Judged against a more contemporary exercise in minimalism, it's going to come up looking overdressed. Compared to the roaring jasmine fantasia of Joy, it seems rather close to the vest. Compared to much of what was produced in the seventies, it's downright conservative. I've always preferred it to Joy, and it remains one of my favorite Patou fragrances. There's a golden warmth to it which sits it alongside Teo Cabanel's Alahine, another favorite of mine, however different they are in many ways. 1000 strikes an interesting, rewarding balance between violet and rose, with jasmine calling an easy truce between the two. Joy has a warmth to it, too, but it seems cold next to 1000, and much more single-minded. 1000 is beatifically rich, both creamy and translucent. It feels serious but isn't grim. It's mossy and faintly animalic yet as clean and bright as Chanel No. 5.
For many, Chanel No. 5 has signified class and costliness for decades, but in my household, Joy was the known name. My mother wore Joy when we were kids. She didn't actually wear it--not often--it was too costly. Mostly she admired it. Joy wasn't an everyday perfume, but a signature scent you didn't wear so much that the ink would run dry. My mother got a bottle as a present on her honeymoon and cherished it throughout my early childhood, until my sister, noticing how low it was getting, did her the favor of topping it off with water.
I still remember that feeling of loss; the way my mother reacted. I'm sure my sister remembers even more vividly than I do. We still refer to the incident in slightly coded terms. It was like, losing Joy, we'd lost our one chance to be as important as other people we might never meet; we'd lost our one available glimpse into what it felt to live like they did. Joy was probably the first perfume I ever smelled, or was conscious of smelling. It was understood to be something my mother didn't come by easily. People like us, basically, did not intersect with something like that too often.
When something so precious came into your life it held an exalted position there, presiding over routine experience like visiting royalty. It reminded you who you were and weren't while giving you some indication of what you might aspire to be. The color of Joy still seems more golden than any other perfume to me. Set out on my mother's dresser, it appeared to glow. The loss of it was like the death of a fantasy. When Patou and Chanel talked about preserving the exclusivity of their fragrances, they didn't mean that only rich women should buy them, but that a dream should be kept alive, a certain kind of significance observed and upheld.
I bring all this up because 1000 has always carried the residual weight of my memories about Joy. I haven't had that reaction with any other Patou fragrance, much as I love many of them. The bottle and packaging for 1000 and Joy are similar if not identical at this point. I believe they always were, and that in launching 1000 Patou hoped to capitalize on the established prestige of Joy. The ad I've attached would seem to indicate this, posing the two side by side, as if synonymous. But asserting them as equals would seem to risk making the sum total less than its parts, so in a way it was a risky move, and a little confused. But confusion seemed to be the desired effect, a hope that the admirer of Joy would extend her affections to 1000.
A 1972 ad for Joy asserted: "There is only one Joy." In that ad, no other bottle stands nearby, stealing its thunder, though 1000 came out that very year. How do you market another exclusive perfume when you already produce the most exclusive fragrance known to man? An early ad for 1000 calls the fragrance a limited edition perfume: "Because 1000 de Jean Patou is so rare and available to so few, each flacon is registered. A hand-numbered card accompanies this totally unique perfume..." 1000 was just as exclusive, then, in a slightly different way. I'm sure I saw these ads as a child, and merged the fragrances in my mind as virtually the same thing. At the very least, I viewed them as important parts of the same special universe.
I do find some similarity in the fragrances themselves, and of course the color of 1000 is that same rich golden embodiment of luxury. When others think of Patou, Joy is surely foremost in their minds. I'm not sure 1000 is. I know a lot more now about Patou and the Patou fragrances than I did as a child, enough to know that 1000 arrived pretty late in the game, under Jean Kerleo as opposed to Henri Almeras, the perfumer responsible for the house's esteemed fragrances of the twenties, thirties, and forties. Still, for me, 1000 remains more iconic, speaking a language I remember distinctly from childhood.
I have a 75 ml bottle of 1000 in eau de parfum concentration to give away to one of our readers. This is a more recent formulation of 1000 and holds up impressively against vintage. The main difference is felt in the absence of natural musks. To be eligible, please tell me what perfume you remember embodying luxury and almost mystical properties when you were a child and why. I'll draw a name on Thursday.