Apparently vintage Jil Sander perfumes were chypres. Jil Sander Woman III was a robust one in the classic fashion, with a full floral heart and a gorgeous rich drydown of oakmoss-patchouli-vetiver. Its predecessor, Woman II (launched in 1982 or 1983, depending on the source), is a greener chypre, with an aldehydic opening and a hyacinth-galbanum heart (or at least that's what my nose says) similar to Chanel No. 19. Seriously, every time I wear Jil Sander 2 there's a moment I get a whiff of myself and try to remember when I sprayed No. 19 and what version, only to remind myself it's actually Woman II.
Later in the drydown the mean green starts sharing the limelight with a very dry wood base. I couldn't find even a shred of reliable information about the actual notes, but I'd go out on a limb and guess cedar and probably also some really good sandalwood, only without the sweet creamy quality we often associate with it. Would it be a complete blasphemy if I said that more often than not, I actually prefer this Jil Sander creation to Chanel 19? It's friendlier, for one thing, and softer, maybe not as leathery as the vintage Chanel.
Smelling and wearing Jil Sander Woman 2 reminds and reinforces the huge loss of real chypres to the world of perfumes. As far as I know, Woman II and III were discontinued long before the long hands of IFRA killed the genre. They probably fell out of favor when this style was labeled "dated" by the patron saints of fruity-florals. I would also guess that nowadays bitter greens wouldn't be marketed under the name Woman, and indeed, I'm pretty sure Woman 2 would smell fabulous on a man, though I have yet to allow the husband anywhere near my vintage bottles.
Fashion photo by Arthur Elgort for Vogue, September 1982.
Bottle of Jil Sander Woman 2 by me.