Jovoy’s boutique near the Place Vendôme is a grande parfumerie that showcases rare, limited-edition and exclusive perfumes. Tucked under the timeless arcades, the boutique is opulent and extravagant, also disconnected from around in the most subtle way.
You might get a feeling that you’ve been trapped in the shaded luxurious cave located in rue de Castiglione, a much needed opposite to the warmth and power of the colognes. Also there is some kind of indescribable patina of history and wealth, that cannot be conveyed through words, despite the eloquency one may have. A pilgrimage for fragrance aficionados, quest for authenticity and uniqueness.
The shop’s name comes from the vintage perfume house of Jovoy founded by Blanche Arvoy in 1923.Vitraž
While re-creating some of Jovoy’s forgotten fragrances and adding new scents to the line, François Hénin, the owner of the store, who had spent years in Asia working with the raw materials of fine perfumes, decided to broaden the shop’s scope by bringing some independent perfume brands under one roof. Hénin seeks out small companies that use the highest quality raw materials, brands with a strong individual identity whose fragrances are quite different from mass-market perfumes.
We had a pleasure to chat with Caroline François, marketing Manager of Jovoy.
- It’s a real pleasure to have you on Vitraž. Your store perfectly reflects the rocky road for finding something special, different, in any realm of life, in this case – niche fragrances. It requires at least some pre knowledge and effort. It’s a bit hidden, mystique, off the radar, not for the most, but for the chosen. Your thoughts.
The store can be impressive. Sometime people look through the glass but don’t dare to come inside! And that’s a shame. At Jovoy we really want to make rare perfumes accessible to anybody. Rare doesn’t always mean expensive, although we have some precious gems.
- Fragrances can make all the difference in the world for one’s uniqueness, personal imprint, individuality. They represent, assert, but on the other hand they could reveal us in the most sensual form. In a way that you may need to intertwine your professional call as a perfumist with some psychological skills as well, while matching someone’s character profile, subtleties, with corresponding scent you may offer.
We do take into account the personality of our customers. We try to summon their guidelines, wishes, intuition, in order to show them the best matches to their desires. Of course there is also what we feel as an individual that will lead to this perfume or another. Each salesperson may give you his own interpretation, but in the end, we always find your special scent! Even if it requires few stops at Jovoy.
- Each scent, that later transforms into fetching notes is correlated to specific region, culture, nature generally. Cedar with Mediterranean region, Lebanon, Cyprus. Oud comes from the wood of the Southeast Asian agar tree, etc. What did Francois Henin found in Asia that lured him even more to this obsession without the consequences?
François Hénin had the chance to set up a distillation factory in Vietnam at the chinese border. That is where he fell in love with patchouli. And that is maybe why Psychedelic, the patchouli by Jovoy is one of the best sellers.
- How hard is it to market something that suppose to be exclusive. Byredo, Molecules almost became commercial brands. Most of the people by spending higher amounts of money for fragrances are buying authenticity as well. Success in this avant-garde business could be a downfall at the same time. How to balance?
We do not have so many brands that are that big. We always try to have a selection with unknown brands, artistic ones, and “Haute Parfumerie” brands. The selection is made in order to susprise our customers, giving them exclusivities and unseen beauties.
- Fragrances at Jovoy were sniffed from the stoppers of amber glass, so they could capture a perfume’s true scent. Any other perks they Jovoy offers to costumers?
We were using amber glasses, but we have so many brands now that it would be really complicated to have so many bottles, next to testers. We use blotters to try the fragrances, but some brands use their own tricks to make you discover their fragrances. But we all know at the end that the truth will come after testing the perfume on the skin however you may channel it.
- Your store was a neighbour to one of the most trendsetting places in the world, recently closed Collette, Ferdi restaurant in the rue du Mont-Thabor is not so far away as well. Any interesting story with celebrities that you might share with us?
We do have celebrities, but we prefer to keep their name for us to maintain their privacy. We had some international actors/actresses, singers or top models, yes! And also prince and princesses… We appreciate our clientèle. That’s what makes our job so interesting, diversity generally.
- Your personal favorites among all those rarities, name us at least one eternal classic of your choice, and one that is on it’s way to become one.
My personal favorite is Neela Vermeire’s “Bombay Bling”. It makes me travel without leaving Paris. I love the fruity, but not nauseating side. And I find this fragrance so sunny and lively. It makes me happy any time I wear it! Other then Neela, “White” from Puredistance (perfumer Antoine Lie), real masterpiece. White contains May rose from France, tonka absolute from Venezuela, orris root, musk and bergamot from Italy, Mysore sandalwood, Haiti vetiver and Indonesian patchouli. It is love at first sight with every client looking for a soft powdery perfume. A true beauty”.
- And the final question, what are you trying to find in a fragrance, extension to your personality, your antipode, something to calm, create fire, or something else?
When I choose a fragrance to wear I try to match my need of the moment. I always change depending if it is day time or night, or if there is sun or not. Depending also on what I am doing, that is why I love to have several fragrances to pick from, matching my mood of the day the best.
What makes Jovoy unique is its marvelous mix of hard-to-find vintage perfumes and the most intriguing contemporary creations. Besides the perfumes of the Maison Jovoy, other vintage French brands include Coudray – a romantic line founded in 1822, Rancé, Napoleon’s favorite perfumer, also don’t miss the scents created for the emperor and Josephine, Revillon, Le Galion, Isabey…
4 rue de Castiglione, Paris 1st.