Jicky by Guerlain

In my world, when you come of age you should receive a bottle of Jicky.

When discussing the perfume and the legend of Jicky, the idea of nobility plays a central part. For one, Jicky catapults itself into a realm of near aristocracy. It presented the beginnings of modern perfumery: grand works of real artistry tipping the natural into a new field where what is known and what is expected is blurred, achieving pleasing abstract results.
Jicky (parfum) 2015 Liam Sardea

© 2015 Liam Sardea
To Corey – a lost cause. I owe you this!

Jicky. Jicky is cheeky.

Jicky is at first glance a lavender scent with its facets fleshed out and played with, achieving pleasing and realistic results. For one, the lavender at the top differs from the lavender that is then compounded at the heart of the scent. At the top, it has a meditative freshness; rich and toasty and drenched in warm sunlight. It can be sweet, almost to the point of sugariness, which highlights the initial realism of the scent – true to the profile of lavender.

Jicky then succumbs to the languidness of an oriental, that too doesn’t skip the richness of body and warmth found in an oriental’s depths. This is the marker of an aromatic fougere. Not exactly a chameleon of the scented spectrum, but instead it takes the good and the noteworthy from all parts of what we can call the continuum of scent. The fresh top notes of citrus – a rich, albeit brief arpeggio of a melange of citrus fruits, giving an oily lacquer at the top. The realistic floral notes to begin, a breeze of lavender providing fresh, anisic astringency, scaling down to then give a profound hum – existing uniquely at the fragrance’s many stages.

Slowly, comes abstraction. You can call Jicky a lavender perfume, but perhaps only initially. You must now call Jicky a fragrance focusing on the delectable 2Hchromen2one; pardon me, coumarin: the tonka bean. Combined with a dosing of a creamy, crazily animalic civet note, the fougere amalgam is made complex to levels that were then novel in perfumery – forming a scent now with an unhurried sexiness – an orchestrated symphony, boasting tautness when you first meet it, and of course a secret languidness when you get to know it well.

The tonka bean, which is culinarily delicious, nutty, and redolent of marzipan and the rich, unctuous sweetness of desserts cooked to a near burnt state, is underpinned generously: amber accords, patchouli, vanilla, incense, and perhaps with what we can call the sparkly luminescence of the Guerlainade. Imparting addiction with a wave of crisp rosemary.

There is a certain lift to this fragrance, and I am tempted to attribute this to the application of aldehydes (or, a term I call, ‘technical aldehydes’ … Meaning, that they are employed not for their smell, but more so for the space between the notes and the feeling of lightness on the nose one receives when smelling these compounds). This gives Jicky an omnipresent freshness whereas the 1925 Shalimar lacks this feature.

Jicky is a glamorous powder at the base, with the initially forceful bodily (or, less politely, fecal) lavender oscillations combine pleasingly, and evolve to a deepness grounded in its base note structure – best experienced in the parfum variant. From freshness and sparkle, comes a roasted, warm, encompassing, and most importantly accepting quality (sandalwood?). Substantial, yet fresh. Dirty, yet persistently sweet.
…And the Guerlain style? It has restraint, and an immense, towering structure. It is a grand, richly balsamic perfume.

A true great of the perfume world. It has a relevance even today, and with no reservations it is my favourite Guerlain (if we don’t count Habit Rouge).

1889: the erection of the Eiffel Tower and the creation of Jicky by Aimé Guerlain. It’s a symbolic new France … 

Alternatives: Pour un Homme by Caron, and Mouchoir de Monsieur by Guerlain.

The perfect citrus-floral-animalic – the balsamic perfume. Get the parfum if you can. 

Subjective rating: 5/5

Objective rating: 5/5


2 thoughts on “Jicky by Guerlain

  1. In my mental list of my most favorite fragrances, JICKY is right up there. I love it for its name which is fun to say straight out and with as exaggerated “euro” accent as you can muster. I love it for its backstory which we now know to be reflective of the love and yearning of one man for another, and I love it for its aroma which, in its vintage form, is still downright avant garde over a century since its inception.
    A contributor on Basenotes a few years ago would post wonderful insights into the world of perfume. He would never identify himself (I assume it was a he) but alluded to working for the House of Patou for quite a few years and claimed to know many within the perfume industry. JICKY was his favorite, signature fragrance that he would order by the liter. In his discussion of JICKY, he said that at its release it was not an immediate hit. He said it was dismissed at the time with the phrase: “Ca sent les pieds!” which means “It smells like feet!”. LOL. I love that. In my mind I can see a cartoonish, snobby French woman waving her hand, while making that exclamation. That phrase became my signature on Basenotes.
    I think I love it because in a way I can almost see that point. Of course it doesn’t smell like feet, but there is a warm, human funk (probably the civet) lurking in there somewhere. Coupled with the lavender and vanilla maybe “clean feet” wouldn’t be too far off the mark? HA!
    That same Basenotes contributor also claims that the modern formulation is an abomination. I wouldn’t go that far as I still own it and use it.
    Keep up the good work Liam. I really enjoy your visits to the classics.

    • Thanks for the thought out response David – appreciated!
      That little Jicky parfum I have in that image is from the 90’s. I found it on Ebay for a steal and in a sublime condition. I would imagine Jicky parfums would age marvellously.

      I love that French phrase too! I’ve yet to find a scent that’s repulsive… I mean, you’re right. I understand what you mean by ‘human’. The most human scent I am accustomed to is Muscs Khoublai Khan and Eau d’Hermes … Both are favourites! I could roll around all day wearing those! haha. To be honest, I find Shalimar more officious than Jicky. Probably because it has a burning tires note on my nose.

      But … I still have a lifetime to live with these scents. I look forward to them.
      Ciao ciao! -Liam

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