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April 19, 2011

Just like the exhausted woman in this classic perfume ad, Enjoli works overtime to please. Its top notes bring home the bacon, its heart notes fry it up in a pan, and its base notes never let you forget you're a man...as it were.

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Top notes: Bergamot, green note, aldehyde, hyacinth, peach

Heart notes: Tuberose, jasmine, rose, orris, carnation, orchid

Base notes: Sandalwood, musk, cedar, oakmoss, amber, vanilla

What I mean to say is that Enjoli starts out in the high and happy register of one of my favorite combinations — galbanum and peach. I love the juicy ripe fruit note balanced with green tartness and bergamot. Not too sweet, not too sour, just right.

A radiant and uplifting floral heart soon announces — via the bridge of powdery-sweet hyacinth and orris — that this is not merely a sport scent like the brisk and wonderful Aliage or the elegant but lighthearted Givenchy III.

Nor is Enjoli only a well-behaved floral that speaks only when spoken to. Nope. Hear that thud? It's the frying pan being thrown onto the stove. The rustle of silk? The nightgown being slipped into...

Introducing: Enjoli's third act. The one that doesn't let you forget you're a man. You know — the sexy part. Mossy and woody, soft and sensual, the drydown has an amazing sandalwood smoothness and lingering spiciness that makes you forget that the perfume started out with a completely different personality.

And oakmoss! I don't know how $5.95 a bottle would be adjusted for today's inflation, but Enjoli was an inexpensive drugstore chypre with balance and chic. A quick tour through today's Walgreen's should tell you that era is over. The crapola they have locked in glass cases? I wouldn't take any of it from the free bin...

But back to Enjoli. It's actually kind of remarkable the way Enjoli tries to "have it all," like the fantasy 70s feminist the ad is addressing. Its development is an exaggeration of extremes. Its top notes are the go-getting woman working outside of the home, the heart notes traditional florals that tend to hearth and home, and the base notes are warm, spicy and sensual. (Haarman & Reimer just blends its parts together and calls it a floral. C'mon, H&R! Maybe today's Enjoli is that, but my vintage tells a different story.This thing has a lot of spice and woodiness: oakmoss, sandalwood, carnation, and cedar.)

And now onto the infamous ad/earworm in the tv commercial seen below. It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized the jingle was based on a Peggy Lee song, with lyrics added and changed, including "I can bring home the bacon..." If you ever wanted to understand the critique of the idea that women can "have it all," just check out this ad here.

Basically, what does the liberated 70s woman get for trading in her 50s Betty Draper days of stay-at-home momhood smoking cigarettes, minding the kids, cooking and cleaning, and developing the kind of hysterical neurosis that only 5-trips-a-week to the shrink can cure?  More work! In fact, a 24-hour day of working and pleasing! (And seeing the actress in the ad in triplicate makes me think of the movie Sybil, about a woman with multiple personality disorder. "Having it all" can also mean becoming schizophrenic and psychotic!)

Sigh. I get tired just watchin' that lady. But I haven't tired of this wonderful little relic from the past. Like Charlie, Enjoli was a perfume my mother wore in her single mom days while getting a college degree, and she'd probably been enticed by its attempt to recognize how hard she was working. She still wanted to smell good, though, and Enjoli smells good.

Ad courtesy: Glen H. Sparky's Flickr


Posted at 01:41 PM | Permalink

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We are well into the era when a woman bought perfume for herself, rather than wait for a man to give it to her. But her life still seems to be about working for and pleasing others.

My mother reached middle age in the 1970s, and although she regretted having to work outside the home - she told me that, sadly one day - I don't think she would have responded to the overt sexuality of Enjoli and Aviance. She clung to the fragrance of her youth - Yardley's April Violets. AV is extremely elegant but with little sexual edge to it, as far as I can tell. The thing is, my mother wore it for herself. It had nothing to do with pleasing others or having hot nights with her husband. So who is more liberated? Hmmm ...

Anyway, all that aside, thanks for another great review. Ah for the days when oakmoss was taken for granted even at the lower end of the market. I'm going to try for some Enjoli next month (my budget is all used up for this month!). Perhaps the reason that I have not sniffed it already is that it has this unfortunate association, in my mind, with bacon. Can't think why ... !

You're getting some vintage Charlie in the mail, Anne, so hold tight! You've reached the Gold Star Commenters Level, and membership has its privileges. :-)

You're right: It's hard to imagine oakmoss in a drugstore perfume, but my tiny little vintage Enjoli bottle has it, for sure. I need to get into Yardleys. I see the old ads all the time but I don't think I've ever smelled any...

Thanks for the point about your mother, which I think is relevant to a lot of us perfume gals. We often wear it for ourselves! I can't say that if I'm wearing a sexy perfume I don't want others to notice (in a good way), but mostly it's about my own pleasure, the dream state it can put me in, etc. And in a way that's more liberating, you're right, than a woman who is simply trying to please someone else.

That's what makes these ads so dated. A woman's existence is still viewed in terms of her utility to others and not for herself. Sadly, teenage girls and a lot of women today have fallen right back into that trap. The pornification of sexuality means that sexual pleasure is something they perform for others ("Do I look hot?") rather than something they experience in a positive way for themselves.

Sexual liberation has been a mixed bag for women, that's for sure, and each generation has to figure out a way to analyze the liberation that's being served up. Sometimes, it's just a load of the same ol' crap in liberation's clothing (or lack of it).

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The scent of Enjoli is very faint in my mind but that song will forever be branded in my memory (in fact I am singing it in my brain right now !). As a working mom in my 40s as far as I'm concerned the so called "liberation" of women has been nothing but a trap. Not only do we have to raise our children, mind the house but also work outside of the home 5 days a week in order to maintain the typical American lifestyle. With so many men now "under-employed" or unemployed many women are becoming the breadwinners of their households. But enough of my social rantings..... I would love for you to write about some of the Yardleys! Yardley's English Lavender was one of my favorites but the Yardley's April Violets that Anne wrote about sounds lovely, as I am partial to the scent of violets (don't see them as melancholy but rather as fresh as a spring day).