In 2005, the South African-born, American-based actress Charlize Theron turned 30, she'd just won an Academy Award for her role in "Monster", and she was named the face of Dior's perfume, J'Adore.
Little did anyone expect that she'd continue to front J'Adore for the next decade. 2019 is her 14th year with the fragrance. "I definitely have grown a lot since I started with Dior so many years back," says Theron in an interview.
Since then, Theron has started an AIDS and HIV prevention programme, titled the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, for which she was later named the UN Messenger of Peace. She filmed more movies and she was granted more award nominations. And as life had it, she got into relationships, broke off, and moved on as a different woman. Yet, through the ups and downs of life, there was an unchanging constant — J'Adore.
It was, perhaps, no coincidence that Dior decided to stick with Theron. The decision sent out a clear message to consumers that the J'Adore was here to stay. "Personally, I have been the face of J'Adore for 13 years, a record of longevity in the luxury world. I take it as an honour but it also feels very natural," says Theron. "Dior wants to create beautiful images that are also relevant, and which truly speak to women. Seeing me evolve, body and soul, over such a long time with J'Adore is absolute proof of this."
A glance at Dior's J'Adore over the decade. From left, a 1998 design of the first edition of J'Adore, a 2001 Edition d'exception "Spirales", a 2001 Etude édition d'exception, a 2011 Edition d'exception Baccarat, a 2013 Edition d'exception Othoniel, a 2016 Edition d'exception Victoire de Castellane, and the latest J'Adore Absolu by Francois Demachy.
The J'Adore was first launched in 1999. It was the work of French perfumer Calice Becker, who coincidentally was one of the few female perfumers in the industry back then. The scent opened with top notes of magnolia and sweet fruits. Its core — florals such as tuberose and jasmine. The base notes were musky cedar and vanilla. "It's a scent that gives you 'gentle' strength. And by that, I mean that it is present, extremely feminine, and luminous without being ostentatious," says Theron.
Over the decade, the J'Adore evolved with Theron. It's been reformulated several times, the bottle embellished with high jewellery, the scent made into a hair mist, and if all that is not enough, there's a body oil. The perfume range boasts a comprehensive spectrum of concentrations — a typical 10 percent eau de toilette, 15 percent eau de parfum, 20 to 40 percent extrait de parfum, and the strongest l'absolu de parfum, also called J'Adore Absolu (launched late last year).
Every iteration of the J'Adore looks strikingly similar — gold (or pink) liquid contained in the same amphora glass bottle with numerous gold rings slithering around its long, slender neck. Every advertising campaign looks almost alike as well — Theron in a gold slip dress set against a gold background. Yet, that's just a fraction of how J'Adore attained classic status.
"A perfume that becomes a classic does so because of its noble values," says Theron. To her, the perfume is more than a smell. There is a message beneath the emotions that the scent lends to its wearer — unapologetic femininity, sensuality, strength, independence. "So many times we fall victim to focussing on the exterior to gauge our beauty but so much beauty comes from the confidence and power you feel in harnessing your womanhood," says Theron.
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