The stories perfume houses want us to believe…
“A flacon made of black jade hid the last gentle breath of a long-kept secret. The recipe, that Pierre François Lubin as an apprentice had secretly copied from Jean Louis Fargeon, purveyor to the Duke of Angouleme, has now been found. Marie-Antoinette ordered the fragrance as the Trianon garden was being built in Versailles, far from her sumptuous life at court where she enjoyed halcyonic days before the eruption of turmoil and revolution.
The perfume recipe was entrusted to a noble lady and a loyal friend of Marie-Antoinette’s and has survived over the centuries. The fragrance, which today has been revived, was described by Lubin up until the 1930s as “Jardin Secret”.
-excerpted from the press material via First in Fragrance
This is a great example of things marketing people say to make us buy perfume. Allegedly this is a perfume made after the original recipe of Marie Antoinette’s favorite scent. The name results from the “fact” that she carried it always about her person in a black jade flask.
Octavian Coifan calls it a fake, and I have to say I tend to believe him a lot more than the marketing folks at Lubin, but that is my personal opinion after all, everyone is free to choose the version they prefer. Or disregard the entire back story and just concentrate on the juice, which is lovely after all, based on an old recipe or not. (Okay, you may regard the super pretty bottle as well, I love it and therefore included three images of it for your viewing pleasure.)
Black Jade was created in 2011 by
Olivia Giacobetti Thomas Fontaine (according to new information) and includes notes of galbanum, bergamot, cardamom, rose, jasmine, incense, cinnamon, Indian sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla, tonka bean and amber.
Opening with fresh bergamot and a tiny dollop of galbanum, a good dose of cardamom appears quickly and stays for a while, enveloping the emerging rosy-jasminy heart in a spicy veil, assisted by cinnamon and a bit of incense.
The base is nice, soft sandalwood over ambery vanilla.
Black Jade is voluptuous, but transparent, it is never overwhelming although it is quite diffusive, it lasts for about four hours on me. Not bad at all.
I can’t get rid of the feeling that I would be able to enjoy this a lot more, had it been released without the Marie-Antoinette angle and the resulting hullabaloo of overwrought expectations on the one hand or the growing indignation on the other.
Black Jade is a good fragrance, and while it doesn’t floor me, I enjoy wearing it and it garnered a few compliments here and there.
I like it, but for what it is worth, I don’t for one second imagine it as Marie-Antoinette’s perfume. (This one is much more like it!) Another Marie-Antoinette inspired perfume is the sadly discontinued La Haie Fleurie from L’Artisan Parfumeur, created by Jean-Claude Ellena in his pre-minimalistic period. Maybe I should go looking for my sample of that one next…
Update, Oct.24: According to the owner of the House of Lubin, Gilles Thevenin, the perfumer credited with Black Jade is not Olivia Giacobetti, but Thomas Fontaine.