I'm hoping you can help me learn more about Nina Ricci's Coeur Joie. I think it was very important before 1960.
My friend is trying to find it, or something very much like it, for his wife's birthday. It is her all-time favorite.
Any help you can provide would be very much appreciated.
Hi Neal,Thanks for a great question. I understand why your friend's wife considers Coeur Joie to be her all time favorite fragrance. It is a beautiful subtle perfume which combines soft flowers and woods in a rare fashion making it a very feminine scent with a discrete element of masculinity in it thanks to an understated element of dryness. The bottle by Marc Lalique is also exceptional....
Coeur Joie was created at the end of WWII, in 1946 and named so as to reflect the exhilaration the French experienced with the liberation of France. Its name means literally joyous heart and can also be an allusion to the expression "A coeur joie" which suggests a sense of happiness and passion that is able to express itself untrammelled.
The perfume was also created to boost the financial fortunes of the house of Nina Ricci which like many other fashion houses of that time had suffered from the material restrictions brought about by the war.
It was the house's first fragrance and was created by a famous woman perfumer of that time, Germaine Cellier. She actually collaborated with painter Christian Bérard and Lalique on the design of the flacon. She is the creator amongst others of Bandit and Fracas by Piguet, Vent Vert by Balmain, other masterpieces of 20th century perfumery. Robert Ricci, the son of Nina Ricci took an unconventional approach to the creation of Coeur Joie proposing the idea of creating a soft and understated green floral at a time when perfumes with deep heavy sillages were most fashionable.
Coeur Joie has notes of bergamot, hyacinth, gardenia, violet, orange blossom, Oriental rose, jasmine, violet, and iris from Florence. It is classified as a floral aldehyde like Chanel no 5 due to a little fizzy Champagne facet to this type of floral perfumes. The iris in this composition is particularly beautiful and subtle and I would even say haunting. You can still find the perfume but it is pricey, the least expensive I have seen retails for $400.
If you are looking to replace it, I would say that this will be less than obvious as Coeur Joie offers a subtlety that is rare and a balance between softness and dryness that is unusual. It also manages to be discreetly luscious and green at the same time.
Nevertheless, I think your friend's wife might perhaps enjoy Heure Exquise by Annick Goutal which has green floral and powdery notes too but it is less subtle than Coeur Joie. Antilope by Weil also presents similar facets as those of Coeur Joie but the start is harsher although the German chamomille in it softens it in the drydown. L'Air du Temps by Nina Ricci has a delicious sillage but again it is not as understated and in fact I think that Heure Exquise is more similar to Coeur Joie despite the fact that the first one belongs to the same house. Another suggestion which may appear a bit counter-intuitive would be to try Cuir Ottoman by Parfum d'Empire. It is a leather scent that is remarkably subtle and offers a most beautiful powdery iris note, two characteristics that define Coeur Joie. It also has a delicious jasmine note in it that brings a delicate floralcy to the perfume. The dryness we want is brought here by a slightly smoky leather note.
There may be different reasons for liking Coeur Joie. If it is the dryness plus pepperiness one is craving Rive Gauche offers that, minus the high level of subtlety. If it is the elegance and femininity of it, then Arpège is one of the most beautiful floral aldehydes available, if not the most beautiful one, but it offers a richer and more exhuberant character than Coeur Joie. If one craves the powdery romanticism of Coeur Joie, then Ombre Rose by Jean Charle Brosseau might be an option.
At this point I think that your friend could also try Après L'Ondée by Guerlain (soft and romantic) and Calèche by Hermès (elegand and dry). I would urge her to try Cuir Ottoman which may offer the balance of characteristic she craves. Best of all, it actually smells not unlike Coeur Joie.
(My thanks to Violetnoir who sent me a rare decant of Coeur Joie)