So big and mighty and famous is Joy that I feel almost unqualified to review it. However, as you may know by now, IScentYouADay is all about my response to a scent, and therefore, like the Gallery Visitor swooning at their first Titian, I am merely reporting as a member of Josephine Public. Although slightly more scent obsessive, it must be said.
Joy was created in the middle of the Great Depression and was the most expensive perfume in the world. Jean Patou was quite unapologetic about this fact. You can imagine how it must have gone down in PR terms during post war austerity. That being said, he had the talent to back up his chutzpah.
Joy was indeed costly, not just financially, but environmentally. One bottle of Joy would use up 336 Roses and 10,600 jasmine flowers. As you can imagine, IFRA have since changed all that. Lucky old moi, I have in my hands a vintage EDP sample (thank you LW yet again). On smelling Joy, it’s easy to remember that it was created for a woman in the 1930s since this is not a modern smell, and yet, at the same time, it is a timeless classic.
First impressions count. I had a burst of Aldehyde, the blatancy of which I hadn’t smelled since Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass. It’s Aldehydes loudly before Peaches and Jasmine barge in. A little Tuberose makes things creamy, and I could have sworn some Lemon was in there, but it seems I am wrong. As the sharpness dies down, the Roses begin to dominate, but with subtlety. They are so perfectly blended with the other ingredients that you couldn’t quite call this a Rose perfume. Or a straight forward floral. Civet is listed, though I found no trace, and the base notes settle down into something that I prefer far and away above the opening notes.
Jasmine is loud, Roses are strong to the point of medicinal, and sandalwood makes it cosy. A little musk softens all edges into a baby soft floral with the now milder Aldehydes in the background to give it a prickle. It’s easy to see why this has stood the test of time whilst others have fallen. I found Joy hard to break down into pieces and notes. What Henri Almeras has created is a mood, or a tone. Unabashedly feminine, perfume makers could learn a lot at the knee of Madame Joy. It’s complicated and changeable, but the end result and the final basenotes are simple.
I like Joy, and so do millions of others, making this the second best selling perfume of all time after the ubiquitous Chanel no 5. (which I suppose I’ll have to get round to reviewing at some point. Reluctantly). Incidentally, I have discovered that I love to say “Jean Patou” aloud. It almost sounds like an exclamation: “Jean Patou! That was delicious” or “Jean Patou, look at the rain!” Jean Patou! That’s some good perfume.