This website is about a man's admiration for the famous French
perfume house of Guerlain. Calling all honey bees and Guerlainophiles!
This website is about a man's admiration for the famous French perfume house of Guerlain. Calling all honey bees and Guerlainophiles!
"A small number of passionate and highly educated people"
"Make good products, never compromise on quality," founder of the Guerlain empire, Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain, once said. "As for the rest, stick to simple ideas and apply them scrupulously." That was in the nineteenth century. In 2016, fragrance marketing directors know that sticking to simple ideas won't make you rich and famous in an overloaded market, where everything is available to everyone. Keeping up a prestigious image takes other methods today than those prescribed by Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain.
In the latest issue of CosmétiqueMag, a professional journal devoted to the beauty industry, Guerlain’s marketing director Margerie Barbès Petit (pictured to the right) explains why the brand has begun to focus on luxurious packaging, limited editions, exclusive collections, and spectacular boutique decor, rather than what perfumery was all about in the golden days, namely olfactive creativity and quality.
"Among our customers there are of course a small number of passionate and highly educated people, but many are just looking for a rare perfume. These are the same who buy limited editions in fashion or design, and it reflects the current taste for personalization," she says.
According to CosmétiqueMag, the focus on exclusive packaging and limited editions is a very wise business strategy, because exclusive collections sell like hotcakes, despite little creative effort put into them, the absence of expensive ad campaigns, and a high sales price.
Luckily, the "small number of passionate and highly educated people" can still find such solid olfactive works as Mitsouko, L’Heure Bleue and Habit Rouge in the Guerlain catalogue. But we might as well get used to the fact that the form-over-substance philosophy is here to stay. See CosmétiqueMag
The Four Seasons: Too little or too much?
Guerlain has launched a quartet of new EdP fragrances called The Four Seasons, not to be confused with the brand's 2008 box set of the same name. The fragrances are housed in 490 ml Baccarat quadrilobe bottles, exquisitely decorated by haute couture designer Janaïna Milheiro with coloured feathers and pearls to evoke each of the four seasons. The price is haute couture too: 16,000 € per bottle.
As Luca Turin once pointed out, fragrance brands should refrain from releasing more than one perfume at a time, because customers tend to judge a fragrance collection as a whole, not the individual fragrances within the collection. Hence, one inferior fragrance can ruin the whole launch.
Moreover, our judgment of a product will always depend on its monetary cost. At 16,000 € per bottle we expect nothing short of olfactory bliss. We know very well that the actual formula cost in all cases is very low, but when fragrance brands use Baccarat crystal bottles and haute couture decorators to up the price, our expectations soar equally sky-high. Yet, paradoxically, when prices exceed a certain level of grotesqueness, and the number of copies is equally limited, we begin to wonder if the perfumes were really created to be opened and smelled, or only to be displayed somewhere in the Arabic Emirates. For that matter, Guerlain could have filled the bottles with coloured water, and no one would be the wiser, that is, if it weren’t for the fact that Maison Guerlain has testers to try.
I have smelled the new Four Seasons collection, and in this short review I try to ignore the fact that its price could buy you a very nice BMW that would surely rock your social status more than a set of embellished perfume bottles. Read fragrance review
Le Bolshoï Prima Ballerina
Guerlain's Le Bolshoï edition this year is called Prima Ballerina. The fragrance is a reissue of Randa Hammami's Moscow from the discontinued City series, known for its brisk accord of pine needles and tart fruit. 60 ml EdP, circa 380 €. Read more about Guerlain's Le Bolshoï
Mitsouko, L'Heure Bleue, and Doctor Wasser
The Parfum and EdP versions of Mitsouko and L’Heure Bleue are back, after being reformulated due to a problem with one of their shared ingredients.
When the suspension was announced, Guerlain explained that while olfactive variations from year to year in raw materials are normal, the lab had detected a change that was too radical to justify further sale of L'Heure Bleue and Mitsouko. As a consequence, the brand decided to suspend the production of these fragrances for several months, while Thierry Wasser "puts all his talent and passion into readjusting the formulas of L'Heure Bleue and Mitsouko.”
Thierry Wasser has taught us that suppliers of raw materials changing their products is just as frequent a reason to reformulate or discontinue a Guerlain fragrance as are IFRA restrictions. Most of Guerlain’s old formulas contain ingredients that can be difficult to obtain nowadays.
From the fact that Guerlain chose to downright suspend the fragrances for months, we can deduce three things: 1) the ingredient in question played a significant role in the compositions, 2) there exists no readily available substitute for this ingredient, i.e. it wasn’t a natural, 3) there's a limit to how much Guerlain wants to compromise on its olfactive patrimony. Read review
Guerlain corrects: Liu stays
Following two written confirmations from Guerlain's customer service and one oral confirmation from Maison Guerlain, Mr. G recently reported about a discontinuation of Liu from the Parisienne line.
Now, Guerlain's customer service has sent a correction, saying that its previous statement about Liu being discontinued was an error. The customer service apologizes for the confusion caused by this misinformation, which occurred simply because Liu has got a new product code after being transferred to the new packaging design of the Exclusives.
We're not fond of misinformation, but we love the fact that Liu stays.
Guerlain's big overhaul: 10 new fragrances, 4 reissues, 11 discontinuations, 8 bottle designs replaced
Guerlain each year releases an impressive number of fragrances, 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. In 2016, the brand's perfume range has undergone its biggest reorganisation ever, with 10 new fragrances, 4 reissues, 11 discontinuations, and 8 bottle designs replaced. See what has come, changed and disappeared at Guerlain since 2013
4 Seasons fragrance and art bottle collection
Guerlain is launching a highly exclusive "4 Seasons" collection of four new fragrances by Thierry Wasser, named after each season: Le Printemps (musky, green floral), L'Été (solar floral), L'Automne (fresh woody), and L'Hiver (green, woody musk). They come in 490 ml quadrilobe bottles, sumptuously decorated by Paris-based Brazilian textile and feather designer Janaïna Milheiro.
In 2008, Guerlain also presented a "4 Seasons" collection. However, only Brume d'Automne ("fall mist") was a new creation, while the other three scents were reissues of previous releases, and the fragrances came in a 35 ml size of the heart-shaped stopper bottle.
As we all know, high art comes with a price, reserved for only the most affluent collectors. These days, Guerlain’s “art bottles” usually come with a 5-digit price tag. The Milheiro bottles are 16,000 € each. Photos by moniqueledoledec on Instagram. Read fragrance review
The price that doubled in 10 years
Guerlain has just raised the price of its three remaining Parisien fragrances (Derby, Chamade Pour Homme, and Arsène Lupin Voyou) from 185 € to 210 €. The price increase is significantly higher than Guerlain's usual annual price increase, which is around 5 € on fragrances.
In 2006, a 125 ml Parisienne bottle of Derby (pictured left) was priced at 130 €. With the current price of 210 € for 100 ml, it means that the price of Derby has doubled in just ten years. By comparison, the consumer price index of France has risen 17 percent in the same period.
Exclusivity is now very exclusive.
Guerlain's bottle revolution
Guerlain informs us that its current packaging adjustments not only affect the golden canisters and the masculine line, but that an entire bottle revolution is going on, extending to the feminine fragrances as well. The changes include a replacement of several of the classic Parfum bottles by the standard quadrilobe bottle, while the Parfum version of Idylle is being discontinued altogether.
"At a time when most perfumers did not think of bottles as anything but a simple container, my ancestors quickly understood the subtle relationship that linked the bottle and its precious contents," Jean-Paul Guerlain wrote in the foreword to the colossal reference book, Guerlain Bottles Since 1828. However, as a consequence of Guerlain's standardisation of its packaging, there's very little left of Robert Granai's prolific bottle designs.
Edit: Guerlain says that the staff was misinformed about the Vol de Nuit and Chamade Parfum bottles, which apparently will not be changed. Only the Parfum bottles for Samsara, Champs-Elysées and L'Instant de Guerlain will be replaced by the standard quadrilobe bottle, while Idylle Parfum is discontinued. Read more about Guerlain's bottles
40 years of Guerlain with Thierry Wasser
In a recent advertorial in the French newspaper Le Monde, Guerlain's CEO Laurent Boillot reveals that Guerlain aims at keeping Thierry Wasser as the brand's in-house perfumer for forty years (i.e., until 2048 when Wasser will be 87 years old!), just like Jean-Paul Guerlain before him. Read the article
Originally launched as a trio, the L'Art & la Matière collection has grown to recently receive its tenth member: Néroli Outrenoir. The new fragrance is advertised as an olfactive paradox, "beyond black and still luminous", marrying the bright neroli note with black tea.
It was the French abstract artist Pierre Soulages who coined the term "outrenoir" ("beyond black") for the paintings he began working on in the late 1970s. He demonstrated that total blackness can actually be used to reflect light and colour nuances.
Neroli is the name of the essential oil of orange blossom. Compared to orange blossom absolute, which has a deep, sensual scent, neroli smells fresh, spicy, and cleanly floral. Therefore, it’s a typical note in fresh colognes, but high-end brands have lately made it fashionable to use it in very costly perfumes. According to Guerlain, Thierry Wasser wanted to express all the facets of orange blossom, "the orange-like zest of neroli, the woody-aromatic petitgrain, and the orange blossom absolute."
With a pun on the French expression "l'art et la manière", the art and manner, the L’Art & la Matière line is devoted to creative reflections on raw materials. With only two discontinuations in ten years, the line is obviously commercially successful. Personally, I'm not excited by the "back-to-basics, one-ingredient" trend of niche perfumery, which has all the snob appeal of Michelin menus, when in fact what you really hunger for is to sit in a noisy restaurant with a bœuf bourguignon, a crème brûlée, and a bottle of red wine. I can't think of any moment when I wholeheartedly feel like reaching for a L'Art & la Matière instead of one of Guerlain's classic or mainstream fragrances. If you insist on calling something "black neroli", just give me Habit Rouge and I'll feel endlessly more entertained and dressed up than in any "Exclusive" fragrance. Read fragrance review
Mitsouko and L'Heure Bleue are back!
After months of suspension while being reformulated due to a problem with one ingredient, the Parfum and EdP versions of Mitsouko and L'Heure Bleue are now available again for purchase, one month ahead of schedule.
When Guerlain announced the suspension by the end of 2015, the brand explained that while olfactive variations from year to year in raw materials are normal, the recent change was deemed too pronounced to justify further production and sale of L'Heure Bleue and Mitsouko Parfum and EdP. Fingers crossed that the problem hasn't caused too much damage to Jacques Guerlain's beautiful classics, and we thank Thierry Wasser for his efforts to keep the Guerlain patrimony alive.
Shown here are some older Parfum bottles of Mitsouko and L'Heure Bleue.
New travel bottle
Guerlain has launched a new 15 ml travel bottle design, quite reminiscent of the puristic Hermès look. Shown here are Eau de Guerlain and Eau de Cologne Impériale.
New packaging design for the Exclusives
Guerlain has launched a new packaging for the Exclusives, now housed inside an elegant dark amethyst leather box decorated with a bas-relief of the Sun King logo. For the L'Art & la Matière bottle, a new on/off bulb atomizer design has been introduced. The old bulb atomizer had a serious issue with leakage, which the on/off functionality should solve.
Unlike the previous design, the new bulb atomizer is non-removable. As a consequence, you'll no longer be able to decant the fragrance into refillable travel sprays. Also, the golden metal strip carrying the name of the fragrance now features the Sun King logo as well as the revived 1930s' Futura font, which Guerlain has adopted recently for most of its presentations. On the occasion, there's a price increase of 8 €.
Shown below is the original bottle design, for which you could choose freely between a screw cap, a standard atomizer, and the bulb atomizer.
Summer contest: Win 5 vintage Guerlains!
You don't have to be in the Who’s Who of perfume to know what's what. It's time to flaunt your encyclopedic Guerlain knowledge! If you're able to answer twenty questions correctly, you'll have the chance to win five 1 ml samples of Thierry Wasser's coveted re-created vintage Guerlain perfumes. (As you may know, I was one of the bloggers who received samples of these to review.) Go to contest
Guerlain Homme's new look
Guerlain is changing the design of its masculine line, rendering it uniform with the classic "Habit Rouge" bottle and adding faux wood caps. Shown here is the new look for the Guerlain Homme duo.
Interestingly, the juice colours have now been reversed, so that the EdP is green while L'Eau Boisée is yellow. Before, the juice colour of Guerlain Homme EdP was rarely seen due to its black bottle, but special edition bee bottles (shown below) revealed that its juice was indeed yellow. Read more about Guerlain Homme
Habit Rouge Dress Code returns with a new look
When Habit Rouge Dress Code launched last year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Habit Rouge, it was advertised as a limited edition. It quickly sold out and has been unavailable in Guerlain's French webshop for a long while.
Now, as Guerlain changes the design of its masculine line, Habit Rouge Dress Code returns with a new look that features a red faux wood cap on a black bottle with a chic tartan pattern. According to Guerlain, the new packaging is a limited edition, just like the previous one.
Guerlain's new masculine design
Guerlain is changing the design of its masculine line, rendering it uniform with the classic "Habit Rouge" bottle and adding coloured faux wood caps that match the exclusive Parisien collection. Shown here is the new look for Habit Rouge EdT, EdP, L'Eau, and Dress Code, Vetiver and Vetiver Extrême, Héritage EdT and EdP, L'Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme EdT and EdP, and Guerlain Homme EdP and L'Eau Boisée. Luckily, Dress Code proved successful enough to not be just a limited edition.
The decision to standardize the masculine packaging could be both a cost-cutting measure as well as a way to adopt the streamlined, minimalist appearance of niche perfumery. It means that only three masculine bottle designs are left in the Guerlain catalogue: the "Habit Rouge" bottle, the L'Homme Idéal bottle, and the Parisien bottle. (Mouchoir de Monsieur will still be the only masculine scent sold in the bee spray bottle.)
Masculine stick deodorants discontinued
Guerlain has discontinued its masculine stick deodorants. I’ve been using Habit Rouge stick deodorant for the past twenty-four years. I will miss it terribly.
The bee sprays still going strong
Guerlain is phasing out the refillable golden canisters, replacing them with the standard bee spray bottle. The bottles come with a new, streamlined label design, using the clean geometric Futura font. In addition, the label features the gilded Sun King logo. The Sun King, the Futura font and the cursive brand name logo all represent historic Guerlain design elements.
At the same time, Guerlain discontinues the EdP version of Chamade.
According to Guerlain boutique staff, most of the feminine EdTs and EdPs will eventually be transferred to the bee spray, including Samsara, Idylle, L'Instant de Guerlain, Champs-Elysées, and Insolence. It's a recent trend at Guerlain to replace the individual bottle designs with uniform standard bottles.
The bee atomizer first appeared in 1992, thus actually predating the latest design of the refillable canisters. It was initially meant for the Eaux Fraîches, but was subsequently used for Petit Guerlain, Après l'Ondée, Chant d'Arômes, Mouchoir de Monsieur, and Parure as well, and in 2013 for Jardins de Bagatelle. In addition, it was used for the limited editions L'Insolente (formerly Precious Heart) and Place Rouge (formerly Quand Vient la Pluie). Recently, the bee atomizer has also become the bottle for the home fragrances. Read more about Guerlain's bottles
Guerlain bottles changing
Guerlain changes the look of several of its fragrances, both feminine and masculine. Shown here is the new packaging for Habit Rouge, Héritage, Vetiver, L'Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme, Jicky, Chamade, Jardins de Bagatelle, Nahéma, and Vol de Nuit. At the same time, the EdP version of Chamade has been discontinued. The original masculine bottles are replaced by the classic "Habit Rouge" bottle, with a coloured faux wood cap that matches the exclusive Parisien line, while the standard bee atomizer replaces the golden refillable canisters. Also, Guerlain changes the label design for the quadrilobe Parfum bottle to match the new bee atomizer label, featuring the Sun King logo. Read more
Guerlain's shortest living flanker
Just as the new Intense flanker of La Petite Robe Noire is introduced, Guerlain discontinues the Couture version from 2014. It makes it Guerlain's shortest living flanker to date, even surpassing Shalimar Parfum Initial. Guerlain boutique staff informs us that very little stock is left. In addition, the two Parisien fragrances L'Âme d'un Héros and the "Dandy" version of Arsène Lupin have been discontinued. It leaves only three fragrances in the Parisien line, namely Arsène Lupin Voyou, Derby, and Chamade Pour Homme.
Couture was the first flanker of La Petite Robe Noire (not counting the EdT version as a flanker, although technically it is), a cooler and woodier variant with lots of raspberry and an addition of a chypre accord of moss, patchouli, and a fresh, almost petroleum-like vetiver. The scent won the prize for best feminine fragrance at last year's FiFi Awards.
L'Âme d'un Héros was introduced in 2008 as a reissue of Jean-Paul Guerlain's commercially unsuccessful, and thus short-lived, Coriolan from 1998.
The sophisticated cardamom-balsam fragrance Arsène Lupin Dandy launched in 2010 as part of a masculine duo by Jean-Paul Guerlain. The Dandy name was later removed due to a copyright conflict.
La Robe Est Belle
If Luca Turin were still writing reviews of perfumes he doesn’t love, he would probably claim this launch to be among those "that must make Jacques Guerlain spin in his grave.” Personally, I wouldn’t put it quite as morbidly, but I’d say that Guerlain’s latest addition to the La Petite Robe Noire series, called “Intense”, certainly represents an advanced stage in the brand’s mission to relinquish its roots and cultivate a teenage clientele. Sometimes, perfumery is a bit like politics, in which case Guerlain’s new campaign would be for a populist candidate, half of us dreading the result of the election.
This fragrance smells like a concoction of 80 percent Lancôme La Vie Est Belle, 10 percent La Petite Robe Noire Eau Fraîche, and 10 percent La Petite Robe Noire Couture, which adds up to 100 percent candy shop. If there’s anything “intense” about LPRNI, it’s how intensely girly it is. Guerlain is obviously not the least bit embarrassed about that, serving up pink and blue cotton candy at the Canadian press events.
While being girly isn’t necessarily something to be ashamed about, we wonder if Guerlain should feel guilty about the fact that you’d be unable to distinguish between LPRNI and LVEB on a passerby. Once so proud of always being the first to innovate, Guerlain has figured out that if you can’t beat them, you might as well copy them.
Only when conducting a careful comparative study, do we realize that LPRNI is an improvement on the original Lancôme version, especially from a top note perspective. Thierry Wasser’s sense of freshness and air, even in the most sugary of circumstances, is truly impressive. Read full review
La Petite Robe Noire Intense
There's a prerelease of Guerlain's new addition to its successful La Petite Robe Noire line, named "Intense" and nicknamed "Ma Robe Sous le Vent", on June 20 in Paris. Described as a mix of cotton candy, blackcurrant, raspberry, bergamot, rose, jasmine, orange blossom, white musk, vanilla, sandalwood and patchouli, the scent features a deep blue juice and a Marilyn Monroe dress pictograph.
The brand already disclosed the creation of the new fragrance last year, stating that it was designed to excite the North American market. William Lescure, president of Guerlain Canada, explained that while La Petite Robe Noire is an international hit, with three bottles sold every minute in the world, it’s not sweet enough for North American tastes.
“When you smell it, you smell North America,” he said about the new version. "It is a completely new fragrance," Sylvaine Delacourte continued, "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.” Read more about the candy trend at Guerlain
Reissue of L'Instant Magic
The reissue of L'Instant Magic comes in a clear bottle that lacks the black rim of the original edition, leaving a somewhat pale impression. Photo of the clear bottle edition (right) by one of Monsieur Guerlain's readers.
"Matières" art exhibition at Maison Guerlain
Guerlain boutique staff gave misinformation about the content of the current exhibition at Maison Guerlain, saying that it was about perfume raw materials. As such, we expected to find an exciting multi-sensory presentation of the Guerlinade ingredients. In reality, it’s a sort of art exhibition, broadly inspired by the theme “materials”. Photos from the exhibition catalogue.
Guerlain's CEO, Laurent Boillot, has been interviewed about the company's concern for environmental and social sustainability. The woman next to him is the environmental director at LVMH, Sylvie Bénard. Among several eco-friendly initiatives, Boillot mentions: a reduction of the size of perfume boxes, upcycling of La Petite Robe Noire posters and banners, recyclable shopping bags, and refillable perfume urns at the Guerlain Parfumeur boutique. Read more
Thierry Wasser: "I have found the candidate to succeed me"
Thierry Wasser was interviewed shortly after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award in Berlin. "Frankly, if I wasn't at Guerlain, I wouldn't be here tonight," he humbly says. "It's about Guerlain, it's about the history of Guerlain, it's almost two hundred years old now, and what I do is just carrying on, and on, and on, and on. So this award is as much about Guerlain as it is about me, I think."
Talking about the future, Wasser says that he hopes he can continue as Guerlain's nose for the next fifteen years. He explains that since he's gay, he and his husband won't have kids who could carry on his work. He also reveals that he has found the candidate to succeed him, "but he's very young, talented I think, but I just have to follow his path before I give him the keys to the safe."
Jean-Paul Guerlain to create perfumes for new brand
A French startup specializing in perfumes and luxury announced its arrival Wednesday May 4. Called My Exclusive Collection, the company has asked Jean-Paul Guerlain to create a series of fragrances for women and men. Jean-Paul Guerlain retired in 2002, but continued as a consultant to Guerlain's creations and raw materials. In 2010, he was forced to give up any connection with the Guerlain brand due to an unfortunate remark made on public television. "Jean-Paul Guerlain couldn't resist his desire to be active as a perfume creator again," the press release says. The new company's first perfumes will be released at the beginning of 2017.
"People will always be passionate about French perfumes and their international reputation is still very strong," says Stéphane Laffont-Reveilhac, CEO of My Exclusive Collection. "Our aim is to restore the actual essence of traditional perfume creation and French craftsmanship with a collection of modern fragrances linked to today's world." His vision is to have perfumes that "go through time and space against the grain of current trends dictated by marketing and financial performance".
To have a retired Guerlain master nose working for another brand is a bit of a shock, or at least a break with tradition. The Guerlain image is built on family heritage, a unique olfactive signature passed on from generation to generation and preserved within the company, even today. The new situation begs the question if we will suddenly find the Guerlinade sold under a new brand name. "There is a certain amount of continuity in the signature, however these new fragrances are resolutely modern and original," says Jean-Paul Guerlain.
“I wanted to surprise those who followed me for over 40 years, when I was creating perfumes for Guerlain,” he adds. “The difference is that the Guerlain house is moving toward more emphasis on marketing, rather than on creativity.” Read more
Thierry Wasser receives Lifetime Achievement Award
Guerlain's Thierry Wasser received the German Duftstars Lifetime Achievement Award on May 12. "Fragrance has a lot to tell us, and Thierry Wasser is capable of translating the language of scents so that we can understand it," says Martin Ruppmann, director of the Fragrance Foundation Germany. "He is basically an abstract artist whose creations have made the idea of beautiful scents concrete. Without his fragrances, perfume art of the 21st century would be unimaginable. Scents like Idylle and La Petite Robe Noire have certainly made history." Read more (in German)
Mitsouko porcelain bottle
Guerlain has collaborated with Arita Porcelain Lab in Japan to create a limited porcelain edition of the Mitsouko bottle. According to Arita Porcelain Lab, the design of the bottle combines Japan's Rising Sun Flag with traditional symbols of good fortune. The Rising Sun Flag is both currently and historically linked to the naval defence of Japan. As such, the bottle design reflects the history of the perfume Mitsouko, whose name was borrowed from the heroine in Claude Farrère's novel "La Bataille" about the love affair between a British naval officer and the wife of a Japanese admiral during the Russo-Japanese War.
Like last year's Muguet porcelain bottle, it comes empty with a 75 ml EdT refill bottle on the side, as the cork that holds the bottle stopper doesn't fit tightly enough to prevent leakage. The set is priced at around 380 € and is now available in Tokyo and Hong Kong. Maison Guerlain reports that it will arrive in Paris after the summer holidays.
Shalimar Brume Cheveux
Guerlain has launched Shalimar Brume Cheveux, a light hair mist version of Shalimar Cologne, with notes of bergamot, lemon, grapefruit, freesia, jasmine, rose, white musk, vanilla, and orris.
Les Délices de Bain — is marshmallow unisex?
Guerlain launches Les Délices de Bain, a trio of shower gel, body lotion and deodorant, scented with notes of bergamot, orange blossom, almond, white musk, vanilla, and wood. According to Guerlain, this fresh, delicious and enveloping scent is designed as a unisex complement to any Guerlain perfume.
Although the discreet woody drydown will suit both women and men, it's debatable how "unisex" the scent really is. With orange blossom on top a cuddly almond-pistachio accord, it has that marshmallow-like feel that Guerlain has been famous for since L'Heure Bleue. Delicious it is, but many men will no doubt prefer Guerlain's masculine shower gels, which as indicated by the Guerlain website, are unfortunately being phased out. The new bath line is housed in a plastic variant of the bee bottle, with a heavy, impractical screw cap that you will constantly drop.
Limited edition bottle for Shalimar Souffle de Parfum
This year's limited edition bottle of Shalimar Souffle de Parfum celebrates Holi, India's Hindu spring festival. Originally an ancient religious festival, Holi has now spread to parts of Europe and North America as a spring celebration of love, frolic, and colours.
The new collectible bottle comes with splashes of blue and turquoise paint applied to the front. The scent is unchanged.
L'Homme Idéal EdP — thrilling me softly
Back in the days when the market for perfumes was significantly smaller than it is today, perfumers created only one version of a fragrance, namely the concentrated Parfum. Often a less expensive EdT was made available too, which was simply the diluted Parfum. When men’s scents started to appear in the 1950s, they were usually fresh scents offered in a light EdC concentration.
The business of perfumery has expanded dramatically since the 1980s. To deal with the fierce competition, perfumers have invented a wealth of formats and variants of their fragrances to catch consumers’ restless attention. In 1981, Guerlain introduced the Eau de Parfum format with Nahéma. An EdP was the fragrance writ large, a tweaked version that combined the depth of the Parfum with the radiance of the EdT. Today, it’s common that Parfum, EdP and EdT are created each with their individual formula and list of notes, in order to achieve an either more sensual or more fresh effect. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that any version of a scent is basically a flanker.
Enter L’Homme Idéal, Guerlain’s latest men’s scent, which has just spawned an EdP following the previous EdT and Cologne (actually an EdT) versions. Other than the name and the almond note, this trio don't have much else in common, not even the olfactive family. The EdT had the almond crunchy and praline-like, served like an Amaretto Sour in a contemporary “boisé sec” setting, while the Cologne’s version of almond was bitter and green, and toned down within a completely different Campari and grapefruit accord.
When the EdT launched, many Guerlain aficionados immediately began to wish for a more rounded and “Guerlinade-like” interpretation of the almond note. The new EdP may be the answer to their prayers, although anyone who was hoping for an “intense” version might be disappointed. While the gorgeous crunchiness of the signature almond-leather-bergamot accord is still there in the top, the rest of the fragrance takes a whole new direction. The EdP has not just diminished most of the EdT’s fresh and dry elements, but it has literally removed the neroli, rosemary, green apple and vetiver. Instead we find a sweeter and gentler mandarin top note. This change solves the problem of the original fragrance being too “metallic” and harsh in some people’s opinion; already five minutes into the EdP, it is smooth and velvety like an Amaretto liqueur. Read fragrance review
Coloured quadrilobe bottles
As a counterpart of the coloured 125 ml bee bottles at the new Guerlain Parfumeur boutique in Paris, Maison Guerlain now offers a selection of five coloured quadrilobe bottles, equally in the 125 ml size. The bottles are made for existing EdP fragrances from the Exclusive lines. Green: Santal Royal. Red: Oriental Brûlant. Purple: Parfum du 68. Blue: L'Heure de Nuit. Orange: Spiritueuse Double Vanille. Priced at 650 €, they are more than twice as expensive as the coloured bee bottles. Photo by Nekhbet76 on Instagram.
L'Homme Idéal EdP by Thierry Wasser and Delphine Jelk
The forthcoming EdP version of L'Homme Idéal is revealed to be a joint creation between Thierry Wasser and Delphine Jelk. Delphine Jelk was the author of the original La Petite Robe Noire (2009), and has worked as Thierry Wasser's co-perfumer since then. However, it's not until now that she's officially mentioned at the launch of a new Guerlain fragrance.
L'Homme Idéal EdP is described as a whole new interpretation of the almond note, with spices, Bulgarian rose, tonka bean, incense, sandalwood, and vanilla. Thierry Wasser explains that the fragrance is infused with vanilla from top to base. "Guerlain is one of the rare houses to use this unique vanilla tincture, an indispensable ingredient in the Guerlinade. Thanks to the expertise of our laboratory at Orphin, it's made by hand by cutting the vanilla pods into small pieces and letting them soak in alcohol until it obtains a beautiful, warm amber colour."
For this version, the handsome black and white design of the original bottle has been morphed into a taupe and orange scheme. Read more (in French)
LPRN EdP limited edition
This year's limited edition packaging of La Petite Robe Noire features sweeps of colour reflective of the LPRN franchise's entry into the Guerlain makeup universe. The bottle contains the regular EdP fragrance. Read more about the limited edition bottles for La Petite Robe Noire
Thierry Wasser's Muguet — something new, something old
Muguet 2016 is advertised not only with a new bottle design as it is every year, but also — for the first time since 1998 — with a whole new fragrance. It's available "en avant-première" to be tried and purchased at Maison Guerlain in Paris.
Until now, the varying Muguet bottles have all contained the same fragrance, originally signed by Jean-Paul Guerlain in 1998, but now Guerlain has released a new juice by Thierry Wasser. It's described as "a remarkably natural and modern interpretation," with green notes, dewy rose, and jasmine. So now we have a complete historic line of Guerlain Muguet perfumes: Muguet 1908 by Jacques Guerlain, Muguet 1998 by Jean-Paul Guerlain, and Muguet 2016 by Thierry Wasser.
The new version is not strikingly different from the 1998 version; it still smells mainly of lily of the valley. However, the scent presents a few adjustments that deserve to be mentioned.
First of all, the top note is more tender and vegetal than the hissing citrus opening of Jean-Paul Guerlain’s version, with a passing resemblance to the green note in Thierry Wasser’s Cologne du Parfumeur. The powerful citrus note was typical of Jean-Paul Guerlain, who preferred a very bold expression full of contrast and vibrancy. In comparison, Wasser searches for a lighter touch with subtle nuances and fine details. One reason for the gentler — and, as Guerlain puts it, “natural and modern” — feel of Thierry Wasser’s Muguet might be that it omits the lilac, that clean, bright and intensely floral note that makes some people think of old ladies' perfumes and air fresheners.
Perhaps the most interesting difference is to be found in the drydown, which has a creamy, very comfortable, long-lasting note that goes hand-in-hand with the jasmine. Despite Guerlain’s description of 2016’s as a “modern interpretation”, Wasser’s Muguet actually smells closer to the historic Jacques Guerlain version of 1908, as one of the most characteristic features of Jacques Guerlain’s Muguet was that it smelled like Nivea cream. The creamy note was completely absent in Jean-Paul Guerlain’s purely floral Muguet fragrance.
A welcome update of Guerlain’s Muguet fragrance, this year’s edition gives collectors all the more reason to visit a Guerlain boutique on the 1st of May, the beautiful bottle notwithstanding. The bottle is identical in shape to the 2011 edition, a tall rectangular bottle, this time decorated with a silver filigree ornament of lilies of the valley. Read about the different Muguet bottle editions since 1998
Aqua Allegoria Rosa Pop
In the span of seventeen years, Guerlain has released thirty-six Aqua Allegoria fragrances. Usually, each year has seen two new Aqua Allegorias — some years even three — but since 2010, one of the launches has been reserved for traveller's duty-free shops, packaged in airport-friendly 100 ml bottles.
The boom in air travel and discount airline companies has made airport shops an important venue for fragrance companies. In addition, marketing experts agree that airport shopping is much more spontaneous than what we see in major cities' high-end boutiques. Maybe Guerlain's marketing team figured that part of their creative energy could be saved by pushing one yearly launch into the travel retail business, at least that's what we think, seeing the same fragrance, Flora Rosa, appearing in airports for three consecutive years.
For 2016, Guerlain has released a new Aqua Allegoria travel edition, called Rosa Pop. Like Flora Rosa, it’s designed to get you hooked the minute you sniff it from the tax-free shelf, with red berries over floral notes, this time peony instead of rose. It also smells 95 percent like Flora Rosa, pink and freshly floral, if only somewhat softer at the drydown. Appropriately, the name refers to the Italian word for pink, "rosa", which is also the colour of the box. Then what about "pop"? "Admirer cette explosion de couleurs pop," the French packaging says, alluding to the vivid colours of American pop art. This tagline goes hand-in-hand with Guerlain's current celebration of coloured and graffiti painted bee bottles.
So now back to what Rosa Pop smells like. It starts out like a real pick-me-up, with a tart, fruity-floral mix of lemon, raspberry, and over-the-top peony or whatever citrusy floral note. The scent eventually turns violet-like, reminiscent of the hairspray facet of Insolence EdT, until it gets sweeter and more powdery, with the cottony effect of white musk.
In what is perhaps a cost-cutting measure, the Rosa Pop bottle is presented without the golden honeycomb on the shoulders of the Aqua Allegoria bee bottle. So now the poor bee etched on the lid has no hive to fly back to!
Aqua Allegoria Pera Granita
Guerlain has released this year's Aqua Allegoria, called Pera Granita. The name "granita" refers to a semi-frozen dessert originally from Sicily, similar to sorbet but more granular in texture, made from sugar, water and various flavourings. In Pera Granita, the flavourings are citrus and pear. It follows the past few years' Aqua Allegoria theme of things you can drink or eat, like Limon Verde (a caipirinha cocktail) and Teazzurra (green tea).
Guerlain describes Pera Granita as "acidulous, fruity, juicy, fizzy". There's really not much to add to this description. Pera Granita smells exactly that, citrusy and juicy, with a sweet-green, pleasant fruitiness that could resemble pear juice. It really does make you think of sitting in an Italian restaurant having a granita made with lemon and pear. Notes listed are grapefruit, bergamot, lemon, orange blossom, osmanthus, pear, moss, white musk and cedarwood.
Guerlain knows how to make a lovely fruity-floral, balanced and rounded to perfection: up top sparkling with citrusy and fruity tartness, then a sensual floral heart, and a soft woody-musky drydown. Every time I succumb to the urge of buying a new Aqua Allegoria, I think "oh this smells so nice!", put it in my closet, and never take it out again. I wouldn't be surprised if the same fate will await Pera Granita.
For this edition, Guerlain has changed the label design from a gold-coloured into a white one, copying the look of the travel retail Aqua Allegoria. This year's travel retail scent is called Rosa Pop.
Guerlain's Parisienne collection is currently undergoing some adjustments. The new fragrance Promenade des Anglais, an EdP version of Aqua Allegoria Figue-Iris, recently joined the line, while Cherry Blossom was discontinued. Guerlain now informs us that also Mayotte has been discontinued.
Mayotte entered Les Parisiennes in 2006 as a reissue of Jean-Paul Guerlain's Mahora from 2000. A rich floral confection of frangipani, tuberose, ylang-ylang, jasmine, sandalwood, and vanilla, Mahora was chiefly the antithesis to the 1990s' aquatic perfume trend. The fragrance was deleted from the catalogue painfully early and is today famous as Guerlain's biggest miss, a reminder of Jean-Paul Guerlain's epicurean passion and defiance of marketing analyses. The fragrance was among the guilty pleasures of a few Guerlain admirers and couldn't but make you smile, with its sweet, sunny accord of exotic flowers and coconut rum. Read more about Mayotte
Just as Guerlain announces the closing of its Versailles boutique after three years with few customers, the brand is releasing a special fragrance edition, called Le Bouquet de la Reine, to support the restoration of the Versailles castle.
With notes of jasmine, galbanum, bergamot, cyclamen, freesia, lily of the valley and white musk, the scent is a second reissue of Aqua Allegoria Jasminora, which was also used for the edition called Cour des Senteurs Versailles. The scent comes in the 125 ml size of the quadrilobe bottle, decorated with the Sun King logo.
This perfume edition will be sold only via subscription, from February 17 until May 17. Priced at 550 €. Read more (in French)
Guerlain opens new boutique dedicated to perfume
Guerlain has recently shut down its historic boutique at the place Vendôme in Paris. Instead, a new Guerlain boutique opens in the same street, wholly dedicated to perfume. This boutique is equipped with a variety of decorations that serve to inform the customer about the art of Guerlain, such as a digitalized perfume organ and a perfume "cellar".
In addition, the new boutique offers an exclusive range of coloured bee bottles to be filled from large urns with the fragrance of your choice. Unlike the classic white and golden bee bottles, which come in three different sizes (250 ml, 500 ml, and 1 litre), the coloured bee bottles are only produced in the 125 ml size, which is the same size as the bottle for the Parisiennes. You can choose between eight different colours and eighteen different fragrances, as well as have the bottle decorated with engravings, cords and bows. The price of the coloured bee bottle, including two empty purse atomizers, varies with the fragrance:
• Eau de Cologne Impériale (140 €)
• Cologne du Parfumeur (140 €)
• Habit Rouge EdT (170 €)
• Vetiver EdT (170 €)
• L'Heure Bleue EdT (170 €)
• La Petite Robe Noire Eau Fraîche (170 €)
• L'Homme Idéal EdT (170 €)
• Shalimar EdP (190 €)
• Shalimar Souffle de Parfum (190 €)
• Champs-Elysées EdP (190 €)
• Santal Royal (190 €)
• La Petite Robe Noire EdP (190 €)
• Arsène Lupin Voyou (290 €)
• Spiritueuse Double Vanille (290 €)
• Cuir Beluga (290 €)
• Cruel Gardénia (290 €)
• Rose Barbare (290 €)
• Jicky Parfum (520 €)
When you have used up the fragrance, you can have your bee bottle refilled for a reduced price. Decanting photos by Australian Perfume Junkies. Read more (in French)
Guerlain closes its Versailles boutique
A shop without any customers isn't worth much. Guerlain didn't succeed at making people visit its boutique next to the Versailles castle just outside Paris, which opened in 2013. As a consequence, the brand closes the boutique in March 2016.
The closing of the Versailles boutique means that the fragrance Cour des Senteurs Versailles (a reissue of Aqua Allegoria Jasminora) is discontinued as well.
L'Heure Bleue and Mitsouko suspended for months while being reformulated
We have noticed that L'Heure Bleue and Mitsouko Parfum and EdP have been unavailable in Guerlain's webshop for a while. In a very open-hearted and meticulous letter, Guerlain's customer service department explains that significant olfactive changes were observed in the latest production batches of these four fragrances, and that after conducting several analyses, lab technicians were able to conclude that a specific raw material from one of Guerlain's suppliers was causing this change.
The letter further says that olfactive variations from year to year in raw materials are normal, but that the recent change was found to be too severe to justify further production and sale of L'Heure Bleue and Mitsouko. As a consequence, the brand has decided to suspend the production of these fragrances for several months, while Thierry Wasser "puts all his talent and passion into readjusting the formulas of L'Heure Bleue and Mitsouko," in order to restore their original olfactive spirit. "It is our adherence to high quality, transparency and the service that we owe to our customers that has made us come to this decision," Guerlain says.
We feel very sorry for Guerlain about the situation, not least because Thierry Wasser recently put a great deal of effort into reformulating Mitsouko EdP, making it smell more marvellous than ever.
As the EdT versions of L'Heure Bleue and Mitsouko don't contain the ingredient in question, these fragrances will remain to be purchased. See letter (in French)
Les Parisiennes have recently undergone a colourful makeover, with the off-white ribbons replaced with coloured ones. We're not sure if an extra shot of colour has been added to the juices too, or if the image is just Photoshopped. Since the release of JonOne's graffiti bee bottles, everything at Guerlain is bathed in "an explosion of colours".
Cherry Blossom discontinued
While Guerlain introduces a new Parisienne fragrance, Promenade des Anglais, which is an EdP reissue of Aqua Allegoria Figue-Iris from 2008, the brand states that Cherry Blossom is being discontinued from the catalogue.
Cherry Blossom was originally created by Jean-Paul Guerlain as a limited edition in 1999, inspired by the traditional Japanese springtime festival of sakura. The fragrance found a particularly rapt audience in Japan where fresh, clean scents are revered, and its popularity spawned yearly limited editions and flankers. The flankers to Cherry Blossom stopped after 2009, however the original EdT was reissued in the Parisiennes line in 2011. According to Guerlain boutique staff, Cherry Blossom never gained noteworthy popularity as a Parisienne.
Aqua Allegoria Pera Granita and Rosa Pop
Called Pera Granita ("pear sorbet"), this year's Aqua Allegoria turns to the fresh fruity-floral theme. Notes listed are grapefruit, lemon, bergamot, pear, osmanthus note, orange blossom, moss note, white musks, and cedar note. A second Aqua Allegoria, limited to duty free shops, is called Rosa Pop, with notes of lemon, peony, violet, and red berries. Photo by Hervé Husson from the production line at Guerlain's factory at Orphin.
Since 1999, when Guerlain introduced the Aqua Allegoria collection, most of the brand’s new fragrances have come as part of a series. Having series of perfumes, rather than just single perfumes, allows brands to perform a high speed of new launches (at Guerlain it’s ten new formulas per year) all the while keeping bottle design and marketing expenses to a minimum, as well as the catalogue well-structured and easy to understand for the customer. In 2015 alone, seven out of ten new fragrances were members of a group: La Petite Robe Noire Eau Fraîche, Aqua Allegoria Teazzurra, L’Homme Idéal Cologne, Shalimar Cologne, Habit Rouge Dress Code, and the two bridal fragrances, Le Bouquet de la Mariée and Le Plus Beau Jour de ma Vie.
With the advent of Ambre Éternel, marketed as a sequel to Santal Royal, Guerlain invents a new series called Les Absolus d’Orient, with more scents to come. These scents, like Les Déserts d’Orient, are intended for the Middle Eastern market, but at less than half the milliliter price. 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. They also know that Arabs aren't attracted to classic European perfumes, especially not the vanillic orientals; living in an extremely hot climate, they want strong woody and spicy scents.
To most Guerlain fans Santal Royal felt like a departure from the brand’s well-known velvety signature, as it came with a rough boisé sec type accord, typical of modern men’s scents, mixed with rose and fruity notes, and not much sandalwood. By contrast, while Ambre Éternel has some notes in common with Santal Royal, notably the masculine base, it does have a connection with amber. In perfumery, the term amber usually refers to one of two things: ambergris (a soft-smelling tincture of a rare material that floats on the sea after being disgorged by sperm whales), and the amber accord (a blend of balsamic resins, commonly used for incense since antiquity). Ambre Éternel contains both of these ingredients. Ambery notes are clearly linked to the Guerlain history, as Aimé and Jacques Guerlain used them extensively, and many perfume historians regard Shalimar as the epitome of an amber fragrance. Therefore, despite being far away from Shalimar, Ambre Éternel immediately comes across as a Guerlain fragrance. Read review
When Guerlain implemented its Parisienne collection in 2005, Sylvaine Delacourte explained that it was dedicated to reissues of former limited editions that some customers missed owning. Since then, seventeen different preexisting scents have been issued in this collection, which currently comprises eight fragrances. Upon rerelease, some of the scents were renamed: Metalys (formerly Metallica), Quand Vient l'Été (formerly Voile d'Été), Attrape Cœur (formerly Guet-Apens), Mayotte (formerly Mahora), and Mademoiselle Guerlain (formerly La Petite Robe Noire Modèle No.2).
Now, Guerlain has launched yet another Parisienne christened with a new name: Promenade des Anglais, named after the celebrated promenade along the Mediterranean at Nice. Described as a green-fruity-powdery blend of bergamot, fig and orris, the scent's ingredients sound like a reissue of the Aqua Allegoria of 2008, Figue-Iris. Guerlain has confirmed that this is indeed an EdP version of Figue-Iris.
The Aqua Allegorias are created to be uplifting and easy to wear, highlighting one or two notes. In addition, they constitute Guerlain’s most affordable fragrances, ideal for an impulse purchase at the airport. This scheme really doesn’t do justice to Guerlain’s Exclusive collections, EdP or not. We’d be a lot more excited if the marketing department would reissue the impossible-to-afford L’Abeille perfumes, instead of something you can still find on eBay for half the asking price. It’s actually not the first time though, that Guerlain has reissued an Aqua Allegoria fragrance as a high-priced Exclusive. In 2013, the brand reissued Aqua Allegoria Jasminora as Cour des Senteurs Versailles for the new Guerlain boutique at Versailles.
Like Figue-Iris, Promenade des Anglais is a simplistic fragrance, although the noticeably higher concentration alters the overall impression into a warmer, richer and muskier fruity-floral fragrance than Figue-Iris ever was. It’s probably made with better and more expensive raw materials too. Up top it’s fresh and tart, bubbling with bergamot and grapefruit, and a pronounced fruity note. Unlike, say, passion fruit, figs aren’t particularly known to have a strong scent. However, there’s a certain tenderness and greenness to the fruit in Promenade des Anglais that could mimic the impression of a fig. The green effect persists, with woody notes of violet leaf and vetiver, almost masculine ingredients, but mixed with a sweet and powdery base, and a healthy dose of white musk. There’s a dash of vanilla in there too. When Figue-Iris was launched almost eight years ago, someone called it "Insolence mixed with Herba Fresca", which is not far off the mark.
Visually Promenade des Anglais is more colourful than we’re used to for a Parisienne. The juice is tinted a pale mint green colour, while the ribbon is purple. To be honest, it’s not exactly a pretty colour mix, but it matches the original ad material for Figue-Iris, which was also green and purple. Since the recent launch of JonOne’s arty graffiti bee bottles, the new theme at Guerlain is “an explosion of colours”. We just hope that all those coloured liquids won’t stain our white shirts! Read more about the Aqua Allegoria collection
On the occasion of the launch of JonOne’s colourful bee bottles, everything at Guerlain has been bathed in colours. Maison Guerlain hosts an exhibition of JonOne’s latest graffiti works, and the brand offers new colourful scarf designs by JonOne. Also, the Parisienne bee bottles have been equipped with coloured ribbons. The new Parisienne fragrance, Promenade des Anglais, comes with a green coloured juice and a purple ribbon.
New Parisienne: Promenade des Anglais
Guerlain launches a new Parisienne fragrance called Promenade des Anglais, named after the celebrated promenade along the Mediterranean at Nice. The Parisienne collection is dedicated to reissues of former limited editions, and this one is reported as an EdP reworking of Aqua Allegoria Figue-Iris from 2008. Like the latter, Promenade des Anglais is described as fresh, fruity-green and powdery, with bergamot, fig and orris. The colours of the presentation fit the description as well as the original ad visual for Figue-Iris, with a green juice and a purple ribbon.
Some images courtesy of guerlain.com
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