Vintages The Many Lives of Joy by Patou: Vintage and Flankers

The Many Lives of Joy by Patou: Vintage and Flankers

06/29/15 16:51:02 (15 comments)

by: Elena Vosnaki

 
Among classic perfumes, Joy by Jean Patou still stands on a pedestal. Glorious remnant of a more glamorous era when the  pioneer designer cleverly marketed his fragrance to dwindling audiences of the 1930s. Most perfume lovers recall the tagline "Costliest perfume in the world," reputedly devised by Elsa Maxwell, which helped catapult Patou's perfume into the realm of true luxury. It is perhaps astonishing, but certainly not unexpected, that the French tagline uses the word cher, "le parfum le plus cher du monde" which implies that it is the most beloved, instead of the most expensive.
 
 
Posh nevertheless it still is, this icon of classic perfumery. Patou went to great lengths to assure us that one ounce of Joy parfum demands 10,600 jasmine blooms and 28 dozen roses to be produced. This would be not as impressive, hadn’t those flowers been the venerable Jasminum grandiflorum of Grasse in the south of France and the two crown glories of rose varieties: Damascene rose (Rosa damascena) from Bulgaria and Rose de Mai (Rosa centifolia), the latter again from Grasse.
 
 
The in-house nose for Patou since 1997 Jean-Michel Duriez monitored the fields and crops to ascertain that the end result rendered out of those two rose varieties meets the quality control criteria demanded by the house of Patou. Now that the Jean Patou house has left P&G hands (a company which didn't particularly care for luxury, it seems, judging by the lack of promotion they did for it), Thomas Fontaine has been in charge of ensuring the quality of the perfume and the upkeep of the raw materials. 
 
At any rate, Joy unfolds majestic proportions of floral grandeur with a nobility and restraint of hand that points to a very skilled perfumer indeed: the original composer of the formula, Patou's sidekick, Henri Alméras
 
 
Keeping the noble nature of the two focal points of the suite intact and singing in a melody of thirds, he garlanded them with the merest touch of honeysuckle, ylang-ylang and tuberose, anchored by a very light sandalwood base which manages to smell opulent, yet beautifully balanced. A grand dame in a youthful setting, Joy smells translucent and at the same time durable and substantial. 
 

It is my impression that there is a difference of emphasis on the two different concentrations of eau de toilette and eau de parfum. Indeed this is because there is a difference of historical provenance. The vintage advertisements show Eau de Toilette and Parfum, stressing "there is only one Joy Perfume," "there is only one Joy eau de toilette."

Eau de Joy (you might sometimes see this short-coded as EdJoy) is the eau de parfum concentration of the regular Joy. It also smells a bit different than the Eau de toilette and the pure parfum version but not wildly. Just the balance of rose vs. jasmine is given a twist.

The eau de toilette gives the baton to a jasmine intonation, like a solo aria in the midst of a lively Mozart opera, while the eau de parfum is a bit more powdery with accents of rosiness that permeate the whole with a softness that resembles a Schumman lullaby. In fact the Eau de Parfum is repackaged Eau de Joy which was a different perfume than Joy in parfum. The confusing thing is that both extrait de parfum and eau de parfum circulated in the black snuff bottles during the 1980s and early 1990s. This is a sure fact, as I recall cutting magazine clippings with editorials on perfumes featuring said bottle style. Later batches were repackaged adopting the rectangular bottle which we see continuing in the current edition of Joy eau de toilette. 
 
 
Given my proclivities for jasmine over rose, I opt for the eau de toilette myself, however both concentrations are quite worthwhile and equally well worn by men. 
 
The parfum is assuredly more animalic in the civet direction (a wonderful characteristic and thus the one which I always prefer over other concentrations) and stays close to the body, a sensuous hint of noble status. The vintage specimens that display the best quality are the ones in the black snuff bottles (prior to 1990), while the rectangular ones with the gold edges are newer (reflecting the older style original 1930s design, nevertheless!) It's also important to note that during older times around WWII, Joy circulated in a beautiful faceted bottle with a fluted cap for extrait de parfum, like a faceted diamond.
The latest reformulation of Joy happened in 2014, under perfumer Thomas Fontaine working for the new owner after the P&G sale. In a rare attempt to not confuse consumers and to distinguish the newer batch from the vintage edition, still on stock online and in boutiques selling old stock, the newer edition is called Joy Forever
 
Finally there is also En Joy, a a newer perfume in eau de parfum concentration, released in 2002 and composed by a different perfumer, Jean-Michel Duriez, than the classic Joy by Henri Alméras. They just both share the "joy" name in the presentation as well as the style of bottle, packaging and typeface (a no doubt annoying habit which is due to the necessity and difficulty of copyright on names and design).
 
 
The newer En Joy is a contemporary fruity-floral "chypre" rather than an outright traditional floral. It has intense "notes" of blackcurrant, rose, patchouli, banana and pear. It's ever so slightly pinkish tinted (the box is lilac and the bottle has a lilac label sticker) and is a completely different scent than the old straw-coloured Joy. 
 
Taking into account that Joy by Patou has been one of the most popular fragrances of the 20th century and is still in production, it is important to note that specimens can crop up anywhere: from estate sales to garage sales to Ebay auctions and bottle collector's private sales. For the vintage lover who is intent on securing a specific batch, or willing to explore the progress and evolution of maturing scent, the above info should be somewhat useful and direct away from sellers who sometimes conflate all the various editions due to sheer ignorance.
 

Elena Vosnaki

Elena Vosnaki is a historian and perfume writer from Greece and a Writer for Fragrantica. She is the founder and editor of Perfume Shrine, one of the most respected independent online publications on perfume containing fragrance reviews, industry interviews, essays on raw materials and perfume history, a winner in Fragrantica Blog Awards and a finalist in numerous blog awards contests.

Her writing was recognized at the Fifi Awards for Editorial Excellence in 2009 and she contributes to publications around the world.

 



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antihero
antihero

Thank you for your interesting and informative article.

My mother wore Eau de Joy when I was a child, my father bought it for her.
When they would go out, I loved smelling this on my beautiful mother. I was in awe.

I would love to find a vintage.

Forgive me, I have had to edit this, so much confusion over so many variations of Joy!

Jan
09
2017
emt1986
emt1986

My favorite classic floral, and, indeed, my favorite perfume. My signature. It smells like money I definitely don't have, and don't even necessarily want. Like a million bucks, but not stuffy or over-refined (thanks to that fabulous civet skank?). Perfection. I have a vintage of Eau de Joy (like the one pictured above) as well as the current formulation of the EDP, and while the two are very, very similar, I prefer the current as it's fuller-bodied.

Jan
09
2017
Michylaka
Michylaka

My grandmother's fragrance. She wore the Parfum Deluxe. Such memories. It is so iconic, potent and beautiful.

Jan
09
2017
sabubuelow
sabubuelow

Joy was one of my mom's favorites. It smelled exquisite on her. I still have a couple of the black snuff shape bottles..empty of course.

Jan
09
2017
sabubuelow
sabubuelow

Joy was one of my mom's favorites. It smelled exquisite on her. I still have a couple of the black snuff shape bottles..empty of course.

Jan
09
2017
migueldematos
migueldematos

What a useful analysis, Elena. Thank you. I also own all of these versions and they are all like pieces of a story with different chapters. EnJoy is more different, but all the others are very interesting to compare.

Aug
04
2016
L'Homme Vert
L'Homme Vert

Greetings
All!
I too adore 'Joy' in most of it's incarnations both vintage and modern although my fave would have to be the eau de parfum natural vapo & parfum in the black snuff bottles, red cap with gold neck seal produced in the early 80's & through to the mid 1990's, it's so very close to the vintage extrait with just the slightest tweak to give it a well earned facelift with a lighter 'joie de vive', the original is utterly gorgeous but can seem heavy and outdated to some especially with the high civet content.
I have a cut glass flacon from the late 40's (one of several,'lol') that's now almost like rose scented plum jam/jelly after many years of usage due to slow evaporation from removing & replacing the stopper, great to keep as a reference to the assorted formulaic variations post 2nd World War, elements used to produce Joy are indeed of the highest quality although not rare plus the formula is relatively uncomplicated, perhaps this is why "The Costliest perfume" still endures today and I'm so very glad it does! "Thank-You" Elena for your review. . .

Jul
01
2015
Annemarie
Annemarie

Joy Forever is a flanker. I've seen Joy and Joy Forever together on the same counter in recent months, so the original Joy is still in production. It is better, I have heard, than it was under Procter and Gamble, who let it run down. There are reviews on Now Smell This and Grain de Musc which discuss the differences between Joy and Joy Forever, and quote Thomas Fontaine on how he used different notes to distinguish between the two perfumes to make Joy Forever more casual and easier wear for people unused to the original Joy's 'wall of perfume'. I much prefer the original. Fortunately I still have a small bottle of the EDT I bought in the early 90s, about half full.

Jul
01
2015
Elena Vosnaki
Elena Vosnaki

In that case they need to make the distinction prominent by actually having plain Joy on the counters. I don't see any but the newer one, the Forever.

En Joy is considered a vintage" edition/flanker, now.

Jun
30
2015
smellsogood
smellsogood

No, Patou are still making Joy, this is a new fragrance.

Jun
30
2015
Elena Vosnaki
Elena Vosnaki

Jodi,

thanks, I agree that the EDT of the older version lasted quite long and was definitely perceptible. It's my favorite format, alongside extrait.

Alex1984 & Smellsogood,

my understanding is that the newer edition is called Joy Forever to differentiate it from old stock left over, and that it comes in two formats, edt and edp. The Edt I have tried does smell different than the older Joy, mainly in lasting power and heft (it;s a lighter, more citrusy scent).
Hope that helps.

Thanks for your compliment Drugstore Classics!

Jun
30
2015
smellsogood
smellsogood

Joy Forever is a completely different fragrance. I also thought Enjoy had been discontinued for some time now.

Jun
30
2015
drugstore classics
drugstore classics

Elena, you have done it again! Another fantastic article with information AND inspiration.

Many thanks. :D

Jun
29
2015
Alex1984
Alex1984

Something I didn't quite understand; is Joy Forever the reformulated classic Joy? I was under the impression that Joy Forever is a flanker the way, say, Parfum Initial for Shalimar. I thought the reformulated, supposedly closer to the original, Joy is still the classic Joy with difference being the label. It no longer says P&G but the new company which now slips my mind!

Jun
29
2015
NebraskaLovesScent
NebraskaLovesScent

Love it! Joy is an enduring classic and I've owned multiple bottles since my early 20s. If I wasn't already wearing another vintage powerhouse (70s Ivoire de Balmain) I'd go spritz on some Joy right now.

ETA: Having tried all three concentrations, Eau de Toilette is my Joy of choice. It still lasts ages and has mega-sillage. The parfum was too civet-y for my taste and I couldn't pinpoint until now why the EDP wasn't quite right either.

I found En Joy quite nice, too. Haven't had a chance to try the new Fontaine compositions yet but they're on the list.

Thank you, Elena!

Jun
29
2015

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