Blog post by Gwen

Jour de Fête – a little bitter and a little sweet and very evocative

I grew up in the Italian area of downtown Toronto, so most of my childhood friends were Italian. We walked to school together, did homework together and hung out after school together. One of our schoolyard rituals was sharing treats we brought from home with each other at recess.

I'd bring molasses kisses or mints, and they'd have pieces of panforte or amaretti cookies. And occasionally, if I was lucky, someone brought a small muslin pouch of candied almonds to school. These were my favourites. I loved the hard, pastel-coloured sugar coating that cracked between my teeth on the way to the delicious almond.

The first time I had one of these candied almonds, I wanted more. Where did they come from? How could I get them? I asked my mother if she could buy some, but she didn't know what they were or where to get them.

So, I went straight to the source: my Italian friends. They told me they get them as party favours at weddings and baptisms because they signify the bitterness of life (the almond) covered in the sweetness of love (the sugar).

It turns out this isn't just an Italian custom but a European one where sugared almonds, called Jordan Almonds, are handed out on holidays, birthdays and feast days. I’m all grown up now, and candies don’t appeal to me as much as they did when I was a child, but oh, how those sweet memories of sharing treats, laughter and secrets with my friends come whooshing back each time I wear Jour de Fête by Olivia Giacobetti for L'Artisan Parfumeurs.

Jour de Fête translates into English as 'celebration day' and is an olfactory reminiscence of those festive occasions when the sweet smell of candied almonds wafted through the air.

Jour de Fête opens softly with a sweet note of almond. A bitter/honey note from pink laurel creates the impression of bitter almonds, a nod to the symbolic meaning of the nut in the candy. There's orris here, too, powdery, violet-tinged and slightly sweet. It adds a lovely cool texture to the fragrance that reminds me of the hard, cool sugar coating on my tongue when I first put the dragée in my mouth. As it blooms, a note of wheat drifts forward. It smells of flour more than hay and balances the sweetness at the opening, setting the stage for a creamy, comforting note of bourbon vanilla that stays down to the drydown where it's anchored by cedarwood, which gives it dryness and depth.

Jour de Fête is built around just three notes - almond, wheat and vanilla – and breaking it down this way; Jour de Fête sounds as though it would smell sweet, cloying and jejune. And it might if it weren't for Giacobetti's deft hand at keeping the sweetness soft and evocative.

What I most enjoy about Giacobetti's work is her genius for creating sheer, delicate, transparent fragrances that are so evocative. Jour de Fête is ethereal, not light, so it sometimes feels as though it has disappeared, but it's still there, a tender reminder of sweet memories and a harbinger of celebrations to come.

Check out Jour de Fête in our Shop.