Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Lost Perfume Series: Jil Sander Woman III

Launched in 1986, four years before the more popular (and just as discontinued) No. 4, Jil Sander Woman III was an elegant chypre, somewhat out of place in the age of Giorgio and Obsession. The notes: orange blossom, hyacinth, nutmeg, angelica, ylang ylang, sandalwood, patchouli, pepper, coriander, oakmoss, cedar, musk, tonka and vetiver, do not tell the entire story,but they hint of a refined air.

While No. 4 is much more femme and cleavagy, Woman III is greener. It can be equally at home in a pant suit as it is in black velvet. Some days it verges on soapy, but never really goes there, which I'm very happy about. However it was clean enough to wear in summer without overwhelming, even if chypres are more traditionally fall scents, probably because of their complexity and the richness rendered by oakmoss.

Despite the name, Jil Sander Woman III could probably be worn by men. It's well-blended and restrained enough to not be so bold and make the grand entrance of Paloma Picasso, another chypre from the same era that shares some of the notes (hyacinth, coriander, patchouli, oakmoss) but is all red lipstick and drama. I get quite a bit of peppery spice and very little, if any, of the floral heart. The drydown has enough bitter vetiver to satisfy me and give it a unisex kick.

Woman III has vanished from shelves and stores some years ago, probably because of the restrictions on oakmoss and the fact that the franchise of Jil Sander perfumes is now owned by Coty, a house that traded off its history and glory for Celine Dion, the Beckhams and Jennifer Lopez. I was extremely lucky to find a sealed bottle, still in its cellophane wrap, on eBay. It's an EDT with a great lasting power and considerable depth, which makes lust after the idea of an extrait, even if I don't even know that it was ever produced. If you search well enough, there are still some tester bottles online and the Perfumed Court has two regular new 100 ml bottles , if you're willing to part with $370.

Art: Moonlight by Pamela Sukhum from Vinings Gallery
Fashion: Jil Sander Fall 2008 Ready-to-Wear from


  1. I love chypres! I recently tried Corps et Ames by Parfumerie Generale and it is a wonderful chypre - and only $110 for 50 ml!
    Would love to read more of your opinions on various chypres.

  2. Jil Sander 4 was what originally brought me to Non-Blonde. I loved Woman III and wisely bought 3 bottles at Loehmanns about 4 years ago. I'm keeping them tightly wrapped in the back of my closet. I then started to supplement with #4. Easy and cheap on ebay. It was a shock when I needed to replenish. Bottles were double from what I had paid. I wish I had stocked up on those too. Thats when I went on Non-Blonde for the whole story. The staying power is amazing. I've been venturing into the Incense Series of Commes but they are not as long lasting as Jil Sander Fragrances. I still mourn Ralph Lauren Tuxedo and have empty bottle in my underwear drawer with the faint scent still attached. That one really broke my heart. Also Marcella Borghese-Borghese. 1983 all over again. Keep up the great work. I'm staying hip with help from you.

  3. Yikes, I'd be terrified of spending that much money on ebay for fear that it would turn out to be a fake. I've thought about looking to ebay for fragrance before, but I always chicken out since there's always the risk that you get a fake and then have to jump through hoops getting your money back. Seems like you've had pretty good luck though?

  4. Kim, I agree. C&A is wonderful and has a classic feel. Isn't it sad that in the market today $110 has become a very reasonable price for high quality perfume?

  5. Susabel, thank you so much! It's wonderful to hear what brought my readers here. I know what you mean about the price hike. It happened to me, too.
    Out of the CdG Incense series, I find Zagorsk to have the best staying power and Ouarzazate to be the weakest. All of them are EDTs, so expectations should be accordingly. Have you tried Donna Karan Black Cashmere? It's a spicy incense, very long lasting and with lots of character.

  6. Amanda, I payed about $130 for this bottle, but wasn't very worried because who would even bother trying to fake a semi-obscure scent? I did have quite a bit of luck on ebay: only one fake bottle ever, but I'm very careful about what I buy. I'd never buy Chanel on eBay, because you simply can't know where it cme from: the seller might have bought it from a scammer without knowing any better. Also, I'd avoid any and every best selling brands because there's a huge counterfit market. and anyone who buys Creed on eBay deserves what they're getting.

  7. Hey Gaia- Thanks for the ebay tip, I'd never thought of that but I suppose it wouldn't be very good business to scam a fragrance that not that many people know about. But I agree that there's such a thriving counterfeit market, it's not worth trying to get a fragrance there if you could from a reputable seller pretty easily.

  8. Did you try the new trio form Jil Sander?

  9. I stumbled onto this site after trying one more time to find some #III. I live in Vancouver and used to have to have a cousin send it from Germany to me. I wore this as my signature scent for years and have found nothing quite like it. Any suggestions? I have been buying so many different kinds and while they smell nice in the store, none are as unique and long lasting as that was.
    Thx, Lisa

  10. Lavinia, I haven't seen these anywhere. Normally, anything named Pastel scares me, but I'll make an exception for Jil Sander ;)

  11. Lisa, I feel your pain. It's very hard to replace a signature scent, and this one is very unique. What makes it worse is the gradual disappearance of old school chypres because of the restrictions on the use of oakmoss.
    You're probably already familiar with Paloma Picasso, but if not, do give it a try, especially since older bottles are still available. Sous le Vent from Guerlain is another green chypre. Very beautiful, but a bit hard to find a bottle, even though it's in production. Also, you might enjoy trying a chypre sample set from the Perfumed Court. They have both classic chypres and modern/niche ones.

  12. No.4 is still available in the shops in Switzerland. OK, it's often on special, so I guess that's a sign they're clearing stocks, but it's still very definitely here.

  13. Wordbird, if you like the scent, grab a bottle or two. Here it's already discontinued and become very hard to find (and the prices gone up significantly).

  14. Today I saw your comments about Jil Sander Woman no. 3. I have a bottle from 100 ml and don't like it very much. It's a tester and nearly full.

    If you are interested, please e-mail me with a offer! (I can also e-mail a photograph if you want).

    e-mail: [email protected](Netherlands)

  15. In every free shop in Europe you can find No 3 and 4 .No 3 cost only 54 E for 100 ml

  16. Hi there,

    Mmmm..I suspect Jil Sander Woman III to play 'Hard to get'..ha,ha...
    Has proved to be an effective way to attract lovers (like I am a lover of JS W III!!!)
    I am spending years and years now, loosing her, finding her, loosing her, finding her...
    JS Woman III has miraculeus ways of coming in and out of our lives...

    Today I found her again (when least expected) and I bought two of her...

    Broke, but happy...-:)

  17. Jil Sander III is still my absolute favourite. Its still available in The Netherlands. I did notice à changes in th scent. I always ask to sniff open THE bottle and sniff to make zure it smells right ! Jil lingers on in THE clothes or scarves I wear, delicious. Jil II was also great but didn't last long an was discontinued many many years ago. I did keep the bottle but where.....have to go find it!

    Margot from Holland

  18. Hi Gaia! I always was a big fan of Jil Sander's woman 3 and Bath and Beauty. Now I've noticed that they have relaunched these two scents. Have you tried them? Are they similar? I loved them so much in the past, that I'm excited about it, but at the same time afraid of the possible disappointment...I haven't seen them in our country so far, but I would like to order samples if you have any idea where I could do it.

    Neva from Croatia


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