked plaster ceilings and walls, we found a blackbird “sleeping” on a ratty dark blue velvet cushion — it was dead but its feathers still glistened. My mother pointed to an ancient upright piano that was pushed in front of the fireplace and said: “Play something.” I played one of Erik Satie’s easy Gymnopédies. The music was haunting, even more so because the piano was horribly out of tune. Guess what perfume I wore as I serenaded my mother, the dead blackbird and the spirits of that crumbling house?

*Guerlain’s most lucrative business comes from women, but I don’t understand why Guerlain won’t market Jicky to men as well — men have been buying and wearing Jicky since 1889. I guess Jean-Paul Guerlain summed up the company’s credo best: “To imagine a scent is to imagine the woman who wears it.”

Note: first image is Old Piano (cropped) by Vince Alongi at flickr; some rights reserved.


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94 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Kevin, wonderful piece!

    Jicky is one scent that takes me instantly to my younger years living on Long Island.

    I must try the EdP, I'm a civet fan and didn't realize there was more of that plus tonka bean too!

  2. Anonymous says:

    SFLizbeth: thanks…the EdP has a great dry-down too.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful review! I agree about the different concentrations of Jicky – I too prefer the more “interesting” edt with its civet and citrus combo to the smoother, more obviously animalic, parfum. Actually, I feel much the same about Mitsouko – the edt, which I think I've heard people complain about being so much inferior to the parfum, is in my view more interesting because more jarring in its contrasts between herbs, fruitsm oakmoss etc. The parfum is again smoother, richer, denser, warmer, smells more like other luxurious parfums and more like a generic “evening scent”. Actually, I even prefer Tabac Blond in edp! I'm speaking of the current, supposedly inferior, versions now but I find the urn parfum mute and dense and one-dimensional, a slightly rubbery/powdery/sweet/musky leather “soliflore”, while the edp has more edge to its leather note and more interesting things going on…

  4. Anonymous says:

    You mentioned that Guerlain is so 'striaght.' I thought you might be interested to know that Jicky was the signature scent of Alice B. Toklas, famed 'wife' of even more famed Gertrude Stein. My mother is a Gertrude Stein scholar and she hunted down a bottle of Jicky in the late 80's. It will always remind me of her.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Solander: Thank you! (and I too finally settled on the Mitsouko EdT over the stronger formulations…)

  6. Anonymous says:

    Jessica: how funny…I had a reference to Gertrude Stein in an earlier draft of this review (but I didn't know ABT wore Jicky).

  7. Anonymous says:

    What a glorious homage to your mom, gramma and Jicky, K!
    You know, I'm no friend of civet in perfume, particularly if it packs a wallop. Jicky PdT though (the only concentration I've tried, thanks to the divine Erin) clearly has just the right amount of it. Initially I was, let's say, intrigued by Jicky only to fall madly in love in it by the time I emptied my decant. I want more, and judging by your review, I want the EdT as Jicky's sparkling, crystalline top notes are my favorite part.
    Your vivid description of the “haunted” house with the floorborads crackling to a Satie melody make for a great film intro/end credits :D

  8. Anonymous says:

    Dusan…thank you (and maybe SOON,we'll be able to have SOUND EFFECTS on the blog? HA!)

  9. Anonymous says:

    Ow Kevin this post is so good… now I really want to try Jicky.

    You should be the one who writes the stories for Guerlains' perfumes.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Marianne: I can be ready to move to Paris by the end of the month! If only!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Kevin, I'm only a freshman perfumista and have not yet tried the likes of Jicky and Mitsouko. I'm a little nervous about them, to tell the truth! But here's my question: Is Jicky pronounced “djiki”, like it looks in English, or something French-sounding like “zheekee”? Thanks – loved your story!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Haunani: Do not fear the likes of Jicky and Mitsouko! And the only certifiable French person I've ever heard pronounce “Jicky” did it in what you describe as “ZHEEkee” fashion. (Bela my love, are you out there somewhere?)

  13. Anonymous says:

    Excellent review of a fragrance with a soul, you've truly brought that to life here. One of Guerlain's finest. I'm currently considering a Jicky purchase – I've sampled it in all forms and can't quite make up my mind yet. I think the EdT would be the most wearable, and easiest to find – the EdP doesn't seem to be carried often although I admire it too and it's a bit smoother. The parfum is beautiful as well, but probably not quite as suited for say.. a hot summer day. Then 30 ml sounds like a lot. Thanks again for your review Kevin, your timing couldn't have been better.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Haunani, it sounds a bit like Dick, Dicky, Djicky. That simple ;)

  15. Anonymous says:

    BrothaG: thanks, and GOOD LUCK with your final decision….K

  16. Anonymous says:

    Hooray! I can say that! Thanks.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Lovely review of one of my favorite perfumes!

  18. Anonymous says:

    I kneel at your feet. Jicky and Mitsouko were my gateway frags when first getting into hardcore perfumery. In fact it was Mitsouko that made me go “…. wth is THAT?!?!?” in amazement.
    I'm one of the Guerlain snobs who prefers everything in the parfum, but Jicky is an exception — I like both the EDT and the parfum, they seem like separate but related fragrances. The PDT is hard to find, but if I layer them I think I come close :-) I will concede that the parfum in both is intensely animalic, in a way I find wildly sexy.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Very nice, Kevin. I must try this at some point of my exploration of the Guerlain catalog.

    I have a complicated relationship with civet — part of me loves it (I wore Kouros in my early twenties, which is somehow hard for me to believe), but sometimes I find it to be just *too much*, even in small doses. It's difficult and hard to like, at least for me.

    Exactly how skanky is the Jicky civet? I'm tempted to try the edp since I've enjoyed Guerlains better in that concentration, but your comments make me think I should also try the edt. Above all, I'm curious about Jicky. Sometimes (usually in the privacy of my home) I like to push the perfume envelope to see how skanky I can get without offending myself.

    One last thing: your description of the deserted house reminded me so vividly of an exploration of my own several years ago. Thanks!

  20. Anonymous says:

    Like you, March, I love Jicky in both the edt and the parfum… I also have a pristine bottle of pre-WWII Jicky that has miraculously made it unscathed, though unsealed. Real civet, yesssssssss! It is deeper and richer than the modern version (my extrait is circa 2002) but the current version still does it justice. I love its androgynous, clean-dirty feel: it's one of the fragrances I could never be without.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Kevin, thank you.

    I love your reviews so much!

  22. Anonymous says:

    maggiecat: thank you….

  23. Anonymous says:

    March: you may rise! TRUE that the EDT and parfum seem related but from different “places”… I'm repeating myself but simply LOVED the dry down in PDT…delicious.

  24. Anonymous says:

    CC: how lucky to have a pre-WWII bottle!

  25. Anonymous says:

    joe: For ME, the EDT and EDP were “unisex”…something about the extrait made me feel “womanly”. HA! So if you must experiment in private, you may want to wear the extrait. Civet CAN be too much and I have to be in the mood for it…same with many of the Montales and oud.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I can't wear it and don't really like it, but I love your review.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Thanks dissed, I've gotten several emails to my gmail acct. today saying “I don't like Jicky”…but apparently they didn't want to go “on the record” as saying so. HA!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Kevin — What beautiful writing, the description of the scene inside the deserted house reminded me of Poe. And the grandmother's room, too. Really haunting.

    I love Jicky because it's so…confusing.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Olfacta: it is…there are many wonderful stages in the EDT especially.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Aiiyiiii — that must smell amazing!!! Androgynous and dirty/clean are great descriptors. It is familiar and yet deeply odd. I hope it sells reasonably well, I would be sad if they got rid of it.

  31. Anonymous says:

    How weird, I've been wearing the EDT of Jicky all week after taking a true sabbatical from it! Is there something in this Seattle weather spreading the desire for Jicky about?
    I enjoy your review. Still thinking about the eerie Satie part. It is very difficult to write about such classics. I think about writing a review of Jicky but then it is like trying to explain The Old Testament to someone who has never heard of the Bible. Jicky is a classic and is truly Jicky. It is a descriptive word in my voc. It is like how Coty's Chypre is well “chypre” or oakmoss. Jicky is “zheekee”. It is too much of a task for me to take on!

  32. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful article, Kevin! Whether i

  33. Anonymous says:

    victoriamegatron: if ONLY Seattle would have a Jicky “moment!” (or two, or three).

  34. Anonymous says:

    ScentScelf: that's very kind of you; when I was growing up only the women in my life wore perfume and those perfumes were NOT “unisex”…when I smell those fragrances today, I do have wonderful memories ignited but I like scent memories to be associated with perfumes I can wear!

  35. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Iris N.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I really DO love Jicky. However, I won't mind going on the record to say that thus far, I do not like Mitsouko :)

  37. Anonymous says:

    Kevin, yet another excellent article. Makes me want to run out and grab a bottle of Jicky Eau de Toilette. Civet has always seemed too animalistic for my taste, but this sounds too gorgeous to stick to old stereotypes.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Asha: a brave woman!

  39. Anonymous says:

    Astrorainfall: I think the civet is “just right” in the EDT.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Ha ha. Reading this, I wonder if I pronounce ANY perfume names correctly. Of course I never say them out loud. But even in my head I'm pronouncing them wrong. Any previous posts on perfume pronunciation for those of us that don't have handle on the French language?

  41. Anonymous says:

    Hello, Kevin –
    What a truly beautiful and haunting review you've written. At first when I saw the photo, I thought the discolored ivory keys were a reference to Jicky's dirty vanilla. Your story about the abandoned house and playing Satie for your mother and the blackbird was poignant and magical.
    I must say that I also love Jicky. I have the EdT, but am inspired to explore the other concentrations too.

  42. Anonymous says:

    I have a sample of the EDP and my Luminol-style civet sensors were on high alert every time I tried it. I got mostly a discordant mix of lavender and civet, which I think is actually more “icky” than civet alone. So yes, for me “Jicky is icky” but there are so many other Guerlains for me to love!

  43. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for that wonderful review of the Jicky and the Guerlain perfume heritage.

    My favourite masculine fragrance is Heritage and Habit Rouge and I love Jicky, Samsara and L'Heure Bleue (which is what I want to own soon).

    I have read several interview articles with Sir Sean Connery, who proudly declares that Jicky is his signature perfume?

    He claims to wear it all the time, reinforcing the fact that perfume is genderless and that it is only fragrance marketing that separates perfume from 'after-shave'.

    I have also been told by Guerlain SAs that Jicky was originally designed for men, especially since Aime Guerlain was a 'confirmed bachelor' and that 'Jicky' could have actually been a British man instead!

    Whatever the legends and myths surrounding the Guerlain range of perfumes, I think that their inspirations and fragrances are beautifully conceived and wonderful to wear.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for such an interesting article and a beautifully warm review. I love a great many of the current Guerlain line up but only recently have I started to appreciate Jicky. It took me a while to lose the aromatherapy connotations with lavender. (Not that there is anything wrong with aromatherapy – its just as a discipline I see it as quite separate from “fine” fragrance.) Now I love Vero Profumo's Kiki and am contemplating a purchase of Jicky. Maybe edp. I'll have to do some more research – happy days :-)

  45. Anonymous says:

    Lydeelol: French, like English, can be difficult…so many exceptions to the Rules. If you've never taken French classes, you can sometimes find online commercials that pronounce perfume names, or type in the name of a perfume on Google with the word “pronounced”, as in “XXX pronounced”…

  46. Anonymous says:

    vanessa: yes, Guerlain provides LOTS of choices. I'm not a fan of straight-up lavender in perfume, but the way Jicky incorporates lavender is A-OK for me

  47. Anonymous says:

    damselfly1213: yes, get a sample to have on hand….

  48. Anonymous says:

    jtc: thanks…you'll have better luck buying samples of EDP/extrait online…I've not seen Jicky in any concentration BUT EDT in stores…should be able to get samples of them both for under $10.

  49. Anonymous says:

    desmondorama: Guerlain lost a great marketing opportunity didn't they by not hiring Connery (especially during his dishy Bond days) as a Jicky “model?” He certainly DOES mention Jicky often as his fav. fragrance.

  50. Anonymous says:

    donanicola: I'll have to look into the Kiki scent…thanks, K

  51. Anonymous says:

    Grasshopper (err…Kevin):

    I feel that you are now ready to leave this temple and venture out to review “Eau Noire” by Christian Dior!

    Your Master

  52. Anonymous says:

    M…M…MMMM…Master (boy, that's HARD for me to say): venturing forth I shall search for the great Black Water, Grasshoppah

  53. Anonymous says:

    The first time I tried Jicky was at Nordstrom and I spritzed whatever was the tester into the crook of my arm. I instantly smelled like moist rotting vegetation – odd because I had enjoyed the scent on the test strip. I was intrigued enough to get a sample of the PDT and this morning I tried again. I definitely got the citrus burst but for several minutes could not be near myself because of the rot. It is better now, and definitely has that odd familiarity of so many Guerlains, but I definitely would smell seriously unwashed and mildewey if I actually wore it. I must not work well with civet. Hmmm, now I just smell like slightly flowery pond water. I keep hearing animalic and I wouldn't mind smelling animally but the veg smell is strange. Maybe I'll try the EDP just for scientific purposes – lol.
    It is funny how Guerlain scents can seem so familiar – the first time I tried Mitsouko I was reminded of so many women, but none of the women I know wear or wore it! It just seems universal. My notes say “stunning but I feel like I need to be older or richer or both”. It's one of those things I would wear if I ever went anywhere fancy dress and wanted everyone to believe I am a Lady.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Jicky smells like when you opened your grandma's purse as a kid looking for candy, and all you found was a handwritten receipe for a cake, an old (and pink) lipstick in its gold case with some leakage, an english lemon candy drop that she kept for emergencies and a used Kleenex with rouge on it! (Speaking from experience :-)

    Old Guerlain scents who all have the same “core” are slowly dying because no one wants to smell like THAT anymore!

    Kevin, I'm ready for the punches now, so bring'em on!!!

  55. Anonymous says:

    Eric: call me crazy, but I LIKE what you describe (add some Nilla Vanilla wafers in there for an even better “Guerlain” vibe)…another funky purse scent that I like: Eau d'Hermes!

  56. Anonymous says:

    Kevin: Right on !!

    Eau D'Hermes smells like the same exact scenario, except that the bag is a stuffy “Kelly” by Hermes of course and in addition to all items listed, grandma left a piece of lemon “macaron” from LADUREE that she already bit on in a kleenex for “later”!

    LOL

  57. Anonymous says:

    Great tips! Thanks. My travel guide French is pretty scary sounding!

  58. Anonymous says:

    I like that kind of stuff, too. Chanel lipstick reminds me of that rouged Kleenex, and although I don't like it on my mouth, I do like to smell it. Kind of voilet-ish. I just found a Body Shop face cream that smells like my Grandma's bathroom. Luctor et Emergo didn't do Play-doh on me – it was total old suitcase. I love that old Guerlain thing – any scent that can be that evocative has merit even if you wouldn't necessarily wear it to work. I'm still working my way through them.

  59. Anonymous says:

    Tama; yes, I know what you mean about the Chanel/rouged Kleenex/violet smell. I know you'll have fun exploring the many Guerlains.

  60. Anonymous says:

    Sorry I didn't get to finish what I was saying:)) Whether I am able to smell jicky or not, I'm sure it's a beautiful scent. I love when people express their feelings, memories etc. when describing remarkable fragrances. A fragrance that reminds me of some events from my life, would be Park Avenue (my childhood, city parks where I played as a little girl, my grandmas chamomile tea…) or CdG rhubarb that reminds me of my mom's rhubarb pie. I know that no matter what, certain scents will have the ability to stay in Your heart as part of Your past.

  61. Anonymous says:

    The only man I've ever known who wore Jicky was a friend's grandfather, a former member of the French Resistance and one tough cookie. It suited him to a tee, but my friend was utterly shocked when he discovered that his “man's man” grand-père had been wearing a “women's” fragrance all that time!
    Oh, and I love the euphemism “confirmed bachelor” — my parents used to use that term, and it took me a good 20 years to finally figure out what they meant!

  62. Anonymous says:

    Kevin, you inspire me to try again. I have tried Jicky, but recoiled, but this review is so beautiful and evocatively written, I must go out and reconnect with some Jicky, asap, esp. the EDT, which sounds so wonderful.
    Gorgeously written!

  63. Anonymous says:

    lilydale: you know Jicky is a tough cookie too during that civet phase!

  64. Anonymous says:

    Luccia: thank you and hope you and Jicky can reach some “agreement!”

  65. Anonymous says:

    Someday when I'm a granny I hope that my nieces & nephews will find all sorts of treasures in my funky purses.

    And of course, my purse & closet will smell like Jicky, Chamade, MItsuoko, CdG Avignon Incense, & Amouage Celebration 25! Some of us wear those frags very well! :)

  66. Anonymous says:

    Kevin, I wonder what Daniel Craig would wear??

  67. Anonymous says:

    Donanicola! Speaking of Guerlains, what do you think of the diet Shalimar? (,Helen in TX)

  68. Anonymous says:

    What an amazing imagery– the “perfume I wore as I serenaded my mother, the dead blackbird and the spirits of that crumbling house.” And that picture of the old ivory piano keys is pretty fine, too. It will probably take me a little time to lay my hands on a sample of Jicky, but in the meantime I'm going to listen to some Satie (and maybe read some Eudora Welty, too) just to extend the reverie of your writing.

  69. Anonymous says:

    Kevin,

    When I was a young boy (in Paris of course!) I was way ahead of my years and started reading teen magazines before I was ten. Most magazines I read featured famous pop singers and of course, I knew the Stones and had the posters and the cut-out pictures…while American teen boys slept under a poster of miss Farrah Fawcett (Fawcett-Majors back then), yours truly probably had some androgynous French Pop icon singer's picture above my head at night!

    When my grandmother died in 2002 and we all went to her house in Paris searching for old memories and keepsakes, I found an old magazine from 1977 that must have slipped behind an armoire. After I blew off the thick layer of dust, I found a nice spread of one particularly popular albeit a bit “controversial” French pop singer who sported more makeup than Liza Minelli (But those were the 70's you know) He of course was STRAIGHT and after years of being a “Confirmed Bachelor”, he became a family man…His new wife then was a beautiful model-dancer and had twin boys. Their pictures were in Paris-Match a little like baby Suri and Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt…

    That man melted the hearts of the French for decades with his songs. He even went disco for a short while when the time was right…The poor soul died electrocuted in a bathtub in 1978. Rumors around his death were particularly unkind and implied some “electric device for personal use had slipped in the bathtub” as the cause of death (sad but funny :-)

    His name was “Claude Francois”. In that old magazine, there was a big spread about him. In one paragraph, his “personal tastes and favorites” were highlighted, such as: Favorite color, food etc. When it came to Favorite Perfume, his answer was:

    “JICKY de Guerlain, worn it all my life”

    So my fellow French and European readers of this blog (Jawhara where are you ma cherie?):

    Please comment if you know who Claude Francois was. Another celebrity Jicky fan!

    Eric

  70. Anonymous says:

    Kathryn: Eudora's a good choice!

  71. Anonymous says:

    Eric: goodness! How in the world did I not know the famed Claude François (or Clo-Clo as the Web says…HA!) And he wrote “My Way” to boot…I did look at his photo and must say he had the eyebrows of Marlene Dietrich (plucked almost to oblivion)…. I'll have to listen to an online tune of his next.

  72. Anonymous says:

    SFLizbeth: don't know, but it's amazing he hasn't signed a perfume contract with someone by now.

  73. Anonymous says:

    Eric: OK…having just watched THREE CF videos I'm off to reprogram my eardrums…will I ever forget “Magnolias For Ever?” (please say I will!)

  74. Anonymous says:

    Dearest Kevin,

    No…The answer is NO. Now you know the cause of my severe disorder.

    Years of therapy did not work for me and I am now singing that tune using my “nasal” voice and I can't get it out of my head!

    Please touch base with JAWHARA and ask her if there's an antidote for it!

    Could it be a mixture of equal parts of “Mandragore” by Annick Goutal, “Tedallal” by Agallosha and “Eau Noire” by Hedi Slimane, boiled to a thick caramel with bull-frog aorta fresh blood and smeared on the temples?!

    Hey…But if you're ever on 5th Ave here and want to check out those high heel 70's platform boots he wore in the vid, the YSL Men's Store has them and they're all the rage now apparently!

    Eric

  75. Anonymous says:

    Oww and by the way: M7 is back at the YSL store, in a new bottle. L'Oreal doesn't miss an opportunity when they buy a brand. They have blog readers 24/7 and are always “forecasting” and sniffing (no pun) what's in demand.

    M7 must be the hot potato of 2009!

    I won't say a word about the “new” M7 bottle! Come visit me in NYC.

    Ha!

  76. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for yet another evocative article, Kevin. I fear civet, it disturbs me greatly, and so I have never tried Jicky. But I do hope Guerlain keeps making it for those of you who love it.

  77. Anonymous says:

    Hi Kevin!

    Bravo on such a endearing and sentimental piece! Smelling Jicky for the first time was instant love for me, civet and all!

    I never smelled the EdT, but I own the Parfum de Toilette and the Parfum . The only difference I can catch between the two is the high dosage of lavender and rose in the beginning in the parfum, but not much more difference to my nose.

    I think I need to re-examine differences between the two. Because Guerlains have 80% natural ingredients, my body seems to absorb it too easily. I would love to smell any Guerlain in its older formulations in this day. All I have is but a memory of Mitsouko and Shalimar parfum that I smelled back in the 80s. That was how you put pow into a fragrance!

    And to hell with reformulations to “suit modern tastes”! I gag everytime I hear such rubbish! ;)

  78. Anonymous says:

    Kevin, from now on I'll be on the blog as MarianneW instead of Marianne Winia..:)

  79. Anonymous says:

    Nice to meet another civet-phobic! You are doing the right thing by not trying Jicky…

  80. Anonymous says:

    Ohh…a Satie Gymnopedie to go with Jicky… I think I've got another piece for you (granted, there are hundreds, if not thousands), but see if you can find Arvo Part's Spiegel im Spiegel (for piano and violin, though my recording used violin, viola and cello). Heard it for the first time yesterday, and it functions on the same minimalistic level as Satie, gently toying with tonality, drones, and melodic lines, absolutely recalling the past with an eerie foreshadowing note of doom in the bass that reappears throughout the piece.

  81. Anonymous says:

    merenguehips: yes, and Frederic Mompou would be nice too…some of the very simple Bartok piano pieces.

  82. Anonymous says:

    Oh, but the story of unrequited love is SO much more romantic than Jicky being the diminutive of Jacques. I have just had the chance to read a new boxed set of books put out by Guerlain and came across a statement that it was merely a coincidence that Jicky was the nickname of Aime's nephew. I think the reason Aime never married was because he never found a love like Jaqueline again. When he was 50, he composed the iconic first real perfume in her memory. But stories get diluted through the mists of time so who really knows what is correct?

    The Guerlain fragrance trainer from Paris told me that Jicky was intended for women but men adopted it because of the Victorian sensibilities of the day. The gentle rose and lavender waters were acceptable for ladies to wear, but not a perfume whose drydown had oomph. Then in the 20's, when women were beginning to be emancipated, they started to wear Jicky. The model in the ads was the androgynous Marlene Dietrich.

    The cool citrus opening and musky drydown of Jicky is echoed in the cold crystal topnote and spicy basenote of L'Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme, carrying on the legacy of the company.

    I know two men who are married and they wear the extract. How cool is that?!

  83. Blimunda says:

    I tried the extrait the other day, having never sampled Jicky before. Ooof, yes. The civet. It was nothing like I expected it so smell, and i had such an olfactory shock. It’s amazing that it is much older than any other perfume i have tried, and yet it gave me the greatest shock. I didn’t know how to react – did i like it? Was I utterly repelled by it? What the hell WAS it?! In then end, I decided that I absolutely loved it. Well, I must try this in EdT and EdP. The extrait won me over.

    • Kevin says:

      Blimunda: extrait gives you plenty civet…but do compare with the other two formulations before buying!

      • Blimunda says:

        I will do – thanks for the tip. It’s intresting, as most of the time, it is recommended to buy scents in the purist form. I suppose it is personal taste. But in Jicky’s case, both you and Robin recommend the EdT first. And that holds much weight with me. I’m off to Harrods for a spritz of all three…….at the Roja Dove boutique! That place is such an Aladdin’s cave!

        • Kevin says:

          Blimunda: let me know which one you pick….

          • Blimunda says:

            You know, I really like the EdT. It wears off rather quickly though. But I like its gentle subtlety. You are so accurate when you say that the civet ‘animalia’ is hiding under the surface. That’s what gives it an interesting complexity. I am really falling in love with this fragrance. The extrait shocked and intrigued me, and the EdT pleases and uplifts me. It has immense character, and feels very easy and comfortable! Like wearing an old friend. It’s the perfect scent to evoke those intimate memories of your grandmother’s house.

            I have yet to try the EdP, but I prophesy that I will, in the end, buy the EdP or the Extrait. I am a Bandit, Tabac Blond and MKK girl – so I actually like the indecency of lots of civet. I’m used to the skank.

  84. RusticDove says:

    Quite simply, that was beautiful. The moving image of you playing the piano in that crumbling, abandoned house will stay with me.

  85. Thank you for this gorgeous piece of writing. I am glad I found it today, and read it while wearing Jicky for the first time. ::laughing about the straightness of Guerlain:: Yes, their outlook is heteronormative for sure, even if their customers are not. Mmm, this Jicky sure smells good!

  86. wendy05 says:

    Hi Kevin – Your story explains exactly what enthralls me in perfume and fragrances as a whole. LOVE it! I wish I had read your story and explanation of the different concentrations before though. Now I got a bottle of the extrait (because I adore the bottle, very much like the edt version, and figured well, how can I possibly go wrong..) and ehm, well, it is just waaaaay too much for me. I had the same experience as Blimunda. As if a civet cat pushed his little behind up my nose (I love cats, but that’s just a bit much). I read elsewhere that layering Jicky with Shalimar Light/Légère works very well, but not sure if they means the Jicky edt or also the extrait version. What do you think?? Thanks! wendy

  87. sugarplum says:

    What a grand piece of writing. I’m a newcomer to fragrance as preoccupation, so I just celebrated my birthday with a present to me: some decants of classic Guerlains. Jicky PDT was the first to arrive. Most unpoetically, I can say that it hits me as if one found a pair of dirty lace panties in a pine forest. What an amazing juxtaposition of opposites that resolves to something like quiet experience – someone whose been there but doesn’t blab.

    I sprayed on Jicky just before bed so I could expirience it without the background “noise” of the day. Next morning, I enlisted my 19-year old son with a spritz. I think that just as we can’t really hear our own voices, we can’t really smell something on ourselves. Maybe my nose needs educating, but it becomes inured quickly. The Jicky I couldn’t detect on myself after 20 minutes, rang out from 5 feet away when I checked in my my kid after the same 20 minutes. The sparkly high notes were still there, and the animalism was subtle, not scary. Lesson learned – try fragrances out on an agreeable someone else, in addition to yourself.

    Jicky is a magnificent masculine scent. You hit the nail on the head with your reference to barbershop. I look forward to enjoying the other decants, LHB, Mits, and Vol De Nuit. Shalimar I’ve got, also Champs Elysées, which I love in all its lilac glory. I’m a musician, and fragrance IS music to me, especially in the harmonic sense. Just as certain chords evoke the ineffable, so does fragrance.

  88. marios.georgiou says:

    Kevin,
    I saw in a retailer Jicky Habit de fete eau de parfum….is the the jicky we are talking about or a flanker?

    • Kevin says:

      Marios: I believe that wording describes the PACKAGING (gold-toned bottle with circle cut-outs, refillable); the Jicky juice is the same..

  89. marios.georgiou says:

    Kevin, thanks for the reply….
    I will buy Jicky very soon but based on today’s formulations, which one to buy? I love civet, i love mouchoir but i would like something like this but with better longevity and sillage because mouchoir stays very close to the skin with minimal sillage. I love civet as well if blended correctly. Which one to buy from Jicky? EDT or EDP?

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