digging (into) vintage: Guerlain Jicky, 1889

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(image source mulpix.com/instagram/birthday_queen_happy_90.html)

Perfumer Aimé Guerlain

Jicky might not be as widely-known as Chanel No 5, but as an early synthetic perfume and as the oldest extant perfume it is a significant reference point in perfume history. It is admired by traditional perfume lovers, but interestingly, it is an example of the ideals of contemporary niche perfumery. It balances animalic and gourmand elements. It refers to genre (fougère, oriental) while surpassing them. It is simultaneously abstract and suggestive. It plays with gender expectations and is comfortably unisex.

All the above could be a description of a perfume from Serge Lutens, Slumberhouse or Bogue. This is not to say that contemporary perfumery is uninventive or more conservative than progressive. It means that Jicky is an exceptional perfume that Guerlain has kept it alive through 126 years of changes in materials, technology and social revolution.

I’ll buck a few trends among the cognoscenti.

1) I prefer the EDT to the extrait, though my favorite version is the vintage Parfum de Toilette. There is a contemporary EDP that (as of 2017) appears set to become the new ‘standard’ form, available in the standard bee bottle.

2) The first time I smelled it (before I ever heard the Shalimar/Guerlain creme brûlée mythology) I thought Jicky smelled like lavender creme brûlée. Didn’t make me like it any less.

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