Guerlain Jicky : Fragrance Review (New and Vintage)

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Created in 1889, Guerlain Jicky is at once a timeless classic and a remarkably modern fragrance.  One story is that Aimé Guerlain created it in honour of his English girlfriend; however, another version is that it was dedicated to his nephew Jacques Guerlain, whose nickname was Jicky. Jicky is considered to be the first fragrance to combine natural and synthetic essences.

Jicky

Although it is undeniably an important starting point of modern perfumery, Fougère Royale by Houbigant (1882) was the first perfume to use a man made material: coumarin, an almond redolent ingredient derived from tonka beans. Jicky went out step further by combining coumarin and vanillin, another synthetic essence.

The top notes of lavender and a blend of citrus notes (bergamot, lemon, mandarin) provide a sparkling contrast to the herbal notes that start weaving in and out, before slightly metallic iris and earthy rose tinged with vetiver become apparent. The cold top and middle are an elegant counterpoint to the warm base composed of lush vanilla, balmy amber and musk. A touch of leather and incense complete the composition, lending it an understated sensual aspect. Those familiar with Shalimar will recognize a similar fire and ice effect in Jicky.

The bottle deserved a special mention. Shaped like a 19th century medicine jar and topped with a stopper resembling a champagne cork, it is one of my favorite Guerlain flacons.

On Reformulation (added 12/17/10):
The main disappointment among Guerlain classics in their post-reformulation state was Jicky. The character of Jicky is driven by an effervescent, aromatic note—lavender, bergamot, thyme, rosemary—set against musk, civet and vanilla. The animalic-musky accord of Jicky used to be built around the nitromusks and natural civet, which were subsequently replaced. Now, the drydown is even cleaner. The sillage is minimal and the tenacity is quite poor. Compared to all other Guerlain fragrances, the blotter dipped in new Jicky hardly bore any traces on it 48h later, whereas others were still quite recognizable. The vanilla and white musk give it a strange resemblance to fabric softener sheets after they have been through the drying cycle. Jicky Eau de Toilette follows the same progression as theparfum–aromatic-herbal top, dominated by lavender and thyme, thin floral  accord and then a pale base of vanilla, sandalwood and musk. In the parfum, the screechy woody note is jarring, while the flatness of vanillin does not help matters either. I prefer the EDT, if I have to choose, but to be honest, I doubt I can bring myself to wear either.

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18 Comments

  • Diane: Hello dearest! I love the blog, too! And oh, how I love Jicky, too! It has this crisp, fresh accord that I adore. It is also subtly delicious and gives me this intense craving for cheeses, like one of my favorites thanks to you, dolce gorgonzola. 🙂

    *huge waves to N* How are you? 🙂 May 24, 2005 at 5:08pm Reply

  • Diane: Speaking of cheeses, if and when you come to SF, I’ll take you to a place with outstanding mozzarella. They pull it fresh every day. This Italian restaurant is among my favorites in SF. They incorporate different influences in Italian cooking and the dishes are very rustic, yet refined at the same time.

    As for the extrait vs EDT question, I love both. I think the EDT is equally pleasant, and it lasts fairly well on me. May 24, 2005 at 5:50pm Reply

  • N aka parislondres: Darling V! Great blog cherie! I love Jicky as that was my first “grown up” perfume. It is my comfort fragrance because it is uplifting (I can hear a friend laughing at that description).

    xoxo May 24, 2005 at 4:52pm Reply

  • N aka parislondres: Waves to Diane and V! I love Jicky in all concentrations too – and yes the only one at that. For the rest I much prefer the extrait.

    xoxo May 25, 2005 at 5:04pm Reply

  • julien: I only wear edp,as an advice by mister Turin who says it is the best concentration to have a perfect idea of jicky as it was constructed.
    Well,i adore the way it goes from very masculine aromatic lavender to sweet powdery vanilla,yet animalistic(civette has it!),dark and sensual…and amazingly,i don’t know why,but i find it less agressive than shalimar…I mean,bergamote stays too much on my skin whereas Jicky is subtle …
    A masterpiece…to be revisited,absolutely!:) October 9, 2005 at 10:32am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Julien, your perceptions are right on the mark, as usual. I think that it definitely has an animalic edge, but it is less so than in Shalimar. Masterpiece indeed! October 9, 2005 at 1:30pm Reply

  • Jackie: I just tried this scent today (after hearing so much on Basenotes) Basenotes have been very helful in helping me decide on scents. It is a very unique scent, I think it is s very sensual smell – it has been a very warm day and the smell just warms up with your body chemistry and the heat and the sun blazing down, it smells like pure sexual-ness! I really like it alot, and rediscovering some older scents (eg. Mitsouko) are making me go back and check out all these wonderful “old” scents, the new stuff can hardly stand up to them! Or so I think so! ; ) July 17, 2006 at 9:49pm Reply

  • Elizabeth Kendall: Dear People,
    What a nice blog.
    I have a question: was there a branded fragrance in the early 20th century called Patchouli, or was patchouli simply a description of a kind of scent or family of scents.
    This is for a book now in production – thanks so much for any light you can throw on this.
    —EK December 11, 2012 at 11:10am Reply

  • Ferris: Jicky is a meer skeleton of what it used to be from what I hear. Too bad there isnt enough of the original vintage Jicky to go around to sample. I would say Jicky is in need of another reformulation to get it on par with other wildly animalistic perfumes. What a shame what they have done to poor ol’ Jicky. January 31, 2013 at 6:48am Reply

  • marios: Hi Victoria,
    I need your help….I want to buy Jicky but i dont know which one….EDT or EDP?
    I like the intense civet note and i wear mouchoir de monsieur, as well as kouros. Which one to buy? Mouchoir is perfect but limited sillage and longevity. I want something stronger and to last longer with the civet to be present. What do you suggest? or do you have any other perfume that will suits me? I’m a man, 38 years old.
    Thank you for your feedback
    Brgds
    Marios February 5, 2013 at 1:54am Reply

    • Victoria: Both are quite good, but I would pick the EDP, because it’s more animalic, muskier, richer in the drydown. It lasted really well on me. February 5, 2013 at 5:35am Reply

  • Kat: Just received my ‘vintage’ sample and was quite surprised to find nearly no scent. After reading your description of the reformulation, I believe this is what was sent to me. Chasing the past is never easy! :/ July 14, 2014 at 5:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: I hear you! Keeping track of the reformulations is tricky enough. Sigh.. July 15, 2014 at 12:13pm Reply

      • Kat: After posting, I re-applied and did end up detecting mostly the lavender and rosemary.
        (my nose is still in kindergarten) It was gone quickly, though.

        Gotta love the pic you posted from the ad–makes one feel that Jicky is going to be refreshing and exciting! July 17, 2014 at 1:02pm Reply

        • Victoria: I know what you mean! That ad is one of my favorites too. July 17, 2014 at 2:41pm Reply

  • Muriel: Hello Victoria, I’m answering to an old post, so maybe no one will read me, but I have to ask! Last week I decided I would go to the Guerlain store and try a few of the classics. Jicky was very high on my list. I love the poster you used for this post, and the look of the bottle, plus I smelled it at Isipca last summer and liked it very much, but that was a vintage version… So, there I am at the store. I was not entirely convinced by the opening, but I had other perfumes to discover… I went back to it a little later and also when I got home and then it really struck me that it suddenly smelled really bad (I would say pee, but that’s not it either). I remember having the exact same impression when I smelled Shalimar for the first time, but thought the bottle was outdated or something. For Shalimar it struck me immediately, while for Jicky it happened a good hour after spaying the blotter… (I tried Shalimar extrait last week and did not notice that scent, though…) So my question is… is it me? are the samples indeed outdated? Is there something in them that turns bad under certain circumstances?… I must say I would find it really hard to spray that on me… If you see the post and have an answer I’ll be delighted to see your explanation 🙂 February 19, 2019 at 8:04am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s the civet base you’re smelling, and no, it’s not a fluke. Some people are just more sensitive to it, and on some people it actually stands out more than on others. Did you try the extrait de parfum or the EDT? February 19, 2019 at 9:19am Reply

      • Muriel: Thank you sooo much for your answer, Victoria! I reaaally wanted to love that one!! The Jicky I tried last week was the EDT, maybe I should go back and check the extrait (but outch that was expensive…). Would the civet be more balanced with the other ingredients in the extrait? February 19, 2019 at 11:08am Reply

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