Jovan Woman by Jovan ~ fragrance review

Jovan WomanJovan WomanJovan Woman

“What a man wants from woman, Jovan created.” So says the sticker on Jovan Woman by Jovan’s brown plastic cap. From smelling Woman, I deduce a man wants a woman who smells like a dude. In a head shop.

Woman by Jovan is a strange concoction. Released in 1977, it seems to presage the big, spicy orientals to come — Yves Saint Laurent Opium, Chanel Coco, and Estée Lauder Cinnabar being a few — but somehow misses the bull’s eye by a few inches. It’s as if Jovan created its own silky, spicy, woody, oriental fragrance ahead of the curve, but before bottling it, a few gallons of aftershave fell in the vat.

From reading the few reviews I can find of Woman, it seems to have a cult following who fearfully tracks its dwindling supply. (I found my dusty bottle of cologne concentrate spray at Rite Aid.) In reviews on Makeupalley, I saw Woman compared to Balmain Miss Balmain, Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum, Caron Tabac Blond, Parfums Grès Cabochard, and vintage Christian Dior Miss Dior.

The Jovan website says about Woman by Jovan, “An exotic blend of spices, orange flower and ylang-ylang highlight [sic] this extraordinary bouquet. Exotic spices of nutmeg and coriander accent the sultry woody, ambered base.” What I get is a bergamot and aldehyde-laden burst, followed by an indeterminate mix of florals on a thick bed of clary sage, cardamom, and sweet wood, with pinches of nutmeg and patchouli. Despite some reviewers’s comparisons to leather chypres, I don’t get any leather or oakmoss from Woman by Jovan.

Woman is a powerful fragrance, but its sillage is quieter than I expected, and it only lasts a few hours before becoming almost impossible to smell.

What I like best about Woman is that it’s a surprise. I don’t know what I expected as I peeled the tape adhering the plastic cap to the bottle and sprayed it, but it wasn’t this strangely masculine oriental. Maybe that’s what Jovan figured a man wants: a surprise. Or maybe a bargain — my bottle was $14.99 and on sale for half off. Or, maybe man wants from woman is Woman by Jovan to wear all by himself.

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  1. LaMaroc says:

    I bought this at Wal-Mart on impulse about two years ago. I vaguely remembered it from the ’80s. I seem to recall it being more oakmossy or maybe more balsamic – er balsamy? – then. Even if there was reformulation, I wasn’t disappointed when I spritzed it on after I got home. My sister, on the other hand, locked herself in her room and complained loudly several hours later that she could still smell it. And this from a girl who loves Lolita Lempicka, Calvin Klein Secret Obsession and Vivienne Westwood Boudoir! So, wear with caution. lol!

    I love it, but then I am a big fan of those ballsy 70s incense and oakmoss fragrances. I can’t say I agree with it being transferrable with any of those stated on MUA but I they are more “old fashioned” in modern view. When I wear it, I have to make sure that I spray it hours before I go out in public. It usually mellows on me after three or four hours and then I actually get lots of compliments on it. No one has ever said I smell like men’s cologne (my friends are aware that I have no qualms about wearing a men’s fragrance). I do get that when I wear SL Chergui, though. lol I just reorganized my fragrances and Jovan Woman is sitting atop my dresser waiting for the weather cool and the humidity to drop so that she can cling to my sweaters and my sheets again and make people gape when I tell them what I’m wearing, unable to believe that it’s a cheap little Jovan thing.

    • Angela says:

      Hurray! A Jovan Woman fan! I was so surprised when I first smelled it. I’m not sure what I was expecting–maybe a musk, like their others? Or a floral? I admire Woman’s singular personality. She has real character.

      • SuzyQ says:

        Hi Angela, It has been ages since you last made any postings in here about the perfume Woman by Jovan… I am from South Africa and I can’t find that anywhere!!! Frustration of note!!!
        Can you tell me if this perfume is still obtainable in the US at the stores you have mentioned? I would really like to see how I can manage to get some over here.

        • Angela says:

          It’s definitely available here–I saw some at the drugstore Rite Aid not long ago. I don’t see it around a lot, though. If you have any visitors from the states, it should be relatively easy to persuade them to bring you a bottle. If I ever come to South Africa, I’ll tuck one in my luggage for you!

          • SuzyQ says:

            Hi Angela

            Been great hearing from you regarding…
            Bear in mind that being in South Africa I have no clue as to where this Rite Aid store is… and as it is I do have someone visiting our company in the next 2 months… please could I ask you to send me the direct details of this Rite Aid store so I can see if I can manage to purchase online and have it delivered to the offices in Boston.
            I wonder if Coty is going to continue to manufacture this perfume? Do you know? They use to have it as an item on their website, but not any longer and that makes me wonder???

        • Angela says:

          Rite Aid is a chain drugstore–a very basic chain drugstore, at that. Any chain drugstore in the U.S. is worth checking for Jovan Woman.

          As for whether or not they’ll continue producing it–I don’t know! It seems like fragrances go in and out of production frequently.

          Good Luck!

          • SuzyQ says:

            when last did you purchase the perfume?

          • Goggalief says:

            Hi Angela … where is a Rite Aid Drugstore? I am also from South Africa. I struggle to get a perfume to replace the smell of Woman Perfume … I LOVE the smell and am hooked on!!
            Where are these stores situated? PLEASE help us to find this perfume … please … please!

            Thank you!

          • Angela says:

            I imagine other drugstores sell Jovan Woman, as well. Maybe it would be best to get in touch with Jovan for more information. You might try the Rite Aid website for info about where their stores are located: Good luck!

  2. moore says:

    It’s so nice to read reviews about these cheap preciousness!! It could be more usual!! I’ll be heretic: for me Opium EDT smells like funeral wreath! It beats my nerves and I shudder (it’s like the smell of death snuffing at my neck!!!). I never understood why it’s a reference at perfumery world. Maybe someone can convince me…

    • Angela says:

      You’re in good company–plenty of people can’t stand Opium.

      • moore says:

        Angela, reading your Opium review now I see that I aswered your question here (I’ll send it there). And I see that the publicity fits perfectly on my description and on their conception to the perfume: The woman on it is coldly white like a dead and for their description a person who use it is elagant and timeless, in other words, a vampire, or an dead-alive, and that girl seems to be one… uhuhuhu.

        • Angela says:

          See? You’re not alone. I know plenty of people who can’t bear to be in the same room as someone wearing Opium!

  3. mikeperez23 says:

    ‘Or, maybe man wants from woman is Woman by Jovan to wear all by himself.’

    This made me giggle.

    The bottle is hideous in a low-budget-retro-Tom-Ford way, isn’t it?

    • Angela says:

      Yes! You nailed the bottle description. “Low budget retro Tom Ford” is perfect.

  4. annemarie says:

    I’m going to give this a try, really just out of curiosity. That’s quite a heritage claimed for Jovan Woman, even if not quite accurate. Is it getting harder to find? It must be in production if it is in the website …

    • Angela says:

      It’s definitely in production–or at least I got a bottle, no problem, at Rite Aid. And it’s a bargain. I’d love to know what you think of it.

    • LaMaroc says:

      Annemarie, I’ve had no problem finding it and I live in small town midwestern U.S. I still see it at Wal-Mart when I peruse the perfume aisle, so I don’t know why anyone thinks hoarding is necessary. It could be a regional thing, though.

  5. Olive says:

    Can anyone help me figure out what it is about Woman that reminds me of Timbuktu? In fact, I think part of why I was initially attracted to the latter is because it vaguely transported me to the former. Only realized a full year after purchasing Timbuktu, when I furtively (it wasn’t a tester and it was Jovan WOMAN!!) spritzed myself at Meijer.

    Disclosure: I loved Woman as a high school student, but was eventually so embarrassed by the name — despite going on to become a gender studies professor — that I abandoned her….I mean “it.” I felt very self possessed when I recently bought a small bottle of Womanity at T.J. Maxx…..ten times worse than “Woman.”

    • Angela says:

      Hey, now I’m going to have to try those two side by side! Yep, this bottle and it’s quote about how Jovan knows what a man wants have plenty of meat for a gender studies professor, I’m sure!

    • moore says:

      Maybe you need some time to habituate to Womanity. It’ not an easy frag, a little salty…

  6. poodle says:

    I don’t remember this one by Jovan. I do remember they had one called Night Blooming Jasmine that I talked my mom into buying for me. I’m gonna have to look around and see if Walgreen’s has Woman. Not sure how I missed this one.

    I love drugstore week by the way. It’s fun to get a cheap fragrance fix once in a while.

    • Angela says:

      Jovan seemed to have had some good fragrances back in the day: Mink and Pearls, Frankincense and Myrrh, and others. Night Blooming Jasmine sounds nice.

  7. Tama says:

    I know I haven’t piped up all week, but I have thoroughly enjoyed your reviews of these drugstore classics. I think I need to take more chances with this stuff – I was not disappointed in my $4 bottle of Sand n Sable recently! I also like Vanilla Fields and Stetson. I’d like to try Ambush and Heaven Sent again.

    • miss kitty v. says:

      Oh, Heaven Scent! I loved that one! Now I want to try to track down a bottle….

      • Angela says:

        I saw it at Walgreen’s and Rite Aid….

    • Angela says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the reviews! I wanted to do Sand & Sable, but the only bottle I could find was $29. I’m curious about Heaven Scent, too, plus Cachet and Toujours Moi.

  8. GateGirl says:

    I love me some Jovan White Musk. My favorite. Always have a bottle no matter how many people tell me that it smells like old lady. I mean, I’m gonna be old someday, so, what the heck?

    • Angela says:

      It’s pretty good, really! I like their regular musk, too.

    • LaMaroc says:

      Smells like old lady? Good grief, if it smells like powder, ergo it’s an old lady perfume? I’ve always found White Musk very pleasant and fresh. The only reason I could see people saying that is maybe because they first smelled it on people a generation or two older than them.

      • GateGirl says:

        True. That’s pretty much what people (mostly women) say. That JWM reminds them of something their mother or grandmother wore or still wears. My own aunt used to wear it often, but, none of that’s gonna stop me from lovin’ it.

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