No Joy in Mudville: Jean Patou Joy

Okay, so I said I would write about 4711 since some people on FacePlace asked (one of whom is one of my oldest friends who has the most dirt on me..) but none of the online retailers I checked could have a reasonably-sized bottle here in a reasonable time. I would have gone to check it out at Marshalls or Thrifty Drug but I got up to find I have a flat tire. No spare in my midget car. And there were no buses. And the dog ate my homework. Did I mention that LA was invaded by giant man-eating clams? You didn’t hear about that? Crazy.

So 4711 will be next time, If Amazon is to be believed on it’s delivery time.

So I am going to cover Joy. Joy as you all know is one of the brightest stars in the pantheon of scents, perhaps only second to Chanel No 5 in the public’s mind. Joy was famously “The Costliest Perfume in the World” but didn’t have the stamp of approval of Marilyn Monroe, who claimed it was all she wore to bed. Barbara Hutton wore Joy.

Joy was also a favorite of my mother, who told the story of losing a bottle on a trip from Paris to the un-pressurized cargo hold of the plane- even sealed it leaked all over her luggage. I’m not even sure this was true, but it’s a great story. In any case, she wore it for special occasions, whether that would be a dinner party, a night out somewhere nice, or even in an interview like a parent-teacher conference which may or may not go that well. Joy was beautiful, but it was also armor: as the “Costliest Perfume in the World” it read “Don’t F&*k with Me Fellas” in a most ladylike way, even more effective than Faye shouting.

Joy, along with the rest of the Patou line of scents is apparently discontinued. I suppose that several factors were involved: Patou is likely, if unfairly, tarred with the “Old Lady” brush, I am sure that ingredients formerly used are now considered as safe as Asbestos flakes with plutonium dressing by the Powers That Be, and it cannot be cheap to massacre half of Grasse for the flower petals to create it.

I did go onto Fragrancenet and splurge on a small bottle of the EdP, just to remind myself what it used to smell like. The one I received smells thinner than I remember- more skimming over those fields of flowers than just bashing into them, face-first. The Joy I remember reveled in the excess: bowers of roses, masses of lilies, clouds of tuberose backed with some of that “don’t F with me” musk that must have been civet back in the day. This is nice. Nice and sweet, with only a hint of the previous hedonist.

Which brings me to wonder, will I miss it if it’s really gone? I suppose. But am I missing a memory when memories are notoriously fickle? My memory of what I was smelling on my mothers dressing table in the 70’s may be woefully inaccurate. What she was smelling in the 70’s may have seemed thin as opposed to what she remembered from when she wore it as a young woman in the 50’s, and what she wore in the 50’s may have been something that Gloria Swanson (another aficionado) didn’t recognize as what she remembered from when she bought it in Paris when it came out in the 30’s.

So, after almost 100 years, there may be no Joy. Like the original (real) Miss Dior, Je Reviens, or Jolie Madame they are likely best remembered and perhaps not resurrected, no matter how much we would like to.

I purchased my bottle of Joy EdP on the interwebs.

  • Portia says:

    Hey Tom,
    When LVMH bought Patou they almost instantly shut down the perfumery and released their own fragrance called JOY. Word is they are trying to rekindle the brands fashion label and bring it into the 21st century.
    There’s a small horde and hoard of their fragrances in my collection. The only thing I sold off and probably shouldn’t have was an original, unopened, stoppered green glass bottle of 1000 parfum.
    Portia xx

  • Dina C. says:

    I have a teensy tiny bottle of Joy edt that I found in an antique store for, like, $3, and it smells amazing. The bottle is about 1 inch by 1 inch. And it lasts really well, too. No idea how old it is. It’s special to me cause my mom’s name is Joy.

  • March says:

    I honestly don’t remember how Joy smells, and now I’m a bit sad about it… I feel like I tried a different Patou and was surprised by how ripe it was! But maybe it was this one.

  • Maya says:

    Joy is my first perfume love. I connect it with a pretty and free-spirited woman. I have several vintage bottles and just a whiff of it makes me smile.

  • Musette says:

    I still have a small 70s bottle of Joy parfum that my parents brought back from……??? (not Paris… some cruise?)… it’s a powerhouse, it still smells glorious – and very, very much in my style , so I wear it often because Life is Uncertain.

    When it’s gone I will mourn its passing but.. not only is Life uncertain, it goes on. I probably won’t give it much thought, fickle beast that I am.



    • Tom says:

      I think that’s probably for the best. There’s so much new to explore; why get held up by the past? Remember it; don’t get trapped in it, say I

  • cinnamon says:

    I had a bottle of Joy back in the day. It was a nice rose on me — nothing outrageous. I think trawling charity shops is the only way we’re now going to get get some of those great fragrances in their proper form.

  • MMKinPA says:

    I’m sure I have smelled Joy on someone but never deliberately sniffed it myself. I decided years ago that I wasn’t going to chase vintage or discontinued perfumes – mostly because of my budget! Fortunately a few generous souls have shared a handful of samples of some vintage (Shalimar!) so I could see why some people do so.

    • Tom says:

      You really have to have scads of time and nearly endless budget to so that and I have neither, sadly.

  • Filomena says:

    I still have a an almost full bottle of Patou’s Joy and 1,000 both in Eau de toilette concentration. I rarely wear either but due smell them now and then.

    • Tom says:

      I wonder it the EdT is better than the EdP? Sometimes that’s the case. I’m glad you have these to enjoy.

  • taxi says:

    Joy, Quadrille, Diorissimo, Jungle Gardenia, Replique, Je Reviens, Casaque. Old favorites.