Back when we released our first Sarah Baker Artist Edition, we had no idea what to expect.
Our very first Artist Edition was inspired by the legendary drag performer Divine (aka Glenn Milstead). Miguel Matos’ juice was the perfect perfume portrait summing up Divine’s signature style and we named it Jungle Jezebel after one of the drag diva’s 1980s dance floor hits.
It was very important to me that our first artist edition remain true to our DNA as an artist-created perfume brand. I wanted it to be something that had a close relationship to my practice as an artist.
Divine and John Waters remain huge inspirations and influences on my work. I've always been inspired by their huge talents at crossing traditional boundaries to do with identity politics. But it's delightfully so much more: kitschy Americana, pop culture, notions of luxury and style, provocative performance personas, and "bad taste."
In creating the Jungle Jezebel Artist Edition, I ignored all the tried and tested lessons of what a limited edition luxury fragrance should look like. Instead I approached it more as a little contemporary olfactory sculpture, drawing on movements like Arte Povera and the Duchampian notion of the 'readymade' when selecting the materials used. I created my edition in the tradition of DIY drag: Divine herself would have used a very intentional yet slapdash approach when assembling her outrageous stage outfits.
And, in fragrance terms, Miguel’s creation is one of those juices that simply disallows indifference. Its cacophony of sweet, subtropical notes—orange, banana, grape, peach, bubble gum, rose, tuberose, ylang-ylang—teeter on the very edge of slipping up, much like Divine performing in high heels after one too many pina coladas backstage. Then those creamy, woody, animalic notes (yes, even “skanky” according to some) unfold—amber, sandalwood, civet, vetiver, vanilla, tonka bean—and change things entirely. I think that Jungle Jezebel is an astoundingly good perfume, but I know that I’m biased.
When we released the Art Edition bottle it was a big risk, but I didn't realize that at the time. I was simply making a portrait of Divine. But I was conscious that this was a very different approach to a new limited edition. The wig, the eyelashes, the box with glitzy sequins: I had created a quintessential homage to Divine, but would the wider public “get” it?
The reaction was mixed in the best possible way. I was delighted with those who embraced it, yet curious about those who hated it. I embraced all reactions. Like Divine, Jungle Jezebel Artist Edition steadily built a reputation as a cult star. And I have been deeply moved by some of the intense personal relationships that some of our fans have built up with their diminutive JJ. Below is a list of links to some of the highlights, and I have no doubt there are more to come.
But now, alas, the time has come for JJ to take her final curtain call. We have fewer than twenty bottles remaining of this singular Jungle Jezebel Artist Edition. After the small number of editions that we and a few of our stockists still have available are sold, JJ will be disappearing behind that great big glitter ball in the night sky, becoming the stuff of legend. It’s now or never, dear friends.
A selection of highlights of our JJ art bottle:
#junglejezebel the hashtag on instagram features pictures of Divine and lots of fan photos of our JJ editions
Topnotes podcast: Montana and Kris' perfume podcast featuring Jungle Jezebel
Fragrantica comments: We love all the comments, even those who do not love our creations. Join the fun!
The Bad Girl is Loved: an article featuring some fans who have a special relationship with Jungle Jezebel.
Compilation video we made of enthusiastic reactions and unboxings
Jungle Jezebel's own Instagram fan page from Brazil
Plum Girl's article that was nominated for a Perfumed Plume Award
Our Queen Adelaide launch in London with Miguel Matos and friends
Our Youtube playlist has many wonderful Jungle Jezebel reviews