PERFUMES BY JEAN-PAUL GUERLAIN




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BOUQUET DE FAUNES

Jacques Guerlain 1922
[bukɛ də fo:n]
Family: oriental, musky
Creamy suede
Period: The orientalist 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.

Jacques Guerlain’s Bouquet de Faunes of 1922 is renowned amongst collectors as one of the most valuable vintage perfumes in auctions thanks to its elaborate Lalique bottle, encased in a cylindrical leather box. Among the myriad Guerlain bottles, it remained the only one conceived by Lalique, and Guerlain referred to it simply as "the Lalique bottle". The design featured a pedestal, which was exceptional for a perfume bottle. (Having a pedestal was one of the reasons that Shalimar won a prize at the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs in 1925). Four moulded mythical faces looked down from the bottle's body, two horned male heads and two maidens. The latter were inspired by the ornamentation on Maison Guerlain's limestone façade. The bottle came with or without a patina finish.

In Roman mythology, fauns are rural forest gods associated with enchanted woods, and therefore we might imagine Bouquet de Faunes to be a sombre, mysterious scent. But on the contrary, upon smelling Thierry Wasser's re-created Bouquet de Faunes, we learn that easy-going, vanillic comfort scents aren’t a new trend chez Guerlain. The perfume could easily pass as a L’Art & la Matière member, notably one like Cuir Beluga, although it’s evidently more musky than what would be marketable today. We could also more historically regard it as Shalimar's predecessor and one of the developmental stages that led from Jicky to Guerlain’s iconic oriental perfume. Bouquet de Faunes is formed around the same archetypical oriental structure: flower absolutes, vanilla, tonka bean and musk.

However, we know that Shalimar is not only about the dulcet scent of vanilla, but also famously about the petrol-like dryness of bergamot and smoky leather. Compared to that aspect, Bouquet de Faunes is a much softer and simpler composition. The hesperidic facet is toned down to a minimum, so that the perfume appears to have almost no top notes — from first whiff, it transports us to its core of jasmine, rose, carnation, vanilla and musk, and doesn't develop much from there. (It's the lack of top notes and development that makes us think of the L'Art & la Matière style.) We perceive a prominent note of marjoram, an aromatic often found in Provençal herb bouquets. The use of herbs was typical of Jacques Guerlain but here it's magnified to work as a heart note, with a mossy green effect. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, where Shalimar features leather, the scent diagram of Bouquet de Faunes lists a suede accord. It makes sense: this perfume truly evokes the creamy odour of a brand-new suede jacket.

In the world of Guerlain, fauns are quite sweet and well-behaved.


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