Family: floral, musky
Notes: bergamot, lemon, anise, rose, freesia, violet, mimosa, orris, almond, sandalwood, cedarwood, vanilla, white musk
Feminine feel-good fragrance
Period: The haute cuisine years
In 2007, Guerlain introduced perfumer Randa Hammami's L'Instant Magic, wrapped in a cottony cocoon of white musk. Although the name, an odd blend of French and English wording, led one to believe that it was a L'Instant flanker, it was actually a completely different fragrance. To describe it, Guerlain's then artistic director Sylvaine Delacourte invented the term Musquinade, with a playful reference to the Guerlinade. White musk is IFRA-safe but generally regarded as too clean, cold and colourless to deserve the Guerlain stamp. Yet, Sylvaine Delacourte wanted to point out that this was a whole new kind of white musk accord, "worked à la Guerlain", that is, with distinguished Guerlain ingredients like bergamot, Bulgarian rose, almond, sandalwood and vanilla.
It's no secret that Sylvaine Delacourte adores L'Heure Bleue and the gourmand scent of almond in general. The first minutes of L'Instant Magic actually smelled like a refurbished version of L'Heure Bleue, with gentle, bright notes of bergamot and anise, and musky almond, rose, vanilla and sandalwood coming up from below. The mechanism of the scent, however, was much more simple and linear, without the spicy, dusky drydown of L'Heure Bleue. L'Instant Magic apparently didn't want to be more than a feel-good fragrance that slowly fades away, like putting on face powder, scented cream and silk lingerie after the shower to make everything pretty and pleasant for a few hours. The freesia note added to an intense sense of femininity and innocence, only slightly tempered by the dryness of cedarwood. In comparison, L'Heure Bleue suddenly smelled like a unisex fragrance.
The old Guerlain masters, Jacques and Jean-Paul Guerlain, both professed that a Guerlain perfume must first and foremost smell good. In that respect, L'Instant Magic was a big success. Guerlain nonetheless chose to discontinue the fragrance after 2014; by then the brand had found a new feel-good feminine with French Kiss. However, Guerlain changed its mind and reissued the EdP version in 2016.
Two years after L'Instant Magic, Randa Hammami created Mon Précieux Nectar with a similar accord, but the Musquinade never gained a foothold in the Guerlain vocabulary. There doesn't seem to be a need for an extra signature definition, as most modern Guerlain fragrances contain white musk anyway.
L'Instant Magic came in the same bottle as L'Instant de Guerlain, designed by Jérôme Faillant Dumas. It featured sleek, contemporary lines accentuated by a black rim, while the stopper had an engraving of the circular Vol de Nuit logo, emphasizing the patrimony of the company. For the 2016 reissue, the bottle lacked the black rim.
The two were not markedly different, although the Parfum had the usual extra luxury feel and intimate intensity.
In 2009, there was a limited edition called L'Instant Magic Elixir, with a more gourmand musky-vanillic base.
We love: that it oozes Guerlain
Femininity in a bottle
Some images courtesy of guerlain.com
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