Dior’s great floral perfume J’adore (£64 for 50ml), created by Calice Becker in 1999, is an all-time classic. It’s the best-selling perfume in the Dior stable and one of the world’s most popular fragrances. Although these days it doesn’t quite have the golden depths of the original formula (due in part to EU regulations and in part to the fact that Dior’s owner, LVMH, now makes some of its own perfume oils), it is still beloved by many for its notes of peachy rose. Then there is J’adore L’Absolu (£85 for 75ml; left in first picture), a more intense version that smells of a richer rose, to which has been added hints of tuberose and jasmine. Absolutes, as most perfume aficionados know by now, are richer, more concentrated versions of essential oils.
Now François Demachy, Dior’s celebrated “nose”, has created an updated version of J’adore L’Absolu. “I wanted to make it even more voluptuous, and for it to smell somehow more sensual and provocative,” says Demachy. So he has increased the quantities of the absolutes of jasmine sambac (a species mostly found in Asia), damask rose and Indian tuberose.
Just to confuse things further, there is yet another, earlier tweak on J’adore, which goes by the name of J’adore L’Or (£89 for 40ml; right in first picture) and has additions of vanilla, tonka bean and patchouli. Why, you may be wondering, so many variations on a theme? Demachy puts it this way: “I see J’adore as something a woman would wear during the day. Then the new J’adore L’Absolu is richer and more intense – perfect for a cocktail party or a trip to the theatre. But for something intimate, such as a seductive dinner for two, she could wear J’adore L’Or.”
To celebrate this more sumptuous version of J’adore L’Absolu, Dior asked Jean-Michel Othoniel, a French artist well known for his extraordinary blown-glass pieces, to create a limited-edition bottle (second picture) – though all six available in the UK have now, sadly, been sold. Delphine Arnault, daughter of LVMH supremo Bernard Arnault, already collected his work and, to put it in Othoniel’s words, “wanted an artist to give a new vision for the perfume. Also, Dior wanted to connect the world of haute parfumerie with that of fine art. Demachy was pushing the fragrance – so I had to push the beauty.”
Othoniel loved the original amphora-shaped bottle designed by Hervé van der Straeten (who had been inspired by Dior’s En Huit line and the long-necked beauty of Masaai women), but he needed to create something that referenced it while being different and exceptionally beautiful. The result was a more rounded bottle, decorated with spiralling strands of gold-leaf-flecked glass. It was, of course, designed to be refilled and passed down the generations; to be, as Othoniel puts it, “an object of contemplation”.