The Joy Perfume by Jean Patou has been called the ‘Scent of the Century’. It has also been called the world’s costliest perfume. 1 ounce (28 grams) of this perfume will cost us at least USD 800 (Rs. 52,000) if not more. 1 ounce is the weight of a slice of bread.

The Joy Perfume is a landmark in perfume making and is a mark of royalty and luxury.

Wondering with what is the costliest and luxurious perfume made of? Is it some exotic and rare flower or a formulated invention in a high grade laboratory? Well, the answer possibly lies in our humble Indian garden.

In early 20th century France, Jean Patou was a pioneer in fashion designing, sportswear and perfumery. We owe a lot of today’s designs to him. With a rich and celebrity clientele, he was doing quite well. But then the tragic Wall Street crash happened in 1929. It took the market down and so did the money.

Other marketers brought their prices down to sell their items, and luxury items were also badly hit. But Jean Patou thought differently. In 1930, he created a perfume when this economic downfall was at its nadir. We may call it an ‘antidote to gloom’ as he created a timeless fragrance with Henri Almeras, who was the ‘nose’ behind this perfume. Jean Patou named this fragrance as Joy.

Intense and heavenly, The Joy Perfume still rules the world with its scent – even after ninety years. A signature for the elite, Joy comes in a specially designed bottle with a gold thread.

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So what did Jean Patou use to make this super-perfume?

He made Joy with the Jasmine flower which is commonly grown in Indian gardens. Along with 10,600 Jasmine flowers (chameli in Hindi, jui in Bengali), he used the essence of 300 roses along with tuberose (rajnigandha) and ylang-ylang (Yellow Champa).

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All these flowers are commonly used in our Indian marriages and ceremonies at home. People also use these flowers in their daily worship and it is common to see garlands of these flowers sold by hawkers along the streets and bazaars. A small jasmine garland sells at just Rs. 5 but put it in the right hands, and you have this jasmine adorning the queens in the most posh ballrooms.

Chameli, rajnigandha, rose and champa – did we not underestimate these humble flowers? From now on, probably we should stop and smell these flowers more often. Perhaps you will find Your Joy there!

You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.

~ Walter Hagen

Credits:,, TradeIndia, Braeburn Botanicals