The three Jacques Fath summer “Essentials” (photo by Despina Veneti©)
Under Rania Barakat Naim’s top-notch creative direction, the resurrected Perfume House of Jacques Fath has – up to now – released three fragrance quartets within its “Jacques Fath” line. Among these twelve scents, there is a certain trio that spells “summer” loud and clear: Green Water, Curacao Bay, and Vers Le Sud. As it happens, each of these summertime favorites of mine is signed by Cécile Zarokian (she, and Luca Maffei, are the collection’s two perfumers); that added an extra layer of interest in writing this article, since Mme Zarokian is – most of the time – praised for her beautiful, opulent creations based on patchouli, vanilla, amber, and/or spices (think Jovoy Paris Remember Me and Private Label, Masque Milano Tango, Laboratorio Olfattivo Patchouliful, Puredistance Sheiduna and Rubikona, Nishane Ani or Amouage Material). Apart from being ideal options for the hottest days of the year, the three thirst-quenching Jacques Fath fragrances that I selected are also excellent showcases of the perfumer’s creative range and diverse talent.
Jacques Fath Green Water (digital collage by Despina Veneti©)
Green Water (Cécile Zarokian, 2016): The original “Green Water Eau de Toilette Givrée” – historically, one of the first citrus/aromatic compositions – was released by Les Parfums Jacques Fath between 1946-1947, and was composed by perfumer Vincent Roubert, creator of Fath’s legendary Iris Gris. It’s been written that Green Water was marketed from the start as a “masculine” fragrance, however the addition “Pour Monsieur” seems to belong to certain later-era bottles (in my archives, there is a French 1957 ad that promotes Green Water as a scent that “both men and women use”). Unlike Iris Gris which was discontinued in the 1950s, Green Water’s production doesn’t seem to have been halted after Fath’s untimely death in 1954 (one can find several Green Water ads in magazines published long after that year, and up to the brand’s acquisition by L’Oréal in the 1960s). A new and repackaged version of Green Water was released in 1967, which – unlike the original and the ones to follow – I have never smelled. After a few more transformations of the scent orchestrated by the brand’s subsequent owners in the 1990s and 2000s, the House’s new creative director, Rania Naim, assigned the task of reinstating Green Water’s former glory to independent perfumer Cécile Zarokian. As no fragrance formulas were passed on to Panouge (the current owner of the historical brand), the perfumer turned to the Osmothèque, the keeper of Roubert’s archives. Mme Zarokian was not shown the actual formula, but was allowed to smell the fragrance’s reconstruction at Versailles, take extensive notes, and carry a few scented strips with her.
Counter-clockwise: Jacques Fath Green Water ads from 1953, 1957 & the original Green Water EdT photographed by Herbert Gehr© for LIFE Magazine©, 1949.
Under the guidance of Osmothèque’s co-founder Jean Kerléo, the perfumer delivered a scent of profound freshness and mind-clearing energy. Less mentholated than the original (and steering clear of the toothpaste-reminiscent spearmint of the reformulations), Cécile Zarokian’s version remains wonderfully herbal; it also retains the enjoyable interplay between a crunchy bouquet garni and bright neroli. Unlike most cologne-type compositions, the focus is not placed on the citruses (although several of them are included, the original scent was more prominently citrusy); what defines Mme Zarokian’s composition is the verdant and bitterish bite of the crisp herbs, green oakmoss, and grassy vetiver. Jacques Fath Green Water is less floral than both the original (where the neroli was accompanied by geranium, rose, and lavender blossom) and its transformations (mostly featuring an odd jasmine note). Its overall experience is that of refreshing serenity, polished naturalness, and timeless sophistication. An olfactive equivalent of a dip into cool, emerald waters and a sip of a frozen, aromatic Mojito, Jacques Fath Green Water is meant to be sprayed with abandon: considering its soft sillage, a 200ml bottle will be consumed much sooner than expected. Notes: Bergamot, Neroli, Lemon, Mandarin, Orange, Mint, Basil, Tarragon, Clove, Caraway, Oakmoss, Vetiver, Ambergris, Musk.
Jacques Fath Curacao Bay (digital collage by Despina Veneti©)
Curacao Bay (Cécile Zarokian, 2016): As someone who is extremely wary of “beachy” fragrances, and their – often clichéd – suntan lotion or Calone-heavy aquatic accords, I did not expect to fall that hard for Jacques Fath Curacao Bay. For that, I applaud Cécile Zarokian’s mastery and good taste: her delicious, pleasurable composition combines the enjoyment of a decadent cocktail, the sensation of solar caresses on one’s skin, and the feeling of losing oneself into the depths of turquoise waters. The use of frangipani is pivotal in the composition, creating an intoxicating, coconut-creamy heart of exotic sensuality that colors the various juicy, fruity, and delectable notes accordingly. Such a plethora of (often unruly) fragrant elements could easily end up being cloyingly sweet; Mme Zarokian, however, achieves a lovely balance through the moderating, conducting effect of her salty and musky ambergris/oceanic accord. The tropical fantasy of Curacao Bay encompasses every desired element of a much-dreamed Caribbean vacation: from lying under a palm tree, to enjoying an ice-cold Blue Hawaiian; and from wearing a mesmerising plumeria lei, to feeling the ocean waves gently breaking against one’s body. Jacques Fath Curacao Bay is a stylishly executed, veritable olfactory experience – rich, colorful, invigorating, and ever so addictive. Notes: Tangerine, Lemon, Petitgrain, Orange, Green Notes, Frangipani, Sea Notes, Blackcurrant, White Musk, Ambergris, Woody Notes.
Jacques Fath Vers Le Sud (digital collage by Despina Veneti©)
Vers Le Sud (Cécile Zarokian, 2016): For me, there can be no ideal vacation without even a part of it spent in the Mediterranean. This will be the first summer in years that I won’t be able to visit my home country, Greece, and fragrance will play an essential part in filling that emotional, and sensory, vacuum. One of the perfumes that I plan to wear a lot in the weeks to come is Jacques Fath Vers Le Sud, for the way it transports me to carefree, blissful summer days “towards the South” (as its name means in French): lemon trees in full bloom, figs ripening under the sun, gardens laden with flowers, the sea spray kissing my face – the olfactive scenery of some of my fondest memories. Vers Le Sud opens with a combination of euphoric lemon, aromatic lavender, and abstract green/floral notes, which altogether feel like opening a gate to a garden at its very peak. Cécile Zarokian’s distinct fig accord is fresh and green, creating an impression of a friendly, shady fig tree at the edge of the garden. Her potent marine accord enriches the composition with salty water, sea breeze, and driftwood nuances; playful and inviting, it promises a secluded, pristine beach just a few stone steps away. Since walking these steps for real seems rather improbable this year, Vers Le Sud helps me recall that exhilarating sensation of meeting again with my beloved Sea. All I have to do is close my eyes, and inhale. Notes: Argentinean Lemon, Green Notes, Lavender, Sea Notes, Fig Leaf, Flower Notes, Violet, Oakmoss, Woody Notes, Musk.
Disclaimer: I’d like to thank Jacques Fath for the 50ml bottle and the two 15ml ones provided after my selection. The opinions are my own.
– Despina Veneti, Senior Editor
Clockwise: Jacques Fath Green Water, Curacao Bay, Vers Le Sud & Rania Naim with Cécile Zarokian in full summer mode (photos courtesy of Jacques Fath/Rania Naim)
Thanks to the generosity of Jacques Fath, we have a reader’s choice draw for a 50ml bottle of ONE of the three fragrances included in the article (Green Water, Curacao Bay or Vers Le Sud) for one registered reader in the USA, UK, Canada or EU. You must register here or your comment will not count. To be eligible, please leave a comment saying what you enjoyed most about Despina’s article, if you have a favorite Jacques Fath fragrance, which of the three fragrances you’d like to win, and where you live. Draw closes 7/7/2021
Editor’s note: For a spotlight on some of Cécile Zarokian’s best creations, please read the article by Contributor Alexandre Helwani here.
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