Category Archives: Jovoy

Jovoy ‘La Liturgie des Heures’

La Liturgie

Jovoy, as I have mentioned in previous reviews, is a boutique in Paris filled to the rafters with hard core haute perfumerie. They also have their own line of fragrances and ‘La Liturgie des Heures’ is one of them. Now anyone who has read my review of ‘Gardez-Moi’ from Jovoy will know how in love I am with this fragrance. ‘La Liturgie des Heures’ is completely at the opposite end of the spectrum, yet also has quite a hold over me. It is certainly not love, but this perfume is so powerful in it’s delivery and so evocative that it demands to be written about.

Where ‘Gardez-Moi’ is a joyful splash in a bowl of summer fruit punch, ‘La Liturgie’ is a solemn sunday morning in the depths of winter. On the Jovoy website it is described as

 “evoking the image of an old monastery where the scent of burning incense fills the air just like the chanting of daily prayers.”

It is very hard to conjure up another picture other than that which is described above. This perfume is so, so clear with it’s imagery that it acts as a transporter, whisking you straight into an old church on a cold day….

It is morning and the sky is already tired from holding up the clouds. They wrap around it like a yellow-grey muffler, blurring the light into tertiary colours. It is cold and dry right down into the stone, too cold even for frost to form. The skeleton leaves cling to branches as dark and brittle as a witches bones, whispering their last cries into the close of the year.

You do not want to leave your fireside, but it is a day of worship, so on with your Sunday best and up the lane to church. The iron bell in the steeple is tolling. A woollen scarf wrapped around your throat and as many layers as will fit under your coat, you know that the air inside the church will be even colder in it’s stillness. By the time the service is over your feet will be icy and your nose dripping. Still, you know you cannot miss it….

The path up through the graveyard is overhung by a huge old Yew tree. Hollow inside, it spills it’s mulchy heart out onto the dry grass. The leaves, like smooth, flat pine needles, are so dark green they almost seem black. Tiny red berries grow in clusters all over this ancient protector, guarding the church from evil spirits. The gravestones are grey and cold as only dead stone can be. Covered in yellow splotches of lichen, so old that the names of the people beneath have long since been erased by time. Up to the doors you trudge, wreathed in frozen breath and the weariness of winter.

The dim interior of the church you have known your whole life. The floor is paved with chill tiles, red and black and cracked with age. The dark wood pews kneel permanently towards the alter, above which the stained glass glimmers darkly.

You take your seat and your eyes immediately find the piece of wall with it’s bubbled plaster that you have stared at every Sunday for so many years. The service begins and the scent of incense rolls out in thick clouds across the pews, this holy somnambulist who would carry you on a prayer into sleep if it weren’t so cold. As you run your thumb across the pages of your prayer book, the musty paper smell reminds you how many others have been here before you, and how many will come after you have been committed to the hard earth outside…..

An hour later you emerge blinking into the weak winter light, frozen and befuddled. Down the lane on frozen feet you hobble, towards your warm hearth fire and a cup of tea. Unwinding your scarf in the hallway, you catch a drift of incense that followed you home, infusing the fabric with it’s solemn humility. The sombre hum of resin that resonates in the chill … From the dust we have arisen and to dust we shall return….

For me ‘La Liturgie des Heures’ is about as reminiscent of church as it is possible for it to be. As a child I was struck with a very stark sense of my own mortality whenever I went to church, so frankinscence and myrrh still provoke those feelings in me now.

‘La Liturgie’ opens with a very sharp, almost alcoholic cypress note which is almost immediately resinous and sappy. I have read a lot of reviews that call this aspect of the fragrance very pine fresh, like furniture polish. I certainly detect the coniferous hints but for me the resin is deeper, mixed with damp soil and leaf mulch.

Of course the incense is prevalent throughout, and very true in it’s representation. It smells of cold smoke and black, glowing embers inside a brass censer. Once the myrrh is present the perfume doesn’t shift it’s shape, it stays as a steady, sombre distillation of church itself, right down to the dust on the floor underneath the pews and the dry paper smell of the prayer books. It is rather uncanny actually.

I don’t believe that a deconstruction of ‘La Liturgie des Heures’ will actually lead to a better understanding of the perfume. This it has in common with ‘Gardez-Moi’. Both fragrances are more than a sum of their parts and also present themselves as more of a whole than a progressive scent. Everything is experienced all at once and all recedes slowly together. A pleasant aspect of ‘La Liturgie’ is that it warms as it fades, taking the chill out of your bones.

As I have repeated over and over in this review, the experience created by ‘La Liturgie des Heures’ is so uncannily fitting of it’s description that I believe it is owed huge credit more as a piece of olfactory art, rather than a nice perfume for people to wear. I certainly won’t be wearing this in the conventional sense. I will wear it rather like one would wear headphones to listen to an audiobook. It is so transporting and real that it needs to be experienced rather than overlooked because of it’s strangeness.

It is true that there are probably only a few who will want to actually wear this perfume on their skin on a daily basis, but for those with a love of resinous, atmospheric, incense infused fragrance, ‘La Liturgie des Heures’ is an absolute must.

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Jovoy ‘Gardez-Moi’

Gardez-moi

If it hadn’t been for the marvellous Silver Fox, scentual wordsmith and fragrance expert, I might never have had the joy of discovering Jovoy perfumes. After several discussions about my search for ‘the one’, he suggested I find out more about what this marvellous Parisian boutique was all about. Since then I have read a lot about the company and it’s ethos, how it has evolved from a luxury perfume house into a destination for fragrance connoisseurs to explore the world of haute perfumerie.

Owner and visionary Francois Henin set out with the purpose of acquiring Jovoy, once a successful brand catering for the wealthy men and women of 1920’s Paris. He relaunched it as a kind of gallery space where niche perfume houses are given due credit for their craftsmanship and dedication to creating olfactory masterpieces. The customer’s experience within the store is about the discovery and appreciation of these wonderful fragrances, being given the time and space to enjoy them without being pushed into a purchase.

I love this. Proper fragrance will reveal it’s true nature only when you give it the time to do so. It is a secret courtship, a complex dance where the steps must be improvised to the rhythm of the scent. I think that is why I continually feel cheated by fragrance that is mass produced and pushed out into the world wearing it’s heart on it’s sleeve. What pleasure is there if your chosen scent is known by a million others? What can it possibly have for you that it hasn’t already given to half the planet?

Alongside the other exclusive brands, Jovoy has released it’s own fragrances. When the house was first established in the roaring twenties, it produced vibrant, modern scents for those within the upper classes who wanted to celebrate the freedom of the era and set themselves apart by wearing the most stylish scents. Today, it is much the same, these are perfumes for modern people, the statement is about ‘the now’. There is a definite nod to it’s past glory days, but the new fragrances are thoroughly contemporary.

Enter ‘Gardez-Moi’. Of this perfume, Henin says that

 You need to be familiar with society’s morals at that time in order to better understand this scent. After World War I and until the Great Depression, it was absolutely normal if a man came to the restaurant or to the theater with two women: one lady, his spouse; the second, a beautiful kept mistress.

‘Keep Me’ is the English translation of ‘Gardez-Moi’. It is a tribute to a perfume of the same name that was released in 1926. Jovoy was the destination for Parisian cocottes, fine ladies who became the mistresses of upper class, married men. These dangerously decadent and often beautiful women led an extravagant, opulent lifestyle paid for mostly by their rich lovers. Ranked somewhere between courtesans and prostitutes, they were an excepted part of society at that time. As perfect muses for artists, writers and musicians, cocettes wreathed themselves in glamour and allure, always exquisitely dressed, always desirable.

I was wondering if ‘Gardez-Moi’ would be nothing more than a modern interpretation of the cocotte,   All allure and jewels and sex. Although it has many of those elements within it, the fragrance as a whole is so much more than a sum of it’s parts. I usually can’t help but personify perfumes. Characters step fully formed into my mind to bear their scented mantels through a story. But ‘Gardez-Moi’ is more of a sensation than a person. I will try to explain it, but I already know that it has to be worn to be truly experienced.

‘Gardez-Moi’ opens in the traditional way of most perfumes, with a flourish of top notes. I immediately detect aldehydes and cyclamen. It is so evocative of hot house flowers that I can feel the fleshy, waxy petals between my fingers, how they would bruise if I pushed my fingernail into them. Next come the lilies and gardenia in a breath of sweet pollen, which is momentarily spiced with black pepper. To my relief the pepper recedes to a pleasant hum almost immediately and the flowers sing out with lushness once again.

Then the most delicious sensation appears in the fragrance. The tropical humidity of the petals is quenched in mouthwatering dew, the whole thing turns liquid and flows off the skin in a torrent of fruit juices. I actually taste ripe plums and raspberries crushed into sparkling spring water. I have come across ‘wet’ fragrances before but there is none of the usual coolness, no green cucumber or melon that usually feature so strongly. ‘Gardez-Moi’ is a watercolour of fruits and flowers, painted without brushes. it is a perfect sphere filled to bursting with exquisitely sweet pleasures.

It continues as a slow wash of sweetness, each note incapsulated into beads of jewel bright liquid, to be dropped into a still lake. It is quite stunning. I am bewitched by how this fragrance manages to be wet, sugary, warm and refreshing all at once. It sits fairly close to the skin, a scrumptious sensation, I am tempted to sink my teeth into my own arm.

‘Gardez-Moi’ can only be described as gourmand because it evokes such a mouthwatering reaction. There is an abundance of beautiful things in this fragrance that I haven’t mentioned so far, jasmine, ylang-ylang and mimosa, coriander and tomato leaves, musk, vanilla and oak moss. I didn’t notice the development of these notes individually, ‘Gardez Moi’ does not shift and change in a way that I have ever experienced in a perfume before. As it mellows further it becomes a luscious wash, the elements beginning to flow into each other, creating a slick honey scented with petals and succulent juices. It is devine nectar, a thirst quenching ambrosia of the gods.

Yet it is also so warm and comforting. The vanilla unites with the berries into a sweet soufflé that emerges out of the water to be served on a floating raft, draped with fine silks and cashmere blankets. From here you could stargaze though out the warm, ylang scented night, listening to the ripples as they spread in your wake.

I am head over heels in love with ‘Gardez-Moi’. It’s as simple as that. On skin it is intimate and fluid, on fabric it is more clinging, full of red juices and white blossoms. It never looses that amazing wetness that is at once refreshing and sensual. To wear it is to take the finest watercolour paints in vibrant pinks, purples and reds, and drip them into a pool of deepest blue water. It doesn’t become a pastel impression of itself as it fades, it simply starts to flow away as gently as it flooded your senses in the beginning. It leaves behind a blushing glow of raspberries and jasmine and musk.

‘Gardez Moi’ is a forbidden fruit, to be lusted after and craved. It bows it’s bejewelled head to the beautiful kept women of it’s past, then is carried on the flow of the river into the garden of Eden. It is the apple and I am Eve. You have to try it.