Business hotels aren't designed to inspire passion. They’re efficient and bland. They mean to please without offending. Their restaurants are equally uninspiring, with menus full of chicken caesar salads and farmed salmon filets. The hospitality punches in at the time clock inside the basement service entrance. But, boy, do they turn rooms.
You know where I’m going with this. To me, today’s Christian Dior J’Adore gives the same feeling as a middle-tier business hotel. It does a perfume’s job of smelling pretty and clean, but comes off as oddly soulless. Yet, it sells like gangbusters.
Perfumer Calice Becker created J’Adore, and it launched in 1999. Dior lists its notes simply as ylang ylang, damask rose and jasmine sambac. Beyond these notes, I pick out peach, orange blossom, musk, amber and pale wood.
J’Adore Eau de Parfum goes on sharp and clean with watery orange blossom and what smells to me like a sweet, chemical take on lily of the valley. Vague rose, bolstered by dry peach, steps right up, but this is no voluptuous and juicy Lancome Trésor. Instead, the rose-peach combo is scratchy and thin, and the ylang ylang and jasmine are indistinct.
Riding under all this is a sharp woody musk that can show up in fragrances as a sad substitute for oak moss. A clean musk, more like a detergent than a soap, plays a starring role, too. As the fragrance wears down, a hint of amber and vanilla round out J’Adore’s clean feel. At this point, it smells an awful lot like shampoo. Whether this was by design, or because shampoo manufacturers jumped on J’Adore, I don’t know.
They say J’Adore used to be a radiant, beautiful perfume. (See Bois de Jasmin’s thoughtful review.) J’Adore glowed. It was lush without being heavy, floral without being dowdy, and full of chiffon-like depth and light. The old J’Adore somehow made a classic form — the floral — feel modern and approachable without being intrusive. Its success spawned a whole generation of fragrances. Now it’s become a cheapened copy of itself. Like a chain hotel, J'Adore best serves people who want a need met without having to pay a lot of attention.
You can have your airport Westins and Marriotts. Me, I’ll take the old place downtown with the crazy concierge and lobby full of mismatched lamps, threadbare Persian rugs, and the resident tabby cat batting at a vase of garden roses and delphiniums. I hear the bar serves an excellent Sazerac. Let’s call it Hotel Vintage Miss Dior.
Christian Dior J’Adore Eau de Parfum is $74 for 30 ml, $94 for 50 ml, $124 for 100 ml, and $155 for 150 ml. J’Adore also comes in a multitude of other forms, including Extrait, Absolue, Touche de Parfum, L’Or, Voile de Parfum and Eau de Toilette.