Lubin’s Black Jade (~1790, reformulated 2011)

Lubin Black Jade 100ml, EDP. © Victor Wong
Lubin Black Jade 100ml, EDP. © Victor Wong

A member of a Facebook fragrance group started a poll not long ago asking people to name fragrances that says “Boss Lady” but not “Super Bitch”. (A lot of people participated in the survey. I remembered Chanel No. 19 got a lot of nods.) I had a particular fragrance in mind, but it neither says “Boss Lady” or “Super Bitch”, in fact, it says “The Lady of the Boss” to me, and it’s Lubin Black Jade.

I can make it even more specific with my imagination; Black Jade smells like it belongs to the wife of the owner of a Shanghai gambling house in the old days. No, there’s no smell of cigarettes and booze in the perfume, but it smells “mature” (not granny, uh-huh), “content” and “confident”. The woman wearing it does not need to seduce anyone (but she totally could), for she already has all that she wants, and she is wearing it to complete the look. An oriental fragrance with just the right amount of cinnamon, incense, rose and patchouli, nothing stands out particularly; it’s not an unique fragrance, but it is sophisticated. It is not loud, and the sillage is little; but it’s a fine classy fragrance, may be only the lucky one very close to her can smell it.

When I first heard of the name Black Jade, my immediately reaction was, “So, is it jade or not? Can you call an emerald gem stone green sapphire?” I thought jade only came in green, but the Internet told me I knew too little. In fact, black jade and Black Jade were much more than I initially had thought…

“Black Jade” was originally designed by perfumer Jean Louis Fargeon as per ordered by Queen Marie Antoinette. The queen took it everywhere in a small flask of black jade that protected it from daylight by wearing it around her neck. Dramatically, the French Revolution broke out, the queen entrusted Duchesse de Tourzel, the guardian of the royal children, with her last vial of that perfume on the eve of her departure to the Conciergerie prison. Tourzel and the perfume survived, but Queen Marie Antoinette was executed. (Ironically the French called her a bitch, so may be Black Jade really says Super Queen Beeouch.) The young apprentice of Fargeon, Lubin, who had copied his master’s formulae, set up his shop in 1798 (what a scumbag, j/k) and recreated his master’s perfumes, including the famous eau de toilette that the queen had always carried with her.

Sources: Black Jade: On the Trail of Marie Antoinette’s Last Scent, Vanity Fair; http://www.lubin-parfum.fr; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Antoinette.

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Author: Victor Wong

A perfume lover - niche, designer, modern, vintage, I love them all. I am also the owner of Zoologist Perfumes, a small Canadian perfume house. Please visit www.zoologistperfumes.com or www.facebook.com/zoologistperfumes for more info!

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