Jean Patou Joy: Here Comes The Heavyweight


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 ImageJosephine 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.

from The Black Narcissus
from The Black Narcissus

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.

You can buy Jean Patou Joy from or Escentual.


14 thoughts on “Jean Patou Joy: Here Comes The Heavyweight”

  1. Well Isaac likes it… bit heavy for him though! It’s by far the most sophisticated perfume I own, and I wear it when I need an extra dose of self-confidence or I’m going to a classy party….

  2. It’s big stuff, isn’t it? Too big for me. And I can’t take credit for that sample, by the way – I KNOW it was sent to me by the remarkable octogenarian, Tommi Tao. She is a wonderful woman and a great guide.

  3. Dearest Iscent
    “Jean Patou! What a review”.
    No civet in the vintage? Now that is a surprise! This one’s all about the animal for The Dandy.
    I must go and lie down in a darkened room to recover from the shock….
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    1. Dear Mr Dandy,

      I usually pick up on animalic in scents since I don’t always like it, but this was a rather yellow floral. A little twee if I’m brutally frank, but certainly pleasant.

      Tania Sanchez says she has it on good authority that the EDP has not been messed with, although the parfum has.

      I see you have just reviewed horsey Kelly Caleche. I’m just on my way over to have a look.

      Your Friend

  4. “Jean Patou! That Perfumed Dandy beat me to the Punch!”
    After your review I really must get a whiff if at all possible of vintage Joy. Heck I haven’t even smelled the current Joy. I understand that the house of Jean Patou is relaunching with a new nose who will, if I have my facts right, recreate some of the famous perfumes of the house, Joy included.

    1. Hello lanier and thanks so much for dropping by. According to Tania Sanchez, the EDP of Joy has not been interfered with. I find this incredible, but Tania swears it.

      I didn’t know they were relaunching, thanks for the tip off, I shall watch with interest!

  5. I bought a small bottle of vintage Joy parfum on eBay (black bottle). It had never been opened and it still smelled good. However, Joy is not for me. And you’re right it is hard to break apart the notes. Great review!

  6. Hi there, I need definately a good advice from all of you here. I love Jean Patou 1000 absolutely but when I ordered a sample for joy from the perfume court , I recd a Weired almost turpentine smelling tiny vial, so disappointed. Today being my birthday my V wants to get me Joy which is available in Neiman Marcus but I am worried what if it smells like that sample?(which one mind of me refuses to accept as sure I have a nose for yalang yalang, champak & rose). Or should I go for Chanel No 5 parfumer concentrate( how long can I stay away from it, someday I have to get it)
    Friends pls guide this lost in fragrance!

    1. I would definitely get a proper sample of Joy before buying a full bottle. it’s not for everyone. I like it, but not enough to invest. Sounds like you had a dud sample. Joy is very floral and almost twee, but has many fans as you know. Do let the Perfume court know.

      If I were you, I would investigate Joy further and buy that bottle of No 5 concentrate. Getting the cellophane off the box of a scent you love is my idea of a perfect birthday!

  7. Having just reread this, I feel guilty about all the roses and jasmine flowers! Even though my bottle is new enough not to have been involved in this environmental disaster…

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