Jicky, created by perfumer Aimé Guerlain, is one of Guerlain's "classic" fragrances but it was not an overnight success. In fact, when first introduced, women were turned off by its innovative fragrance. Instead, initial sales were largely to men. (It is worth noting here that the idea of a unisex fragrance is not a product of the 1980's. Colgate promoted its toilet waters to both men and women, as can be seen by the sales pitch on the back of a bottle of Caprice Toilet Water.)
What was it about Jicky that turned women off? It was a new style of perfume, what today we call the modern style a fragrance that, like Houbigant's ..., made use of synthetic aroma chemicals: vanillin and coumarin. (Interestingly, Japanese scientists have now found a way to make vanillin from cow dung!)
Of course Jicky would not have survived had it not been a good fragrance. By 1910 (according to perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena) women's tastes were changing and, from this point on, almost all major fragrances would use a combination of natural and synthetic ingredients.
Jicky's composition consisted of top notes of lemon, mandarin, bergamot and rosewood fairly standard notes for the age. Middle notes were jasmine, patchouli with a sprinkling of rose, orris, and vetiver. Base notes were ... vanilla (from synthetic vanillian) and coumarin.
Interestingly, thanks to the success of Jicky with men, in 1904 Guerlain introduced a men's cologne, Mouchoir de Monsieur, based on Jicky.
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