I was recently given some romantic advice about men that I find pertinent to this fragrance review.
Stop going for the flashy, obnoxious, weird extroverts, a particularly astute person told me, and begin to notice the quiet, watchful guys who aren’t vying for your — or anyone’s — attention. They’re the truly interesting ones.
Jules is that second guy in perfume form.
It announces itself as a fougère from the beginning, with the barbershop-y accord of aromatic lavender, florals and tonka (coumarin), but its primary character is leather chypre.
Puckery green notes mixed with herbs and fresh florals seem to radiate outward into an ambery-warm animalic base of leather. If the glowing Peridot birthstone had a scent, it would smell like Jules: light-green, iridescent, pale, fresh, angled, sumptuous, jewel-like, reflective.
"Well-blended" and "balanced" are terms you hear a lot in perfume descriptions, but they are particularly apt descriptors here. The seams do not show in Jules; it’s one unbroken line of beautiful.
Top: Artemisia, bergamot, green note, wormwood, laurel leaf, lavender, cumin
Heart: Jasmine, cyclamen, carnation, rose, cedarwood, sandalwood, basil
Base: Leather, moss, tonka, olibanum, musk, amber, fir, castoreum
Perfumer: Jean Martel
A cusp 70s/80s fragrance, Jules, unlike the swaggery showboats Aramis (1965), Yatagan (1976), and Kouros (1981), doesn’t have anything to prove. Suave and gorgeous, with just the right balance of freshness and dirtiness, Jules can just stand there and make you approach him. (Look at that René Gruau ad! Jules, according to his illustration, appears to be a well-built, introverted hustler!)
Jules’ embarrassment of riches is for you to discover, slowly and quietly — but rapturously. The reined-in animalic base is civilized, but it is still recognizably animalic: leather and civet (?) hover over its freshly washed fougère herbaceous opening gambit. In Jules, Dionysian eros is balanced with Appollonian coolness. As one reviewer on Basenotes, dragonblizzard said, “It is a fine balance of the primal and philosophical…”
More than Kouros, Yatagan, and Aramis, Jules has a more “feminine” floral aura, but again, it’s about balance. If I hadn’t known the perfume was called Jules and that it was for men, I’d have a hard time deciding, based on this vintage, whether it was masculine or feminine. It’s very 70s in that sense, and joins the pantheon of gorgeous leather chypres with galbanum, artemisia, indolic white flowers, and amber, namely perfumes such as Miss Balmain (1967), Azurée (1969), Sikkim (1971) and of course Aramis (1965).
Although Jules seems to be hard to fine in vintage form (full bottles go for about $300 on eBay), minis pop up now and then, and I got a reasonably priced, full boxed mini from the MiniaturePerfumeShoppe. The Christian Dior website lists it, but perhaps it's only available in Europe, if at all.
I learned about Jules in a Facebook perfume group I belong to, and I’m so grateful for the introduction. This means now, of course, that I’m falling into yet another rabbit hole in the vintage perfume rabbit warren, namely, men's vintage fragrances. Here we go…
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