Wednesday 30 September 2015

JICKY by Guerlain

In our constant quest for "newness" and originality we sometimes forget some of the classic creations from the past. These evergreens manage to hold onto their reputation through a mixture of rediscovery and loyalty. Maybe it's time to start revisiting these icons, and where better to start than with the one that changed the face of perfumery for ever.

The fascination in the early nineteenth century was the beautiful soliflor fragrance or the ever popular lavender. Some scents were simply single flower preparations, or if they did have additional ingredients then they were only present to extend the life of the fragrance, or boost the central ingredient. That was until 1889, when Aimé Guerlain created a truly iconic perfume.

One of the most important fragrances ever released was Guerlain's Jicky. This was the first truly "abstract" perfume and was not based on a single scent. You got to smell the emotional workings of Aimé Guerlain's mind, and it was to be the first of many. The other difference was that it was always intended as a unisex fragrance, although ladies took  little longer to warm to it than the more adventurous gentlemen ... how times have changed!

Jicky is one of the Guerlain fragrances that unfortunately suffered over the years from some clumsy reformulation, but all is not lost. There are still echoes of its former glory and the different strengths can fulfill today's differing needs. You still find Jicky mentioned constantly in the press, and was famously described by India Knight as making her want to "mate with herself". It is indeed an arousing scent. So, let's delve a little deeper.

The original perfume has been recreated as part of Thierry Wasser and Frederic Sacone's Heritage project, but how do the current commercial releases compare? Well, pretty favourably actually. The original animalic depth, which was provided by a wonderful civet, patchouli and vetiver mix, was reduced to appeal to a more modern audience. It is still prominent in the parfum version although fleeting in the EDT. The lavender is glorious in both versions but is darker and more robust in the parfum, as opposed to the brighter effect in the EDT.

The "ingredient" that is the most unusual, and also the most problematic, is a pre-existing fragrance. Yes, at the top of Jicky you actually have Eau de Cologne Imperial. Aimé used his father's famous cologne for its bright opening effect. However, the regulations that now cover bergamot have taken away the embracing quality, and so you are left with something a little more like a handshake. Again, within the parfum it still adds a brightness, but within the EDT it is a little more shrill. So, direct comparison of the current parfum and EDT...

The parfum has the echo of a past animalic richness which is given an edginess by the vetiver. Warmed by tonka and vanilla it sensually embraces the spiced lavender and remains the "big cat of fragrance". The EDT skirts quickly around a warm oriental base before allowing the lavender to bloom. A brighter scent, it is more akin to an Aqua Allegoria than the original composition.

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