L'Art de la Guerre by Jovoy

Year: 2014

Notes: Calabrian bergamot, rhubarb, Granny Smith apple, nutmeg, violet leaf, Maillette lavender, grey cistus, Indonesia patchouli, immortelle, leather, oakmoss, Australian sandalwood
Based on the fougères and woody masculines of the past, L'Art de la Guerre takes its inspiration from vintage designer releases, such as Givenchy's Xeryus Rouge and Jacques Bogart's Furyo.

The best part about the composition is the opening – a multi-faceted fruity tartness of citrus, rhubarb and apple interwoven with some spices. The top notes lures the wearer in with its sweet olfactory shades of red and pink, before intermingling with emerging tones of brown, green and grey. The violet leaf largely provides those green hues, while the lavender bequeaths an ashy grey dustiness.

But it's the rest of the remaining notes that contribute earthy brown hues to the rest of its development. Resting on a bed of patchouli, leather, immortelle and oakmoss, some cistus adds a seductive ambery leatheriness to the proceedings. As for the sandalwood, it's less obvious but still perceptible during the late-drydown. One can also discern occasional hints of booze, oak, hay and tobacco throughout the ambery brown haze.

By and large, it's an impressive throwback to the mossy masculine offerings of yesteryear. However, something about it leaves one cold. Maybe because it's stylistically not to one's tastes – a sweet woody-aromatic with out of place fruity tones. And while it's not something that one would actually wear, there are sure to be those who will find it alluring, complex and satisfying.

Sillage is moderate, with average staying power.


Gardez-Moi by Jovoy

Year: 2013

Notes: aldehydes, raspberry, coriander, black pepper, tomato leaf, white lily, cyclamen, mimosa, ylang-ylang, Egyptian jasmine, gardenia, vanilla, styrax, Virginia cedar, oakmoss, musks
Created by the highly prolific Bertrand Duchaufour, Gardez-Moi is a fruity-floral with notable green accents.

The opening is really inviting, with a sparkling and abundant red fruitiness, mitigated by angular verdant accords (particularly from the tomato leaf). A subdued spicy-herbaceous undertow is discernible, while both the lily and cyclamen emit aquatic nuances.

As the composition approaches the mid notes, the fruity aspect takes a backseat, allowing a soft and gracious white floral heart to fully emerge (spearheaded by the jasmine). Residing on a base of vanilla, cedar, oakmoss and white musk, the drydown is far less interesting – a sweet woody muskiness with vanillic flourishes.

While it's reasonably well-composed, the generic drydown is somewhat of a disappointment. Largely remaining close to the skin, its staying power of around four hours is also lacking.


Les Jeux sont Faits by Jovoy

Year: 2012

Notes: petitgrain, rum, cognac, gin, dried fruits, cumin, angelica, tobacco leaf, labdanum, patchouli, vanilla, sandalwood
With Dorothée Piot as perfumer, Les Jeux sont Faits is a warm woody tobacco affair, embellished with spices, boozy accords, resins and dried fruits.

The opening is slightly green and aromatic, as the boozy notes quickly enter the fray, soon followed by some cumin. As it further develops, the spicy aspect intensifies and a leathery leaning becomes discernible. By this point, the rum, cognac and gin are more subdued, with the fruits firmly in the background and a blond tobacco accord gradually emerging.

Both the vanilla and labdanum lend an ambery sweetness to the proceedings, accentuating the warm richness of the tobacco. As it approaches the drydown, the patchouli pervades a woody dimension, complementing the composition's mid notes. During its final moments, what remains are soft dusty traces of patchouli, labdanum, vanilla and sandalwood.

Possessing a Lutens-esque vibe, it's a pleasant fragrance that's missing that special something to elevate it to the level of greatness it aspires to. With minimal projection and longevity of around six hours, it's still a release worth investigating.


Rouge Assasin by Jovoy

Year: 2012

Notes: bergamot, elemi, rose, iris, solar accord, rice, vanilla, tonka bean, benzoin, Virginian cedar, sandalwood, ambrette seed, white musk
Composed by Amélie Bourgeois, Rouge Assasin is a light woody iris offering.

Its general demeanour is dusty, soapy and restrained, set against a faint woody-musk backdrop. As for the iris, it's more of the refined or glacial variety, with the vanilla accentuating its buttery attributes. And while the iris is somewhat sharp, one personally wouldn't describe it as vegetal or rooty. With leathery facets, the composition isn't at all dense, thus allowing other accords (such as the rose) to filter through intermittently.

Unfortunately, one is unable to get over the fact that it's too delicate and apathetic on the skin, during its entire duration. Furthermore, the eventual drydown is a derivative cocktail of woods, vanilla and musks. Needlessly to say, its lasting power is closer to ephemeral than respectable.


Psychédélique by Jovoy

Year: 2011

Notes: citrus, geranium, rose, patchouli, labdanum, amber, vanilla, musk
Out of the three Jovoy releases by Jacques Flori, Psychédélique is undoubtedly the most impressive.

The opening is sweet, boozy and spicy, with a candied citrus accord. Prefacing a warm and syrupy coupling of amber and patchouli, the rose and geranium both provide an aromatic floralcy to the proceedings. As a result, the patchouli doesn't reveal its dank earthiness until during the late-drydown – instead primarily complementing the resinous and ambery aspect of the composition. Built upon a base of vanilla and musk, the overall aroma is well-blended, slightly feminine and very seductive.

Compared to other niche patchouli fragrances, Psychédélique isn't as dark or dense as Profumum's Patchouly, but nor is it as masculine as Mazzolari's Patchouli or Lui. It also eschews the conservative patchouli premise of other Italian houses, such as Santa Maria Novella and Farmacia SS. Annunziata, being much closer in spirit to the patchouli offerings by Reminiscence. As it stands, it's a unique and easy-to-wear patchouli creation, and one wouldn't be at all surprised if it was one of Jovoy's bestsellers.

With moderate projection and at least six hours longevity, it lacks a richness that would compel one is rush out to buy a bottle. And it's for this main reason why a higher rating eludes it. Still, if one had to buy just one Jovoy fragrance, Psychédélique would probably be one's first choice.


L'Enfant Terrible by Jovoy

Year: 2011

Notes: orange, coriander, nutmeg, cumin, dates, cedar, sandalwood, musk
L'Enfant Terrible is a spicy-woody effort, composed by Jacques Flori. However, it tends to wear it influence too obviously on its sleeve.

While L'Enfant Terrible could be accused of being a Féminité du Bois clone, there are some distinct differences between the two. Firstly, L'Enfant Terrible comes across as more masculine, without a floral leaning. Secondly, the spices used are rather different – Féminité du Bois incorporates ginger, cinnamon and clove, while L'Enfant Terrible uses nutmeg and cumin (spiked with a touch of coriander). Thirdly, while both possess a fruity opening, L'Enfant Terrible lacks the plum accord that makes Féminité du Bois so distinctive – instead employing dates that contribute towards a drier woody affair.

On the whole, L'Enfant Terrible is less rich and syrupy than the original formulation of Féminité du Bois, with a starker and more austere woody demeanour (and one can also detect hints of iris during the drydown). There's also far less evidence of any Iso E Super, which was so masterfully integrated in Féminité du Bois. And while L'Enfant Terrible is better than the reformulated Féminité du Bois, it still fails to match the plum-infused woody allure of the highly-regarded Shiseido version.

Sillage is discreet, with below average staying power.


L'Arbre de la Connaissance by Jovoy

Year: 2011

Notes: citrus, fig, leaves, patchouli, sandalwood
L'Arbre de la Connaissance begins with a lot of promise but quickly fails to live up to the opening.

After the (fruity) nail polish remover top notes dissipate, what follows is probably one of the best fig aromas ever encountered – a forest green freshness, fused with citrus, fig and a fruity aldehydic note. The citrus is relatively reserved, the fig is more woody than fruity, and the leaves provide a dark and rich verdancy to the proceedings. With coconut nuances, throughout the composition's lifespan, the green aromatic aspect is highly captivating. Unfortunately, minutes later, things start to go seriously wrong...

As it enters the heart, the general aroma suddenly smells more plastic-like, with an aroma chemical fruitiness (highly reminiscent of peach) infiltrating the creamy greenness of the fig. It's a strange combination that results in an unbalanced composite aroma of the two. By the time patchouli surfaces, only the coconut aspects of the fig remain. When it reaches the drydown, all that's left is a generic mishmash of fruits and woods, with creamy sandalwood flourishes.

Developed by Marc Fanton d'Andon, it could have been a lot better had the artificial fruitiness been toned down, with a greater presence of complementary notes for the fig premise. As it stands, it comes across as a wasted opportunity.

Diffusion is moderate, persisting for up to five hours on the skin.


Private Label by Jovoy

Year: 2011

Notes: papyrus, vetiver, patchouli, labdanum, leather, birch, cedar, sandalwood
For the most part, many of Jovoy's fragrances have been unsatisfactory, to say the least. With far more misses than hits, one wasn't expecting much from Private Label but has been pleasantly surprised.

The opening is notably spirituous, accompanied by the inky properties of the papyrus and a discreet nuttiness from the vetiver. After the top notes subside, the vetiver then takes centre stage. Exhibiting a sharp woodiness, the rooty vetiver continues to emit nutty and grassy nuances along the way. As the composition further evolves, a slightly sweetened patchouli surfaces to further emphasise the earthy dankness of the vetiver.

Over time, leathery facets gradually become more discernible but, supplemented by the birch, they never really migrate to the foreground. During the drydown, the woody aspect becomes drier and slightly creamier, courtesy of both the cedar and sandalwood. Traces of vetiver still remain, but it's now more a fusion of soft woody notes and leathery whispers. Towards the very end, all that's left is a faint woody nuttiness.

Created by Cécile Zarokian, it's a quintessentially masculine woody-oriental, which focuses more on the vetiver than the leather. With moderate projection and impressive tenacity, one's only reservations are that its evolution is too rapid and the drydown lacks sufficient complexity (maybe the addition of some oakmoss and castoreum would have improved things). If these issues were addressed, it would have definitely been rated higher.

Nevertheless, it's unreservedly recommended for lovers of woody and vetiver-dominant scents.


La Liturgie des Heures by Jovoy

Year: 2011

Notes: cypress, frankincense, myrrh, cistus
So, just like L'Enfant Terrible, Jacques Flori has taken his inspiration from yet another classic fragrance.

This time around, La Liturgie des Heures is all about sacred resins and is along the same lines as Comme des Garçons' Avignon, but with a more skeletal and simplistic structure. However, on this occasion, La Liturgie des Heures smells darker and richer than the very fragrance it's loosely based on.

In a nutshell, it's all about the cistus and myrrh, accompanied by a frankincense accord that vividly showcases its citrus, peppery, coniferous and mineral properties. With a touch of cypress, the overall aroma is a rewarding interplay between the resinous vibrancy of the frankincense, and the deep, dusky and leathery attributes of the more ambery resins.

Unfortunately, its performance on the skin is extremely poor – lasting less than two hours and with low sillage. Based on its retail price and alleged Eau de Parfum concentration, one would have expected a far more robust affair. As a result, one has no choice but to deduct a star.

Another enticing and promising Jovoy release, another underwhelming outcome...


Ambre Premier by Jovoy

Year: 2011

Notes: candied orange, rose, patchouli, amber, vanilla
Developed by Michelle Saramito, Ambre Premier is a rendition of amber that one is still uncertain about.

Dwelling on the negatives first, it initially smells excruciatingly synthetic to one's nose – so much that not even the spicy orange top notes can detract from. Its artificial nature comes off as crude, hollow and cheap, with an underlining sweet powderiness. Supported by a dark yet warm dark rose core, the patchouli emits a chocolate-flavoured wafer aroma. But it serves to complement the composition's sweetness more than the rose.

As for the amber, it's evident from the outset and steadily increases its intensity over time. However, it takes a few more hours before Ambre Premier manages to redeem itself. And, when it does, one is somewhat puzzled that it's actually the same fragrance.

It's only during the drydown when everything finally comes together. The ingredients are more unified, any rough edges are smoothed over and the composite ambery aroma smells more natural. With the late emergence of the vanilla, the whole affair is also creamier and more convincing, with remnants of rose and spices still evident. As for its general performance, sillage is sufficient but its longevity is absolutely stellar – easily surpassing the 12 hour mark.

So, after a rocky start, things do improve considerably. But one isn't sure if its final stage is really worth waiting for, especially when there are better amber alternatives available. Still, if nothing else, it's very tenacious.