Fourplay: Body Kouros and Jicky

This week we’re group-groping two diverse fragrances: Yves Saint Laurent Body Kouros, from the makers of the original YSL Kouros (although Lee says the smell is so different it can hardly be called a flanker), and Guerlain Jicky EDT, from the Guerlain Hall of Fame. Not that we’re biased. First up, Body Kouros: notes are incense, eucalyptus, cedarwood, mace, camphorwood, benzoin. Created in 2000, Body Kouros is one of five (count ’em, five!) follow-ups of 1981’s Kouros, which continues to be one of YSL’s top sellers.  Buckle our swash, baby!

Patty:  Starts off pretty gourmandy sweet, and not particularly unpleasant at all. I sorta liked the darn thing, but then it heads for room freshener territory. If there had been more of the beginning that stuck, it would have been a definite cuddly scent as Lee uses it.  As long as you fall asleep quickly, it will work well for that!  Otherwise… Revenge of the Urinal Cakes for sure.

Lee: You know those scents you buy because they’re unfathomably cheap, really so cheap that you can’t see the reason why you wouldn’t buy them, even if it’s just to drink when the liquor runs low? Well, Body Kouros is one of those. Discounted so heavily, I thought, why not. After all, it’s Annick Menardo, the genius behind Bulgari Black and Le Labo’s Patchouli24 (number’s aren’t my strong point – is that right?), and it can’t be wrong. And generally, it isn’t, if you want a cuddle up scent and not much else. Starts with candy floss, moves on to eucalyptus traces with something soft, before heading into vanilla territory. Much more ungendered than the ad suggests:

Keep them to yourself, buddy! Didn’t your ma tell you that you catch a chill like that?

March: Reading about the original Kouros on Basenotes, I was surprised to discover that it’s a love-it-or-hate-it scent, with the (mostly male) reviewers either talking it up or making comparisons to things like urinal cakes and Greek prison bathrooms, both of which I’m assuming aren’t meant in a good way. Body Kouros seems to be designed to cater to a younger crowd (isn’t everything?), with its fans and detractors, among whom the general complaint seems to be: it’s too sweet. Anyway, Body Kouros does start off surprisingly sweet — I get a caramelized note that’s vaguely Versace Dreamer-ish, and at that point I really like it. But then it wanders off in what I think must be the camphor/eucalyptus direction, which registers to my nose (Lee, I am so sorry) as the aforementioned bathroom smell — in my case, evoking the ammonia-cleaner-burying-more-evil-scents smell of your generic grade-school girls’ bathroom. I’m just odd enough to admit that smell is not repulsive to me: it’s experiential, like if Christopher Brosius did a scent called “Girls’ Bathroom.” I’d probably get a little sample of it (oh, wait — I have one!) But I wouldn’t wear it around.

Bryan: I suppose thanks to the world of niche perfumery, any “gendered” scent has the odds stacked against it, especially the masculines.  They are just too typical, often bordering on insipid and I wouldn’t normally think twice about one or the other.  This one gets points for trying a bit harder, but like the model here, it’s interesting for a few seconds, then there just isn’t much, “behind the eyes.”  That’s probably a little bit of a jealous dig, but come on, I’m thinking both he and the scent are a tad vapid….ok, another dig…I have body issues and the name of this scent didn’t help either.  For shame.  Women, you aren’t the only ones with bodycentric dysmorphia.  This Kouros is a blast of warmth, followed by inevitable freshness.  Thanks but no thanks.

Next up we have Guerlain’s classic Jicky, from 1889, arguably the granddaddy of modern unisex fragrances. Notes are lemon, mandarin, bergamot, rosewood, lavender, orris, jasmine, patchouli, rose, vetiver, leather, amber, civet, tonka, incense, benzoin. (This list is from Basenotes; you can find completely different lists of notes elsewhere, but citrus, lavender, leather and civet seems to be the theme.) Today we’re discussing the EDT, which is markedly different from both the richer EDP, and worlds apart from the extrait which, skank-wise, moves a giant step into the territory of acquired taste. (March has acquired the taste.)

March: Shocked by Shalimar? Loathe L’Instant? (Me, too.) Vol de Nuit make you vomit? Well, Guerlain Jicky is your gateway drug, babe. Spray some of that on. Go ahead. Before you know it you’ll be back for the harder stuff. Jicky, beloved by all people of taste, including me and Sean Connery (yes, I am shamelessly biased) was my gateway drug. It’s a great summer fragrance — it makes me think of sucking lemons through one of those old-fashioned sassafras candy straws (did anyone else do that?). It’s also the only Guerlain EDT worth owning, in my opinion. It’s sort of ginger-ale/champagne-ish, with a great citrus opening, only it’s citrus through the fun-house mirror, and it’s a little herby, and then! just when you thought you had a grip, the dirty bits sneak in on their teeny, quiet little feet and embrace you. And then it’s too late. You’re in love. Jicky EDT (get someone to say it to you in French, for Pete’s sake: it’s zhee-kee, sort of, not rhyming with hickey) is almost effervescent, a perfect three-part harmony of citrus, lavender (generally not on my list of favorites), and whatevertheheck that base is. It’s like your first sip of a really top-shelf gin-and-tonic — a little dry, a little bittersweet, a lot of heaven, and the realization: hey, this thing is perfect.

Lee: Okay – I have to admit that this disappoints me a little when I sniff it, cos I’m addicted to the vomit/poop shuffle of the parfum and always want a hit of smut when I’m in Jickyland. Instead, this sparkles. The lavender’s clearer, the citrus is more pronounced, without being contemporary astringence, and no-one’s going to think your bowel control is below par. It, quite simply, is another perfect version of a perfect perfume.

Patty:   I remember when I first tried this, which was after March went on-and-on-and-on-and-on-and-on about Zeeekkkkkeeeeee and how dirty it was.  Spritzing my arm while extended away from me as far as it could go, I was thinking I’d be smelling Cat Butt in Heat. but instead I get this wonderful, beautiful sparkly citrus. WTF, right?  It went a long way into the drydown utnil I caught Miss Tabby sitting on my shoulder smirking and twitching her tail.  A perfect fragrance, and the EDT is the version that you can wear any time, anywhere, without risk of worrying you’ll offend anyone, nor does it ever get “difficult.” 

Bryan: Now that’s what I’m takin’ about.  I understand the reluctance to seek the edts of the formidable House of Guerlain.  I would say the ones I have usually end up collecting dust.  Not so with Jicky…(or Chamade or L’instant in my case).  Now when it comes to skank, I’m with the rest of the Posse…I want some.  I would also say I’m closer to March in that nothing, but nothing is too skanky.  (Love you March).  That is my problem with this edt.  I miss the skank too much.  I love the sweet/balmy/sunny blast at the beginning, but if something has lavender in it, then it better be foiled by something deep or dark.  Here, it used to.  The edt strips away the sexyness that is the parfum.  That is not to say I do not like Jicky edt; I simply prefer the extrait…..well, who doesn’t??  This is still a gorgeous fragrance that I need to remember more often.  Now, I’m a layering whore…I admit it.  I have not yet layered anything that is classic Guerlain.  Any suggestions?

  • Renee says:

    I think you’ve got to be a really pretty woman to wear Jicky, and I ain’t got that much gawjus. Mostly I get the infamous “cat crapped in a lavender patch.”* I can’t afford that kind of stank.

    I wanted to love her, honest I did.

    *Part of a review by “Tweetch” on MUA

  • tmp00 says:

    Well, I’ve never had the desire for any Kouros (or for that matter, waxed fake baked boychicks), but Jicky is my idea of heaven. I may have to try the EDT: I love the stronger ones but am sometimes afraid that they might be a little in-you-face (or other areas of the anatomy..) to be office-acceptable.:d

    • pitbull friend says:

      Tom, your blog is great! Very funny, very sad — kind of like life. I will have to get a Google account so I can comment there. Just thought I’d mention it here so the curious can click on your name & see for themselves. –Ellen

    • Lee says:

      Tom – you can bi in-my-face any time you like.

      I’m blaming Andy.:d

  • Jennifer says:

    Darn you for making me want to try another Guerlain although most of the time they just don’t work on me (exception being Vetiver), now if I only knew where I could get a sample of the edt.

    • Patty says:

      The Jicky, I think, works when a lot of the Guerlains don’t. I often find the heavy vanillic Guerlain base to be hard to wear a lot, with a few exceptions, like Sous le Vent, jicky, Voilette de Madame and Metallica. This is more about the citrus.

  • BitterGrace says:

    Well, now that I have stopped laughing at Andy’s reply…

    Anything Lee likes can’t be all bad. I gotta try Body Kouros. Jicky is the cat’s pajamas…or whatever…in any form. And I’m thrilled to see Bryan speak up for Chamade edt, which is damn nice.

    • Lee says:

      But M it is like, rahter than anything more wholehearted. I don’t get the bathroom cleaner thing at all, but that might be a transatlantic miprision (get me with my fancyschmanciness).

  • Marina says:

    I enjoyed the group-groping very much, thank you guys :d:d:d

    Like Elle, I loathe the ad for Body Kouros.

    • Lee says:

      I’m with you. His abs look like an axe wound. And that tan is calling for cancer to be its friend. And don’t get me started on the fake blue twinkle of his oh so Aryan eyes.

  • Elle says:

    Have to say I find the man in the Body Kouros ad so remarkably unappealing that I don’t think I would have ever thought to try it. Doesn’t sound like I’ve missed much.
    One of my goals in life is to be able to find the magic in Jicky before I die. After all, there actually are a couple of lavender scents I love. Why not Jicky? I shall continue faithfully trying it until one day my nose relents and lets me fall in love w/ it.

    • Patty says:

      yeah, those hunky ripped abs guys don’t appeal to me either. :-w

      No, really, I think they are great eye candy, even when I was young and had them panting after me, but any guy that spends that much time working on his body doesn’t have enough time to meet my time demands.

      No jicky for you? That actually makes sense.

  • pitbull friend says:

    Reading Bryan’s post, I can’t help but think that he was naming some of the scents that Nawt Agin has been forced to create for various celebutards: “Vapid,” “Insipid,” and “Dysmorphia.” A friend once pointed out to me how many words, divorced from their meanings and just thought of as random sounds, would make great names for children. “Cellophane” and “diarrhea” were her favorites. –Ellen

    • Patty says:

      *Jotting notes for Voracia’s perfume names* Brilliant!

      • CH says:

        Hey, who would need to layer with a combo like this one….

        Hilfiger Tommy Girl 10
        It is inspired by optimism and independence, the fragrance, like an American journey. This feminine scent possesses a blend of Cranberry, Pear, Tangerine, Grapefruit, Magnolia, Honeysuckle, Water Lily, Butterscotch, Birch. It is recommended for casual wear.
        b-(b-(b-(b-(b-(b-(:))

        • pitbull friend says:

          An American journey through a strip mall, maybe? BUTTERSCOTCH???:o –Ellen

          • CH says:

            I couldn’t make this one up. It’s for real. Mall culture at it’s worst! Funny how it has the birch note along with the butterscotch…

            This is the fragrance that tries to please all but offends everyone!

    • Bryan says:

      That is just too funny. I would probably wear vapid just so I could tell people what I was wearing.

    • Maria says:

      You know, I could even see a serious, nonfictional perfumer naming a fragrance Cellophane. It denotes transparency–something Giacobetti or JCE might create. Ellen, you should sell names to perfume houses. 🙂

      • pitbull friend says:

        Maybe Miller Harris would release it as a follow-up to L’Air de Rien? (Which really wasn’t translucent & idiomatically does NOT mean “air of nothing.”) Wouldn’t “Perfume Namer” be one of the most wonderful jobs in the world? Well, as long as they didn’t make you go all focus-groupy. 😮 –Ellen

  • Judith says:

    Wonderful reviews! I think I’ll pass on the Kouros, but Jicky is my favorite scent, the only Guerlain I like in all concentrations. Among those, I like best some vintage PdT that I have (plenty of civet here)! I find it both sexy and comforting, and often wear it (among other places) to bed.:)

    • Judith says:

      Just reread this. I really do love Jicky, but I don’t know why I said it was my favorite scent. It’s not. It’s not even my favorite Guerlain. Must have meant “one of my faves”–and must have needed more coffee.

    • Patty says:

      I often say the same thing after I write a post, publish it, re-read it in the morning and wonder how all those typos got by. I really used to be a better typist and proofreader than I am today. Eyes are shot. 🙂

  • Maria says:

    I can’t believe it, but you guys have me wanting to try a Guerlain EDT!!! From reading your excellent descriptions I can imagine it, though before your post I would have found it difficult to understand how Jicky could be sparkling. I love the parfum, but maybe my DH would enjoy wearing the EDT. And maybe even I would too. 😉

    I’m in the midst of the throes of Diorling love. What an opening, middle, and end! I hope Patty restocks the parfum soon or I may have to book a flight to Paris. I’d book it for someone else. For me, forgeddaboutit. In my dreams. So I’m kind of depending on Patty. Hmmm. I can’t find a pathetic-looking emoticon. Maybe a prayerful one. ^:)^

    • Patty says:

      Hon, I have Diorling parfum (running to check the site). Good grief! I must have zigged when I should have zagged. I have TONS of Diorling parfum, and I’m always hunting down more. It somehow got deleted. I’ll fix that now. 🙂 Sorry, sweetie! I wondered why nobody wanted my beloved Diorling parfum… now I know why! :-ss |-)

      • Judith says:

        Question–is the Diorling (etc.) on your site Roja Dove’s, or the vintage?

        • Patty says:

          The Diorling parfum is the vintage. The diorling EDT and Diorama are the Roja redos. The Diorissimo parfum and Miss Dior parfum are the current ones. All others, no idea. 🙂

          • Gail S says:

            Good grief, Patty! Why did I just have to read this? You might as well adopt me – or maybe I should adopt you:-? Either way, since I’ve already trotted off to your perfume store again, I seem determined to make your perfume collection mine!

          • Patty says:

            Sorry!!! :”>

      • Maria says:

        I got 1/2 ml. of the Diorling parfum from you last week to try out. Then when I felt utterly bewitched and wanted more and I saw it was gone….. 😮 I’m so relieved, Patty. You’re a fragrance angel.
        😡

  • carmencanada says:

    Whenever I don’t know what to wear, I go for the cool-warm, hazy, milky opalescent blue- dove grey embrace of the hermaphrodite divinity that is Jicky. The EDT is indeed quite glorious, with the licorice-y undertone that I sometimes get from the real-life version of…uh… one of the liqueurs inspiring Sécrétions Magnifiques. Yup, even in its cleaned up, lighter version, there’s something dirty in my Jicky.
    And Bryan, I really wouldn’t try the layering bit here. This is masterpiece territory. The Scent Gods would smite you.

    • Gail S says:

      Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! This is the first reference I’ve ever read to someone getting a licorice note from Jicky and I thought I was crazy! Well, maybe I am, but at least I’m not alone!

    • Patty says:

      There is a little licorice in there. On me it’s pretty fleeting, so I never really make a mental note of it, but I always smell that little bit when I’m decanting it.

    • lissakv says:

      maybe the licorice is the “cat crapping in the lavender field” smell I get 20 minutes after application. the rest is a lovely summer hazey smell…