JICKY Timeless modernity 130th anniversary edition
The first truly modern fragrance, Jicky broke away from the norms of its time, in which naturalistic, often single-flower perfumes continued to echo the scents of nature. With its bold combination of natural and synthetic ingredients, Jicky distanced itself from this perfumery, moving towards a form of abstraction while falling within the emotional register. It was a creation
that reflected an era in which Impressionism paved the way for modern art.
A Guerlain icon, Jicky demonstrated creative daring from the outset. Aimé Guerlain elegantly used two ingredients that have played a key role in the history of perfumery’s development: coumarin and vanillin. Nestled at the heart of tonka bean, coumarin adds a mild note of bitter almond. Isolated in 1868 by the chemist Perkin, it has been used in perfumery since 1882 and paved the way for a new perfume family symbolic of masculinity – the Fougères. Smooth, soft and enveloping, vanillin reproduces the scent of vanilla, an exquisite black pod from an orchid. Synthesised for the first time in 1874, Georges De Laire produced it from a conifer sap derivative in 1876. In perfumery, vanilla gives a mild yet powerful note that has contributed to Guerlain’s history, featuring prominently in the Guerlinade, the House’s fragrance signature.
When Aimé Guerlain composed Jicky in 1889, he revisited the Fougères family, which was originally characterised by a combination of lavender over a geranium heart and coumarin and oakmoss base, giving it a feminine touch.
Masculine-feminine? For Guerlain, Jicky’s name is linked with two stories that merge together. While Jicky was the diminutive of young Jacques Guerlain, Aimé’s nephew, it was also the nickname of a young Englishwoman whom Aimé had met and fallen in love with while studying in
London; he is even said to have asked for her hand in marriage. The legend swings between him and her, and nowadays Jicky could be a remarkable jewel in the crown of “gender-neutral” perfumery.
Jicky’s fans include both men and women: personalities such as Colette, Sarah Bernhardt, Jane Birkin, Jackie Kennedy, Joan Collins, Sean Connery, Karl Lagerfeld, to name just a few. In Answered Prayers, Truman Capote tells of his visit to Colette, whose salon was filled with Jicky, and quotes
her as saying: “I like it because it’s an old-fashioned scent with an elegant history, and because it’s witty without being coarse – like the better conversationalists. Proust wore it. Or so Cocteau tells me. But then he is not too reliable.” From yesterday to today, Jicky is a fragrance for men and women.
Jicky was originally launched in the classic Guerlain fin-de-siècle “square” bottle. However, in 1908, Guerlain collaborated for the first time with Baccarat, creating the “quadrilobé” bottle with a cap whose design was inspired by a champagne cork: it would come to symbolise Jicky in both
crystal and glass.
A jewel in Guerlain’s crown, Jicky paved the way for modernity in perfumery:
abstraction, emotion, gender equality. Several decades later, it remains
quite simply a great perfume, free from convention.
EN ROUTE TO ELSEWHERE
A Guerlain icon and mainstay in the history of modern perfumery, Jicky is celebrating its 130th
birthday in radiant colour. For its anniversary, it has been redesigned with reference to its astonishing and little-known African legend. A new chapter is being written in the rich story uniting Guerlain and the arts.
In Senegal, Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba (1853-1927) remains a benchmark, a figure held in high esteem who is still honoured. A poet and famous Sufi theologian, he peacefully opposed the colonisation of his country. A Jicky devotee, the Sheikh was particularly fond of this fragrance.
In honour of his memory, every year at the time of the Grand Magal, celebrating the anniversary of his exile to Gabon, his disciples come to reflect at his tomb in the city of Touba (founded by the Sheikh in 1888) and lay Jicky perfume there in homage.
THE ARTIST BAYE GALLO
The Senegal-born artist Baye Gallo was chosen to commemorate Jicky and its African legend in an exceptional hand-painted and sculpted edition. The artist works between Senegal and France, where he has set up a studio in Thionville. This multi-talented artist is also a singer-songwriter and musician with the world music group he founded in 2008 – “Baye Gallo &
Mawlana Bande”. Taking a lively and joyful approach that echoes the profusion of colour found in African artistic forms, he has created Jicky’s anniversary edition. As a painter, he works with both oil and acrylic, as well as coffee grounds – his favourite material, which he elevates to new heights through his sculpture. This technique with a striking relief powerfully amplifies the contrast between the different elements. He is also a Sufi, just like Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba. He says of this project based on the Senegalese legend: “this is not a chance encounter but a beautiful
FREE AND PROFUSE ART
On giant crystal quadrilobé bottles, Baye Gallo has chosen to express a rich African inspiration – blending figurative art and abstraction – that takes Jicky on an imaginary poetic journey to Senegal. Voluble colours and human silhouettes in black dialogue, move from gestures to words,
and pass on the legend. Three omnipresent lines symbolise the course of a lifetime, scanning the passage of time: past, present and future. In the words of Baye Gallo, “honouring memories to consider the present, and living in the present to imagine the future”.