Jacques Guerlain 1952
Family: aromatic, fougère, amber
Period: The flight years
Thierry Wasser and his assistant perfumer Frédéric Sacone have re-created an extensive list of historic Guerlain perfumes, using the exact same ingredients as when they saw the light for the first time.
Atuana (1952) was one of Jacques Guerlain's final creations. The name came from a peaceful Marquesan village called Atuona, which was the last resting place of Paul Gauguin, a prominent Post-Impressionist artist who painted colourful scenes of native girls and women. The Marquesas Islands are a group of volcanic islands in French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the southern Pacific Ocean.
Unlike his successor Jean-Paul Guerlain, who travelled far and wide in search for inspiration and raw materials, Jacques Guerlain wasn’t much of a traveller. From what we know, he never even made a trip to his beloved Orient. Nonetheless, he shared the times’ fascination with all things foreign, and found many ideas in art and literature. Especially during the 1920s, several of the perfumes he created were informed by exotic settings and stories, such as Mitsouko (Japan), Shalimar (India), Djedi (Egypt), and Liu (China). Also Vol de Nuit (1933) was made with travelling in mind.
Atuana wasn't the first perfume in which Jacques Guerlain envisioned an exotic island; he also visited that dream with Sous le Vent (1934). Interestingly, Atuana has the same stylish combination of herbal green and aristocratic elegance as the Sous le Vent accord, which seems to call for a tweed or plaid suit. Today we would think of Atuana as a men’s fragrance, a fougère with aromatic, woody and mossy notes, and very few floral elements. Although hedione wasn’t invented in 1952, we can't help recalling Dior's Eau Sauvage when we smell Atuana today. The first notes give us the mellow freshness of Provençal herbs like lavender and basil, that uplifting anise top note typical of Guerlain, regardless of gender or style. Here, it marries with the herbal-peppery scent of angelica, as well as with a warm honey note. After the anise, spicy, slightly citrusy white-flower notes of jasmine and lily evolve. They don’t add femininity but merely a sense of luminosity and richness. The base consists of the fragrance of forests: patchouli, moss and vetiver, together with leather and the balsamic notes of incense and amber.
Atuana came in the same bottle as Fleur de Feu, shaped to resemble a memorial column. The same year, the bottle came out in a miniature purse version, intended for various Guerlain Parfums, and often called the umbrella bottle due to its slight resemblance to a closed umbrella.
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