In my regular poker game it is dealer’s choice. Which means whoever is dealing calls the poker variation for that hand. We have one player who delights in games which result in multiple wild cards where five of a kind usually wins. We also have one player who despises this type of game because you can go from winning to losing with just one wild card. It is difficult to decide whether to stay in or fold because of that kind of uncertainty. In perfumery it is rare to find one which also wants to embrace that type of uncertainty in its development. Art de Parfum Le Joker lives up to its name.
Creative director Ruta Degutyte takes a risk by overseeing a perfume of deep contrasts. If you focus on one part of it throughout you have a smooth experience. Except right next to that is a piece of chaos, a wild card ingredient which actively changes things. It makes for a fragrance which is in flux just like my poker game with everything wild.
It opens with two of my favorite ingredients, baie rose and Sichuan pepper. Each by itself is its own type of multi-variant piece of a fragrance. In Le Joker the baie rose has a slight turn at the beginning until the Sichuan pepper card is turned over. It immediately changes things. As much as I enjoy both by themselves here, they form something different. The herbal quality of the baie rose gets speared by the intensity of the pepper. It becomes a bit of clash of profiles. The heart notes of anise and nutmeg provide some relief while also showing their own contrast. The slightly sweet nutmeg tames some of the tension of the top notes. The anise adds back some volume to the herbal quality re-establishing it. The final card is the oud-like nature of nagarmotha given a clean woody pushback via cedar. It makes for an odd pseudo-oud accord which wants to be a fresher version. A touch of patchouli adds a final twist of earthiness.
Le Joker has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Le Joker is not going to be a crowd pleaser. Like my friend who doesn’t enjoy the wild card games. Many perfume lovers will find the constant push and pull of this is not their idea of a good time. For those who are looking for a little bit of uncertainty in their perfume Le Joker is a whole deck of wild cards waiting for you to discover it.
Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle provided by Art de Parfum.