THREE SHOUTS OF: : : : : JOY by JEAN PATOU (1930) + ODE by GUERLAIN (1955) + SNOB by LE GALION ( 1952)















Joy, despite its legendary iconic status as one of the world’s classical grands parfums, is very much an acquired taste.You can lust over this perfume, with its luscious, almost lascivious, natural rose and jasmine essences, its hints of tuberose, aldehydes and pear, then suddenly find it too much – decadent, dirty, with its civet-licked, superb nonchalance.


This happened to my mother. A true jasmine lover, of the flowers in her garden, or of the perfumes on her person, she has worn Joy or Eau De Joy (vintage, sent in the post by me), off and on for years, but then recently found that one day that the fragrance suddenly repelled her and that she could no longer wear it. Instead, she has been sticking to her other trusted jasmine consort, First by Van Cleef & Arpels, surely another equally beautiful, jasmined,  orchestral, and vivacious grand parfum if ever there was.



I myself think that Joy is a difficult perfume to pull off, but if you can, it smells thrilling. When the jasmine in this scent really takes off, on the right skin, it can be dream-inducingly beautiful, dislodging something in your conscious; suggestive, embodied, yet very much in control. Unlike N°5, which almost seems to have been designed with seduction and sexual acquiescence built into its DNA, Joy has a more controlled yet commanding presence that requires a fiercer, more self conscious intelligence.



The story behind Joy is very well known so I won’t elaborate on it: perfumer Henri Alméras, asked by Patou sidekick and socialite Elsa Maxwell to produce a new, exciting perfume for the house, rose gladly to the challenge to produce, almost vengefully, an ultra expensive formula that he believed would be commercially impossible to tap. Naturally though, the extravagant hedonists loved it, coined the immortal phrase ‘the world’s costliest perfume’ , and Joy went on the market, became a worldwide phenomenon:  a scent, almost,  of discomforting, livid jouissance – a breathing, jasmine bloodstream.










*     *     *
























Though the house of Guerlain has probably produced more masterpieces than any perfume house on earth, not all of its creations have been true originals. Liù was overtly influenced by Nº5, and Ode, which I have in vintage parfum (400 yen, about 4 dollars, just over two pounds from the flea market one day)


















(! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ! ! J  O  Y   ! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ! !   !      !      !     !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! )

















is obviously directly modelled on Joy. Here we find the same essences of Rose de Mai and Jasmine de Grasse. There is the musk; the richness, the florality, but its all so very Guerlain; plusher, softer, a bit more ditzy and gullible, but terribly, terribly romantic if you are into that sort of thing. I wore some last night to bed, and though it is not something I would dream of leaving the house in ( I would feel like a fool) the warm, gushing aura it produced –  a perfume of love, and of true, flush-hearted tenderness – made me smile.









* * *


















Even more joyous in some ways – spritelier and more exuberant –  is Snob by Le Galion, one of the finest houses to have ever perished in the history of perfumery (their tuberose and jasmine soliflores parfums de toilette are quite simply to die for, so if you ever find them anywhere, at a car boot sale, or online, just trust me and snap them up: I used up mine a long time ago in the summer they were so wearable). These fine perfumes combine lushness with backbone; freshness with chic, and Snob, one of the house’s biggest successes back in the day, is no exception to this rule.



The Patou Joy template is immediately there from the very first sniff of the top notes (and I read somewhere that Patou tried to halt sales of this perfume in America at the height of its success for that very reason), but you can see quite easily why Snob might rile and upset its predecessor; charming, new, like Ann Baxter edging out Margo Channing in All About Eve…younger and fresher; tauter….




The perfume opens on a Soir De Paris tingling in the top, with singing, tight-budded effects, one eye on the game; jasmine in her hair;breath held in tightly to her ivory, figure-clasping bodice.




While Joy vivaciously presides, and Ode has already passed out on her decanter crystal of shiraz, Snob still sips on her rosé, not even consciously drinking. She is prizing the room, taking it in.  Waiting for that moment when she sees what she is seeking and will suddenly gasp, politely, reform her gaze; and lift her eyes up flutteringly, imploringly, effortlessly  for the kill.


Filed under Flowers

46 responses to “THREE SHOUTS OF: : : : : JOY by JEAN PATOU (1930) + ODE by GUERLAIN (1955) + SNOB by LE GALION ( 1952)

  1. spot on. Thanks for the post, as always.

  2. brie

    yes to Joy! applied judiciously had always been so beloved by my alabaster wrists….has been ages since I sniffed….for now I am perfectly happy wafting of First…like your mum!

  3. Katherine

    Great! All About Eve is such fun :), and i love how you describe characters and behaviour, and in particular women, always! Stirs me up and is very exciting.. Reminds me of the possibilities of perfume, like dressing, of all the different people and entering into the swing of things.

    • I have no idea how I describe women, and how it might compare with other people’s treatment of the same, so I find your comments fascinating. I think I am kind of a misogynist feminist: part female myself, and yet not – very male; I love women, but also hate them, but then I also love men, and hate them too……

  4. Katherine

    Oh and that reminds me of the caddish theatre critic, I saw the actor who played him in something else the other day and he’s always great.

  5. arline

    This was my moms favorite perfume, and it makes me think of her. I do think it is a beautiful fragrance, but on me, what I pick up, is civit, and bad breath!!!! Not good!!!!

    One time, when I was about 7 or 8, I remember my mom being totally upset, because she had spilled her precious Joy, in the glove box of our car. It was the pretty little black bottle, with the red stopper.

    Our car smelled great for a very long time. I think the Joy mixed well with the leather interior.

    I have a tiny bottle of it, that I sniff from time to time, and sometimes I dab a little on my wrist, and that seems to be enough to think of my mom, and not smell what I don’t like about it.

    • For me too this could only be exactly the same thing; a dab on the hand as a reminder, of other people, or just to refresh my memory of what the perfume is actually like. I could NEVER EVER wear this, it would be wrong…vile even. But I still think it is magnificent.

      (why is no one talking about the other perfumes by the way…..)

  6. How odd to realize that, as deeply as I love the darker and more animalic jasmines, I’ve never tried Joy. Don’t know how I missed it, really. It’s a bit like saying “I love red wine. Someday I really must try a Bordeaux.” So today after work I will be off to seek a tester bottle. I tend to do well with civet, partly because my skin seems to tone it down and partly because my dogs are entranced by it and keep trying to lick it off my wrists, so there isn’t too much left by the time I leave the house.

    • I wonder I wonder; not sure if you will like it (and, as everybody knows, the new version isn’t quite up to scratch…..) but you never know. Please let me know how you get on with it.

      • A kindly SA sprayed me with it, and Joy and I got along like a house afire. So rich, so rounded, so plush…I was not quite certain that I liked it, but I loved it, and couldn’t leave my wrists alone. I can imagine wearing it a lot, and I can also imagine sharing your mother’s experience of sudden aversion to it. But not any time soon.

      • Great to hear. Two elegant, feral jasmines getting on like a house on fire!

      • So gallantly said. I am enjoying the last of the afterglow, if you’ll pardon my putting it that way, and thinking “wow, this is the reformulation that everyone is upset about? Thank goodness I haven’t smelled the original, because it would break my heart.”

      • Not necessarily, actually. In certain scents such as Joy, freshness is key. Next time I find some old Joy at the flea market, though, it will be yours.

  7. Lilybelle

    My taste in fragrance must be similar to your mother’s – I love Joy (and First). My current bottle is Eau de Joy edp in the black glass rechargeable atomizer. I remember the parfum was always a bit odd and alien at first. It smelled like it might have been a little off, slightly funky as I sniffed the bottle and applied a drop or two. It was a ceremonial application, the sensual annointing with Joy. A few minutes later, it would begin to meld into my skin and as it warmed took on a life of its own. It was a symphony. It was gorgeous and dead sexy (to me anyway). Perhaps not sexy to people today. The ingredients would probably smell too odd and off, like a perfume placed in an old tomb. But it always came to life on my skin. Joy and I are very well-met, as an old friend used to say. The edt was rosier and fresher, airier and elegant, very pretty and a little aloof. Not aloof in the way of Chanel No. 5 edt (which to me is just cold metal – tho’ I like other formulations), but aloof in a way that is pleasant but a little reserved without being stiff. I mean, that was how it made me feel. My Eau de Joy edp is somewhere in between the two ends of the Joy spectrum: it’s very jasminey, rosy and lush. The ingredients are very fine but it doesn’t have the sexy carnal depth and concentration of the parfum; neither does it have the fresh, rosy, delicate sparkle of the edt. In that sense it’s a bit middle of the road. I don’t think it is boring and safe; rather, safe enough, but it is still divine because it is Joy. ANY vintage, intact, pre-P&G Joy is worth having, imo. I don’t wear it often, but when I have the craving that lush jasmine/floral heady rush I reach for my Eau de Joy because the jasmine never makes me feel queasy the way certain jasmines do lately.

  8. Lilybelle

    Still loving Joy. I have it with me visiting family in the deep south, the only bottle I brought with me. 🙂

  9. I still have the black bottle of Joy with the red stopper (as well as the eau de toilette) and only wear it to bed now and then. I have the other one also “1000”. in the eau de parfum. I have to revisit both of them as it has been quite a while since I wore either one to bed. I have never worn them any other time of the day or night.

  10. janeykate

    Your reviews always make me want to rush out and buy the perfume!
    Jane x

  11. Tania

    I’ve never tried anything else by Le Galion but Sortilege. I remembered liking that when I had a tiny bottle when I was about 12 years old, so I sought out some vintage. Unfortunately, all three bottles, (different years, different sellers) were turned. I don’t think it keeps well.
    As for Joy, I appreciate but can’t wear it. On me it stays in the shallow end, no depth, it never warms up. I can imagine on the right person it’s amazing. I once read that it was Vivien Leigh’s signature perfume. I can see that….

  12. Pingback: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963) | Born Unicorn

  13. Pingback: THREE SHOUTS OF: : : : : JOY by JEAN PATOU (1930) + ODE by GUERLAIN (1955) + SNOB by LE GALION ( 1952) | The Black Narcissus

  14. Wearing vintage Joy right now and smiling.
    Portia x

  15. After reading this, I drenched myself with vintage Joy just before going to bed. Ahhh. It’s the most voluptuous, heady stuff. For me, a bit all-consuming for daytime, but alone in a cloud of it at night, the dreamiest. Daytime: vintage 1000; Evening: vintage Sublime; Bedtime: vintage Joy.

    • I think I need to do 1000 (love) and Sublime (on the fence) reviews soon!

      • I would love that. I’m a bit ambivalent about Sublime (no reservations re: 1000; one of my very favourite compositions) and would enjoy hearing your thoughts. Mine are a bit confused. I want to love it, but there’s something missing, and it’s some kind of emotional attachment. Maybe . . .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s