Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Playing the Peach Card: Boucheron Jaipur
Boucheron Jaipur seems, to me, a perfect choice for the Holiday season, setting aside impressions inspired by the original ad for the fragrance, which is festive in an entirely different way. According to press materials, Jaipur "revives the mythical story of the Naurantan, a bracelet traditionally offered to young brides in Rajasthan for good fortune." I suppose one is luckiest, in some cultures, with one's hands tied behind one's back. And naked, of course. It often helps to be naked. The luck can adhere to you more easily that way. In some cultures, people get married naked. They live out their lives naked, in fact, because nothing is worse than to be fully clothed when luck comes calling. Many have been shit out of luck who were overdressed at inopportune times.
The notes for this lucky elixir are listed as follows: plum, apricot, peach, violet, rose, acacia, heliotrope, peony, iris, musk, amber, sandalwood.
Jaipur was created by Sophia Grojsman, way back in the dark ages (1994), and as Dane over at Peredepierre says, it "plays the peach card." Fragrantica classifies it as "Floral Fruity". I wouldn't disagree, but would include a caveat. Since the mid-nineties, Floral Fruity has evolved (or devolved) into a pretty different beast than it once was. See any number of celebrity fragrances, starting with something, anything, by Britney Spears. These days, Floral Fruity is synonymous with sugary sweet, but it wasn't always that way, and Grojsman's instantly identifiable "milky peachy accord" (again, Dane) exemplifies the category's roots.
Many of Grojsman's perfumes feel lit from within. They hit the skin and it seems someone has switched a light on. There's a bright, happy glow to much of the work she did in the eighties and nineties, a quality which is simultaneously exuberant and adult. The closest I've seen a mass-market contemporary fragrance come to those special effects has been Gucci Flora, which didn't impress many people--and was, admittedly, a bit been there, done that--but was, for me, a welcome revisiting of a style Grojsman made famous. For me, in a way, Flora wasn't as much redundant as a tribute. The ad for Flora captured the euphoric feeling produced by smelling something as baroquely rich as Jaipur and seemed, with its sun-dappled field-of-flowers imagery, like some forgotten broadcast from the eighties. Do stick around for the jaded valley girl voice over at the close of the commercial; that's quite an evocative throwback, too.
Grojsman is one of my favorites, the nose behind an influential arsenal of iconic fragrances including Paris, Yvresse, Vanderbilt, Eternity, Spellbound, White Linen, Tresor, Bvlgari Pour Femme, and Calyx. Many of her lesser known fragrances are fantastic: Tentations, Celine Magic, Bill Blass Nude, Kashaya. Her body of work bottlenecks around the ten year period from the mid eighties to the mid nineties. Since then, she's done only several that I know of: S-Perfume's 100% Love and Outrageous!, for Frederic Malle.
I've smelled both, and like them--a lot--but, for me, Grojsman excels at making all-American department store fare. I say that with respect, because I think more than most perfumers Grojsman helped elevate the fragrance counter at the mall, bringing a uniquely heightened level of fantasy to the middle American consumer. Think how many of her fragrances can still be found in that competitive marketplace. You can still easily find Paris, Tresor, Eternity, Spellbound, White Linen, Calyx, Bvlgari. That's quite a streak.
Her forays into niche territory have felt a bit constricted to me, which is odd, given the budgets I imagine she was provided. They don't engage with the technicolor saturation of the mainstream fragrances on which she built her reputation, and I suspect she does her best work when her imagination must stretch to work within limits. All artists are limited, but I'm guessing the limits involved in a Malle fragrance and something for YSL are two different species of constraint.
Anyone familiar with Tresor and Yvresse will feel right at home with Jaipur. There are differences, and comparing these fragrances, which at first might seem slightly interchangeable, underscores their subtle distinctions. Yvresse is spicier than you realize; Tresor more oriental. Jaipur isn't at all spicy, really, but like many of Grojsman's scents it has a boozy aspect I like, one also found in Paris and Yvress; thus its appropriateness for this time of year. Like another wintertime favorite of mine, Clinique Wrappings, it is both cool and warm, the equivalent of flushed cheeks coming in from the cold or the sensation of your face heating up after a few cocktails. Jaipur is the punch at the Christmas party, and someone, bless him, did us the favor of spiking it.