Joop! Homme (Joop!)

I was going to punctuate the entire first paragraph of this post with exclamation points, but realized the joke's not that funny. Perhaps a pink perfume in a pink box is funny enough, or the idea that a 30 year-old man finds it wearable. That's my prerogative folks. Laugh away, I care not.

Many people subscribe to the notion that fragrances are seasonal, and I agree. The idea that fragrances are also divisible into "day" and "night" categories is less compelling. I have yet to understand the meaning of a "night" or "black" scent. Are they supposed to be more formal? Sexier than their AM counterparts? More mysterious and alluring? One could argue that any "night" scent worth its salt would be just as intriguing during the daytime. Any nocturnal activities that go beyond a late-night snack and sleep are generally uninteresting to me anyway, with a few (ahem) exceptions. I will concede that if there's any category that can successfully characterize the concept of "night" in perfumery, it's orientals. Anything with dense florals, heavy spices, and precious woods is more evocative of the darker side of the moon. Joop! Homme, however, is not.

What to make of Joop! Homme . . . let's see here. It's an '80s megahit. It joins Cool Water, Drakkar Noir, and Obsession as one of those Ultimate Men's Fragrances of the last 30 years. It is bold, aggressive, and a little obscene. An oriental coated in Ranier maraschino cherry sauce. There's a decadent quality to Joop! that transcends the oriental genre of the '80s, and moves into a territory of its own. It conjures memories of a Python-wielding Christian Slater from the movie Heathers. This guy might be all charm on the outside, but there's something waaaaay serious going on under the facade.

Meanwhile, the tagline is Real Men Wear Pink. This is obviously something that came from Europe, as no American guy would buy it. Indeed, the Old World sees sales of Joop! regularly through the roof, which keeps it alive in overseas markets, including ours here in the States. In New England it's a curiosity worn mostly by older men and black youths. Guys in their early 40s remember when it was new and cling to it; hip-hoppers clubbing at 12 am like that it projects for miles and rubs onto lingerie and car seats. This stuff is a territory marker. It's possibly the strongest masculine scent ever produced.

For a while there Joop! Homme fell out of favor. People can only take so much sweetness before sugar cubes start dancing in their heads. The '90s were forgiving of saccharine smells, but the last decade saw a shift into denser gourmands and oddball woody orientals. Well it's 2011, and the oud craze seems to be almost over. Gourmands are also losing their grip. Yet woody, spicy fragrances remain, a hangover after all the dessert. Stuff like Dunhill Custom, A*Men Pure Havane, and Yuzu Man define the year. There's still sweetness, still freshness and earthiness, but the unrefined bombastic sugar of things like 1 Million, the strange spiciness of stuff like Corduroy and Silver Black, are falling by the wayside. Just as legions of insipid aquatics jumped ship after the '90s and left Adidas Classic, Cool Water and Acqua di Gio stranded, the insanely-exaggerated woody-oriental gourmands of the 2000s leave Joop! Homme, Allure Homme, Individuel, and Original Santal behind. I wish I knew how these things survived, but it's rather beyond my scope of knowledge to say the least. The others survived too, but their stars are fading against the ceaseless effulgence of the classics.

Joop! Homme, like Mugler Cologne, has a counterpart in the Creed lineup. Mugler is the template for Original Vetiver, and Joop! Homme is clearly the inspiration for Original Santal. I'm not sure why they did it, but it seems Erwin and Olivier Creed copied these eau de toilettes. Sure, they gussied them up with more components, a broader note range, and top-quality materials. But in the noses of public opinion the scents appear to be very, very, very close. However, as a disclaimer, I must admit that I've never actually smelled Original Santal, and cannot personally testify to any similarities it shares with Joop! Homme. I can only say that while a sampling and review of this popular Creed EDP is pending, I do believe the blogosphere copy that likens the two. After recently testing the brilliant Mugler Cologne and finding myself wearing a watered-down version of Original Vetiver, I can only imagine that a spray of Original Santal would yield a richer and spicier Joop! Homme.

What puzzles me, though, is why anyone would try to elaborate on Joop! Homme when it's already too much of a good thing. It's like taking the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and adding more genitals. The fragrance practically implodes on skin in a heavy thunder of sweetness, weighed into pores by an amplified combination of blood orange, bergamot, cinnamon, heliotrope, and orange blossom. These notes combined produce an olfactory illusion of candied cherries, which is further intensified by an underlying eruption of indolic jasmine, patchouli, sandalwood, and surprisingly inedible vanilla. As the minutes pass, Joop! becomes more floral, with the candied cinnamon leftover from the heliotrope-bittered cherry sauce still lifting the rich blossoms of two white flowers. Gradually the sandalwood, spiked with musk and patchouli, becomes the central accord. It's a slow burn, very dense, dizzingly sweet, and unforgettable to anyone unaccustomed to sweet oriental scents.

Never has a packaging style been more fitting for a fragrance than with Joop! Homme. It smells pink. The juice is an odd purply-pink. It's brighter than the true purple of Sung Homme, but Joop! seems more floral/edible in its color expression. It wears its simmering cinnamon, blushing heliotrope, and warm tonka on its sleeve. Joop! is definitely something to be worn with extreme caution during summer months, although it might bloom nicely with a little external heat. I feel it's more suitable for chilly late-autumn afternoons and frigid winter days. It may or may not be too cloying in the morning, depending on how reliant you are on your senses to wake you up. Unlike most contemporary EDTs, Joop! is something that requires light application. This fragrance works just fine with one or two sprays. If you wear three, four, and five sprays before work, you ask for a pink slip to go with your pink perfume. Even a causal evening out with friends will make you enemies with too much. I repeat: Joop! is strong. Be careful.

It isn't often that I say this, but I'm glad I purchased an old, ultra-sweet oriental today. I've been reminiscing about the eternal sugar of Joop! Homme lately, and had to snatch up a cheap bottle (with matching aftershave). I used to think I hated it, but realize now that I simply wasn't in touch with my inner pink.

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