Waxing Nostalgic – Jontue

Jontue ad, 1981

When I was in high school in the early Eighties, Jontue by Revlon was my favorite fragrance. Introduced in 1976, it was the feminine, more innocent cousin to Charlie, which Revlon had introduced three years earlier as a reasonably priced fragrance for the newly liberated working woman. Jontue quickly became Revlon's second-best-selling fragrance after Charlie. Wearing Jontue, I felt more sophisticated, having graduated from both Junior High and the Love's Baby Soft that was my signature fragrance in 7th and 8th grade.

In the late Seventies and early Eighties, Jontue was everywhere. The television commercial aired constantly (I can still hear that ethereal song, "Jontue, Jontue…" in my head). I would see the magazine ad on a monthly basis when my issue of SEVENTEEN arrived. And Jontue was widely available. Most drugstores carried it. Even ritzy department store B. Altman's had a Revlon counter that sold the makeup and fragrances. My most special Jontue memory is of going to the local branch of Altman's on Long Island with my mother to pick out my Christmas present one year. I chose a 1/4-ounce bottle of the Jontue pure parfum. It was called Jontue, the Heirloom Perfume, and it came in a glass flacon with a decorative stopper to delicately dab the parfum on your pulse points. I think it cost around $36 – the same as a pair of designer jeans back then (both were considered expensive at the time, but are dirt cheap compared to what jeans and perfume cost now). I cherished that bottle of parfum so much that I was reluctant to use it for fear of using it up. Instead, I would remove the decorative stopper and just smell the parfum. I've kept that bottle to this day, still unused.


Jontue, the Heirloom Perfume. I hardly ever used it. Most of it is gone due to evaporation.

A few years after that Christmas, Altman's went out of business, unfortunately just one of the many classic department-store casualties of the past twenty years. And today, Jontue is seemingly nowhere to be found amidst the glut of designer and celebrity perfumes that compete for counterspace in department stores and drugstores nationwide. But Jontue is still out there. I recently procured a bottle from CVS drugstore, my first Jontue purchase in over twenty-five years. When I spray it on, it instantly transports me back to my teenage years. Just as music can remind people of certain times and places in their lives, spritzing myself with Jontue takes me back to the early '80s, to my bedroom in the house that I grew up in. Jontue is my olefactory equivalent of New Wave music. Both remind me of a happy and more innocent time in my life.



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