Accessing the popularity stakes and artistic success of a bestseller is never an easy thing. Perhaps it's the competitors who speak most frankly about its cachet: As Thierry Wasser, head perfumer at Guerlain at the moment, revealed in an interview on Swiss television, "Every one of us wants to make the next J'Adore!"
The aphorism ~on a fragrance with a name that means "I LOVE it!"~ was meant to convey the ubiquitousness of the scent, its staggering approval by consumers from young to old. Such ubiquitousness in fact that its commercial's televised air-time 10 years after its introduction in 1999 has raised questions on a popular perfume forum about the reasons behind it!
The makings of a best-seller
You see, gone are the days of Chanel No.5 when commercials were running for the same scent for decades: Today the fast-paced churning out of fragrances means that the bombarding with advertising images changes dramatically from season to season with the latest and the glossiest catching page after page and air-minute after air-minute in an attempt to lure us into the Great New Thing. Alas, so very few times they deliver. Yet there is no question about Christian Dior's fragrance enduring presence in both the media and ~what's more important~ on the dressers and the bodies of countless women on the planet: Yes, by that token Dior's J'Adore is a modern classic!
Stating such a claim makes eyebrows raise on perfumistas' foreheads, accustomed as they are to the exclusive, the arcane, the unattainable or alternatively the vintage, the classic and the ultra-rare. But the beauty of perfumery is that one doesn't need to go up digging for Alexander the Great's grave (a task several worthy people have been unsuccessful at, its location forever unknown); one can find a good thing even almost on their doorstep (or in this case their local Sephora) and like Alexander's golden locks it is gilded and shiny with its "giraffe women" necklaces around the stem of the bottle and screaming with every drop of its jus "I'm covetable". A gorgeous face in Charlize Theron's shoes strutting her statuesque shape is challenging ~but also promising to~ every woman to become a living goddess! "Woman is an idol, and must be adorned to be adored," wrote Charles Baudelaire and Dior was quick to snatch the immortal line for their own purposes.
Pinkification: more to it than meets the eye
J'Adore (pronounced Za-DORH) clout however took an unexpected and fascinating path to form. Back in 1999 the fruity floral vogue was just catching on, as consumers tired of the acquatics and ozonics of the 90s and of the realisation that the dot com prodigies were not something to sustain the economy as foretold were searching for a little girliness, a little pinkiness ~even a reversion to the mental age of Barbie some would say! (and who can blame them in retrospect?) A recent article at The Guardian talks about the pinkification of our culture where beauty "gurus" emote in exalted girly-tones that could shutter crystal and have you screaming up the walls with devious and not so devious plans on assassinating the perpatrators of those auditory crimes. (parodies abound, so not all hope is foresaken). The cultural background of this phenomenon is vaster than the scope of those pages, yet a fragrance such as J'Adore managed to come aboard at the exact time when the wave of girlishness was gaining momentum. And we have to grugingly admit: Among all the girly fruity florals, J'Adore actually manages to inject a little womanly touch there too: It's not completely air-headed!
In Dior's portfolio it is something of a chasm, a no man's land where the classics (Miss Dior, Diorissimo, Eau Fraiche, Diorama, Diorling, Diorella, Dior-Dior and Dioressence) along with the established (Dune, Poison and some of the latter's flankers) veered off in favour of the modern specimens which are targeted to a different audience (Addict, Addict Shine, Forever and Ever etc.).
In a way J'Adore was the catalyst which ushered the pounding thumb of fruity florals not only chez Dior but along the widths and the breadths of the feminine fragrance market. Calice Becker, the perfumer behind J'Adore, is famous for her symphonic yet non-obese florals. Essentially linear, J'Adore begins and ends on a complicated yet quite fresh bouquet that oscillates between the velvety sheen of orchids and champaca with their sensuous air and the fruitier elements of rich plum, sprinkled with droplets of sweet citrus fruit, hints of greenery and a soupçon of violet & rose coquetry (ionones). The whole is underscored by cassis (a synthetic base very popular in the 80s, also used in Poême with which it shares an indefiniable vibe) with subtle woods. The longer the perfume stays on the more it projects that latter element. The eau de parfum's tenacity is indeed phenomenal and it manages to radiate even from the blotter for a while.
And when all is said and done, it smells nice. I wouldn't trail the Himalayan Route for it like I would with other fragrances and it's a little too sweet and ubiquitous for my personal tastes, but it's a round, feminine scent that attracts compliments. Think about how women have passed you by at the street, your nostrils quivered at their scent and you almost murmured j'adore....
Notes for Christian Dior J'Adore: Mandarin, champaca flowers, ivy, African orchid, rose, violet, Damascus plum, amaranth wood, blackberry musk
Dior J'Adore Special Editions and Flankers
The face of J'adore was initially Esthonian beauty Carmen Kaas, but it was Hollywood star Charlize Theron who really "clicked" and gave J'Adore an immense visual advantage.
J'Adore is available at every Dior counter everywhere, available in the following versions/flankers:
1) the original J'Adore Eau de Parfum concentration (1999) in the golden toned bottle depicted in the ads and reviewed above
2) the lighter and less plummy J'Adore Eau de Toilette (2002) in the silvery-toned design (pictured on the right). In 2011 the eau de toilette concentration was re-orchestrated (due to changes in perfumery regulations) by Francois Demachy, giving it a sweeter and fresher appeal, and repackaged in the gold scheme packaging and presentation, only differentiated from the EDP by the notification on the packaging.
3) the magnificent, limited (and costlier) edition of J'Adore L'Absolu (2007) a delightfully intense version of the classic favorite with Turkish rose, tuberose, and jasmine combine to make a truly pretty floral" (Eau de Parfum Absolute, created by Francois Demachy). A superior version of the formula, developed by Francois Demachy with premium floral essences.
4) the J'Adore L' Eau Cologne Florale 2009 (the bottle is in golden tones, but a little more slender), which reprises the floral theme with touches of lemony magnolia to render a very current modernisation of the brand. The range is complimented with ancilary body products and is often augmented with special editions that reprise the design of the bottle.
5) J'Adore L'Or is a essence de parfum edition launched in 2010 with the neck of the bottle in thin gold threads and the same amphora style body, available only in 40ml. It's an amped up and more expensive version of the eau de parfum with sweeter and headier florals and a more lasting and very perceptible vanilla base.
6) A limited edition from 2007 highlighting the jasmine note is J'Adore Le Jasmin, available in 100ml of alcohol-free eau de toilette for the summer. Longer, leaner amphora bottle, but otherwise same, with a box reading "summer fragrance" underneath the name. Not to be confused with the 2004 summer fragrance, which is encased in the familiar bottle that holds EDT or EDP, with the only difference being marked in the box ('summer fragrance').
The following limited editions are only different in the bottle presentation or visuals and do not bear a difference in the scent itself.
Special limited "anniversary" editions of J'Adore en Or come from 2004 and 2009 (for the 5 and 10 years of the market respectively); the former with curved drawn "lines" on the upper body of the matte gold bottle, the latter with a golden medallion with the initials CD hanging on a thread on the transparent glass familiar amphora-shaped body. A shimmery version called J'Adore Divinement d'Or (Gold Supreme) was issued in 2006 with gold shimmer suspended in the juice.
Photo by JeffWestboorke, pics via it's all about life blog