When times get tough, a new perfume can't fix your finances, but it can take your mind off them for a while. In 1929, armed with this wisdom, Parisian perfumer Jean Patou created Joy Perfume (buy it online) for his wealthy American patrons whose fortunes had been ravaged by that year's Wall Street crash. Despite their financial losses, and the high price of Patou's product, Joy was cheaper than couture and women flocked to buy it. Patou's well-timed gamble paid off, and an instant classic was born.
What Makes a Classic
Talk about aging well. More than 80 years after its debut, Joy remains a consistently best-selling fragrance. In historical sales, it is out-ranked only by the unsurpassable Chanel No. 5. But where Coco's classic plays coy and mysterious, unfolding its charms over several hours, Joy announces itself in a bold, unapologetic rush of powdery-floral scent. To create his signature blend, Patou combined a garden's worth of flowers, including roses, jasmine, ylang-ylang, tuberose and iris. The result is something lush and mature. Joy recalls another era, but is classic enough to appeal strongly to many modern women. The bottle, with its clean lines and jewel-like stopper, makes a gorgeous addition to any vanity too.
What It Smells Like
When first applied, the roses in Joy command center stage, giving the perfume its instantly-recognizable powdery scent. After a few hours on the skin though, the fragrance will develop into something more complex and surprisingly spicy, due to base notes of sandalwood and civet. These can be overpowering in large doses, so apply Joy with care. As a general rule, it's best to avoid spraying directly on pulse points. Instead, spritz the fragrance in the air and walk through the atomized mist. The droplets will rest lightly on your skin and hair, leaving an enchanting aroma in your wake.
Paying Through the Nose
Snob appeal may be one factor in Joy's continuing success. At $400 per ounce for the pure perfume, it ranks up there with the world's most expensive fragrances. For those of us still smarting from the recent economic downtown, the eau de parfum is more attainable, but still not cheap, at $75 per ounce.
Where and When to Wear It
As a true floral, Joy is best suited to daytime wear. From the carpool to the office, from lunch to a parent-teacher meeting, it's a lovely accompaniment as you move through your day.