Etro Palais Jamais, 1989

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Perfumer unknown

Palais Jamais should be a mess. Citrus, floral, smoky, herbal, vetiver. Was that rubber? Was it supposed to be leather? Palais Jamais somehow keeps its parts distinct and well behaved. From top to base, Palais Jamais maintains an ungainly balance. The elements don’t come together—that would be the mess—they just follow their courses. The lighter elements recede, the heavier notes come forward, and Palais Jamais’s drydown suggests a sharp, dry, smoky tea. Palais Jamais manages to call to mind dry, wet and burnt simultaneously. Great trick, actually. Always captivates me.

There’s something objective in tone about Palais Jamais. It doesn’t come off as blended or harmonious. It doesn’t become a skin scent. It stays put and asks you to approach it, to consider or admire it as you might a piece of abstract art. A successful if oddly modern attitude for such a staid design house like Etro.

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