12/8/13

Joop! Jump (Joop!)



Once in a blue moon, I'll encounter something that is excellent on every count. Is its fragrance good? Check. Is its bottle pretty? Check. Is its name interesting, perky, fun? Check. Is it a pleasure to wear, all day long? Check, and check. I kind of ran through that list with Joop! Jump, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the scent ticked off all the positive boxes that make some perfumes successful. In rare cases, a masculine comes along that defies expectations and transcends its genre. Joop! Jump is one of those cases.

When you get into perfume, you get into an interesting world of two binary gender definitions: "masculine" and "feminine," which are a short hop away from "heterosexual" and "gay." Whenever the question of gender identity is addressed in Western society, there is a distinct unease in the air, with every utterance tip-toeing around the notion that men and women ought to remain firmly entrenched in their expected roles. People's expectations are often used defensively. If you challenge a football jock's masculinity, he'd likely not counter-attack. He'd probably say, "Hey man, I don't swing that way." He's trying to shore up your expectations, and his own.

Michael Stipe once sang (and this has been translated a few different ways), "You wore our expectations like an armored suit," the implication being that wearing gender expectations, and ANY expectations like armor is something to reconsider. Expectations about gender are not protective. They're deceitful, they're porous blankets that shrink and fall apart when challenged. To some perfume connoisseurs, they're to be upended every day. If you're a man who loves perfume, you'll sometimes wear a "feminine" perfume to work. If you're a female fraghead, the occasional "masculine" cologne may find its way into your weekly rotation. Sometimes individual perfumes manage to throttle these invisible lines and create new gender territories. Sophie Labbé apparently knows this quite well. Her 2005 fragrance for Joop! is both masculine and feminine, and probably appeals to both genders in different ways.

As a man, I find Jump's spicy fougère structure very attractive to sniff, and to wear. The sweaty coriander, the soft lavender, and the woody fruits (apple, pineapple, grapefruit) are brisk, fresh, and allude to classical contemporary norms. That these brighter notes are placed upon a smooth tonka heart only adds to their appeal. Fougères often utilize the ambery-vanillic quality of tonka as a focal point around which other more-transient notes can move. Jump is no exception, and the tonka does a good job in grounding the fragrance. I can't think of any man who would smell the first three hours of Jump and think it's unwearable, but then again, I know better. To me, Jump's earlier stages read as expositions on the freshness of modern masculine style. The scent says, "This is the man who chases women, but does it discreetly, with humor, wit, and self-deprecation. He loves women, all women, and enjoys having them in his arms." You're kind of a 21st century Robert Redford with Jump's top and heart accord.

Then, a change. The base begins to open up, and yikes! Labbé's composition is not the traditional ladies' man you think it is. It suddenly seems more David Bowie than Rob Redford. The original Joop! Homme's decadent-sweet floral bouquet blooms from under the tonka, and it's airier, fresher, sweeter, greener, allowed to breathe more. It's a floral accord with a reach that crosses rooms. This aromatic fougère wears eyeliner. At this stage, I'm inclined to believe that it takes a bit of sexual self-confidence and security to wear Jump. As its name implies, a jump - or even a leap - has been made, and we're no longer in Kansas anymore. A woman could wear this, just as easily as a man could. But it's not unisex. It's not masculine. Not feminine. Not strictly anything. Is it asexual? Polyamorous? Bisexual? It simply defies explanation and labels. I suspect the man or woman who wears Jump is okay with that, if he or she gave it any thought. Many compare Jump to Allure Homme and Allure Homme Sport, which immediately jolts these odd associations away from controversy and into rote comparison.

I guess it smells a bit like Allure Homme, although not by much. And frankly, it doesn't smell a whole lot like Joop! Homme, either. Jump is its own animal, a very flamboyant, crisp, well-rounded floral fougère that changes a few times with each wearing, and never picks a side. There's a way to do that, and Ms. Labbé managed to find it. Kudos to her, and thanks for such a pleasant and interesting fragrance! One other thing - the striking blue glass bottle is cut like a man in front, and rather feminine and rounded in back. It definitely suits the scent!







3 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I like it more each time I wear it. Same for Chrome Legend.

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  2. This one of my faves to wear in the spring and summer. Very underrated me thinks!

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