Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dior J'Adore: fragrance review & J'Adore Versions (L'Eau Cologne Florale, J'Adore L'Absolut, J'Adore L'Or) on the Market

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


  1. I have the alchohol free version (an impulse purchase in duty free a few years ago!). The thing is it's the sort of scent I think I don't like but really I do- it reminds me of the holiday I bought it on a lot. I rarely wear it but something I have a sniff and it is a happy scent- but not teeth standing on edge it's shrill happy. I also know a couple of non perfumistas who wear it very well. I still think people should investigate the old Dior's more but seeing as they don't this is a good choice otherwise

  2. Oh Helg a ugly bottle with a Ordinary scent inside and that darn commercial is all over our TV here at the moment too!
    Like that would make me buy it! LOL

    Now --- if it was the wonderful but sadly rare as hen's teeth Diorama - well, now we are talkin!

  3. K,

    somehow I think this is one scent which has a way of influencing us through repeated exposure that seems fecthing (and it radiates so well, its sillage is very discernible): I have caught myself numerous times smelling it on others and saying "hmm, nice". But honestly, I believe only the Absolu version is truly beautiful. In the dumping down of Dior, it's certainly a better choice than many :/

  4. M,

    the bombarding with commercials does seem annoying, I'll give you that! And certainly the classic Diors are incomparable. Yet, the hoi polloi should wear something and in the absence of the greats, it will do. Much better that that in-your-face Addict!!

  5. BTW,
    do you also like Diorling? It's probably my favourite.

  6. I never cared for this one. To my knowledge, I've never smelled it on anyone until this weekend, and it smelled good on her. I also saw a person buying some this weekend. But it is still not for me. It doesn't do well on me.

  7. Karin,

    don't worry, I'm not crazy about it either! I can well understand where you're coming from. Still, it's one bestseller which is a bestseller for a reason (some others I cannot for the life of me understand AT ALL) and this was the whole point of the exercise: seeing why that is.
    It's crazily popular in Europe btw so I am kinda intrigued you haven't smelled it on a lot of people.

  8. I'm really glad you reviewed this, because I think about it often. I don't like it on myself, and I don't wear it. But I wish I had a dollar for every woman I'd stopped in public somewhere and asked, what is that you are wearing? It is often J'Adore. I once stalked a tour group for the better part of an hour through a museum in Vienna, trying to locate the source! Again, J'Adore. (this probably says something about J'Adore's sillage as well...) On me it seems too much, but in a larger space on a stranger it's quite attractive.

  9. M,

    it's an interesting specimen, isn't it? It has ENDURED. Something not very common nowadays. Like you, I often smell it on others and think "hey, that's nice" and I recall your museum adventure, from when you had recounted it on the blog, in fact I was thinking of it while writing as I have similar experiences. But on me, I soon bored of it, after half a bottle. The Absolu however is rather tempting: it's much more refined. Then again, I don't know if I want to actually own it. :/

    Hope you have a lovely time this holiday season!! Hugs!

  10. Back again to annoy you (and we ARE having a rather lovely time in spite of the snow.) So: I sniffed the EdP for the zillionth time tonight. Sprayed it on a strip, stuffed it in my coat pocket. On paper, it never seems particularly special (or big) to me, this is the EdP. But on my skin it's huge! Too much. On someone else's skin (and maybe it just has to be the *right* someone) it's extraordinary, although perhaps they're wearing the different concentration?

  11. Nah...ALWAYS a pleasure, never an annoyance!!
    (and so glad you're having a great time, you're getting lots of snow I hear, here we only get snow in January and February in the city ~countryside & the mountains is a different matter of course)

    I don't think it's the different concentration on anybody else, most people pick the EDP simply because that's the first one issued I notice.
    I get a huge spell out of it as well, which makes it difficult to wear as a personal fragrance, my tastes usually being more intimate: it's simply giga-sillageous! (sounds like a swear-word! LOL) I think it's part of its (commercial) success: Have you noticed? All the bestsellers over the years (especially in the last 3 decades) have been monstruous sillage-beasts: Opium, Poison, Giorgio, Obsession, L'eau d'Issey, CK One, Tresor, Aqua di Gio, Light Blue, Angel....I believe there's something to it, don't you?

  12. Certainly it makes sense that the sillage-monsters get attention, and you're more likely to ask someone, hey, what IS that? But there are more subtle best-sellers too (like NR and Lovely) that, I suppose, are for people who don't want to make quite such an impression :)

    I am mostly anosmic to the musks in Lovely. However, I have in fact asked several women what they are wearing and discovered it's NR, which can smell surprisingly different on different skin. On some women it's fantastically spicy.

  13. J'Adore is the signature scent of one of my best friends, so it's wrapped up in good memories yet unwearable for me personally. Plus, it's a bit... beige for my taste. Oatmeal, if you will. I always seem to forget what it smells like. And yet I bet it's *because* of that blank canvassy quality that it's become such a commercial success. One could do much, much worse in modern designer products!

  14. M,

    sorry for the late reply!

    How interesting what you say about how MR morphs on different women! I wouldn't have thhought it as "spicy" yet I can see where you're coming from, it does have the potential to come across like that. I find Lovely a little more "luminous" yet subtler than the sillage of NR. It's funny how they resemble one another when one knows the story behind them, though, eh? ;-)


  15. Arachne,

    a very insightful comment, thank you!! There is certainly a lot of truth in what you say: a perfume that lets you graft its personality into you is potentially very commerciable. I wonder if it was intentional :P

  16. This article makes me feel like I'm not crazy!!!! I've suspected this for quite a while. I started wearing J'adore sometime around 2003 - 2005 and I haven't had the same love for it ever since. Do you happen to have the same information about identifying the packaging per year or per reformulation as you do with the Miss Cherie? I'm now on the hunt for 10 year old perfume!! Might be like finding a needle in a haystack, but I'll at least feel cool knowing what to look for. :) Thanks!!!

  17. J-ME,

    thanks for saying so!
    I will try to do some sorting out and get to you soon with a post on this.

  18. Anonymous00:48

    I smelled this on someone...it smelled so lovely.
    Which one is the Real Deal Perfume?
    I don't want to waste my coins on toilet spray.

  19. Anon,

    I believe both L'Or and L'Absolu are good quality.
    The newest extrait edition is also good, though it should be at those prices! The edt and edp have changed since their original launch.

    hope this helps!

  20. ellina04:54

    I used to dislike J' Adore. I had first encountered it on a hairdresser I used to have. She smelled pleasant but too floral and somehow shrill, and I asked what it was, to get the name "j' adore". Years went by, and I didn't care for fruity florals at all. The fact that j' adore was worn by so many women didn't make it very appealing either. However, a few days ago I visited Sephora's to try the new Touche de Parfum. My eye caught a tall bottle labelled "huile satinee pour le corps". I applied a few drops to the back of my hand and gently rubbed it in. Then I inhaled. Wow. Magic happened. The oil carried the fragrance in a smooth, round way, the fragrance was radiating from my skin like I had always smelt like that. I was sold. i bought a bottle of the oil the next day and am now wearing it as a scent, rubbed on my decolletage and arms. The projection is quiet, no shrillness or obnoxiousness, as I had initially feared of this. So now I have a version of j' adore I love.

  21. That's wonderful Ellina! You see. Sometimes too much of a good thing is exactly that. I used to turn up my nose at the droves of women wearing J'Adore. Still the original formulation is worthwhile. Dense and round. I'm very happy the Touche de Parfum replicates that feeling. You have got me inspired to go get some!

  22. I don't think the liquid that is in the bottle now (late 2015) resembles the original J'adore at all. They could just have poured it in a new bottle, done some marketing and called it something else.

    Can't understand why those who have used it forever don't complain. What about Charlice Throne, does she knows about the ugly recent reformulations?


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