Jean Patou has always seemed like a brand that I should by rights adore, but don’t. The history, the BIG florals, etc. etc. Everything about the brand seems like “my thing.” Granted, I must confess that I haven’t spent a ton of time with their fragrances on skin – in part because smelling them on card doesn’t induce me to spray it on my skin. I’ve failed to enjoy Joy. Even though I love jasmine, Joy always just seemed sort of stuffy to me, at least in the near-recent iteration (the only I’ve smelled – I think it’s been reformulated again in the last year, since the last time I tried it), and 1000 struck me as really atrocious the one time I encountered it (so bad, in fact, that I wonder if the tester had spoiler under display lights).
Anyway, I love the IDEA of Jean Patou, and if I attempted at all to collect vintage perfume, I think it’s a house I’d explore. When I read about the release of a Joy flanker, Joy Forever, I thought, hmmm. Over the last year, I’ve discovered an increasing obsession with jasmine. Joy Forever seemed like possibly Just the Ticket. Now Smell This ran a draw for a 50mL bottle, and lo and behold… I won!
To be honest, I was hoping to find in Joy Forever something like Dior Grand Bal. I haven’t written about Grand Bal here, but I got a decant in a swap sometime late last spring and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. Grand Bal has in my mind only two drawbacks: 1. insufficient lasting power 2. an astronomical price tag. (EDIT: In the comments, Undina points out that the per-mL price of Grand Bal is actually lower than that of Joy Forever. It’s true! I’m not sure I realized that before. Still, buying 125 mLs of Grand Bal, the smallest size Dior offers, is a bit different than buying 30mLs of Joy Forever, the smallest size Patou offers. And I got my Joy Forever for free. However… perhaps Undina is talking me into buying Grand Bal!) I’ve been hoping to find some kind of ‘budget Grand Bal’ and as yet I haven’t found it. Perhaps it was unfair to approach Joy Forever from this angle – but I didn’t need Joy Forever to be Grand Bal. I just needed a superb little innocent (but REAL-smelling!) jasmine perfume.
Joy Forever starts with a blast of extremely clean citrus and green notes… I detect early on a green-smelling rose note that I feel is everywhere in contemporary perfumery, to the point of being tiresome… I pick up orange blossom as well. The overall effect is extremely clean, but quite pretty through the early stages. So you’ve got these soapy-clean greenish florals, well-blended. The first 30 minutes or so of Joy Forever are really quite nice… you almost think the florals are going to get dirty, as the jasmine asserts itself more, with a whisper of iris mucking things up… and then it’s white musk. The florals disappear and I’m left with a soapy memory.
Honestly, Grand Bal wears much this way on me, too, with the fade from modern floral! to disappearing MUSK, but the jasmine in Grand Bal, while still clean and not the remotely the indolic explosion of Mama Joy, seems richer and warmer. Joy Forever is definitely something I think I’ll continue to pull out, particularly during the sweltering Austin summer (it’s such a breezy fragrance!), but it doesn’t quite capture the “ultimate modern jasmine” prize I hoped it might.
Here’s hoping that unlike Joy Forever, the new reissue collection from Patou does blow my mind. Anyone want to send me a bottle of Chaldée??