Force Majeure: An Ungodly Jacques Bogart Creation ?


When Jacques Bogart was in the prime of his magnificent career, this nephew of the famous actor decided that the art of perfumery was his passion. And it was not just any kind of perfumery, but specifically a notion that men needed a company that would market only virile, red-blooded scents. A series of incomparable “powerhouses” were released after his first one (in 1975), including One Man Show, Bois de Vetiver, Furyo, Witness, Eau Fresh, Force Majeure, etc., doing for perfumery what his uncle did for the craft of acting. In fact, I have heard that Lolita Lempicka, niece of the famous Art Deco age painter, was inspired by Jacques, and a also that a new face in the industry, Goethe Brando, a long-time fan of Jacques and his olfactory art, is planning to release his first masculine scent very soon !

And now for some reality (the above biographical information is fictional). Humphrey Bogart’s father was Dutch, and the original family name was Bogaert. Learning about “Jacques Bogart” isn’t easy, beyond the company name and address (in France). Lolita Lempicka is a fictional creation, and the female designer behind it is Josiane Pividal. Goethe Brando is my creation (I think), but ask yourself if you (or people you know) would be more likely to buy a scent from someone named Dionysus Da Vinci or from Libby Lipschitz. At least we have not been told that Jacques is a descendent of Bourbon royalty! Seriously, though some are irritated by all the silliness and social climbing antics in the perfume industry, I find it entertaining, but it’s important to make crucial distinctions. For me, the two most important ones are the scent itself and what it costs. In some cases availability is also important, but usually this is just reflected in the price.

If you don’t know, Force Majeure means “act of God,” which apparently is an important concept in law and the insurance industry. How this relates to a smell is not clear, but since JB’s scents are so strong, it’s at least consistent on that score. These days, when I sample a scent, I think about which ones were popular at the time of original release. For example, there are a bunch of scents similar to Gucci’s Envy for Men that were released in the 1998 to 2001 period. FM was released in 1998 as well, and does have some similarities to Envy, but I wouldn’t call it a direct descendent, even if it was released after Envy was. Notes for FM are:

Top: Bergamot, Mint, Aldehydes, Ozone.
Mid: Jasmine, Cinnamon Leaves, Black Pepper, Clove.
Base: Cedar, Gaiacwood, White Musk.

As to my impression, based upon one ankle wearing and one normal wearing, this is quite dense to start, and reminds me of more recent releases, such as 1 Million and Spicebomb. However, FM is not as sweet as many of the recent ones of this ilk, nor does it possess lavender (as Envy and many others do that bear some resemblance to it, such as Carlos Santana for Men), nor does it smell “synthetic.” At first it is quite dense, and verges on the “bubblegum” claims that are often made against 1 Million and the several that are very similar to that one. At this point, I suggest not smelling it up close on the skin. Clearly, spices are strong, and there is a bit of balmy or resinous quality. The mint is more like a background hum, and is not at all like the obvious mint note in Roadster. There is no ambery/syrupy quality.

I don’t get “old lady aldehydes” here but I did try to avoid most of the top notes, and there is a hint of fruitiness, perhaps due to bergamot, spices, and a touch of amber (which I assume is present despite not being listed). If you’ve never done this before, this may be the kind of scent you should consider doing it, especially if you don’t like 1 Million type scents. I get little floral jasmine here, and it’s not “dirty jasmine,” as there is no discernible animalic element. Over time, a woodiness becomes more and more obvious. Now what’s really interesting here is how much projection (“sillage”) is present (I only used one spray to the chest) without there being a “synthetic” quality nor a sense that there is too much of any particular note. Often, I find that patchouli can really “spike out” in these kinds of scents, for example, while in others vanilla can be irritatingly obvious. Here, it just seems like there is a great amplification of the dominant spices and woods, with the mint sort of trailing far behind but clearly present.

This could be what is meant by “ozone” and “white musk,” but in any case, after half an hour or so the density seems to loosen up and the balance seems just right. There is also an interesting textural quality, somewhere between herbal and woody. Unlike JBs other, older Oriental scent, Witness, this is quite simple yet has better balance. I haven’t tried some of the recent JB releases, other than CityTower, but from what I’ve read and compared to CT, I’d rank FM considerably higher. CT shares the spices and mild wood, but the density of CT never loosens up much, and instead the scent just gets weaker over time. CT also has a bit of a synthetic iris/laundry musk quality that FM does not possess, and I think this may be what pushes CT into the realm of cloying for me, though CT is a bit sweeter as well. Overall, I think FM is worth obtaining at reasonable prices if you want a less synthetic smelling woody/spicy scent and like the idea of a hint of mint in there, but you don’t want all the “Old School” trappings in the mix (lavender, vanilla, patchouli, and/or animalic elements in particular).

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