It’s almost impossible to think back to a time when you could wander around a city maskless thronged with shoppers and go perfume hunting; spend the day going back and forth, stopping for coffee or cocktails, excitedly taking scent strips from your bags and pockets, forming ideas about which ones you think you might need. I can’t even fantasize about this now as the threat of others’ breath has contaminated the pleasure. It will take a long time to detraumatize. Many people reading this might not even have been outside their living quarters for a year, or if they have, only for essentials – not indulgent luxuries. Others might have ventured into town and experienced the semi-pointless and awkward rigmarole of trying to lower your mask to insert a scent blotter into the papered contraption for nasal perusal while carefully not exposing another to your asymptomatic killer virus and sort of sniffing it but not really enjoying it because perfume is not something to be done in half measures.

Some of my best ever perfume shopping experiences have been in Paris. I went with Helen for one trip, and another with Duncan, and it was bliss. Just wandering about down the avenues on your way to the next destination down this street or other, mentally calculating your rapidly dwindling finances and wondering which ones you will be able to take home. Back at the hotel, excitedly taking out your purchases and hoping you won’t spill them before you even get on the plane. There is nothing else quite like it – Caron, Serge Lutens at the Palais Royal, Guerlain on the Champs Elysées; Montale, Maitre Parfumeur Et Gantier, so many possibilities; rather than the standardised department store with its made-for strip lighting concessions and the encircling assistants in their false eyelashes and sallow jaundiced foundation, you are in beautiful old buildings, boutiques with restaurants and bistros you can pop over the road to when you need sustenance. If there again I would dart into Dusita to experience the perfumes in their home environment and have some tea with the owner; make my way to the Nose Boutique, Sens Unique, Parfums de Nicolaï as well as the gallery of niche that is Jovoy (I love places you can step outside like this to get fresh air and come to your senses, relocate your brain and nose rather than the interminable escalators and artificial fluorescence of Harrods or Selfridges and Galleries Lafayette / Printemps where the claustrophobe in me is often worse for wear).

I like to enjoy it, take my time.

Now I am on spring break at home, I am trying to declutter the shambolic living circumstances we have been living in for far too long by rearranging my perfume bottles bit by bit and trying old samples that have somehow escaped my attention. I know I liked Jovoy’s 60’s musked patchouli Psychedelique enough to include it in my book, along with the excellent La Liturgie Des Heures, (which I think might be my favourite ever frankincense. Really lovely). The final part of this 2011 trilogy by perfumer Jacques Flori that I had semi-neglected is L’Enfant Terrible, a rich, warm, and woody spice balsamic very redolent of Feminité Du Bois (Virgina cedar and sandalwood melded with dates and a deliciously spicy, almost medicinal, initial accord of nutmeg, caraway, coriander and orange). I don’t know if the base is as perfect as the original Shiseido in extrait, but the beginning is better in my book than the current version of Bois. I really like this as a late winter bloomer before the hot weather kicks in, and Cocteau’s novel ‘Les Enfants Terrible’ from 1929 was one of the first works I ever read in French : I have always loved his generally surrealistically elegant aesthetic. The Jovoy range also features a perfume based on Sartre’s existentialist play Les Jeux Sont Faits as well as 27 others I have never smelled. Have you? My curiosity is re-piqued. Plus, my sense of humour is naturally drawn towards any perfume called ‘Diplomatic Incident’.


Filed under Flowers

26 responses to “L’ENFANT TERRIBLE by JOVOY PARIS (2011)

  1. Tara C

    The only one I owned is Les Jeux Sont Faits, and I gave it away because I ended up finding it too masculine for my taste, but I do like it. La Liturgie des Heures I smelled after buying eleventy billion other incense perfumes and couldn’t justify another, but it is very good. I find the line leans rather masculine (but I haven’t tried them all). Sadly my trips to Paris ceased in 2009, before Jovoy opened, so I’ve never been there, but I remember the glory days of Rosine, Serge Lutens, IUNX, F. Malle, Le Bon Marché, Annick Goutal, Santa Maria Novella, and so many other charming little boutiques. Some day, when the plague is past, I’ll go back again.

  2. Lauren

    Since they opened a shop in London (no eye-watering shipping charge – yay!), I’ve been sniffing my way through the entire Jovoy range. My only way of escaping at the moment is to close my eyes and huff perfume in my kitchen. I’m enjoying L’art De La Guerre as spring comes in, it has a lovely, tart, rhubarby opening. It’s a fougere though, so perhaps not your cup of tea.

    • I like fougeres as long as they don’t make me feel like I am about to be punched in the face.

      How much are they at the London place? Thanks for commenting here : I will definitely have to drop in when I finally get back to the UK.

      • Lauren

        I think there’s too much much rhubarb to smell aggressively Blokey! A couple of quid for samples and they always throw in extra – they’re really lovely. £130 for full bottles.

      • I find that manageable and not a rip off given the quality. Can’t wait to go! Are you talking about the Mayfair branch?

  3. I also visited Jovoy in London 2 years ago and they were super generous with samples (the SA was wonderful and very knowledgeable and spent a lot of time showing me different perfumes)—among them I got Psychedelique and Incident Diplomatique, which were too patchouli-heavy for my taste and I gave them to a patchouli-loving coworker so that worked out well. Les Jeux sont Faits is quite boozy and grew on me after several wears (https://noseprose.com/2020/01/04/its-not-over-till-its-over-les-jeux-sont-faits/). Private Label is a dry leather-vetiver.
    Not sure L’Enfant Terrible would be my cup of tea, but I’d be curious to try it.

    • Very full and spiced – quite a mood lifter, but a bit linear when all is said and done.

      So Incident Diplomatique is more patchouli than vetiver? I was looking at the notes and saw two types and thought of you. The patchouli dominates? (not a problem for me). Is it quite masculine – in a good way? I am quite into the idea of it.

      • In my trial of it, the vetiver and patchouli played tug-of-war and in the end, the patchouli won. It is quite masculine as I recall.
        Two types of vetiver? I didn’t know that.

      • I love the idea of a ‘trial’. Like an endurance test, with a hung jury and a judge.


      • Haha… with perfume, I’m not sure there could ever be a really fair trial as such!

      • Absolutely true. Get a jury full of synthetic sandalwood haters like myself and no fairness whatsoever could ever be possible. You would need some serious jury selection beforehand.

      • I’ll take it you’re not a fan of Molecule 04 then (Javanol). I don’t like it either—last week or so, I got out my sample vial and gave my other half a tiny spritz on the wrist, and it was not only pervasive but transferred to his jacket cuff and then shirt cuff over a period of a few days. Ebanol is a creamier and more spicy (?) facet of sandalwood, which is not as sharp but also seems to outlast other ingredients in a blend. I haven’t smelled the others such as Santalol. Not sure which one is earning all your condemnations!

      • I detest all. DETEST. Seriously. I understand the easy popularity of them – but for me it is just an ungainly contamination. Nasty and ugly.

        Jesus – I don’t mince my words, do I .

      • I haven’t actually smelled Escentric 04, but can imagine that some pink pepper (my other half has also started putting them into salads to pleasant effect—making use of the whole pink peppercorns that I bought just because) and Ambroxan would tame the relentless, metallic grapefruit synthetic-ness of Javanol.

      • This is actually a good scent in many ways – I can’t remember what I said about it but I am sure it wasn’t just damning. I just personally can’t handle synthetic sandalwoods at all.

  4. Robin

    Oh, to wander around a city that way again. You’ve got me salivating, Neil. I miss it. I almost can’t think about it, dream about it. The idea of it being out of reach for more months is a cruel waiting game.

    We did have Jovoy at The Perfume Shoppe when I spelled off the owner a few Christmases ago. Good stuff, great quality, nothing earth-shatteringly innovative but solid successes across the board. I would have bought l’Enfant Terrible but for my stash of Feminité du Bois. I immediately got the reference and it is much better than the current insipid Lutens.

    • Glad you agree. They are definitely similar, aren’t they? And yes: not shatteringly innovative from the ones I have smelled so far – definitely influenced by others that have come before them – but solid successes are not to be sniffed at in this world of overhyped niche. I just want NICE SMELLS.

      • Robin

        We do. Above all.

        And ideally, at second-hand shop prices.

      • At those prices I would snap these up in a jiffy. I like to have big, generous, well-smelling perfumes I can just spray on in an unconsidered manner of a morning.

      • Robin

        Same here. I couldn’t do with the 10ml decant sprays that some of my perfume friends buy. I need enough to spray with wild abandon, not having to mete out a skimpy unsatisfying frugal little pfffft.

      • I am feeling a tightening sense of panic at your description. I feel even worse when it comes to champagne. One glass is frightful

  5. Lauren

    Yes – Mayfair. I’m with Robin on spraying with wild abandon – at least in lockdown I’m free to overspray without asphyxiating my colleagues. I’ve also been using it as an opportunity to try out some really skanky ouds!

  6. Despina

    Hello. I also enjoy all the Jovoy fragrances you mention – unfortunately, the production of L’Enfant Terrible is being stopped (the need for another IFRA-related reformulation, I believe, led to that decision), so its fans out there might want to get a bottle while they still can. I’m personally in love with the Jovoy florals, the gorgeous gardenia of Gardez-Moi, the gender-fluid lipstick accord of Rouge Assassin, and the rose/violet boudoir charm of Sans Un Mot (from the underdiscussed series of Jovoy extraits). I hope to meet you in Paris, Neil, next time you’re here!

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