New bottle design replaces refillable canister
As of lately, the refillable golden metal canister has become unavailable for several of the classic Eaux de Parfum in Guerlain's webshop. All the while, the refills remain to be purchased. Guerlain confirms that a new bottle design will be introduced in 2016. The brand hasn't revealed what the new bottle looks like.
This year's New Year's card from Guerlain features the bee symbol interpreted by American street artist JonOne, who is also signing a limited series of bee bottles. On the occasion of the launch of this bottle series, Maison Guerlain will be organizing an exhibition of his latest works from January 4 2016.
The last decade has seen a popularization of the Arab world's ancient scents, as reflected in Serge Lutens' successful Moroccan niche fragrances and agarwood attars being sold in the West. But rather than importing perfumes from the Middle East, European luxury brands are trying to do the opposite, namely to promote products that are created with the lucrative Middle Eastern market in mind. This market is currently a primary focus of LVMH, whose marketing teams know that people in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf perceive European luxury goods as status symbols.
In January 2016, Guerlain will launch its fifth Middle Eastern fragrance, called Ambre Éternel. It's a follow-up of Santal Royal from 2014, with the bottle design as well as several fragrance notes in common, like strong woody notes, leather, neroli, peach, cinnamon, and amber. The name, Ambre Éternel, suggests that this perfume particularly highlights the amber facet. According to Thierry Wasser, Ambre Éternel features ambergris. The bottle for these scents is a dark opaque version of the Aqua Allegoria and Eau de Rituel bottles, with a woollen scarf around the neck. For Ambre Éternel, the bottle is coloured chocolate brown, and the scarf burgundy. Thierry Wasser explains that Santal Royal and Ambre Éternel together form the start of a whole collection, which Guerlain calls Les Absolus d'Orient.
While Guerlain's Middle Eastern trio from 2012, Les Déserts d'Orient, had all the rounded refinement and luxury feel that we associate with the brand, to most Guerlain fans Santal Royal felt like a departure. Arabs simply aren't attracted to classic European perfumes, not even the orientals; living in an extremely hot climate, they prefer strong woody scents, dark rose, and spices. Santal Royal came with a rough, masculine boisé sec type accord, mixed with rose and fruity notes, and not much sandalwood. We'll have to wait a few weeks before we know what Ambre Éternel smells like. Notes listed are coriander, cinnamon, ambergris, peach, neroli, ylang-ylang, woody notes, leather, and amber. Photo from the press party at Maison Guerlain taken from Instagram.
Bee bottle street art
Guerlain is best known for its classic, conservative aesthetic, which makes it so much the more surprising that the brand has American graffiti artist JonOne sign a limited series of 1-litre bee bottles. Originally from New York's Harlem neighbourhood, JonOne now lives and works in Paris, where he has emblazoned bee bottles with spray paint and splashes of colour.
Guerlain's marketing director Ann-Caroline Prazan says that the unusual meeting between Guerlain and JonOne's street art was actually meant to be. "As you know, he's someone very emotional as we are, with passion and love of colours and scents, and it seemed evident that one day or another we would meet." Choose between Shalimar Parfum (blue), La Petite Robe Noire Parfum (pink), and Rose Barbare EdP (orange). 9,000 €.
Best Guerlain fragrance 2015
Monsieur Guerlain has invited his readers to vote for the best Guerlain fragrance 2015, among the ten new compositions that were launched in 2015. 334 people have cast their vote, and a few of them voted for more than one fragrance. Habit Rouge Dress Code received 126 votes, making it the most popular fragrance by far. Its first prize is well deserved but quite remarkable, as Habit Rouge Dress Code has not been widely distributed. The Shalimar Cologne flanker came in second place with 79 votes, while Mon Exclusif won bronze with 45 votes.
It's interesting to note that only 11 percent opted for this year's La Petite Robe Noire entry, the Eau Fraîche, as La Petite Robe Noire is usually a clear winner. The new "Flacon Tortue" fragrance ended up as number ten with just 18 votes, which isn't a surprise, as this perfume is only available in a 9,500 € crystal bottle. We assume that the 18 votes came from people who have smelled a tester bottle at Maison Guerlain. See more
Historic Guerlain boutique closed for two years
Guerlain's boutique on the Place Vendôme in Paris is currently closed and will remain so for two years, while the building undergoes extensive renovation. The Place Vendôme boutique is the brand's most historic location after Maison Guerlain on the Champs-Elysées. It opened in 1935, as the lease on the rue de la Paix shop could not be renewed. Jacques Guerlain's son Jean-Jacques, who was the company's manager after Gabriel and Pierre Guerlain, recounts how in 1925 the owner of the building in rue de la Paix was furious to have lost a horse race to one of Guerlain's horses, and therefore refused to renew the lease. By that time, Guerlain had already inaugurated its new Champs-Elysées premises.
Due to the closing of the Place Vendôme boutique, Guerlain has opened a new shop a bit further down the rue Saint-Honoré. Read more about Guerlain's boutiques
Guerlain has released a limited bottle edition of last year's Santal Royal. For this edition, the black bottle has been recoloured into a matte gold finish, as well as given a new label design, to appear even more "Middle Eastern" than before. The fragrance remains unchanged. Read about Santal Royal
Nahéma Parfum discontinued
Every year Guerlain releases ten new perfume formulas, so we understand that regular discontinuations are necessary to make room for new perfumes. However, when one of the catalogue’s most beautiful and classic perfumes is being discontinued, we feel mildly shocked.
The Parfum version of Nahéma, Jean-Paul Guerlain’s fiery rose fragrance from 1979, is no longer available in Guerlain’s webshop, and Guerlain confirms that the perfume is taken out of production as of January 2016. The less concentrated EdP version is still available.
Nahéma was never the commercial success it was meant to be, not least due to a completely inadequate ad campaign. Many found the scent "un-Guerlain" as it was maybe too powerful a rose to allow people to grasp the oriental Guerlinade undercurrent. "I think Nahéma needs time,” said Jean-Paul Guerlain. Now that Nahéma has had that time, it stands as so much the more timeless, the mother of the countless fruity-floral fragrances that followed in its wake. But sadly not timeless or popular enough to stay around forever. It's time to stock up! (Just keep in mind that the olfactive quality of rose absolute is known as deteriorating fairly quickly during ageing.) Read about Nahéma
The ten new fragrances of Guerlain 2015
Ten months of 2015 have passed, and Guerlain has reached its yearly goal of releasing ten new fragrances. Luca Turin said that "Guerlain surely ought to slow down and do better," but 2015 has given us a few very good Guerlain scents. The best were without doubt the two spicy perfumes Habit Rouge Dress Code and Ne m'Oubliez Pas. Other than that, Guerlain has released La Petite Robe Noire Eau Fraîche, Aqua Allegoria Teazzurra, L'Homme Idéal Cologne, Shalimar Cologne, Mon Exclusif, Le Bouquet de la Mariée, Le Plus Beau Jour de ma Vie (the EdP version of the latter), and lastly the fragrance "Flacon Tortue", a reworking of Parfum du 68 for the reissued Baccarat tortoise bottle.
The year has also witnessed a reissue of Vetiver Pour Elle from 2004, renamed Carmen Le Bolshoï to serve as this year's Moscow exclusive. In addition, we got the usual yearly edition of Muguet, as well as a long list of special bottle editions for La Petite Robe Noire and Shalimar. Finally, Petit Guerlain was offered in a 100 ml atomizer edition. What has disappointed us the most about 2015 is how little Guerlain did to mark the 90th anniversary of Shalimar.
Deluxe purse spray
Guerlain has launched a new refillable purse spray in limited edition. It's designed in solid metal covered with amethyst coloured leather.
For some inexplicable reason, the price is more than three times higher than that of the similarly leather-clad La Petite Robe Noire purse spray, namely 210 €.
The new fragrance "Flacon Tortue"
I have tried a tester of the new perfume that is housed inside the reissued Baccarat tortoise bottle. The fragrance doesn't have a name (the tester just says "Flacon Tortue"), but this is obviously, as mentioned earlier, a reworked version of Parfum du 68 from 2013. Or, more precisely, of the intenser Extrait du 68.
Extrait du 68 was a wonderfully woody and spicy floral-gourmand fragrance, with lush mandarin, magnolia, rose, jasmine and orange blossom mixed with cardamom and the softly pine-like scent of immortelle, all on a warm and comfortable base of tonka bean, vanilla, benzoin, balsamic resins, cedarwood, and white musk.
The Flacon Tortue fragrance most likely contains all of these ingredients too, but the top note is significantly more floral, with a very feminine aura of jasmine and orange blossom. Also, the fragrance is fruitier, which Guerlain ascribes to the inclusion of osmanthus blossom, a flower with fruity-leathery notes of plum, prunes and apricot.
A delightful fragrance, which Guerlain has produced in only forty-seven 60 ml bottles (that is less than three litres!), each priced at 9,500 €.
L'Art & la Matière leather case
For a limited time, Guerlain offers a free leather case (yes, it's real leather!) with the purchase of a L'Art & la Matière fragrance. There are two different colours to choose from. Pictured to the right is an older bottle of Iris Ganache, now discontinued.
We're so disappointed with Guerlain's way of celebrating Shalimar's 90th anniversary! We love Shalimar, but all we get is a new outer packaging saying, "Shalimar 90 ans de légende". The bottle, the inner box and the scent remain unchanged. If we want something more special, we need to pay 10,500 € for the giant blue "lovebirds" bottle. At least the price remains the same too. 50 ml EdP 93 €.
Guerlain instils impossible wishes. For Christmas 2015, Guerlain suggests a beautiful Baccarat turtle bottle containing 60 ml of a more floral version of Parfum du 68, at the price of 9,500 €. In addition, the official 90th anniversary edition of Shalimar is a giant blue glass bottle decorated with two "lovebirds" on a gilded branch. 1,5 litres of Parfum priced at 10,500 €.
For inexplicable reasons, Guerlain has chosen not to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Shalimar with anything but an unattainable 10,000 € giant bottle. Therefore, the closest that the general audience will get to an anniversary edition is this Shalimar Christmas box.
The box, which contains the standard 50 ml EdP bottle, has the inside of the lid decorated with a Taj Mahal paper cutting on a shiny midnight blue background.
It's becoming increasingly important for European luxury brands to promote themselves on specific markets around the world, and one strategy for doing so is to issue special editions aimed at particular cities or department stores. For Russia, more specifically Moscow, Guerlain now launches its fourth Le Bolshoï edition. Called Carmen, the new edition is linked to the Bolshoi theatre celebrating its 240th anniversary this year with a performance of the Carmen opera.
While the two first Le Bolshoï editions were reissues of an existing fragrance, namely the jasmine perfume Les Secrets de Sophie, last year we saw a completely new composition for Le Bolshoï Black Swan, combining fresh floral notes with milky sandalwood. For Carmen Le Bolshoï, Guerlain describes it as a bold and original composition by Thierry Wasser, who has made an ode to vetiver with feminine floral notes.
Say feminine vetiver fragrance, and any Guerlain follower will think of Jean-Paul Guerlain's Vetiver Pour Elle. And indeed, Carmen Le Bolshoï proves to be a reissue of Vetiver Pour Elle!
When Jean-Paul Guerlain created Vetiver Pour Elle in 2004, it was only meant as a one-off eye-catcher limited to French airport shops. "I wanted a perfume of contrasts, energy and gentleness. Nothing contrived or niche," explained Jean-Paul Guerlain. The scent, an EdT with white flowers mixed with vetiver, pink pepper and white musk, proved so popular that Guerlain decided to reissue it as a Parisienne in 2007. After a few years, it was withdrawn for good, to many people's regret, as the scent beautifully covered the need for freshness in the range of Guerlain feminines.
The new Le Bolshoï edition of Vetiver Pour Elle is labelled as an EdP, but the scent doesn't appear one bit altered or intensified compared to the original EdT. The only difference is that the colour of the juice has been changed from green to yellow. It comes in the usual 60 ml Prestige atomizer, this time decorated with a red and black label that alludes to the Carmen universe. For this exclusive edition, the price is 300 €. Vetiver Pour Elle certainly isn't an inexpensive airport fragrance any more. Read more about Vetiver Pour Elle
For the first time ever, Guerlain releases a perfume whose availability is strictly limited to the Champs-Elysées boutique in Paris. In other words, it cannot be found at any other Guerlain boutique in Paris or anywhere else in the world. At a time when everything is attainable online and made to reach the maximum number of consumers, Guerlain wants to make a statement about exclusivity and hard-to-come-by luxury.
Called Ne m’Oubliez Pas ("forget me not"), its name is borrowed from the brand's revolutionary lipstick from 1870. Guerlain's innovation was a lip colour product that emerged from a tube for ease of application. In English, forget-me-not is the name of a number of species of flowering plants in the genus Myosotis, and therefore some people have been speculating that the new perfume is related to this flower which actually doesn't carry any scent. With their tender, blue petals, forget-me-nots are often associated with romance and affection, yet in French, no flower is called Ne m'Oubliez Pas. The name forget-me-not was copied from the flower's German name, "Vergissmeinnicht", which has since been translated into several other languages, but never into French.
By the way, isn’t it ironic to choose the name Forget-Me-Not for a perfume that is sold only at one physical address in the whole wide world? Hence, Ne m’Oubliez Pas risks being "forgotten" all too soon.
With this new perfume, Guerlain presents a style that it hasn’t entered into before: the tropical fruity oriental. If you are familiar with Kenzo Jungle by Dominique Ropion, you know what we’re talking about. Ne m’Oubliez Pas attests to the fact that the categorization of perfumes into distinct fragrance families hasn’t become easier since Jacques Guerlain created his complex formulas. A Parfum concentration, Ne m’Oubliez Pas is one of Guerlain's most faceted and intriguing scents in the past few years. Smell it next to Mitsouko, and it will smell like honey and jam; try it against La Petite Robe Noire, and you’ll find it dry like a chypre. Guerlain aficionados will note that it has the liqueur-like richness of vintage Guerlain, with fruit, rose absolute, spices, leather, and amber, while customers with more contemporary tastes will find it sparkling and colourful. Read fragrance review
Deluxe reissue of the tortoise crystal bottle
This autumn, Guerlain releases an exclusive run of the historic tortoise bottle by Baccarat, which makes it the fourth time that Guerlain reissues this bottle. The tortoise bottle was originally created in 1914 to contain Parfum des Champs-Elysées, commemorating the opening of Guerlain's Champs-Elysées boutique. Parfum des Champs-Elysées was already finished in 1904, and the tortoise shape was by all accounts inspired by the slowness of the construction work on Guerlain's new premises. Also, animal motifs were very much in vogue during the Art Nouveau design period.
Parfum des Champs-Elysées was reissued in 1995, in a 60 ml replica of the original crystal bottle. The perfume was reissued again in 2008 to mark Guerlain's 180th anniversary, this time in the 500 ml version of the tortoise bottle, at a price of 10,000 €. In 2013, the bottle was used for Extrait du 68, a deluxe reworking of Cologne du 68 to celebrate the reopening of Maison Guerlain after extensive renovation. For that edition, the bottle had the 1-litre size and was black coloured, going for 40,000 €.
The scent for this new 60 ml edition in clear crystal is described as a spicy and woody floral in Parfum concentration, with notes of immortelle, osmanthus, mandarin, tonka bean, benzoin and vanilla. Guerlain explains that it's a fruitier and more floral version of Parfum du 68. 9,500 €.
Ne m'Oubliez Pas — strictly limited to the Champs-Elysées
For the first time ever, Guerlain releases a perfume whose availability is strictly limited to the Champs-Elysées boutique in Paris. In other words, it cannot be found at any other Guerlain boutique in Paris or anywhere else in the world. At a time when everything is attainable online and made to attract the maximum number of consumers, Guerlain wants to make a statement about exclusivity and hard-to-come-by luxury.
Called Ne m’Oubliez Pas (“forget me not”), its name is borrowed from the brand’s revolutionary lipstick from 1870. In English, forget-me-not is the name of a number of species of flowering plants in the genus Myosotis, and therefore some people have been speculating that the new perfume is related to this flower which doesn’t carry any scent. With their tender, blue petals, forget-me-nots are often associated with romance and affection. Yet in French, no flower is called Ne m'Oubliez Pas. The name forget-me-not was copied from the flower's German name, "Vergissmeinnicht", which has since been translated into several other languages, but never into French.
By the way, isn’t it ironic to choose the name Forget Me Not for a perfume that is sold only at one physical address in the whole wide world? Ne m’Oubliez Pas risks being forgotten all too soon.
It's a new composition in Parfum concentration, classified as a spicy and woody oriental, with notes of plum, cardamom, rose, everlasting flower, carnation, cinnamon, patchouli, amber, vanilla and moss. The plum theme is also evident in the colour of the juice and the bottle's tassel. The design of the label elegantly evokes the Arc de Triomphe which crowns the Champs-Elysées boulevard. Like Le Bouquet de la Mariée, the perfume is sold in the 125 ml quadrilobe bottle, but at a significantly lower price, namely 500 €.
Leather case for the L'Art & la Matière bottles
Guerlain now offers a specially designed leather case for the L'Art & la Matière bottles, so far only available in Paris. There are two colours to choose from: amethyst and peony (the latter exclusively at Maison Guerlain on the Champs-Elysées). In addition, one can have the case personalized with gilded initials.
Carmen: the fourth edition of Le Bolshoï — an ode to vetiver
In 2011, Guerlain launched its first Le Bolshoï perfume for the Russian market, a reissue of the fragrance Les Secrets de Sophie. The act was repeated the following year with the same fragrance, this time called La Traviata. There was no Le Bolshoï in 2013, but in 2014, a whole new fragrance came out, called Le Bolshoï Black Swan. This year's Le Bolshoï is named Carmen. The Bolshoi theatre in Moscow celebrates its 240th anniversary this year with a performance of the Carmen opera, itself celebrating its 140th anniversary since its debut in Paris in 1875.
The scent is classified as a floral woody composition with notes of orange blossom, citrus, pink pepper, jasmine, cedarwood, vetiver and white musk. According to Guerlain, the scent is an ode to vetiver, in a floral, woody and feminine interpretation. Doesn't this description make us dream of the lamented Vetiver Pour Elle? Exclusively available in Moscow, 60 ml EdP, 300 €.
Guerlain's 90th anniversary edition of Shalimar is a deluxe 1.5 litre blue bottle of Parfum with a gold and glass decoration around the bottle neck. Made in just 17 numbered pieces, it’s sadly not as attainable as the Habit Rouge anniversary launch. With this "lovebird" edition, Guerlain celebrates the famous love story behind Shalimar. Shalimar collectors may be disappointed with Guerlain’s choice, as these giant Shalimar bottles are actually issued every year and hence not as special as we had imagined for this remarkable occasion. Photo by jojolinoo on Instagram.
This year's special bottle editions
Following previous years' rhythm of Guerlain releases, this autumn brings special bottle editions of Shalimar and La Petite Robe Noire. The scents of these new editions remain unchanged.
For Shalimar, we get a collectible edition of last year's Souffle de Parfum, featuring a 50 ml transparent bottle with a blue "Taj Mahal & Shalimar Gardens" motif painted on the back and visible through the glass. For this edition, the illustration on the box has been altered also, with dark blue replacing the white background.
This year, two different La Petite Robe Noire bottle editions are launched. First, we get a 100 ml refill bottle of either EdP or EdT which comes with a funnel to fill a purse spray of your choice. A special purse spray with the black cartoon girl is available, to be purchased separately. The square pour bottle has a white label, saying "Préparée par Guerlain, Parfumeur."
Next, there's a limited 50 ml edition of the usual La Petite Robe Noire bottle, but with a new dress design on the bottle. The box contains a set of self-adhesive stickers to decorate your bottle "like a perfumed couture house". The idea of letting customers customize their own bottle was already introduced for Habit Rouge and Mon Exclusif.
The discontinued L'Instant Magic to reappear in another line
Guerlain announced last December that L'Instant Magic was taken out of production. The news of this discontinuation wasn't very popular, as this floral musky fragrance had gained quite a large fan base. Now, Guerlain's Sylvaine Delacourte reveals that L'Instant Magic will reappear in another line in 2016. She doesn't say which line, but it could be a new Parisienne fragrance.
Dress Code: Habit Rouge in hot leather and praline
While the 50th anniversary of Jean-Paul Guerlain’s Vetiver six years ago went unnoticed, Thierry Wasser has insisted that the same oversight should not happen to Habit Rouge. Guerlain’s classic gentleman's fragrance turns fifty this year, and to commemorate the occasion, Wasser has created a special anniversary version, called Habit Rouge Dress Code. Since Habit Rouge is named after a piece of clothing, specifically the red riding jacket of fox hunters, the subtitle “Dress Code” doesn’t seem too far-fetched. Guerlain wants to state that if Habit Rouge is for gentlemen, this new scent is designed for those men for whom dressing with style is de rigueur.
Habit Rouge Dress Code does make a statement indeed. Habit Rouge was already an unusual men’s scent when it debuted in 1965, combining feminine fresh rose with masculine leather. It took years for it to become popular, and then only mainly in France. Dress Code retains the signature rose-leather accord of the original, at once aesthetic and tough, but turns it even more flamboyant by incorporating two modern trends in men’s perfumery that seem to correspond well with the Habit Rouge scheme: the gourmand trend (praline and chocolate), and the super-woody trend (powerful woody and leathery aroma chemicals). It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Dress Code is Habit Rouge with a bit of L’Homme Idéal mixed in, and that this pairing brings unexpected thrills to our nostrils.
Upon first spritz, we just know immediately that Dress Code is an offshoot of Habit Rouge. It seems that whenever the cool-rosy insect repellent scent of citronellol appears concurrently with the plasticky leather note of styrene, all we can think of is Habit Rouge. The only Habit Rouge versions that veered away from the original concept were L’Extrait, which felt like only a drop of Habit Rouge in an ocean of patchouli and dry woody aroma chemicals, and Sport, which was a completely different fragrance but sold under the Habit Rouge name.
On the other hand, Dress Code is Habit Rouge without the cologne opening. Gone are the lime, bitter orange and lavender, and instead the leather is significantly reinforced to appear right from the start, assertive and sexy, much in line with how a modern masculine smells. Like in L’Homme Idéal, this leather note is piercingly sharp, radiant, and somewhat acid, and it makes Habit Rouge’s citronellol and neroli beam and glisten like a glitter ball. To round it out, we get notes of chocolate and praline. These gourmand notes, which these days are all the rage chez Guerlain, are cleverly balanced and never too sweet, coming in and out of focus as the fragrance develops. There’s a jasmine note too, which adds a rich sense of luxury and density. With the praline still present, the base recaptures a bit of the spicy and ashy-woody profile of Habit Rouge L’Extrait, with ginger, coriander and nutmeg mixed with cigar-box cedarwood, patchouli, vetiver, and amber. We also recognize L’Homme Idéal’s addictive leather-amaretto-wood drydown in this scent, but with a new shade of rose. Above all, though, this is Habit Rouge, dressed in hot leather and praline, and we can only think Jean-Paul Guerlain must feel proud about this homage to his work.
A highly unique and contemporary addition to the Habit Rouge line, Dress Code will likely be loved by those who are already fans of Habit Rouge, but wouldn’t mind it with an extra dash of debonair for those special dressed-up occasions.
Dress Code comes in Robert Granai’s classic Eau de Toilette bottle, sometimes referred to as the Habit Rouge bottle, but with a beautifully redesigned label and box. Inspired by a characteristic pattern of French floor tiles, the look evokes a once-fashionable men’s handkerchief in blood red, pink, black and grey colours, harking back to the sixties when Habit Rouge was born. Read more about Habit Rouge
Sylvaine Delacourte would have liked a woman as Guerlain's perfumer
In a recent interview, Sylvaine Delacourte recounts how she made an impression on Jean-Paul Guerlain in the early 1990s, when she was a makeup artist, and then became Guerlain's first and only "director of perfume evaluation and development". She tells us about the way she later met external perfumers, among them Thierry Wasser, and that she's now the central figure who links the marketing team and Thierry Wasser.
Sylvaine Delacourte states that she was responsible for the hiring of Thierry Wasser. She would have liked a woman as Guerlain's perfumer, but the CEO of LVMH, Laurent Boillot, asked her to name only men. She proposed a few she knew, and eventually, in 2008, Wasser was chosen.
She also reveals that for decades the Guerlinade term was forgotten within Guerlain's own ranks. Many professionals outside the company still used it to describe a perfume that smelled "very Guerlain", but she couldn't find anything about it in the Guerlain annals. Therefore, she decided to do some research to find a precise definition of the Guerlinade, and to reintroduce the word in Guerlain's vocabulary and ad material.
Finally she tells us why she created her own blog, www.espritdeparfum.com. It was in order to give people a more varied and fact-based insight into the world of perfumery. She wanted to counteract the general scepticism and conservatism of the perfume blogosphere, which in her view is too critical when Guerlain explores new approaches or adopts new trends. Read the interview (in French)
Myrrhe & Délires discontinued
Guerlain confirms that Myrrhe & Délires from the L'Art & la Matière line has been discontinued. It will only be sold while stocks last in boutiques.
Guerlain wins prize for re-created vintages
Guerlain has received Olfactorama's Prix du Focus, awarded to projects that keep the passion for perfumery alive. The project in question is Thierry Wasser and Frédéric Sacone's reconstruction of fifty historic Guerlain perfumes by all four generations of perfumers from the Guerlain family, from Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain's Pois de Senteur (1840) to Jean-Paul Guerlain's Parure (1975).
The re-created scents, to be discovered at Maison Guerlain's monthly perfume workshop "Il était une fois Guerlain”, give us invaluable new insight into Guerlain's olfactive patrimony. Read more about the re-created vintages
Vintage Guerlain galore: fifty historic perfumes
Thierry Wasser and his assistant perfumer Frédéric Sacone seem unstoppable in their efforts to resurrect the vintage catalogue of Guerlain. The project was started last year with a set of twenty-five re-created scents, but Sylvaine Delacourte now reveals that the final list comprises an astonishing number of fifty historic Guerlain perfumes by all four generations of perfumers from the Guerlain family:
Pois de Senteur 1840, Pao Rosa 1877, Parfum Impérial Russe 1880, Jadis 1883, Iris Blanc 1889, Excellence 1890, Belle France 1892, Cyprisine 1894, Jardin de Mon Curé 1895, À Travers Champs 1898, Tsao-Ko 1898, Dix Pétales de Roses 1899, Plagia 1900, Voilà Pourquoi J'Aimais Rosine 1900, Fleur Qui Meurt 1901, Voilette de Madame 1904, Mouchoir de Monsieur 1904, Parfum des Champs-Elysées 1904, Aï Loé 1905, Après l’ondée 1906, Sillage 1907, Rue de la Paix 1908, Muguet 1908, Chypre de Paris 1909, Quand Vient l'Été 1910, Kadine 1911, Pour Troubler 1911, Fôl Arôme 1912, Vague Souvenir 1912, Mi-Mai 1914, Jasmiralda 1917, Bouquet de Faunes 1922, Candide Effluve 1922, Jasmin 1924, Guerlinade 1924, Djedi 1926, Guerlilas 1930, Sous le Vent 1933, Guerlarose 1934, Cuir de Russie 1935, Véga 1936, Coque d'Or 1937, Cachet Jaune 1937, Kriss 1942, Fleur de Feu 1948, Atuana 1952, Chypre 53 1953, Ode 1955, Chant d’Arômes 1962, Parure 1975.
Interestingly, the list includes rare perfumes by Aimé Guerlain’s brother Gabriel (the perfume Excellence), Jacques Guerlain’s brother Pierre (Rue de la Paix) and Jean-Paul Guerlain’s father Jean-Jacques (Guerlilas and Guerlarose).
The set can be discovered at Maison Guerlain's monthly perfume workshops. In addition to the fifty fragrances, Thierry Wasser has re-created the vintage versions of Jicky, Mitsouko and Shalimar, to be found at L’Osmothèque in Paris.
Over the coming weeks, find fragrance reviews by Monsieur Guerlain. Read more (in French)
Pierre Guerlain's only perfume
Pierre Guerlain (1872-1961) was the manager of Guerlain, while his younger brother Jacques created perfumes. This was at variance with Guerlain tradition which prescribed that the oldest son inherited the title as perfumer, while the younger one had the managing role. We can only speculate that Pierre Guerlain simply didn’t posses the talent to be the nose.
However, in an interview from 1985, Jacques Guerlain's son Jean-Jacques reveals that Pierre Guerlain composed one Guerlain perfume, namely Rue de la Paix (1908). Listen to the interview (in French)
Thierry Wasser continues to re-create vintage Guerlains
When last year Thierry Wasser started his pioneering project of resurrecting old Guerlain perfumes, he promised to keep on with still more formulas from the vast Guerlain catalogue. Now, four more Jacques Guerlain fragrances join the selection, then counting thirty-six scents in total, namely Kadine (1911), Pour Troubler (1911), Vague Souvenir (1912), and Chypre 53 (1953).
Thierry Wasser's reconstruction of the Guerlain patrimony has been nominated for Olfactorama's Prix du Focus 2015, which awards projects that keep the passion for perfumery alive. Over the coming days, Monsieur Guerlain will be reviewing the new additions. The entire set of re-created vintages can be explored at Maison Guerlain's monthly atelier called "Il était une fois Guerlain". Read more about the re-created historic Guerlains
Luca Turin: Guerlain cannot sink any lower
In an unforgiving review of Guerlain's wedding fragrance, Le Bouquet de la Mariée, perfume critic Luca Turin concludes that the brand cannot sink any lower. "If Angel [Mugler, 1992] was a hilarious saucy joke, this is the same tired old chestnut told 23 years later by Angel’s loutish, embarrassing cousin," he says.
It's true that since the introduction of La Petite Robe Noire in 2009, Guerlain has overall turned pinker and sweeter, with notes of marshmallow, sugared almonds, caramel and toffee. The latest entry, Mon Exclusif, is perhaps Guerlain's most sugary fragrance to date. Also, the brand has declared that an even sweeter version of La Petite Robe Noire will be released on the North American market in 2016. Read Luca Turin's review of Le Bouquet de la Mariée
Guerlain unveils its DNA: Iris Blanc, Quand Vient l'Été and Fol Arôme
When last year Thierry Wasser announced that he and assistant perfumer Frédéric Sacone had been re-creating a portion of historic Guerlain perfumes, he also said that still more fragrances would be added to the selection.
The perfumers now present Aimé Guerlain’s Iris Blanc (1889), and Jacques Guerlain’s two Belle Époque perfumes Quand Vient l’Été (1910) and Fol Arôme (1912).
The re-created vintages are made with the exact same ingredients as when they saw the light for the first time, and can be discovered at Maison Guerlain's Vintage atelier events. Maison Guerlain proposes the following Vintage atelier dates: May 31, June 7 and June 14. The atelier starts at 3 PM and takes two and a half hours. Guests will be guided through each perfume and receive a small present before leaving. Attending an atelier costs 130 €. Read more about the re-created historic Guerlains
Six new Guerlains in 1st semester
Guerlain creates on average ten new fragrances per year. With six of the 2015 entries released already, Guerlain must be said to have completed its duties for the 1st semester: La Petite Robe Noire Eau Fraîche, Le Bouquet de la Mariée / Le Plus Beau Jour de Ma Vie, Aqua Allegoria Teazzurra, L'Homme Idéal Cologne, Shalimar Cologne, and Mon Exclusif. Sylvaine Delacourte explains that the demand for new fragrances is too high for one perfumer to accomplish, and that Thierry Wasser is therefore assisted by perfumers Frédéric Sacone and Delphine Jelk. Complete list of Guerlain fragrances with a known creation date since 1828
Habit Rouge Dress Code
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Habit Rouge, Thierry Wasser has created a new version, named Habit Rouge Dress Code. "I've made something very cute," he says to perfume blogger Persolaise. Guerlain confirms that Habit Rouge Dress Code is a whole new fragrance and will be released right after the summer holidays.
If we believed that the caramel and cotton candy wave in perfumery, set in motion by Thierry Mugler's Angel (1992), was calming down, we need to think again. This spring, Guerlain has launched two exclusive, peach-coloured juices, each made of some of the sweetest materials that fragrance chemistry can offer. The first was the bridal fragrance, named Le Plus Beau Jour de Ma Vie (“the most beautiful day of my life”), with orange blossom and sugared almonds.
Now comes a blend of lavender, sugared almonds and toffee, bearing no other name than “Mon Exclusif”. Guerlain encourages customers to have the bottle, a clear spray version of the elegant Coque d’Or bottle, engraved with a name of their own choice.
The scent is described as an oriental fougère, with lavender, mandarin, bergamot, sugared almond, sunny floral notes, toffee, sandalwood, orris and white musk. In the description, Guerlain highlights three ingredients: the lavender that smells fresh and slightly fruity, the sandalwood which comes from Southeast Asia and has a particularly soft and long-lasting fragrance, and the toffee accord that "surprises the taste buds" with coumarin, vanilla and a note of salted butter.
The Guerlain catalogue touts 1889's fougère Jicky, as the world’s first "true perfume", characterized by depth, abstraction and tenacity. Its genius was to combine lavender and other Provençal herbs from Eau de Cologne Impériale with novel aroma chemicals whose odour was sweet and long-lasting, like coumarin and vanillin. Since then, lavender has mainly been used is men’s scents, although it was a frequent top note in Jacques Guerlain’s works. There also was a lovely lavender fragrance in the original Aqua Allegoria collection, Lavande Velours (which Jean-Paul Guerlain reportedly made for his dog).
Maybe Guerlain thought it was time to revive the lavender note and do a fougère that would appeal to today’s women. Much has happened in fragrance chemistry since vanillin and coumarin were discovered. Now, perfumery can make you smell like caramel, praline, chocolate, licorice, fruit, and other sweet, edible things.
Mon Exclusif is easily Guerlain's most gourmand fragrance to date (or maybe the second-most after Gourmand Coquin), making Spiritueuse Double Vanille and Tonka Impériale appear dry in comparison. Guerlain has had a sweet thing going on at least since Jicky, but always paired with a certain darkness. When Thierry Wasser explained the formula of La Petite Robe Noire, he was proud to announce that its sweetness derives from an aroma chemical that has a very dark, licorice-like facet, a so-called maple lactone, while the ethyl maltol known from Angel is all caramel and cotton candy. Now, we're beginning to speculate that Guerlain couldn't help eyeing what’s topping the feminine bestseller lists, thinking that caramel isn't such a bad thing after all (yes, we’re looking at you, La Vie Est Belle).
The best part of Mon Exclusif is definitely the start, a beautiful lavender note mixed with the addictive amaretto accord from L’Homme Idéal. If there’s a link to Jicky in Mon Exclusif it’s here, crunchy almond contrasted with the freshness of lavender and the suaveness of tonka bean. If only this part would last longer.
After that it gets sweeter and sweeter: buttery, high-calorie toffee combined with sandalwood. It’s really remarkable how Guerlain was able to track down a molecule that smells like toffee, but it literally does. The sandalwood is of the milky, non-burning sort that we found in the Russian exclusive Black Swan. We also detect the classic floral bouquet of Guerlain, jasmine, rose and ylang-ylang. The rose adds a touch of freshness, while the ylang-ylang pulls back into creamy sweetness. Mon Exclusif is not a floral fragrance, though, but remains a woody gourmand.
Despite Mon Exclusif’s girly caramel and La Vie Est Belle colour scheme, the stately soul of Guerlain is not completely absent. Perhaps the assembly of lavender, coumarin, vanilla and sandalwood represents enough of the Jicky DNA to make us melt. The revival of the historic bow tie bottle surely helps to shape our associations too.
The drydown is less ambery than we might expect from a gourmand formula. The toffee accord fades away after a couple of hours, leaving space for the pleasant scent of sandalwood which is rendered cottony and slightly ashy by patchouli, orris and white musk. Lovers of classic Guerlain will maybe find the exit a bit too nondescript, just woody notes mixed with white icing sugar.
Some might say that we’ve had our fair share of caramel and almond from Guerlain in recent years, but Mon Exclusif proves that there’s always room for more. Given what’s hitting the fragrance market these days, this “gourmand Jicky” fragrance might be a success, if only customers will know how to ask for a nameless perfume.
Thierry Wasser's re-created vintage Guerlains nominated for award
Thierry Wasser and Frédéric Sacone have re-created a large number of historic Guerlain perfumes for Maison Guerlain's Vintage atelier events, using the exact same ingredients as when they first appeared. The selection covers 75 years of Guerlain history, from Pao Rosa in 1877 to Atuana in 1952.
This noteworthy project has now been nominated for Olfactorama's Prix du Focus 2015, which awards projects that keep the passion for perfumery alive.
Olfactorama is an independent group of French perfume bloggers and fragrance aficionados, each year giving out different awards related to perfumes. Last year, Mitsouko won the Prix du Patrimoine for best reformulation. Read more about the re-created historic Guerlains
The 11th Muguet edition
The French sometimes call May Day "La fête du muguet", since it's a long-standing tradition in France to offer sprigs of lily of the valley to family members and lovers on this day. Guerlain celebrates it with its Muguet fragrance, presented in a new collectible bottle each year.
For the first time since 1999, the 11th edition of Muguet is presented in the original, so-called flowered bottle, reinvented for the occasion as a white porcelain bottle. As porcelain containers don't close as tightly as ones made of glass, the liquid comes in a separate glass bottle with a screw cap, similar to the L'Art & la Matière bottle. In the box, we also find a funnel to transfer the liquid to the porcelain bottle.
The white, matte porcelain and the green tulle ribbon fit beautifully the lily of the valley theme of romance and spring, although maybe the look of the bottle vaguely has an unfortunate resemblance to a mustard jar.
The scent of Muguet has remained unchanged since 1998 when it was composed by Jean-Paul Guerlain. Read more about Muguet
In the days of Jacques Guerlain, a fragrance was composed in the Parfum medium, which was regarded as the ideal embodiment of a scent. The EdT was then made by simply adding more alcohol and water to the extract. Nowadays, more often than not a fragrance is designed in the EdP format, less costly than a Parfum, and if eventually a Parfum version is created, it's usually a whole new composition, tweaked to get a deeper and darker feel.
Hence, if you buy a bottle of Habit Rouge Parfum, you will get a completely different scent than with Habit Rouge EdP. Only the Habit Rouge name really links the two.
Guerlain's new wedding scent represents the inverse story. The Parfum and EdP have two different names, but they smell the same, even if the Parfum, called Le Bouquet de la Mariée, is obviously richer and more long-lasting than the EdP (Le Plus Beau Jour de Ma Vie).
The Parfum version doesn't solve the main problem of the scent, though. A good perfume smells good because it combines notes that belong to the opposite end of the sensory spectrum (consider Shalimar's bergamot-vanilla accord as an illustrative example), but in Le Bouquet de la Mariée, everything is high-pitched saccharine nuances of white: white chocolate, orange blossom, incense, and white musk. The effect is as sweet as falling in love, but more lifeless and flat than we imagine a wedding should be. It has a pleasant vanilla drydown, but if you want a perfect orange blossom and vanilla scent, go for L'Heure Bleue.
Le Bouquet de la Mariée is interesting mainly as a collectible item. The 125 ml quadrilobe presentation is gorgeous, and the price (750 €) is less shocking than we're used to from LVMH.
If you can't afford a bespoke perfume, Guerlain gives you the opportunity to at least invent your own perfume name. For the first time ever, Guerlain launches a perfume that bears no name. Perhaps the reason for the namelessness is that Guerlain just couldn't come up with a good name. How the brand will then trademark it is currently unknown, not to mention how to ask for it in shops. "Mon Exclusif", Guerlain simply calls it.
It comes in a reworked spray version of the iconic Coque d’Or bottle, shaped like a bow tie, and inside the box you'll find self-adhesive metallic letters to form the name you want on the bottle. Or, you can have the bottle engraved.
The scent is described as an oriental fougère, with mandarin, bergamot, sugared almond, lavender, sunny floral notes, orris, white musk, sandalwood and toffee. In the description, Guerlain highlights three ingredients: the lavender that smells fresh and slightly fruity, the sandalwood which comes from Southeast Asia and has a particularly soft and long-lasting fragrance, and the toffee accord that "surprises the taste buds" with a salted butter note, coumarin and vanilla. 50 ml EdP, 130 €.
Every year Guerlain introduces around ten new fragrance formulas, resulting in the need to edit the catalogue. "The Guerlain history is made up of almost 800 olfactive creations, but unfortunately it is impossible to keep them all," explains Guerlain's customer service department. The least popular fragrances go first.
In the last few months, the following perfumes have been discontinued:
• The Une Ville, Un Parfum collection
• Shalimar Parfum Initial
• Eau de Shalimar
• L'Instant Magic
• Guerlain Homme EdT
• Habit Rouge Sport
• Idylle Eau Sublime
• Elixir Charnel Boisé Torride
Discontinuation actually isn't such a new thing. In the Jacques Guerlain era, there was no such thing as a marketing department, and almost everything that he created was swiftly offered for sale. Not all offerings were successful back then, hence changes in the number of perfume selections were as common as they are today.
Shalimar Cologne replaces Eau de Shalimar
Guerlain tells us that the production of Eau de Shalimar has been stopped. It coincides with the introduction of Shalimar Cologne, a new, light interpretation by Thierry Wasser.
Eau de Shalimar was presented in 2008 as a reintroduction of Mathilde Laurent's lamented Shalimar Eau Légère Parfumée a.k.a. Shalimar Light from 2003. In the meantime, the scent had undergone a slight reformulation as well as a recolouring — or rather decolouring — of the juice. The reason why Shalimar Light was so delightful was that it gave you the impression of wearing Shalimar, but without the vintage vibe of leather and face powder. Still, despite its name (which eventually was changed to Eau de Shalimar), smelled today it doesn’t exactly have the light fingerprint of Thierry Wasser. The Coca-Cola lime note did wonders, but the heft of Shalimar remained.
The new Shalimar Cologne puts an end to that, using some ideas from the tender Souffle de Parfum: from the airy rose and jasmine combined with ozonic notes, to clean white musk and light chocolate-box vanilla. As a bonus, we get a touch of orris butter softness.
Unlike Parfum Initial and Souffle de Parfum, Shalimar Cologne smells like a real variation on Shalimar, but undeniably immensely lighter and barer. It could turn out to be that “Shalimar for beginners” that Guerlain has sought after for so long.
Guerlain has released the sixth Shalimar flanker: Shalimar Cologne. We didn't see it coming, as Shalimar Souffle de Parfum was launched only a few months ago, Shalimar Parfum Initial had a less than favourable outcome, and Thierry Wasser openly talks about the general fatigue of making flankers. Moreover, we already have Eau de Shalimar, formerly Shalimar Light, Guerlain's longest-living flanker. Eau de Shalimar is being phased out in favour of Shalimar Cologne, though.
We assume that marketing people have identified a market segment that wasn’t covered by the existing selection. They seem to insist that customers who don’t like Shalimar must absolutely buy a bottle of perfume with Shalimar written on it, and therefore keep designing new “Shalimar” versions.
Note that the new Shalimar Cologne has no connection to classic Shalimar Eau de Cologne. The latter was introduced in 1937 as a low-cost option, made by simply adding more alcohol and water to the extract. Like all the old feminine EdC, it disappeared from shelves years ago, however it is still produced for the US market. Nowadays, “cologne” doesn’t reflect the technical term "eau de cologne", but is used to name a fresh flanker, usually an EdT. Guerlain’s latest example of this is L’Homme Idéal Cologne, released only a short while ago.
Shalimar Cologne is a whole new composition, described as having a “resolutely modern signature", with bergamot, lemon, lime and grapefruit up top, floral notes of freesia, rose and jasmine, and a “purified" base of vanilla, orris and white musk. Among these notes, grapefruit and freesia are completely new in the Shalimar universe.
With its characteristic sulfurous bitterness, the grapefruit note is difficult to manage in a perfume, often too dominant and discordant with the rest of the composition. When worked properly, however, it can provide a marvellous sense of clarity and elegance, like in Pamplelune, in Myrrhe & Délires, or in L’Homme Idéal Cologne, for that matter. But frankly, the idea of Shalimar with grapefruit is just wrong.
Luckily, in Shalimar Cologne, the grapefruit is completely imperceptible. Maybe it serves to simply reinforce the citrus sparkle effect up top. Which is certainly there: the fragrance starts with a crystal clear zing of yellow lemon. Many people think that Shalimar smells like lemon pie, but actually the leather notes in classic Shalimar have less to do with food than with fence paint and wood smoke, which is basically why Shalimar is so famous. This Shalimar Cologne, on the other hand, has absolutely no leather and does indeed smell like lemon pie, at least for the first fifteen minutes.
The reason why Shalimar Light was so delightful was that it gave you the impression of wearing Shalimar, but without the vintage vibe of leather and face powder. Still, despite its name (which eventually was changed to Eau de Shalimar), smelled today it doesn’t exactly have the light fingerprint of Thierry Wasser. The Coca-Cola lime note did wonders, but the heft of Shalimar remained.
Shalimar Cologne puts an end to that, using some ideas from the tender Souffle de Parfum: from the airy rose and jasmine combined with ozonic notes, to clean white musk and light chocolate-box vanilla. As a bonus, we get a touch of orris butter softness but would never have guessed freesia was there too, although it may add to the impression of floral freshness.
Unlike Parfum Initial and Souffle de Parfum, Shalimar Cologne smells like a real variation on Shalimar, but undeniably immensely lighter and barer, bordering on the point of triviality. It could turn out to be that “Shalimar for beginners” that Guerlain has sought after for so long. Read more about Shalimar and its flankers
A sweeter version of La Petite Robe Noire to get North America's attention
Guerlain has a challenge to increase brand awareness in North America, says William Lescure, president of Guerlain Canada. At a Toronto film festival event, young, well-heeled guests had never heard of the brand, he recalled. So Guerlain is pushing ahead with a marketing plan to build brand awareness.
The plan includes a new version of La Petite Robe Noire for the North American market, to be launched next year.
La Petite Robe Noire is already an international hit, with three bottles sold every minute in the world. However, explains Lescure, the scent is not sweet enough for North American tastes, and therefore Guerlain is going ahead with a whole new rendition of the scent targeted at this specific market. “When you smell it, you smell North America,” he says. "It is a completely new fragrance," points out Guerlain's Sylvaine Delacourte, "with a new orchestration, nothing to do with the others. The other formulations are too dark for the North American market, with licorice, black tea, vanilla — North Americans like things more luminous, easier. They like scent to be cleaner, fruitier and less dark."
William Lescure notes that although Guerlain is a small cog in the mighty gilded wheel of luxury giant LVMH, he's happy that each brand works independently to ensure brand identity, and that LVMH, according to chairman Bernard Arnault, is merely "a marketing company". "If we were not independent, you can imagine that this launch should have been in another house like Dior, Givenchy or Kenzo," Lescure says. Read article in Montreal Gazette
New flanker: Shalimar Cologne
It may be difficult to see a pressing need for it, but Guerlain has just released the sixth Shalimar flanker: Shalimar Cologne. The logic isn’t clear to us, as Thierry Wasser openly talks about the sickness of making flankers, Shalimar Parfum Initial has been discontinued, Shalimar Souffle de Parfum was launched only a few months ago, and Eau de Shalimar has been around for years (counting as Guerlain's oldest perfume flanker still in production). We assume that the marketing department has identified a market segment that wasn’t covered by the existing selection. Rumour has it, though, that Eau de Shalimar is going to be phased out in favour of Shalimar Cologne.
Note that the new Shalimar Cologne has no connection to classic Shalimar Eau de Cologne. The latter was introduced in 1937 as a diluted, low-cost alternative to the Parfum and EdT. Like all the old feminine EdC, it disappeared from shelves years ago, however it’s still produced for the US market. Nowadays, “cologne” doesn’t reflect the technical term Eau de Cologne, but is used to name a fresh flanker, usually an EdT. Guerlain’s latest example of this was L’Homme Idéal Cologne, released only a short while ago.
Shalimar Cologne is a whole new composition, described as having a “resolutely modern signature", with bergamot, lemon, lime and grapefruit up top, floral notes of freesia, rose and jasmine, and a “purified" base of vanilla, orris and white musk. Among these notes, grapefruit and freesia are completely new in the Shalimar universe.
L'Homme Idéal Cologne — the ad
The ad campaign for L'Homme Idéal Cologne copies last year's joke about the perfect man. This time it has a wedding theme, which it shares with Guerlain's new bridal perfume, Le Bouquet de la Mariée. The video ad features scenes from the romantic comedy film "The Bachelor", in which Chris O'Donnell finds hundreds of women dressed as brides waiting for him. Inspired by the film, the printed ad shows a groom being chased by a swarm of brides (as well as a couple of grooms!) — all of them actually Guerlain employees. Read more about L'Homme Idéal Cologne
If only summer lasted longer
To keep up consumers' attention on today's hectic and inundated fragrance market, brands release a steady stream of flankers. Less than a year after L'Homme Idéal, Thierry Wasser presents the fresh version, titled L'Homme Idéal Cologne. Nowadays, "cologne" doesn't reflect the technical term Eau de Cologne, but is used to name a fresh flanker, usually an EdT.
A fragrance should always be marketed with a "new and original accord" to stimulate curiosity, and for L'Homme Idéal Cologne, Guerlain describes it as a marriage between Indian vetiver and almond, the latter being the signature note of L'Homme Idéal. Other than that, the Cologne version features grapefruit, orange, neroli and white musk.
The metamorphosis of L’Homme Idéal into a Cologne seems to copy how La Petite Robe Noire was made into an Eau Fraîche: keep the almond praline but thin it with citrus sorbet freshness, remove the “black” molecules, and soften it with white musk. You could also phrase it like this: prolong the freshness, as if it were drinkable, and infuse it with a gourmand touch that triggers your brain’s reward system into wanting more of the stuff. If L’Homme Idéal was an Amaretto Sour, then L’Homme Idéal Cologne adds Campari and Tang orange drink mix to the cocktail.
I really don’t like grapefruit in perfumes. In my opinion, its cold, sulfurous bitterness is unbecoming in almost any composition, so discordant with the pleasant smell that a fragrance ought to be. Maybe the reason for my dislike is that it has been used mainly as a citrus variant in fresh men’s scents, trying to disguise an otherwise dull woody accord. In Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune the grapefruit note was wonderful, though, because it was combined with a pink fruity-floral accord.
L’Homme Idéal Cologne has lots of grapefruit. It’s almost a grapefruit cologne, really. And for the first time since Pamplelune, I like it. This grapefruit is zesty and pulpy, its bitterness tempered by the sugar of rose and praline, its coldness contrasted with the heat of pink pepper. The first twenty minutes of the fragrance give me fizzy childhood memories of Tang orange drink mix dissolved into water.
After that, I see why Guerlain wants to highlight the accord of almond and vetiver: it’s obviously fresher and greener than the mixture of almond and black wood in L’Homme Idéal, but it tickles the nostrils in the same delightful way. Thank God for Jicky! Maybe Guerlain never would have discovered the wonders of almond without it. In L’Homme Idéal, the vetiver could sometimes disturb the rounded praline effect, but in this Cologne version, it makes total sense, with the same golden, ashy effect as in Jean-Paul Guerlain’s Vetiver.
Speaking of Vetiver, L’Homme Idéal Cologne has that very masculine, earthy background of tobacco and warm spices. Maybe it’s cinnamon? In any case, I can’t stop sniffing my arm. We just wish it were as long-lasting as Vetiver. Or as Pamplelune, which was phenomenally tenacious for a citrus scent. At the end, L'Homme Idéal Cologne fades into the semisweet, pale softness of white musk with a trace of grapefruit and wood.
As for the visual quality, the bottle’s colour inversion into white with its turquoise detail looks just dashing. It makes you want to put on a white shirt and go to the French Riviera. Read more about L'Homme Idéal
L'Homme Idéal Cologne
L'Homme Idéal Cologne is Thierry Wasser's fresh flanker to L'Homme Idéal from last year, highlighting a combination of almond and vetiver. Notes listed are grapefruit, orange, bergamot, fresh almond, neroli, vetiver and white musk. Nowadays, "cologne" doesn't reflect the technical term Eau de Cologne, but is used to name a fresh flanker, and mostly the concentration is EdT. L'Homme Idéal Cologne comes in a white version of the handsome bottle which originally was presented as all black, with a summery turquoise twist of the colour scheme. The launch will be followed by a new ad featuring a groom being chased by a swarm of brides (all of them actually Guerlain employees!). 50 ml EdT, 62 €.
FiFi Awards 2015
At this year's FiFi Awards, Guerlain has received the following prizes:
Le Prix Public Sélectif for best feminine perfume: La Petite Robe Noire Couture
Le Prix Public Sélectif for best masculine perfume: L'Homme Idéal
Le Prix Professionnel for best ad campaign for a masculine perfume: L'Homme Idéal
See the other prizes
The 2015 edition of Guerlain's yearly Muguet is a celebration of history, as it comes in a white porcelain remake of the original bottle, the so-called flowered bottle. The flowered bottle was used for Jacques Guerlain's historic Muguet (1908). However, the fragrance sold today is a different formula by Jean-Paul Guerlain, launched for the first time in 1998. Back then, it was sold in an exact replica of the original bottle. The following years saw different collectible bottles for Muguet.
As usual, Muguet 2015 is an EdT. 75 ml, 430 €. Last year's version was a 125 ml bee bottle in a porcelain holder, priced at 400 €. Read more about the Muguet bottles
Tokyo Light and La Petite Robe Noire Light
This year's two Aqua Allegoria fragrances are Teazzurra and, as a bonus, the airport release Flora Rosa. Teazzurra is worked like a "Tokyo Light", with green tea, jasmine, violet and orange blossom.
Flora Rosa is a reissue from last year and the year before, now with a new label and box design. This must imply that it has been selling very well the previous years, and we understand why: it smells much like a light and stripped-down version of the La Petite Robe Noire universe, a lovely blend of bergamot, red berries, rose and white musk. Read more about Aqua Allegoria
Guerlain's war perfume added to re-created vintages
Guerlain has recently added Jacques Guerlain’s rare 1942 perfume Kriss to the selection of vintages that can be discovered at Maison Guerlain's monthly vintage atelier events. For these re-created historic perfumes, Thierry Wasser has used the exact same ingredients as when they saw the light for the first time. The next vintage ateliers are scheduled for March 22 and April 12 2015.
The reason Kriss is so rare is that it existed only for a very brief period. The perfume had some controversy attached to it, as it has been suggested that it was created for the Nazis and named after a stabbing weapon called "kris", a dagger with a wavy blade originating from Southeast Asia. This kind of dagger, in a modified form which incorporated several examples of Nazi symbolism, was a standard accessory issued to all members of the greatly-feared SS. European colonists often used the spelling "kriss" for this weapon. Spelled with “ss", we get some very sinister and malevolent associations, considering the time in which this perfume debuted. According to research by Will Inrig from the Osmothèque, unfounded rumours spread of Jacques Guerlain being a collaborationist as the war drew to a close, and Kriss was quickly withdrawn. Guerlain explains that its short lifespan may also be due to the scarcity of raw materials during the war. The perfume was relaunched in 1945 under the new name Dawamesk, but the fragrance formula remained unchanged. Read review
Discontinuation of Elixir Charnel Boisé Torride
Guerlain tells us that Elixir Charnel Boisé Torride will be discontinued in June 2015.
Following the success of the L'Art & la Matière series, in 2008 Guerlain presented Les Elixirs Charnels, an EdP collection inspired by the principal olfactive families: Oriental Brûlant, Chypre Fatal and Gourmand Coquin. Later came Boisé Torride (2009) and Floral Romantique (2011). Emphasizing fruity-floral and gourmand notes, this collection offers sweet olfactory pleasures, "like invitations to feminine sensuousness," as Guerlain puts it. In 2014, the naming premise was broken with a new addition called French Kiss, worked around a lipstick note to highlight the 20th anniversary of the KissKiss lipsticks. Read more about French Kiss
Petit Guerlain spray
Guerlain launches Petit Guerlain in a 100 ml spray version. Petit Guerlain was originally created in 1994 by Jean-Paul Guerlain as the brand's first fragrance for children, with tender mimosa and some Guerlinade elements. Jean-Paul Guerlain probably felt inspired by the fact that he had just become a grandfather back then. Twenty years later, in 2014, Thierry Wasser composed a new version of Petit Guerlain, still featuring the fresh floral mimosa note but with a sweeter and more enveloping heart of orange blossom, pistachio, acacia honey and white musk. It was available only in an exclusive 250 ml bee bottle edition, but Guerlain now adds a more affordable spray to the selection. Read more about Petit Guerlain
Luca Turin reprimands Guerlain: "Slow down and do better"
Perfume critic Luca Turin isn't exactly known for his politeness. On the contrary, he sees it as his job to point out the sad consequences of the commercialism that defines today's fragrance business. He seems particularly disappointed by Guerlain, a perfume house that he used to hold in very high regard. In his review of Guerlain's latest Aqua Allegoria, he asks Guerlain to focus on quality rather than quantity:
"The ridiculous pace of new releases at Guerlain (14 in 2014 alone) is causing a regression from a romantic conception of perfume to a baroque one: Guerlain used to be, if not the Beethoven, at any rate the Saint-Saëns of fragrances, bringing out one ambitious, weighty composition every few years. Just as importantly, each new release was guaranteed to waft a new idea into our heads, even when the brilliance began to fade from Samsara onwards. I remember visiting Guerlain outlets with trepidation and spending time on the nearest park bench with the smelling strip, trying to divine how each new fragrance worked.
These days, Guerlain fragrances are more like seventeenth century concertos of average caliber, commissioned by the dozen for delivery a month hence. Much like baroque concertos, they are intended to perpetuate a house style, to serve as background music to frivolous conversation as opposed to devoted silence, to develop foot-tapping tunes in an unambitious way, and generally to be pleasantly unobtrusive.
As any perfumer would when faced with frenetic deadlines, house perfumer Thierry Wasser falls back on combinatorial tricks of the trade that make a small number of ideas stretch out longer. In this particular instance, the citrus end of a Shalimar structure is magnified at the expense of the oriental body, and a familiar powdery tea base is added to reassure everyone that this fragrance will not make great demands on one’s intellect. It is a credit to Wasser’s skill that the thing manages to shimmer pleasantly for a good half-hour, and is head and shoulders above the last few — uniformly awful — Aqua Allegorias. But Guerlain surely ought to slow down and do better." Read more perfume reviews by Luca Turin
White chocolate and lace
Guerlain has decided to make life sweeter for newlyweds with a perfume dedicated to the bride. It's just what France needs; the country has one of the lowest marriage rates and highest number of divorces in Europe. However, named Le Plus Beau Jour de ma Vie ("the most beautiful day of my life"), the fragrance almost seems to reflect an awareness that marital joy invariably goes downhill from there. For more affluent couples, the fragrance also comes in a deluxe Parfum edition, called Le Bouquet de la Mariée.
Guerlain is all about romance and sensuality anyway, but now we have one more excuse for buying a new perfume. So, what should a bride smell like? Some would suggest a huge white-flower bouquet of jasmine, tuberose and rose. But maybe not surprisingly, to Guerlain a bride is a tender creature with a sweet tooth. This wedding perfume belongs to the feminine universe of Les Elixirs Charnels.
Up top, there's angelica, the bitter-sweet herb that made Angélique Noire difficult to digest for some. Here, it's only a touch, and for a while, Le Plus Beau Jour de ma Vie smells like a very light version of Angélique Noire. However, this is not "noir", but rosy pastel. We get delicate orange blossom, rose, and a gourmand note that Guerlain refers to, quite precisely, as sugared almonds, in combination yielding that "marshmallow" accord so typical of the brand. Sugared almonds are often used at weddings, with the bitter almonds and sugar coating symbolizing life's bitter moments and the sweetness of love.
There's a traditional French sweet called "calisson", a speciality of Aix-en-Provence, which consists of candied oranges, ground almonds, and a thin layer of royal icing, and often scented with orange blossom. Le Plus Beau Jour de ma Vie smells much like such a calisson. It's a charming recapitulation of familiar themes, as if Floral Romantique, Gourmand Coquin and Mademoiselle Guerlain were mixed together, but too light, vague and fleeting to really catch your interest. The sugared almond note grows gradually sweeter for a few hours, similar to the oily white chocolate note in Iris Ganache, until the scent ends in a muffled, cottony dust of white musk, incense and patchouli. Presumably, the lightness is deliberate, and matches the lace-covered ad material.
For a Guerlainophile, the launch is perhaps mainly interesting for the gorgeous Parfum presentation, a 125 ml quadrilobe bottle decorated with an opulent wreath of faux white flowers. And, the price, 750 €, is acceptable, given what Guerlain sometimes comes up with these days — it's actually a better buy than the 60 ml EdP version, housed in the standard Prestige atomizer and priced at 200 €. But please, Guerlain, don't make a habit of using lower case letters on your beautiful bottles; it somehow doesn't fit Being Guerlain.
La Petite Robe Noire Eau Fraîche has been pre-released in Russia and in Parisian Guerlain boutiques. The fragrance, subtitled Ma Robe Pétales, is the fourth member of the La Petite Robe Noire family. It’s no big surprise that Guerlain would produce a fresh version, as most perfume brands have done so with their bestsellers to solicit new customers. Guerlain’s own portfolio of such variants includes Shalimar Light, Shalimar Souffle de Parfum, Un Air de Samsara, Insolence Eau Glacée, Habit Rouge EdT Légère and L’Eau, Guerlain Homme L’Eau and L’Eau Boisée, as well as several citrusy versions of L’Instant for both her and him.
La Petite Robe Noire owes its success to a delectable composition of cherry, raspberry, rose, almond and burnt sugar, which seems difficult to imagine being recast into a fresh form. The Couture version from last year maybe paved the way, with a chypre-like base of vetiver, moss and patchouli, but the press material tells us that this Robe Pétales must be something of its own: a green floral fragrance with mandarin, green notes, freesia, pistachio and patchouli.
Freshness is no new thing chez Guerlain. In fact, the Guerlain history is based on citrus and herbs, and the Guerlinade would be nothing without it. However, modern freshness is not about fragile Provençal herbs, but about mysterious molecules with nuclear effect and tenacity. Upon first spritz, we know that Ma Robe Pétales, if anything, is a reworking of Couture, and not the EdP. It’s a chypre, sort of. Read full review
Jacques Guerlain's first perfume added to re-created vintages
Thierry Wasser has recently added Le Jardin de Mon Curé to the selection of vintage Guerlain perfumes that can be discovered at Maison Guerlain's monthly vintage atelier events.
Le Jardin de Mon Curé is generally regarded as Jacques Guerlain's first perfume, although the Guerlain annals suggest that he wrote his very first perfume formula, called Ambre, at the age of sixteen. For the re-created historic perfumes, Thierry Wasser has used the exact same ingredients as when they saw the light for the first time. The price for attending an atelier is 130 €, and you need to book in advance. Read more
Tea as in Tokyo
Guerlain's new Aqua Allegoria scent, Teazzurra, is available in certain airport shops already.
Since its conception in 1999, the Aqua Allegoria line has seen some of Guerlain's most peculiar names, slightly Latinized to make us think of garden botany, and often ending on an "a" to rhyme with "aqua" and "allegoria" — Nerolia, Gentiana, Mentafollia, Magnifica, Nymphea, etc. However, we're able to decipher that Teazzurra must have something to do with tea. The name is a contraction of "tea" and the Italian word "azzurra", which means azure. "Revive yourself with a green tea as the azure waters lap gently in the breeze," says Guerlain.
Guerlain doesn't really have a tradition for tea-based fragrances. Citrus, herbs and wood, yes, but not tea. There's a pale, colourless aura about tea that doesn't seem to fit the brand (although Maison Guerlain now carries a selection of teas). In fact, apart from Herba Fresca, Cherry Blossom and Guerlain Homme, only Tokyo from the Une Ville, Un Parfum collection (which Guerlain says is about to be discontinued) comes to mind. Tokyo, a green floral fragrance created by Annick Ménardo, was meant to evoke the image of a Japanese garden, all tender freshness and zen, and with its delicate scent of green tea leaves, bergamot, jasmine, violet and cypress, it succeeded beautifully. It had the tone of a pastel, but was anything but pale and colourless.
If you missed out on Tokyo (or found it too pricey), you can look forward to Teazzurra, because the two smell quite the same. Let's say that Teazzurra smells like an Aqua version of Tokyo, lighter and less long-lasting (Tokyo was extraordinarily tenacious), more transparent without the coniferous woody depth and the slightly vanillic drydown, and more citrusy up top. The extra dose of bergamot freshness works great with the green tea note, but compared to Tokyo, which managed to be at once simple and unique, Teazzurra feels somehow naked, and certainly not as interesting.
This year, Guerlain has modified the Aqua Allegoria box design. It actually never looked more elegant.
Guerlain tells us that since December 2014, the following fragrances have been discontinued: L'Instant Magic EdP, Habit Rouge Sport, Guerlain Homme EdT, and Pâte de Velours (aftershave balm).
Following the rumours that L'Instant Magic was to be discontinued, this scent has now been completely removed from the Guerlain catalogue. The Parfum version had already ceased production. We hope that the deletion of Habit Rouge Sport makes room for another interesting Habit Rouge creation to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jean-Paul Guerlain's classic men's scent. As Guerlain Homme EdT has retired, it leaves the more successful L'Eau Boisée as the fresher companion to the EdP. Pâte de Velours, an aftershave balm scented with Arsène Lupin Voyou, was only granted one year on the shelves. We guess that it wasn't that popular, although it smelled great. Read more about discontinuations
Aqua Allegoria Teazzurra
This year's Aqua Allegoria scents will be Teazzurra and Flora Rosa. While Flora Rosa repeats the travel retail exclusive of both 2013 and 2014, Teazzurra is new in the Aqua Allegoria vocabulary. The name is a contraction of "tea" and the Italian word "azzurra", meaning "azure", and recalls the name of Guerlain's summer 2012 makeup collection, Terra Azzurra. More information to come.
Le Bouquet de la Mariée
France may have the lowest marriage rate in Europe, but Guerlain has always had a flair for romance. This spring, the brand launches an exclusive bridal fragrance, named Le Bouquet de la Mariée ("the bride's bouquet"). It comes in a large quadrilobe bottle adorned with a wreath of faux flowers to emulate a bride's bouquet. The scent is described as a tender floral, with notes of angelica, pink pepper, citrus, sugared almonds, rose, orange blossom, patchouli, vanilla, white musk and incense. 125 ml Parfum, 750 €. A less costly EdP version (200 €) in the 60 ml prestige atomizer will be offered as well, titled Le Plus Beau Jour de ma Vie ("the most beautiful day of my life”). The scent is the same, only the concentration and name differ.
Actually, the Guerlain catalogue already features one bridal accessory, namely L’Éventail de la Mariée ("the bride's fan"), made by Parisian fan manufacturer Duvelleroy. It was at the reopening of Maison Guerlain in 2013 after extensive renovation that Guerlain introduced a range of fashion accessories meant to be perfumed: gloves, scarves and fans.
La Petite Robe Noire Eau Fraîche preview
Guerlain announces that its new Eau Fraîche version of La Petite Robe Noire, called Ma Robe Pétales, will be previewed in February. The scent is described as a green floral fragrance with mandarin, bergamot, lemon, green notes, apricot, freesia, rose, pistachio, sunny notes, white musk and patchouli. The inclusion of patchouli actually suggests a flanker of the Couture flanker, more than of the standard EdP. As usual, the artwork is by designer duo Kuntzel+Deygas.
Idylle Eau Sublime discontinued
Guerlain informs us that Idylle Eau Sublime has been taken out of production and that the last stock has left the factory. The fragrance is available until stocks end in boutiques. Idylle Eau Sublime was introduced in 2011 as the second Idylle flanker after Duet Rose-Patchouli. It featured the lightness of rose water as well as sweet fruity notes of litchi and peach.
Price increase at Guerlain
Guerlain has just announced its yearly price increase. As an example, all the Exclusive lines have seen an increase of 5 €:
• L'Art & la Matière and Les Elixirs Charnels: 185 € ▶ 190 €
• Les Parisiennes: 200 € ▶ 205 €
• Les Parisiens: 180 € ▶ 185 €
• Les Déserts d'Orient: 195 € ▶ 200 €
• Une Ville, Un Parfum: 155 € ▶ 160 €
New insight into Jacques Guerlain
Will Inrig is a research intern at the Osmothèque, and he has just finished an article on Jacques Guerlain, published in Wikipedia. It's mandatory reading for any Guerlainophile; Will Inrig's research is extremely thorough, as this excerpt illustrates:
"In contrast to François Coty, Ernest Daltroff or Paul Parquet, autodidactic perfumers who revolutionised early 20th century perfumery, Jacques Guerlain distinguished himself by his shrewd discernment and wary conventionalism, no doubt informed by the weight of family heritage. Marcel Billot, founding president of the French Society of Perfumers, aptly described Guerlain as 'a genius who knew to be of his time while living nonetheless in keeping with tradition.'
For a modern generation, several of Guerlain’s perfumes have become models of their genre; Shalimar (1925), though not the first oriental, is generally cited as the archetype. Mitsouko (1919), according to perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, is considered a reference chypre, somewhat inaccurately in that its inclusion of the peach-smelling gamma-undecalactone distinguishes it as a fruity chypre. This confusion is often due to the disappearance of the original model, in the latter’s case Coty’s Chypre (1917), discontinued in the 1960s.
Guerlain, though never much of a pioneer, was not without his innovations. Throughout the 1930s, his use of green notes, such as galbanum, was extremely novel for the period. In this sense, perfumes such as Vol de Nuit (1933) and Sous le Vent (1933) may be considered precursory of bolder works including Jean Carles and Paul Vacher’s Miss Dior (1947)." Read the article
The year of Shalimar
2015 marks ninety years of Shalimar’s reign as Queen of Orientals. The jubilee makes her the world’s longest-reigning queen. All the best New Year's wishes to Monsieur Guerlain's readers.
Guerlain's twenty releases of 2014
Gone are the days when Guerlain launched a new fragrance every five years. On today’s market, there’s no time to hold your breath until the next thing arrives, and the average speed of Guerlain is now twenty releases per year — that’s more than one every three weeks! However, half of them are reissues or special bottle editions. This is what Guerlain has delivered in 2014:
• Petit Guerlain (new version) • La Petite Robe Noire Couture • Aqua Allegoria Limon Verde • Eau de Cashmere • Insolence Crazy Touch (special bottle edition) • Terracotta Le Parfum • Muguet (special bottle edition) • Mon Habit Rouge Taillé Sur Mesure (special bottle edition) • Royal Extract (reissue of Attrape Cœur) • Mademoiselle Guerlain (reissue of LPRN Modèle No.2) • L’Homme Idéal • Shalimar Souffle de Parfum • Fleur de Vigne (a room fragrance exclusively for Moët Hennessy) • Elixir Charnel French Kiss • Idylle Love Blossom (reissue of Idylle Duet Jasmin-Lilas, diluted to EdT) • Santal Royal • Le Bolshoï Black Swan • Coque d’Or (vintage reissue) • Shalimar Nuit des Indes (special bottle edition) • La Petite Robe Noire Cristal Noir et Cannetilles (special bottle edition)
Other significant Guerlain events in 2014:
• Thierry Wasser re-creates a generous selection of historic Guerlain perfumes for Maison Guerlain’s vintage atelier • Mitsouko voted best reformulation • Habit Rouge receives the Fragrance Hall of Fame Award • Discontinuation of the Vintage collection, Shalimar Parfum Initial, and the Une Ville, Un Parfum series • Thierry Wasser and Jean-Paul Guerlain honoured with titles
Vintage atelier — now with an entrance fee
When earlier this year Thierry Wasser chose to re-create a generous selection of historic Guerlain perfumes, anyone interested was free to discover them by appointment at Maison Guerlain. However, this possibility was not advertised, and only very few people got to know about the existence of these vintage perfumes.
Now, Guerlain has decided to organize the presentation of the vintages as a more formal and less confidential program with fixed dates that are advertised. Each month, Maison Guerlain will be hosting an “atelier” for small groups where Thierry Wasser’s set of re-created vintages is demonstrated.
Attending the atelier will be priced at 130 €, and you will receive a small souvenir to bring home from the event. The first vintage atelier will be held the 21st of January 2015. Read more about vintage Guerlain
Some images courtesy of guerlain.com
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