Jacques Guerlain 1934
Period: The flight years
Thierry Wasser and his assistant perfumer Frédéric Sacone have re-created a large number of historic Guerlain perfumes, using the exact same ingredients as when they saw the light for the first time. Thanks to their research, we now know a great deal more about Guerlain's olfactive history and previously well-kept secrets. One of the more fascinating discoveries is that not only Pierre-Francois-Pascal, Aimé, Jacques, and Jean-Paul Guerlain created perfumes, but also that Jacques’ father (Gabriel), brother (Pierre), and son (Jean-Jacques, eventually father to Jean-Paul Guerlain) briefly ventured into the creative field and signed a few of the brand’s fragrances.
In the 1930s, Guerlain released two floral fragrances by Jean-Jacques Guerlain, called Guerlilas and Guerlarose. These names, like Guerlinade, were a nod to the Guerlain name itself, denoting that there is a special “Guerlain way” of doing things. This does make sense to most Guerlain aficionados, who indeed believe that Guerlain distinguishes itself by a unique and matchless style. Therefore it’s so much the more surprising to learn that Guerlilas and Guerlarose were made by a perfumer who until recently was unknown as their author.
Smelling Guerlarose, and Guerlilas too, we quickly ascertain that they must be some of Guerlain’s most stridently floral and sweet perfumes. Even La Petite Robe Noire feels refreshing in comparison. Yet no connoisseur would dare to claim that the grand master Jacques couldn't have made them. Thierry Wasser’s long list of re-created vintages has taught us that not all of Jacques’ perfumes had the exquisite grace and balance that we find in Après l’Ondée, L’Heure Bleue, Mitsouko, Shalimar, Liu and Vol de Nuit.
As the name suggests, Guerlarose is all about rose. Often called the queen of flowers, rose ranks high in the Guerlinade signature, present to some degree or another in nearly all Guerlain perfumes. Roses have lemony fresh, honeyed and fruity-floral facets, and smell at once clean, powdery and endlessly romantic. The scent of rose absolute is so rich and penetrating though, that it easily overwhelms the surroundings with its feminine floral trail. Whenever speaking of rose in a Guerlain context, it's tempting to make a comparison with Nahéma. A role model for hundreds, if not thousands of fruity-floral fragrances, Nahéma represented Jean-Paul Guerlain's vision of a rose perfume that was far removed from any rose cliché. Inspired by the stately sensuality of actress Catherine Deneuve, as well as the insistent and erotic rhythm of Ravel's Bolero, he used the newly developed damascenones, together with passion fruit, spices, and oriental notes, to make the rose feel gradually more and more voluptuous, rounded and glowing as Nahéma developed on your skin.
Jean-Jacques' Guerlarose could be an example of the rose variant that Jean-Paul Guerlain found overused and simplistic. It smells intensely of rose the instant you dab it on. Apart from rose absolute, the top note has lemon and sparkling aldehyde, which work to reinforce the citric facet of the rose. Heliotrope and violet are included to accentuate the sweet and powdery facets. For a long while, therefore, before it slowly fades into the more gentle and dry, hay-like note of coumarin, Guerlarose feels so shrilly rosy that you ask yourself if your nostrils really find it pleasant. It makes us appreciate Nahéma so much the more as Guerlain's greatest rose fragrance, whose Parfum version sadly has been discontinued.
Bottle. Guerlarose and Guerlilas came in the same bottle. Typical of Art Deco, the design was squat and geometric, with horizontal bars that seemed to foreshadow the amended Vetiver bottle of 2000, and the glass stopper resembled an octagonal metal bolt. Read about Guerlilas
Back to vintages
Back to perfumes