Joop! Homme Wild (Joop!)

The marketing copy for this fragrance is, in a word, absurd. The marketers opted to make this ostensibly "wild" fragrance sound anything but. Pink pepper as the top note? Wow! What a deviant and impulsive choice! Followed by . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . rum absolute! What exactly is "rum absolute," anyway? An absolute is a reduction of a substance via the removal of alcohol and water. So rum absolute is simply . . . dried rum. Without alcohol. Or water. Rum paste. Rum briquette. The gummy stuff that cakes around the cap after years of neglect in the liquor cabinet. Or, more accurately, a synthetic molecule in no way derived from rum and sold at a premium by Robertet.

Finish it all off with "woody blond tobacco" in the supposed base accord. So there's fruity-spicy pink pepper on top, rum paste in the middle, and "woody blond tobacco" on third deck, "for a twisted masculine drydown." Burley, or "flue cured" tobacco, is the "blond" stuff of cigarettes and any other cheap smokes, and I'll tell you right up front, I get absolutely no cigarette tobacco at all in JHW. Definitely don't get any cigarette vibe from it. What irks me about this scent is that the stated pyramid is immediately false, and yet almost all reviewers adhere to it. Wake up, folks. Just because they say there's pepper and rum and tobacco, sure doesn't mean those notes actually reside in the composition. It just means they're trying to hide that this is a girly violet floral perfume for men. For whatever reason, they wanted to pitch it to men, possibly because more males purchase Joop! fragrances than females. I really don't know, but that's my guess.

I actually find myself liking the Joop! brand more and more with each new wearing of products in the range. I always had an interest in the original Joop! Homme, and for a while hated it. Then I gave it a few more chances, and came to really like it. Eventually I got around to trying Joop! Jump, and liked that one even more. Then I stumble across Joop! Homme Wild at a steep discount on the clearance shelf in Walmart. And I figure, what the heck? Might as well give it a shot, especially after Jump. I'm glad I did, because I really, really like JHW, even a touch more than Jump. The boys in the back room asked themselves what the least predictable spin on Joop! could be, and one guy raised his hand and said, "I know! Remember those simple parma violet colognes our grandmothers wore in the fifties? Let's make one of those, only better!"

Better means cheap but well made, and a whole lotta fun. The fragrance is loaded up with super-sweet ionones, which effectively make it a loud, near-edible violet. It smells like triple-milled violet-scented bar soap from a Victorian toilet, but the ionones alone aren't enough to build this beast - it requires more heft than that. Enter a pint of syrupy "fruitchouli," a pineapple/patchouli overlay, with subtle, salty-smelling lavender for lift, and a quiet, vaguely Coppertone-like jasmine, all atop a great big ambery tonka note. Underpinning everything are several fruity esters (an assortment of prune-like items in the figs-and-cherry axis), and a handful of ethyl-maltolesque musks. And there you have it, a pulsating fruity-floral fougère in a purple bottle, made for women, and inexplicably labeled for men. It's sweet, fruity, ambery, musky, and violetty. Someone in Joop!'s post-production team challenged the marketing director to a coin toss - heads, and the word "Homme" stays on the bottle - tails, it's "Miss Wild" instead. I'm thinking someone had a trick coin in their pocket, but if cheating on a coin toss for laughs is as wild as the Joop! people get, I applaud their conservatism.