’There’s a certain pleasure to be found in the J’adore family, but with J’adore In Joy you go a little further, to new extremes,” explains François Demachy, Dior’s perfumer-creator, who we met in the south of France in January.
We had taken the journey across to Grasse – the region of choice for Dior perfumes and many other couture brands such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel – a floral paradise in which some of the world’s most notable fragrances have been born out of its heavenly jasmines and roses, to discover the newest addition to the house’s fragrance cabinet. “This fragrance can be exhilarating – everyone who has tried it has the same comment: ‘It’s awakening’,” says Demachy, the master behind scents such as Eau Sauvage and Miss Dior Cherie. “In fact, when I was researching, I had in mind something radiant – a scent that people would find joy in. We wanted to translate that much-needed emotion into something new. The way J’adore in Joy is perceived is a matter for everyone to find out.”
We found ourselves at the heart of the city, Les Fontaines Parfumées (where sits Demachy’s creative laboratory), navigating our way around In Joy, which at the time still lay a secret locked deep inside Grasse’s fictional floral walls. The new scent is crafted around the legendary flora, which the original J’adore is known and loved for – jasmine sambac, neroli and tuberose. But the point of departure comes with the additional and heady note of Madagascar’s ylang-ylang, plucked from the fields of Africa and then custom crafted in Grasse to Demachy’s exact liking. Infused with the existing notes, the ylang-ylang releases a salty accord, evoking a new and spirited charm. “The idea came to me while cooking,” he explains. “I wanted to use salt in the same way you would cuisine, as an enhancer, to reveal and accentuate all the different tastes.”
Novel, surprising and in abundance of bliss. The alchemy is a stunning one and referred to as ‘a new imaginary flower’ due to the blend of tangible ingredients, which meld together to create a fresh yet intangible harmony of sweet saltiness. “It’s more of an impression – you feel it rather than smell it,” Demachy explains. “The salt isn’t a natural ingredient or one a particular flora can lay claim to, rather it’s an ideal that I’ve created – an imaginary flower.” His ideal is generous, jubilant and stands tall as the new lead in the J’adore family. Not necessarily for a different audience, but rather capturing the more audacious side to the existing J’adore woman (expressed by Charlize Theron, who fronts Joy’s campaign). “There’s never a bad time to create a new fragrance, but we also wanted to approach it as an opportunity to rejuvenate the J’adore story – invent a new taste for our woman,” he continues. “Usually a fragrance takes two years to develop but Joy was with us in one, as I knew what I wanted – it was just about discovering it. In the end I found a molecule that already existed in ylang-ylang, which helped boost the flavour.”
Demachy may be of the belief that you can’t lock a fragrance down to a particular season – “I don’t think it’s possible to perceive a fragrance quite as precisely as that,” he says – but the aroma lends itself naturally towards a spring or summer month due to its uplifting nature (ylang- ylang and jasmine being the fresher of accords). On second thoughts, though, the crispness of the salt takes us back to icy winter days spent along a bitterly cold coastline, breathing in fresh, sea air. Perhaps Demachy is right; attaching a fragrance to a season is too personal and interchangeable a thing – especially for one with as complex a character as Joy. “When perfumers work, we continually doubt everything as we’re blind in the process,” Demachy explains. “We can’t see or feel if something is working; we can only rely on intuition and comments from others. We need words to make the aromas seem physical, even if they’re negative ones.” Yet there’s nothing undesirable about J’adore In Joy, from the intoxicating alchemy that envelops the skin with floras and then leaves a headier note of salt, to the light diffusing peach and gold bottle, which allows In Joy to manifest itself. “Fragrance can express a person’s personality, and in just the same way can be used as a screen to shy behind,” Demachy concludes. Either way, joy is an emotion that deserves to be amplified and worn in abundance.