[lɛ̃stɑ̃ də gɛrlɛ̃ pu:r ɔm]
Family: woody, gourmand
Notes: lemon, bergamot, anise, pink pepper, elemi, jasmine, sandalwood, Lapsang tea, tonka bean, cacao bean, benzoin, hibiscus seeds, patchouli
Delicious cocoa, sexy pastis
Period: The haute cuisine years
L'Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme collection
Quite a few Guerlain creations reflect a wish to capture a specific emotional moment or situation — think of Après l'Ondée (the interlude after a rain shower when the summer garden suddenly cools down), L'Heure Bleue (the twilight hour between afternoon and evening when the sky is bathed in an incandescent cobalt blue), and Chamade (a man in an elevator is entranced by the trace of his lover's perfume). In this context, the name "L'Instant de Guerlain" provides added epic value, and is borderline self-referential, depending on whether you read it as "L'Instant, by Guerlain" or "The Guerlain Moment". (Notwithstanding Guerlain's effort to fabricate internationally pronounceable and understandable names, the French instant is unfortunately different from the English one. While French people read it as "the present moment", English speakers understand it as implying haste, which surely was not what Guerlain meant to do.)
L'Instant de Guerlain from 2003 wished us to experience a moment when everything is bathed in a bright light. The same moment was sensed in the 2004 Pour Homme version for which Guerlain even named a whole new olfactory family: "luminous woody, a surprising blend of cold and warm energies." In reality, though, the idea of combining cold and warm notes wasn't exactly new; just think of Jicky (1889), with its cold top note and warm, balsamic base. In L'Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme, however, the cold and warm notes were made to intertwine from top to base. Perfumer Béatrice Piquet was the nose behind the scent which won her much acclaim, including a French FiFi Award for best masculine perfume. And deservedly so. The scent indeed had a luminous quality, rare in masculine perfumery, by blending lemon (Guerlain called it "citrus crystals"), anise, jasmine, hibiscus seeds, sandalwood, and a fresh pine note from elemi. The brand's gourmand signature was assured by cacao bean and tonka bean, all nested on an earthy, chocolate-like patchouli base. The fragrance was officially inspired by food: a North African chocolate pastilla (Sylvaine Delacourte has often proclaimed her deep love for this part of the world, particularly its food and spices), combined with the Mediterranean cult liqueur pastis.
Bottle. The bottle for L'Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme, by designer Jérôme Faillant Dumas, is a beauty in itself with lines and elegance inspired by the 1930s' imposing Art Deco style. The Eau de Parfum bottle is gorgeous with a dark chocolate brown rim to complement the square Bakelite-like stopper. (To cut costs, Guerlain subsequently chose to sell the EdP in the same clear bottle as the EdT, minus the rim.) The stopper has an engraving of the circular Vol de Nuit logo which emphasizes the patrimony of the company, as does the name of the fragrance. In 2016, the bottle is replaced by the classic "Habit Rouge" bottle, featuring a coloured cap that matches the exclusive Parisien line.
EdT, EdP. The "luminous woody" character, as Guerlain puts it, is perhaps sensed best in the Eau de Parfum (additionally labeled Extrême) version. Its anise is crystal clear, giving great purity, and it has big, smooth and delicious notes of cocoa, tonka bean, jasmine, benzoin, sandalwood, and the musky-fruity amber of hibiscus seeds that does miracles by really filling out the space above the patchouli. Pine needles, anise, cocoa, wood, and smoky black tea — you can't help thinking of Christmas when you spray on this EdP. Héritage had already proved how far in the feminine direction you could push a Pour Homme, but L'Instant EdP is no-holds-barred and exhibits the conspicuous kind of masculinity Arab men like to exercise; it's easily the sexiest Guerlain for guys. There is something lofty and jazzy and slightly decadent about this fragrance, at once very modern and very Art Deco. The lower gourmand volume of the EdT puts it on the cooler and earthier side, a simpler juxtaposition of lemon and patchouli to complement stubbles and exposed chest hair.
Reformulation. L'Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme is one of Guerlain's most popular men's scents, and most people who love it are convinced it has been reformulated. However, this perfume seems to contain only IFRA-safe ingredients, and if an older bottle smells slightly different than a new one, it's probably due to ageing.
Variations. Being a sweet masculine fragrance with lots of success, fresh flankers to L'Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme seemed inevitable. Hence came L'Instant d'un Été and Cristaux d'Agrumes, both accentuating the hesperidic top notes.
We love: the EdP
Wear the EdP for the beauty of its cocoa-covered sandalwood
An evening fragrance
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