Category Archives: JAR

Bolt Of Lightning – JAR

My family has suffered this week, as on Monday, my wonderful auntie Ellen unexpectedly passed away in her sleep.
Perfume, as crazy as it sounds to people not as passionate as we are, is a huge emotional release for me, and I have been wearing fragrances of absolute beauty for comfort these last couple of days.
It seems like a perfect time to write about Bolt Of Lightning – whilst it is not my favourite in the line, I’ve wanted to explore it further since my video on tuberose fragrances. It is beautiful, and complex enough to lose myself in for a little while.

Bolt Of Lightning opens extremely vegetal, a potent ylang ylang? throws off a gigantic banana-skin accord, paired with an overwhelming blast of narcotic floral notes. The medicinal, feijoa aroma of methyl benzoate (a natural aspect of tuberose) pierces through the top notes: a green, astringent, powerful tropical fruit stench. It is this feijoa aroma which I initially mistook for green pepper – they smell nothing alike, but they have the same green, juicy quality – but with far different personalities.

After a couple of minutes, the almost mentholated opening has tamed to a level that smells like the opening of Tubereuse Criminelle… yes, it is THAT powerful before it even settles. The tuberose that begins to emerge from underneath is a cross between the sharper, orange blossom and jasmine heavy tuberose of the Lutens’, and the green, creamy, more tropical tuberose of Carnal Flower. The sweetness of both of those fragrances is missing entirely though, with the intense vegetal opening here, staining the flower with a bitter, raw earthiness.

The sharp intensity of the natural narcotics has a drug like effect to me, it is flourescent and literally dizzying. The tuberose is damp and dewy, there is no syrupy sweetness here; the smooth edges of the florals only begin to emerge as time goes on and the initial intensity of the opening has thoroughly evaporated. It’s at this point that I pick up on a whiff of jasmine and the merest hint of orange blossom, which similarly to Tableau De Parfums’ Loretta, gives off that kind of grape soda/bubblegum vibe, only here it is completely overwhelmed by the tuberose, unlike Loretta where the roles are reversed. There also seems to be a drop of Jar’s Jardenia in here, a delicate, mushroom-heavy white floral (gardenia) – which I initially mistook for the tuberose until they began to seperate slightly. This gardenia once recognized becomes almost on par in its intensity with the tuberose – and leads the fragrance to a relatively linear drydown.

Bolt Of Lightning has the humidity of Un Matin D’Orage’s opening: the scent of fresh dew – true to life – sitting on the leading floral’s petals. Bolt Of Lightning’s drydown also reminds me of Un Matin D’Orage’s clever sense of space… On first spritz, my nose is squished right against the soiled and overtly intense flower, but as it settles, the scent of BoL is that of a whole bunch of tuberose plants (and gardenias) from a distance. A hot, humid, greenhouse air surrounds them, only here it is, and smells, completely natural (unlike the stemone-heavy ozonic overload in the Annick Goutal). The subtlety of Bolt Of Lightning is hugely unexpected as it dries, lasting a few more hours as a damp, but heady floral reside before the late drydown of rich vanilla leads it to a soft finale.

Bolt Of Lightning is a beautiful, beautiful tuberose perfume, but undoubtably the most challenging there is out there. Tubereuse Criminelle is as light and as delicate as a friggin’ meringue in comparison. Having said that, I don’t understand the repulsion often described towards the opening – because it keeps my nose glued to hand (before the headache kicks in…) in fascination – it’s gorgeous. A must sniff for tuberose lovers, and those interested in avant-garde perfumery, but the balanced simplicity of the heart is enough to capture anyone. Another brilliant fragrance in the JAR lineup.

Bolt Of Lightning 30ml JAR – $$$$ (500+ euros)

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JAR – Golconda & Diamond Water

Golconda opens with a rich, heavily spiced (clove-laden) carnation, paired with a hint of banana-ry ylang ylang, and indolic jasmine. The carnation dominates obviously, warm, peppered, with a hit-the-back-of-your-throat spicy dust. I get an ever so slightly candied citrus, like a lemon drop, brightening up the top, and the texture reminds me of the carnation in Guerlain’s Terracotta Voile D’Ete, only de-sweetened slightly by the lack of vanilla and amplified in it’s clove accords.

There really is little more to say about Golconda – it is definitely a lovely carnation fragrance (a note I am surprisingly, slowly growing fond of) – and if you get on with the flower, then Golconda is one of the easiest fragrances to like in the JAR lineup, along with Diamond Water…
A linear, rich, sweet/spicy carnation with great clarity in its heart and a warm dry wood in the base. Lovely and simple.

A carnation yet again, but with a little more to it. Diamond Water opens with a subtle coconut note, and maybe even a hit of lime – it’s rich and tropical but with a sour translucency that keeps it in the distance and definitely not what stands out most. A creamy white floral of tuberose joins in, bringing with it the carnation. The carnation has a much cooler temperature, and much less clove. It is a soft, subtly peppered floral and the tuberose (which has been blended with a very light hand) smooths out the rough edges.

Diamond water is exceptionally quiet on my skin, and as the lime and coconut begin to retreat (but amazingly don’t seem to disappear for numerous hours), the carnation becomes more dominant, but quieter, and prettier than Golconda. The base is extremely subtle, a tiny bit of smoke (incense?) and a smooth wood (sandalwood?) are scrubbed up to a point where they hardly exist.
The tropical treatment of the floral is really unusual. I adore the smell of the coconut and sour lime paired with the spicy carnation, but it is so soft and rounded that it comes across as a little TOO easy to like. Diamond Water is a very nice perfume, but it’s not amazing. It JUST gets away with being classified as unusual.

JAR Golconda 30ml $$$$
JAR Diamond Water 30ml $$$$

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Jarling – JAR

Jarling has one of the most exquisite openings I have smelt. I know I said that about Fermes Tes Yeux – but this is different. A medicinal, camphorous blast of clove and eucalyptus, maybe some candied lavender, becomes overbowled by a heavenly but intense heliotrope and star anise – giving off an almond/marzipan vibe that is violated by an almost calamine lotion image.

Is it a bitter citrus? I’m not sure. There’s something I can’t quite put my finger on – is it peach? There’s a fruity element to Jarling, like a soft puree – along with this medicated lotion like scent, with the almond and anise more intense than they should be – but better for it. It is completely bitter-sweet, with an almost acidic lemon rind in the heart – curdling the more creamy notes of marzipan.

A lilac comes to the foreground also, giving Jarling a slightly soapy edge, and dragging that hyper-clean medicinal smell throughout. The almond/heliotrope gives Jarling a hefty sprinkle of powder, which is enhanced a little more by some iris. At this point, the clove note begins to settle, the fragrance becomes more soft and powdery – the anise and heliotrope give off a cloud like texture and weight, but still with that bitter medicinal aroma fresh on the memory, but not so much on the skin.

The life of Jarling is not particularly long, as it does get softer and quieter as time goes on, retreating close to the skin – still clinging onto its challenging personality until it settles into a much more wearable powder. Jarling is a fantastic piece of work, the first few sniffs and all I got was the beautifully powdery marzipan, the sniff after and I was bowled over with its antispetic aroma – very different from the smoky Savlon of Tea by Comme Des Garcons – hence my reference to calamine lotion – it’s texture is different, almost sticky and overwhelming. It’s a challenging and unusual partnership to the sweet almond notes of heliotrope and the syrupy anise but it works wonderfully.
I really like this, and if I was to splash out on a JAR, this would probably be the one for me – it is however, very difficult to wear. Still, a perfumista’s must sniff – JAR is exceptionally overpriced, but I can’t fault them on creativity.

Jar Jarling 30ml – $$$$

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Fermes Tes Yeux – JAR

A potent animalic rush opens Fermes Tes Yeux. A heavy castoreum and civet combo pack one hell of a hardcore punch just as the intense narcotics of florals underneath come forward with rich decay. The decayed note that fills the opening is topped with the cool, camphorous notes of eucalyptus, clove and maybe even a bit of mint and lavender? It’s cold, calculating, medicinal and herbal… and without a doubt, one of my favourite openings of all time.

The fragrance at first brings to mind the narcotic intensity of Tubereuse Criminelle, the decayed petals of Charogne, the powerful musk of Untitled No.8 by Brent Leonesio, and the medicinal high-pitched screech of Tea by Comme Des Garcons – all things I love.
As it begins to calm (only just), the most prominent floral to my nose is ylang-ylang. I get billows of old banana skin, with the tropical narcotics still almost white noise. The cloves are cold and medicinal, the eucalyptus smear bringing to mind a hidden smidge of tiger balm.

The bitter herbal opening also brings to mind numerous O’Driu and Santa Maria Novella fragrances… please excuse my constant comparisons – with no notes list given for these I’m trying to put forward this fragrance as blatantly as I can.
The rich leather underneath, scrubbed up to a point where is screams with chemical overload goodness. As the leather comes in more prominently as does a hit of indolic lily. The spicy kick that comes with lily is paired with its over-ripe “hammy” quality as Turin describes – it smells like cold, processed meat, ham in particular… this thing I’m sure sounds so unappetizing.
There are more florals though, and after smelling Zeta by Tauer today – I’m convinced I get linden blossom in this also, but only because it’s scent is fresh on my mind, but the honeyed, green twang is there that makes them so identifiable. Also orange blossom? There must be jasmine as well due to my initially association with Charogne.

As it begins to dry down, the muskiness is still killer strong, but now with the overpowering smell of beeswax, that grips ahold the remaining indoles and floral pollen. It’s rich, dark, leather – overloaded with textures and flavours is a real nose attack of the best kind. The lily settles into something much more appetizing and becomes the leading floral note for me. It’s lovely top to bottom, a real challenge, and another perfect example of how brilliant natural perfumery can be :)

Fermes Tes Yeux 30ml JAR – $$$$ (300 Euros+)

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Jardenia – JAR

Thanks to a very generous friend, who I originally met on my one day intensive introduction to perfumery course run by Karen Gilbert back in the summer and then later discovered to be a Basenoter, I have small samples of the entire JAR range of fragrances.
I have heard a hell of a lot of gossip around these, rave reviews galore etc. If memory serves me well, they are all natural fragrances.
For anyone who has never heard of JAR – they have an exclusive boutique in Paris, and one in New York. When you go in store to sample the fragrances, they will not tell you the price (ranging from 220 – 500+ Euros for 30ml), or the notes, of any of their fragrances. You are to smell them all blind, and if you show an interest in one, then you will be told the facts… very mysterious. Becuase of that, I have no notes list to work off – so I’m going to start with the easiest one in the collection.

Jardenia is one of the most well-known in the lineup for being one of the most true to life renditions of a gardenia. You cannot extract the scent from a gardenia, so any time you see “gardenia” in a notes list, it is either a synthetic substitute, or it is made up of various other flowers to recreate its scent (normally unsuccessfully – see White Gardenia Petals by Illuminum”!

Jardenia initially opens with an over-dramatised gardenia. A medicinal, almost root-beer like smell rich in narcotics, verging on boozy, throttles in full force off your skin. The white florals are so rich in near decay that the gardenia association is slightly fuzzy at first. The freshness up top is cool and camphorous, with lavender and maybe even eucalyptus giving off a wonderful herbal vibe atop the florals.

As the herbals begin to evaporate and the medicinal smell fades, the gardenia comes into the foreground. The hype was right – it is perfect. I have a Cape Jasmine gardenia in my conservatory – a luscious white floral, creamy, with a prominent and overwhelming twang of mushrooms – earthy and decayed. That’s exactly what fills up the heart of Jardenia. The mushroom note is perfect, not overwhelming in an attempt to be controversial, but shocking enough as is the natural flower.
The creaminess of the petals has the ideal translucency, as although gardenia’s are so damn potent, there is a clarity to their otherwise dense smell that is replicated here by the inclusion of maybe a subtle tea rose. I’m guessing the components are the usual tuberose, orange blossom, rose – a slight medicinal aroma of extremely subtle clove and anise… I’m not sure.

I mention other flowers, but on a whole, Jardenia is what it is meant to be,  a single gardenia flower when your nose is pressed up against its head. Rich, indolic and beautifully natural, Jardenia is THE perfect gardenia.
My only complaint is – that is all there is to it. Yes, yes, it’s a brilliant rendition, but with no supporting notes or sharp angles (aside from the prominent mushroom), Jardenia is also THE definitive example of a soliflore. Whether that’s a good thing or not I’m not sure – once I’ve fully appreciated the floral heart, I want a little more and Jardenia doesn’t deliver any more for me until it fades out with little change.
A little dash of vetiver in the base I think, adds a much-needed green edge, or is it a hint of galbanum in the heart? You know I’m not good with green note identification…

Jardenia is really nice, and I could wear it with ease, but I wouldn’t consider it a special occasion scent – it is a summery floral of power and richness that like most naturals, begins to fade after a couple of hours. I do enjoy it, but it is not my favourite in the JAR lineup (which I thought it would be). Still, a great reference point and worthy of a sniff – I can now relax and say I’ve found the perfect gardenia note… but not the perfect gardenia fragrance.

JAR Jardenia 30ml – $$$$

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