Mink & Pearls by Jovan came out in the late 1960s, my favorite perfume decade. This was the first Isobutyl Quinoline leather chypre that I was able to embrace when I started my vintage journey some years ago – I had found scents like Azuree & Cabochard much too rough for my delicate sensibilities (that has changed, I now adore Bandit & modern Cabochard…but still can’t do Azuree), but Mink & Pearls had all the right moves to hit my sweet spot, perched as it is between rough leather chypre and sweet, narcotic floral. I discovered this scent in 2009 when I acquired a vintage Jovan sample set.
Mink & Pearls features clary sage alongside a gorgeous, sweet jasmine, plus a slew of animalic chypre ingredients like castoreum, civet, & musk. And of course oakmoss, Isobutyl Quinoline, and woody notes are in there as well, though for me the animalics really are the star of the show. There may be a teeny tiny hint of vanilla in the base as well. I used to go through my grandmother’s leather purse when I was little and to me, Mink & Pearls really does remind me of that scent memory: like the smell of granny’s leather purse with some random cosmetics, a tiny bottle of Norell, and a stick of Double Mint gum at the bottom.
I have this in the EDT and the pure perfume, and to be honest I favor my darker colored EDT. I somewhat dislike the pure perfume because it’s extremely bright with a celery-like sharp greenness. The EDT I have is darker in color (have the top notes mercifully degraded?) and this darker juice loses the sharp celery-like notes of my pure perfume. I like just a small hint of the sharp green celery-notes, so I spritz a bit of my deeper-smelling EDT, then put a pin-prick dot of the pure perfume on my skin…That way, I’m getting the best of both worlds.
This is such a complex and unique smelling chypre. Sometimes I feel like people are dismissive of vintage Jovan scents just because they became low-end drugstore scents in the 70s. They had some real beauties during that time period though, and Mink & Pearls was one of them. It’s the fragrance that first put Jovan on the map. I hope to write about other lost Jovan scents in future posts.