The marshmallow accord
"If perfumery were a kitchen then Guerlain would be a delicious dessert." Many of those who love Guerlain think of it as a creator of perfumed confections. One of the most toothsome things to ever come out of the Guerlain patisserie is what Guerlain terms the "marshmallow" accord. This accord marries the honeyed, sunny freshness of orange blossom with the balsamic sweetness of benzoin, vanilla, tonka bean and musk. Not historically included in the Guerlinade, orange blossom is now mentioned by Thierry Wasser as being part of the house signature. The marshmallow accord is in one degree or the other to be found in many Guerlain compositions, and we understand why: it smells phenomenally good and seems universally addictive, to people as well as honey bees. It is featured most prominently in L'Heure Bleue, accompanied by rose, carnation, violet and heliotrope. In the men's department we get the accord in Habit Rouge, turned masculine by the sharpness of bitter orange and leather. More recently, Mon Précieux Nectar has rendered the accord in almost pure form, and we also get it in L'Heure de Nuit. Read more
The Love series
In 2003, Guerlain began a series of six identically shaped bottles housing different fragrances. The love theme of the first four made them perfect gifts for Valentine's Day and brides. The 50 ml EDT had limited distribution with only selected ones appearing in certain countries. Some were found in airport shops. The series ended in 2006. The final two listed here are included for the sake of completing the bottle series.
With Love (2003). The premier hesperidic fragrance was fresh with zesty lemon and mandarin orange opening notes. Lily and freesia formed the heart, and musk, cedarwood, and sandalwood dried it down. The bottle carried the name of the fragrance in hot pink on the right with "Guerlain Paris" in gold underneath. The upside-down heart lid borrowed from L'Heure Bleue and Mitsouko capped off a broad-shouldered clear bottle. The bottom glass was heavy and the shoulders came to a point on each side. The back of the bottle had a huge "ve" in pale pink to signify the last two letters of the word "love" and the Italian "amor" in baby pink was printed on top of them. The bright orange box had the word "love" spelled out around the front and back in hot pink, then "liebe" superimposed in smaller letters of medium pink. The next layer of words on the box was a light pink "amour" above a white "with love".
Precious Heart (2004). This edition by Frank Voelkl was a green floral with magnolia and musk. It had a crisper and sharper edge than the usual fruity-florals because of its grapefruit and lemon verbena. Sandalwood, cedarwood, freesia, cardamom, and osmanthus flower rounded out this peppery formula of ingredients. Again the bottle carried the name at the right in hot pink over the company name and the city of origin. This time the back had five concentric hearts, outlined in gold, radiating from the middle, perhaps a nod to Chamade. The box had white sides with a small suspended heart and a hot pink front with half a heart made up of concentric lines pulsing out from its centre, shading from light to darker pink.
Colours of Love (2005). This limited edition was a fruity-floral mix of grapefruit, kiwi, passion fruit, violet, angelica and pink pepper as it opened. Then came mimosa, iris, rose and cassie flower. The drydown consisted of ambrette seed, musk and apricot. The bottle had a pale pink juice and a medium pink heart at the right with the fragrance's name in gold under it. The box, designed by Jason Brooks, had a spray of vertical stripes in shades of pink behind a cartoon of a blonde, cat-eyed girl wearing a pink halter dress. This fragrance was meant to appeal to young girls like her.
Love Is All (2005). Christophe Raynaud created the third in the series: a fruity-floral of orange, pink pepper, and passion fruit. This fragrance was feminine and romantic. The bottle contained a pink juice with the gold words of its title in the middle of its front face. A heart made of gold and white dots of varying sizes surrounded the name of the fragrance. The box was white on the top and sides but the front and back were a bright hot pink with holographic gold and silver dots in the same heart-shape of the bottle's. Love Is All was written in white in the centre.
Lights of Champs-Elysées (2006). The floral-woody fragrance began with almond blossom, rose and pink pepper. The heart note contained mimosa, ylang-ylang and powdery iris. It dried down to cedarwood, vanilla, and vetiver. The inclusion of almond blossom and mimosa in the formula recalled the original Champs-Elysées perfume which was also apparent in the name. This most beautiful boulevard in Paris (and maybe the world) is the home of Maison Guerlain. An artist's rendition of the Arc de Triomphe done in neon bright colours graced the box, with the plain bottle right in the middle of the arch. The name was centred on the front of the bottle.
Vetiver Pour Elle (2004). Although not part of the series, the same bottle was utilized for Vetiver Pour Elle for distribution in French airport shops. Jean-Paul Guerlain created this woody-floral. He used orange blossom and his signature bergamot for the top notes. For the middle notes, he chose lily-of-the-valley to up the feminine factor, honeysuckle and spicy nutmeg for a bit of bite. The usual tonka bean and vetiver completed the recipe. This bottle had a graceful, simple, green palm frond on the back which was visible through the clear glass. The pale green box repeated the elegant palm frond across its front.
(October 2012, text by guest writer Linda Primeau)
Perhaps the most unique of Guerlain's new Middle East trio, Encens Mythique d'Orient combines the sombre character of animalic ambergris, patchouli, vetiver and moss with something bright and chic: saffron, hay-like and slightly bitter and spicy, plus aldehydes, orange blossom and rose. The Déserts d'Orient perfumes don't really smell like anything else in the Guerlain catalogue. Read more
Humour & honour
There are many ways to show adoration, and this cartoon depicts some of Guerlain's most iconic bottles with great humour and love. Author unknown, but presumably made around 1980.
Inspired by the traditional Japanese springtime festival of sakura, Jean-Paul Guerlain created the first Cherry Blossom in 1999 for a worldwide market but the fragrance found a particularly rapt audience in Japan where fresh, clean scents are revered. Its popularity spawned a more utilitarian bottle, and then eventually yearly limited editions and flankers. Most did not have a wide distribution, being available mainly in duty-free shops. A set of miniatures, comprised of the original and some of its flankers, was also produced. In this set, the bottles and colours of the juices differed slightly from the full-size equivalents. The flankers to Cherry Blossom stopped after 2009, however the original EdT was reissued in the Parisiennes line in 2011, housed in the classic bee bottle with an off-white faux-suede ribbon gracing its neck.
1999: original Cherry Blossom. The first incarnation saw the use of the Louis XVI basket weave bottle and was a dab 30 ml EdT with an antique-look black and white label accented with tiny blossoms. The lid was in the shape of a clover flower. Under it a gold thread surrounded the neck. Green tea, cherry fruit, and lemon made up this simple, hesperidic fragrance.
2000: modified Louis XVI bottle. The next 30 ml EdT issue of the same fragrance used a branch of larger pink blossoms on the label and the lid pulled off to reveal a gold spray mechanism. The box was white with the same festoon of flowers as on the bottle's label. Each new release after the initial two, with the exception of the Parfum, used an elongated, smooth version of the Louis XVI bottle. These limited editions continued in this bottle form until 2008.
2003: Crazy Cherry Blossom. The scarcity of information and images could indicate that Crazy was exclusive to the Japanese market.
2004: Cherry Blossom Parfum. The Parfum came in a classic 7.5 or 30 ml quadrilobe bottle with a hot pink cord sealing the stopper. The bottle's label was pale pink with tiny white flowers. Its box was pale pink and criss-crossed with white flower-festooned pink satin ribbons. The Japanese market saw a different treatment of the bottle's glass face with tiny pink flowers strewn across it. For a label, it carried a round tag at the neck which was tied with a hot pink thread. Its unique cylindrical box's lid lifted off to reveal a diorama of cherry blossoms on tree branches. This was a woody, powdery floral with bergamot, green tea, cherry blossoms, and jasmine. It was sensual, luxurious and captured the intimate emotion of a springtime flower that delicately entices on the skin.
2004: Glittering Cherry Blossom. The clear bottle had six minuscule gold flowers and two petals fluttering from its top to bottom, and the pink juice was semi-opaque. The box was pale pink with tiny white and dark pink flowers strewn across the front. This fresh floral was an Eau Légère which consisted of bergamot, green tea, cherry blossoms and modern powdery notes. The light, delicate fragrance conveyed cheerfulness in a swirl of gold glitter in the pink juice.
2005: Shiny Cherry Blossom. The shiny pink bottle was opaque and its box had four flowers in shades of pink. The ingredients of this fruity-floral Eau Légère were musk, cherry blossom, green tea, lemon, and bergamot.
2005: Lovely Cherry Blossom. The bottle was shaded from pink up to translucent white at the top. The gold box had a pink branch with four hot pink flowers on it. A fresh fruity floral, this EdT edition contained bergamot, green tea, red berries, lilac, jasmine, and powdery notes. It was charming, soft, and sensual with a sweetness like the red berries one could tastily savour.
2006: Lovely Cherry Blossom Gold Sparkles. The pink sparkly Eau Légère came in a clear bottle with a fine gold branch of five flowers on it. The scent was comprised of red berries, cherry blossom, lilac, green tea, jasmine and bergamot.
2007: Fruity Cherry Blossom. Festooned with three red flowers and three red cherries, the clear bottle was filled with a pink juice and had a shiny red spray. The box was red at the bottom and white at the top. This was a glittering EdT of jasmine and cherry.
2008: Cherry Blossom Delight. The box was silver with three large flowers in shades of pink. The clear bottle with silver spray had two large silver flowers on it and housed a pink EdT with very subtle glitter. This green floral fragrance contained bergamot, cherry blossom, and green tea.
2009: Aqua Allegoria Cherry Blossom. The honeycomb-shouldered bottle housed the Aqua Allegoria version of Cherry Blossom. The hexagonal label echoed the shape of a honeycomb unit. The juice was a pink EdT comprised of bergamot, cherry blossom, green tea, peach, and almond. The white box was presented with large pink flowers. With this offering the Cherry Blossom series came to an end.
(October 2012, text by guest writer Linda Primeau)
La Petite Robe Noire EdT
Back in the good old days, a perfumer's working model and ideal was the Parfum from which a less exclusive EdT was derived. Nowadays, the default version is Eau de Parfum, a species invented in the 1980s that seeks to combine the powerful trail of the EdT with the depth of a Parfum. Generally, the different versions are not only higher or lower concentrations of the fragrant material in alcohol, but also slightly different formulas in order to make the scent feel more or less effervescent, airy or rich. Thierry Wasser's new La Petite Robe Noire is one of these cases born as EdP and then reworked into EdT and Parfum. The EdT is currently available only to Asia, Scandinavia and Russia but will be launched worldwide in 2013. Its scent differs vastly from the EdP. Where the latter is a fruity gourmand, smelling deeply of licorice, cherry, rose, almond and musk, the EdT appears like a fruity-green cologne, utterly fresh in comparison. The trick is done by what seems like a significant toning down of all ingredients except for neroli, the fresh-sweet product made from orange blossom, which conversely is very much highlighted in this version. It also comprises new notes of apple and blackcurrant. Comparable to how Thierry Wasser did the L'Eau version of Shalimar Parfum Initial, LPRN EdT has a less bold character than the EdP, but Wasser has a penchant for green notes and this one could be good for summer. The bottle stays the same, although the dress pictograph has turned strapless. Read more
Météorites, the fragrance
Category. Floral, powdery. Launch year. 2000. Creator. Jean-Paul Guerlain. Quote. "Eau! What a heavenly scent."
Fragrance. This EDT came in 30 ml only and consisted of iris for powderyness, green notes for freshness, heliotrope, and violet to recall the scent of the Météorites face powder which came in either balls for loose powder or in a compact for pressed powder. Météorites fragrance is not to be confused with the Météorites refillable case (see photo) which held Samsara, Shalimar or Mitsouko EDP or Parfum. That case matched the "Voyage" powder compact and refillable lipstick.
Bottle and box. The bottle is a small version of the watch-shaped bottle but with a different cap. The gold lid is like the nailpolish lid from the matching makeup collection and sports tiny pearly-white meteorite balls at its base. The centre of both sides of the bottle has an open-work gold filigree pattern which echoes the scales on the original enamel powder compact. The box is embossed with the five colours of meteorite balls that are represented in the powders, each shade with its own function in adjusting skin colour.
(September 2012, text by guest writer Linda Primeau)
Category. Aromatic. Launch year. 2001. Quote. "How would you like to feel today?" Creator. Jean-Paul Guerlain.
Inspiration. The turn of the millennium saw people with ever busier lives needing the comfort of going to a spa. The popularity of this form of relaxation brought with it its own scents to calm, soothe, or revitalize the soul. Aromatherapy was a new trend and Guerlain responded with the Aroma Allegoria fragrances. These were more concentrated than the Aqua Allegorias which were their predecessors. The Aroma Allegorias, or so-called Aromaperfumes, were Eaux de Parfum that were created for three different purposes: vitalising, soothing, and exalting the soul. They appealed to the senses to change or complement the wearer's mood.
Vitalisant (vitalising) was hesperidic, composed of invigorating notes of citrus and tea, creating a burst of sparkling fragrance with a richness and depth, imparting a renewed joy for a life of vitality and energy. The bottle had two strings of orange to emphasize its citrusy saffron zest.
Apaisant (soothing) promoted well-being and relaxation with its heart of lime blossom, chamomile and freesia. The wearer felt serenity and calmness in this soft floral. The bottle had two blue strings, one at the neck and one at the shoulders.
Exaltant (exalting) made the wearer daring and irresistible with spicy notes of zingy bitter orange, cinnamon and warm cedarwood. This was a sensual and voluptuous oriental scent. The bottle had two red strings.
Bottles and boxes. The 75 ml bottles were a riff on the Aqua Allegoria bottles, but without the bee emblem on the lid, and with concentric gold rings radiating down the shoulders and body, reminiscent of the widening circles a pebble makes when dropped in a pond. The topmost coloured ring had a small gold plate attached, bearing the words "Aroma Allegoria" on one side and "Guerlain Paris" on the verso. Each black box had a bright floral or leafy emblem denoting the ingredient within. Read about Aqua Allegoria
(August 2012, text by guest writer Linda Primeau)
L'Instant de Guerlain
For a long time, my website editor Linda Primeau has been pointing out that I ought to add Champs-Elysées and L'Instant de Guerlain to the list of Guerlain perfumes I write about. Now she has given up and done it herself! I've never before had a guest writer, but since Linda's editing is to be found everywhere on this site already, it's only fitting that she be the first. Linda Primeau is from Canada, holds a B.A. and is a Guerlain Fragrance Specialist. Without her keen eye for details and vast knowledge of perfumery, culture and the English language, this place would never have been the same. I can't thank her enough.
Category. Crystalline amber. Launch year. 2003. Quote. "A trace of oneself in the memory of others." Music. Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1.
Story. You're at a party. Suddenly your eyes meet another's across the crowded room. They lock. It's mutual! This is "L'Instant". This moment of recognition that from then on your lives will be forever changed is the "instant" of the fragrance's name. Time stands still and the future lovers wish that this moment would last forever. When a man's hands scurry across a woman's body, perhaps for the first time in their relationship, and her body shivers at the frisson of electricity they cause, that is also "L'Instant". This evocation of emotion and an awakening of the senses are at the centre of the fragrance's concept. The fragrance's name includes the name of the house for brand recognition.
Fragrance. The collaboration of famous nose Maurice Roucel and Guerlain's Sylvaine Delacourte, resulted in the unique innovation of intersecting fragrance pyramids in the EdP. The top note is a blend of freshness and vivacity in its use of honey of citrus, mandarin, and bergamot. The citrus notes last throughout the evolution of the fragrance which is a major feat in the art of perfumery because citrus oils are very volatile and dissipate quickly. The first time inclusion of a rare, white, Chinese magnolia and a modern version of the Guerlinade, lends transparency and luminosity to the radiant heart note. Jasmin sambac, ylang-ylang, and soft musk round out the centre. The sensual drydown manifested by vetiver, musk, benzoin, and wood add to its crystalline ambery nature. The juxtaposition of the fresh top note and the voluptuous bottom note harks back to the same characteristic of the legendary Jicky. The Parfum only is embellished with "skin notes" of powdery iris. The EdT incorporates green apple and violet for a summery freshness.
Bottles and variations. Jérôme Faillant Dumas designed the sleek and modern bottle as he would a work of art and with a nod to the legacy of Guerlain's rich past. The logo on the lid, as well as the box, is plucked from the metal circle on the original Vol de Nuit bottle. The purple silk cord around the neck of the Parfum continues the tradition of securing the lid to the body of the bottle. In keeping with the luxury of the house, the lid is like a cabochon, the bottle like a jewel pierced by a laser of amethyst light. For the first year anniversary of its launch (2004), Jean Grisoni added a vertical band of five rows of gold mosaic squares that preceded the hall of gold designed by Andrée Putman for the revitalized head office at 68 Champs-Elyseées. One large square on the front only, is purple, to echo the colour inherent in the bottle. This edition came in EdP. A Christmas bottle, L'Instant de Guerlain Eau de Noël Iris Millesime (2005, an EdT), was issued with emphasis on the iris in the juice and the Guerlain double G logo was strewn at an angle on the back of the bottle. A perfumed gel to be applied to the wrists with a brush, came housed in a white bottle shaped like a child's toy top festooned with gold swirls inscribed with the fragrance's name. The body deodorant spray bottle was an elongated version of the perfume bottle but in frosted glass. Grapefruit, bitter orange and jasmine combined in L'Instant de Guerlain d'un Été (2006, an EdT) which was in a clear bottle with pink juice and a pink metallic spray nozzle. L'Instant de Guerlain Fleur de Mandarine (2007, an EdT) had a spray of fireworks across the front. This limited edition was comprised of mandarin blossom, black currant and hyacinth.
(June 2012, text and photo by guest writer Linda Primeau)
Shalimar Parfum Initial L'Eau
We saw it coming: Thierry Wasser would do a L'Eau version of his experiment with Shalimar, Parfum Initial. With notes of orris, rose, caramel, musk and vanilla, Parfum Initial had a rather non-committal relationship to Jacques Guerlain's roaring-twenties classic, and the L'Eau version even more so, completely freed of darkness and leather. It's not vastly different from Parfum Initial though, and should be regarded as an EdT version rather than a reworked flanker, yet it features a few qualities that deserve recognition. As is true for all Eaux de Toilette, it's "lighter and more carefree," as Guerlain puts it, with an emphasis on green citrus and gauzy rosy and vanillic notes. It is carefree all right. Far removed from the grown-up Shalimar, its pastel pink tassel says it all: the fragrance is as happy and candied as any adolescent could wish for.
The main difference is a lessened dominance of the orris which to some is a hard, gloomy, slightly overwhelming note. The effect is a less striking but also more rounded fragrance that lets the rose shine clearer. Next, the green bergamot top is even greener than in Parfum Initial, reportedly a special grade of bergamot chosen by Thierry Wasser, and the bergamot-orange accord of L'Eau is among Guerlain's finest and most delicate, sparkling yet très doux, almost a perfume in its own right. It marries well with the fennikel-like herbaceous streak we also had in Parfum Initial — in L'Eau, this streak seems not fresher, but sunnier. In the same vein, the neroli has been enhanced, that airy, bright, subtly floral and honeyed scent from the bitter orange tree. The softness of L'Eau is completed with tonka bean and vanilla, dosed with caution to prevent any bitterness or smoke. One suddenly sees that this fragrance is made by the same man who redid La Petite Robe Noire, and at the same period of time. Bergamot, herbs, fruity rose, vanilla and musk, Thierry Wasser has defined his own easy-to-wear, 21st-century Guerlinade. Read more
It's been 20 years since I first smelled you
I smelled my first Guerlain in April 1992. A very special person gave it to me on my 21st birthday. That was Habit Rouge. In Paris. I've loved it ever since. Let's celebrate! Read more
The new La Petite Robe Noire
Guerlain has been waiting three years for the right moment to mass-market its little black dress fragrance. La Petite Robe Noire, a.k.a. LPRN among perfume bloggers, was initially a boutique-only fragrance, as was the short-lived Modèle No.2. Full of unreleased potential, it is now ready to step onto the world's catwalk with a massive ad campaign, one of Guerlain's most striking, and a slightly reworked formula by Thierry Wasser. Like Apple's third-generation iPad has no name other than "the new iPad", this third LPRN is advertised simply as "La Petite Robe Noire — Mon Nouveau Parfum". The fascinating, black-silhouetted muse, animated by French visual artist duo Kuntzel+Deygas, seems to walk everywhere in Paris. On the city's tall gables, on bus stops, on billboards, in department stores and of course in every Guerlain boutique. The whole Maison Guerlain has been redecorated to match the theme and the sales assistants wear little black dresses. Kuntzel+Deygas have unfortunately not allowed photography of the display which includes various cartoon-like, black-painted objects associated with the little black dress, and funny pictures of the silhouette girl flirting with Thierry Wasser.
The perfume box design is the best Guerlain has come up with for decades. Inside, it's still the heart-shaped stopper bottle, but with a renewed dress pictograph and a juice colour more pink than purple. The fragrance isn't far removed from Delphine Jelk and Sylvaine Delacourte's first LPRN, cherry, bergamot, rose, almond, licorice, a bit of vanilla. Thierry Wasser's twist features much more of the Bulgarian rose blend, more bergamot, apparently a bit more orris, tonka bean and vanilla, less licorice and definitely less patchouli. "More Guerlinade," says Guerlain, that is, the post-millennium, simplified macaron version. Wasser's remix has removed the dark-fruit chypre effect of the original LPRN and made it all rosier, fluffier and brighter. The result is something carefree and casual, not too complex or elaborate, and maybe a bit sexier. Guerlain has got a new prêt-à-porter in the catalogue, and I bet it'll be popular. Read more
Guerlain Homme L'Eau Boisée
Guerlain Homme seems to get better and better. Each time Thierry Wasser puts a different spin on his green Guerlain man, fragrance reviewers cheer up. "An improved version over the original" (EdP), and "the Guerlain Homme for Guerlain lovers, period" (L'Eau). And now, "L'Eau Boisée is what the regular Guerlain Homme should have been from its first appearance." Personally I can't decide which variant is most enjoyable. The soapy-floral geranium effect in the first one was good, the umami effect of enhanced rhubarb leaf, sugar cane and salty wood in the second was wonderful, and the simpler Mojito effect of lime-mint-rum in L'Eau was delightful. L'Eau Boisée is derived from L'Eau and adds a larger dose of vetiver to the formula, reportedly a new kind of vetiver essence which Thierry Wasser found near Coimbatore in South India. This vetiver is described as milder and clearer, less smoky and raw than we're used to. Guerlain Homme L'Eau Boisée smells quite like the notes listed, and in that particular order: lime, mint, grapefruit, rum, patchouli, cedarwood, vetiver. For those who love a crisp, refined, concise scent of herbs and astringent grasses, it probably couldn't get any better. The blend is exquisite. Compared to Jean-Paul Guerlain's classic Vetiver, it feels cool and brightly modern, with none of the mossy morning mist, almost monochrome green. The main Guerlain Homme theme of citrus and mint and the slightest sweetness of rum is as delicious and mellow here as in L'Eau, but L'Eau Boisée renders it drier and earthier with a poignant patchouli note, pencil-shaving cedar and the natural warmth of vetiver. Some will miss the complexity of geranium and rhubarb, yet be delighted by the long-lasting, beautiful drydown. As for the look, the wood-grain cap is a stroke of design genius. Read more
Some images courtesy of guerlain.com
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