I'm forging ahead with my Jil Sander Perfumes That Nobody's Ever Heard About* series of reviews, and the whole enterprise is seeming a little strange. Why write about perfume no one's ever heard about, or, to be more accurate, perfumes most people will probably never smell?
I enjoy reading food magazines, recipes, and reviews of restaurants I'll never visit, because I love when someone's words evoke a sense experience that I can complete in my imagination. It's fun to fantasize about what something might smell or taste like, and if I'm intrigued enough, I'll go ahead and try it out. (This has been true of almost every perfume that a perfume writer has ever written about with passion, for example, or every recipe I've read on Epicurious that tickled my fancy.)
Maybe after reading this, you'll give Jil Sander Woman 2 or 3 a shot.
Although they're in the same family — floral-chypre animalics (according to H&R) — JSW2 and JSW3 are quite different. Although JSW2 was more butch and leathery throughout, I never thought of it as a men's cologne but rather as a perfect unisex scent. JSW3's top notes are more recognizably masculine, but then it confusingly develops into a more conventional feminine chypre, lurching back occasionally to its "barbershop" scent from the top. (Jil Sander's fashion has always been androgynous, though, so even though you could call this perfume bisexual more so than androgynous, it fits in with her line.)
Top notes: Green note, bergamot, coriander, aldehyde, rosewood, bay
Heart notes: Rose, ylang-ylang, carnation, jasmine, lily of the valley, geranium, orris, tuberose
Base notes: Patchouli, castoreum, sandalwood, olibanum, benzoin, amber, moss, vanilla
Where 2 was all bitter green, butch leathery, and extra-arid dry, 3 starts off with a juicy galbanum-laced start, the pronounced masculine feel (perhaps) from the coriander, rosewood and bay leaf combo. In the several times I've tried this, I've caught a whiff of a narcotic white flower I thought was gardenia but must be some combination of jasmine, ylang-ylang and tuberose.
JS3's heart is gorgeous: it retains traces of the green, fresh top notes, and then moves to a powdery orris that transitions to spring-fresh florals such as rose and lily of the valley. By the time it begins to dry down, you feel you've been on a roller-coaster ride of personalities. As the fresh green opening hovers over florals and powder, its animalic base rounds it all off with with a mossy, incensey, leathery, creamy sandalwood finish.
As much as I like Jil Sander Woman 3, it confuses me a little. Its pieces don't fit together somehow, or even clash in a way that makes sense (Must, Miss Balmain, etc.). There's something a little unfinished about Jil Sander Woman 3 that leaves me wanting, although each time I sniff my wrists I get something gorgeous. (Maybe it's unfinished/showing-its-seams in a deliberate, postmodern way?) If I remember that it was released in 1986, though, its androgyny seems ahead of its time. It resembles a scent you could find at Barneys now— niche and a little experimental.
"I cannot think of another full-on leather scent that can I never, ever tire of. Even some of my other, wonderful, favorite leathers can be a little hard on my stomach... if over-applied. But this one... just gets *better*. It's a creamy, sort-of leather that isn't quite like suede. It's mild and medicinal at the same time -- medicinal, meaning it has a salubrious and restorative kind of *freshness*, which calms and focuses the mind. If it were a *place*, it would be an elegant, light-flooded, modern flat with modern classic furnishings by Le Corbusier, or Gropius... And copious bookshelves full of psychoanalytic and postmodern theory. If it were a *car*, it would be an eighties-vintage, "M" series BMW. White with cranberry interior. If you EVER get a chance to smell this sensual, smart, unisex masterpiece, don't pass it up!"
* No one besides Gaia from The Non-Blonde, anyway, and from Hillaire, the VERY enthusiastic Basenoter above who's into Jil Sander Woman 3.