Jean-Paul Guerlain 1974
[o də gɛrlɛ̃]
Family: Azure citrus
Notes: lemon, bergamot, basil, petitgrain, caraway, verbena, rose, jasmine, patchouli, carnation, sandalwood, amber, oakmoss, musk
Citrus symphony
Period: The equality years
Eau de Guerlain collection

Guerlain is known especially for its grand perfumes, but the house also has an esteemed line of Eaux Fraiches, invigorating light colognes made from citrus and herbs. Since it was Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain's refreshing Eau de Cologne Impériale that started the fame of Guerlain, it has been a tradition that each of the Guerlain perfumers compose one Eau: Eau de Cologne Impériale (Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain in 1830), Eau de Cologne du Coq (Aimé Guerlain in 1894), Eau de Fleurs de Cédrat (Jacques Guerlain in 1920), and finally Jean-Paul Guerlain's simply named Eau de Guerlain from 1974. In 2010, new in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser added the fifth-generation signature Eau, called Cologne du Parfumeur.

Eau de Guerlain was the first of the Eaux Fraîches to be labelled as an Eau de Toilette, using the synthetic intensifier hedione to make the scent last a whole day. It also had a remarkably long and complex list of notes for a citrus cologne. Eau de Guerlain has been praised for its fine balance of dry lemon and bergamot on one side and an aromatic bunch of herbs like basil, verbena and caraway on the other, held in perfect check all the way through the scent in a most convincing and nostalgic way. Unlike the typical citrus cologne, it contained floral notes (carnation, jasmine and rose) to add spice and colour, musk for softness and depth, and patchouli and oakmoss for a certain chypre effect. It was no coincidence if one got whiffs of Jacques Guerlain's green chypre Sous le Vent, deeply admired by Jean-Paul Guerlain. At the same time, the surprisingly woody and lingering drydown of Eau de Guerlain, reminiscent of warm, sweet hay, could be viewed as an introverted forerunner of the hot-tempered Héritage, debuting eighteen years later.

Bottle. The original "Eau de" bottle, inspired by rough stones formed by the erosion of water in a stream, was the first on sculptor Robert Granai's long list of marvellous Guerlain bottles. It was made in both a splash and an atomizer version. Since 1992, Eau de Guerlain has been sold in the bee atomizer bottle, its azure label inspired by the colour of the sky during summer in Southern France. When Thierry Wasser's cologne was launched, Guerlain decided to modernize the design of all the Eaux labels, giving them simplified logos on a white background, while reinforcing their history by adding the creation dates and perfumers' names.

Reformulation. Older bottles of Eau de Guerlain smell somewhat muskier and less crisp, which might be mainly a question of ageing, together with cleaner musk being used today.

  We love: how different it is from the three older colognes

  The least feminine femininity

  For the old-fashioned mood, but never out of place

Some images courtesy of

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