Created in 1988, Jazz is the work of perfumer Jean-Francois Latty. It was the next major men’s launch by Yves Saint Laurent since the release of Kouros in 1981. The ad campaign featured a very young Naomi Campbell singing (mouthing) C’est Si Bon surrounded by male jazz dancers. The film set reflecting the bottle’s contrasting design, which was unfortunately revised in 1998. It is now housed in glass instead of molded plastic. This metro-sexual fougere was an immediate success. I remember my childhood barber used to wear Jazz. He was young, trendy and cut the best flattop. Any kid in my neighbourhood with some sense of style would pay him fifteen dollars to cut their hair. He was certainly avant-garde in my small country town dressed always in a white turtleneck, pleated front suit trousers and loafers. I think I discovered Jazz one visit when my mother asked him what cologne he wore. He showed her the bottle, which I memorized and later found in our local shopping mall. Although still in production, today’s Jazz is slightly different. The original is a true fougere: powdery, spicy and herbal. The modern version is more transparent displaying all the 80’s signatures without giving you an 80’s perfume hangover. Jazz is a classic, an important part of my collection, for both historical and sentimental reasons.
Jazz is one of the first men’s fragrances I can remember to begin emphasizing the use of synthetics. Instead of replicating natural materials with synthetics, Jazz promotes them. Like Gucci Rush Pour Homme, Jazz does not smell so much like any plant, wood or flower but instead it smells new and exotic, something not from nature. The floral notes are geranium and carnation. Nutmeg and cinnamon compliment the carnation accord and the traditional fougere note, lavender, is mixed with artemisia. Jazz’ base notes are where the magic happens. Subtle leather and amber accords have been mixed with synthetic sandalwood and oakmoss. The result is one of my all-time favourite dry-downs. In his book, Perfumes The Guide, critic Luca Turin recalls his first impression of Jazz as being timid and overly complicated. But with time he has developed an appreciation. For me the complexity of Jazz is one of its characteristics I love. As an amateur perfumer Jazz is one of the few fragrances I own that I need to really focus to find all the joints, the starts and finishes of its individual components. I can happily amuse myself for an hour or more equipped simply with a blotting strip doused in Jazz. Every time I smell it I experience different nuances.
The Jazz wearer would have to have lived during the 1980s. I can’t see those born after fully appreciating Jazz without understanding the mood of this decade. Or perhaps I am being too sentimental. Jazz is a great quarter life crisis fragrance. When I revisit it I feel like a teenager again. It is the perfect retro men’s fragrance.
Yves Saint Laurent Kouros, Yves Saint Laurent Jazz Prestige, Yves Saint Laurent Pour Homme, Acqua Di Parma Colonia Lavanda Tonica, Chanel Pour Monsieur, Yohji Yamamoto Yohji Homme.
Perfumer: Jean-Francois Latty (Takasago)
Bottle designer: Jerome Falliant-Dumas
Release date: 1988
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Aromatic Fougere