“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.