I remember I located an issue of Vanity Fair, circa 1993 with beautiful Julia Roberts on the cover in one of my mothers drawers a long time ago. I remember being ecstatic and springy knowing I would discover things I wasn’t yet supposed to. Well, I sure did. A photo of a topless Madonna, K.D lang looking like a very good looking man while Cindy seduced him (or her!?) and a full portfolio of ‘extraordinary’ images.
Besides all this extraordinariness, I discovered some of the best perfume samples in this issue which I cherish today. Jil Sander No. 4 was among them.
The sampler dried out as time went by but a drop of water restored it almost in all its glory.
Jil Sander as most fashion enthusiasts know was not an intricate designer. Not Valentino. Quite a minimalist. But this perfume was not. It was released in 1990, following the decade of perfume grenades. Hence, it was natural to take some inspiration from its predecessors.
I always felt like when I whiffed the sample that the smell was hard to describe. It was full of depth, layered. Welcoming. Not sharp. Warm, spicy perhaps. Floral too. Fruit maybe. Citrus, not at all.
Then a few years ago, I discovered Etsy and my first ever online vintage perfume purchase was a 4ml mini of Jil Sander No. 4. It came in a black box which has gold accents. Also, FYI, the address on the back read ‘Lancaster Group’. This would be my identifying factor between vintage and new. The newer bottles read ‘Coty Prestige’ and they smell… not as prestigious as they used to.
I smelled No. 4 day and night. It was summer. And its ripe and lovely scent fully bloomed on my wrist. From No. 4 I learned how a plum smells like in perfume. Plum is No. 4’s most dominating and identifiable note. It’s distinctive, yes, but so connected with the tuberose that it doesn’t stand out enough to let it be called fruity. Sandalwood gives it a fresh and oceanic feel, but not in a sharp and cologne sort of way. It’s a woody scent for sure since the oakmoss helps it warm up while anise and nutmeg give it an edge.
No. 4 is a very emotionally refreshing scent. Like a dive into an ocean. The waves hit your face but ever so gently and nicely, you want to be taken over by it and you love it.