My friend Emma sent me this old perfume ad ripped from an 80’s fashion magazine :

‘Je Reviens. It talks when you can’t’.

Interesting. It is true that this classic by the House Of Worth has mystique in its savory, aromatic melancholy; a plea that pulls on you from another realm that might mask a lack of enigma.

But here, these awkward his n her showroom dummies (batteries not shown), do not even seem to me to have the ability to speak in the first place.

True, they have grown skin; hair; slacks. Makeup. Learned some human gestures.

But the beauty of the perfume, in an indescribable sphere all its own, will surely be lost on each one of these static, anosmic, innardless models, in a strange and lifeless promotion created more than fifty years after the fragrance’s original release (will there still be adverts for La Vie Est Belle in 2060 ?)

Perhaps what is suggested here is that the perfume literally does SPEAK.

As in : “It’s Je Reviens on the phone”.

A blue, silent mouthpiece on the end of the line : a hissing emission of aldehydized iris, frankincense, oakmoss, narcissus…


Filed under Flowers

24 responses to “PERFUME FOR SEX ROBOTS

  1. Otherworldly is a perfect way to sum up Je Reviens. It is seemingly not of any time, nor any place. It exists outside of these worldly boundaries.
    The models in this advert truly seem to be immune to its mystical pull. The way it just tugs at your heartstrings and makes you long for a point in time where you never actually existed, yet one you know deep within your heart.

    • EXACTLY. Who can create that feeling in a perfume? It is absolute genius. I have a friend who was like a yapping dog at the initial notes – ecstacized, but who who utterly depressed by the end of it, that inexpressible longing. I think that is what they are trying to do in this advert – no matter how vacuous you are as a catalog model/ android, Je Reviens will communicate for you!

  2. Jools

    I really enjoyed this one – Tales of the Unexpected came to mind. I could also smell the half-used makeup, presented in a box to Helen and I every now and then – our ‘babysitter’s’ daughter would give us her cast-offs and sometimes there would be an old (usually very small) bottle of perfume included in the donation. So funny when you recall how many adverts looked like this.

  3. Robin

    I love this so much. The images are perfect, in a strange and unexpected way.

    Of all the fragrances I’ve ever experienced, it was Je Reviens that gave my heartstrings the most ferocious tug from the first sniff. I think I actually swooned. This is MINE!!!!!!!!!!!! And I wore it for years. Super poignant now, every time. I own lots and lots of extrait. I wish I had more. Those skyscraper ribbed dark blue Lalique ounce bottles were so divine. I went through half a dozen.

    • Ooh, I have only ever had the round ones. I love the sound of those.

      I agree about the ad: for me it is utterly wrong and deliciously right simultaneously. I just can’t believe how stiff and unnatural they have been posed, but something about the blueness of the whole made me stare at it yesterday morning for a long time and I fancied a short train ride caprice on the subject.

      • Robin

        So much so. That ad! To me, it completely misses the mark, utterly fails to convey a shred of the ethereal and melancholy quality that Je Reviens possesses — although I guess, in its eighties way, it’s trying.

        Je Reviens out-blues l’Heure Bleue, to my way of thinking.

        One of its glories, shared by all the greats, is that it’s difficult to parse out individual notes. I never guessed violet or orange blossom; in fact, not a single thing. Irrelevant, anyway.

      • I agree. It comes from another planet.

  4. emmawoolf

    This post is most mirthsome! I loved Je Reviens back then (I probably owned a bottle at the same time as I ripped out the pages. Apologies for their tattiness. They were in better condition pre-transit). I had never thought of this scent as one for replicants. I definitely have a thing for aldehydes. But the ad is v amusing. Is Nigel Havers peeking out of the “menu” ? (Of binary code, we presume?). Thank you for making me laugh on (yet another) cold, cold February day, here on plague island. I wish I had a bottle by my side x

  5. Hanamini

    Lovely post. I’m surrounded by bottles of Je Reviens in various shapes and sizes (except that one), from a recent bender. It never makes me feel sad, but I cannot wear it with anything that isn’t blue or green. I have that trouble with perfume; it’s always very closely and literally related to (its) colour, not in a deep sense at all—an affliction that can be limiting! And the ad….the men so full of intent and the women so devoid of it…

    • !


      Have we met before ?

      Also, I totally understand the thing about colour. Perhaps it is consolidating to your appreciation of the perfume, though, rather than limiting. I am the kind of person that will spray Hermes Rouge on a crimson cashmere scarf. Plus, for a year I am fundamentally in green clothes with vetiver oil + vintage 19. Not very inventive, but it totally works for me.

      • Hanamini

        Well, we met once at your Roullier White book signing…we spoke about Japan (I lived there for 14 years–in Tokyo mainly).

        In full agreement about the colours—I have very little red in my wardrobe so no perfumes with red in their names, even though I love Habit Rouge! My children think I’m crazy. The closest I’ve got is Rubikona (puredistance), worn with something claret or winey. (They used to call me Rubi-chan in Japan—surname thing—so maybe that predisposed me to liking it!) Plenty of rose shades, though, and perfumes to match. Been wearing gaiac with grey today—is that dictated by the initial letter? My children may be right.

        It’s amazing what power naming, label, colours, fonts and typefaces can do. Did that Je Reviens ad tempt anyone, I wonder…

        Your post on Caron Infini tempted me, so I got some, and I find I can get away with wearing that with most colours; thank god there are some neutrals.

        If you ever need anything from the UK….let me know. FYI I’ve had perfumes delivered from Japan and France and Germany recently, no customs issues. US tends to produce import charges but that’s always been the way.

  6. I have never sniffed Je Reviens except for the drugstore variety in the 90s. I recall it was a bit tinny, sharp, and less than memorable. This sounds like a different scent entirely.
    Those 80s sex robots really wore the supersaturated skin tones & heavy-handed makeup. Not sure which is worse, those overly hairsprayed & hot rollered poofy hairdos or the makeup? Kind of makes it clear what era Trump’s personal style stayed in.

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