I need your help. I’m sampling J’ai Osé, and I can find barely anything about it in my books and on the internet. NST’s readership is a robust brain trust. Between all of us, we should be able to unearth the story behind J’ai Osé, including who created it and the differences between the original and current formulas.
This is what I know: J’ai Osé launched in 1977, and its notes include peach, coriander, citrus, jasmine, patchouli, rose, orris, cedar, sandalwood, vetiver, amber, olibanum, oakmoss, musk and benzoin. It used to be part of the Guy Laroche perfume house but now is sold under the name “J’ai Osé” alone. (Guy Laroche lists only Fidji and Drakkar Noir on its website now.)
Another thing I know about J’ai Osé is that I adore it. This review is from a mini Eau de Parfum a friend gave me. It doesn’t have “Parfums Guy Laroche” on the bottle. Taking the lead from photos I’ve seen of early bottles, my mini appears to be from the post-Laroche days.
J’ai Osé doesn’t break new ground, but neither does it smell old-fashioned in the way some chypres do. It’s solidly built and checks off the classic perfumery touchstones of grand notes, legible development, and interesting structure. But it lives in the serious-but-easy space that Halston does. It stands for a time when perfume wasn’t expected to be as easy to appreciate as a spice cake or a pina colada — a time just pre-Yves Saint Laurent Opium — but also when a bit of cheekiness was appreciated.
To me, J’ai Osé is a leather chypre inside a classic oriental fragrance. It starts off smelling like a late-1970s oriental with dry peach, wet orange blossom, and the tiniest hint of spice. “Aha,” you might might think, “Nose, prepare for a heady floral bouquet larded with amber and wood.” And then — surprise! — J’ai Osé plunges into sueded leather wrapped in iris and moss. It’s lovely leather, too — smooth and rich and barely salty. In the background plays a quiet mix of sweet, spicy wood, as if someone across the hall were wearing Christian Dior Dioressence.
After a couple of hours, J’ai Osé’s moss ramps up — it’s the real thing, too, and a bit skunky on my skin — then poops out. J’ai Osé is dead. “Too bad,” you think. “But it was nice while it lasted.” Then, twenty minutes later, presto! It’s back! But this time it’s an oriental fragrance wafting a lush blend of resin, amber, wood, and musk. Finally, after a few more glorious hours, the fragrance really does fade to skin.
J’ai Osé is big and sophisticated, but easy to wear. It smells like real, abstract perfume, and people who prefer their fragrance to be a Jo Malone-like easy-to-read mix of notes will probably find it stuffy and overwhelming. But if you do like perfume-y perfume, and especially if you have a thing for leather chypres and orientals, give J’ai Osé a try. As far as I can tell, it's still in production, and it’s a bargain at between $15 and $25 for 50 ml of Eau de Parfum.
So, what can you tell me about J’ai Osé?