Anniversary perfume gift
DECEMBER 2008. The ultimate celebratory act of Guerlain's 180th anniversary year is Jean-Paul Guerlain's creation of a non-commercial perfume gift offered to loyal customers and people within the industry. Simply called 180 Ans de Créations 1828-2008, this Eau de Parfum composition is quite simple: it represents what is perhaps the purest and most stripped-down form of the famous Guerlinade accord ever produced by Guerlain, combined with both bitterness and softness.
Litres of Exclusives
If one just can't get enough, it's always possible to order Guerlain's perfumes in big bee bottles. However, this doesn't go for the house's exclusive boutique lines that are only sold in special, fixed-size bottles. But on the occasion of the 180th anniversary, Guerlain now puts for sale the two lines Les Parisiennes and L'Art & la Matière in giant 1000 ml bee bottles. The number of bottles is limited, and some of the more confidential fragrances are made in as few as two bottles. Prices from 1,000 €.
Old wine in old bottles
Yet another anniversary (or Christmas?) collector series: Guerlain puts out three feminine bestsellers in the famous heart-shaped stopper bottle: Shalimar, Insolence and L'Instant Magic. The bottle is lacquered in matte gold and the label is the round L'Heure Bleue label but here designed with the nostalgic blue-and-silver 180th anniversary logo.
Habit Rouge L'Extrait
Guerlain now launches its ultimate answer to men's growing wish for intensity: Habit Rouge L'Extrait! Jean-Paul Guerlain's famous horse rider fragrance started out as a light, powdery Eau de Cologne in 1965 when masculine elegance meant subtlety and discreetness. But in the eighties, when modern men began wanting to stick out with more recognizable scents, a more animal and concentrated Habit Rouge Eau de Toilette was made. In 2003, an agarwood-deep Eau de Parfum version was launched. And now finally, as an almost natural consequence, Guerlain creates its first ever Parfum for men (if one doesn't count Jicky in): Habit Rouge L'Extrait with an enhanced rosewood and patchouli base that dramatically darkens the scent. Sold in 930 numbered 50 ml spray bottles for 290 €.
Collector case of 18 emblematic scents
It's Guerlain's second anniversary box set, but this time it's getting serious: a leather case with 18 of the house's emblematic perfumes, created from 1828 to nowadays: Eau de Cologne Impériale, Jicky, L’Heure Bleue, Mitsouko, Shalimar, Vetiver, Habit Rouge, Nahéma, Samsara, L’Instant de Guerlain, L’Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme, Cologne du 68, Rose Barbare, Cuir Beluga, Angélique Noire, Bois d’Arménie, Iris Ganache and Insolence. Some might argue that the 1930s and 1990s are left out of this collection. Released in 204 copies October 15th for 2,500 €.
Parfum des Champs-Elysées — again!
Guerlain always knew how to celebrate itself, then and now. The cornerstone of celebratory releases in the 180th anniversary year is a re-reissue of Jacques Guerlain's Parfum des Champs-Elysées (that has nothing to do with Guerlain's much decried 1996 mimosa-sweet Champs-Elysées), including a huge Baccarat crystal tortoise bottle (500 ml of pure Parfum!), gold label, handmade silk cord seal and red-coloured leather box. Parfum des Champs-Elysées, a floral leather chypre, was originally launched in 1914 to celebrate the opening of Guerlain's new luxuriant shop on Avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris. This perfume's now almost legendary Art Nouveau bottle was meant as a tribute to the new shop: the tortoise-shape was inspired by the slowness of the construction work! Parfum des Champs-Elysées was first reissued in 1995. Current batch is sold in just 24 pieces from October 15th at a price of 10,000 € each.
Insolence Eau de Parfum
Two years after the original raspberry-red Insolence, Guerlain now introduces an Eau de Parfum edition. Still represented by Hillary Swank, it's officially described as "a new orchestration of the Insolence olfactory structure, direct to the heart with intense violet and deep orris, on a carnal and intimate base". Just words? Not according to Luca Turin's nose: he gives it top rating as "the most deliciously vulgar perfume on the market today" with an effect that is "simply huge". Gone should also be the much talked about "hairspray top note".
A long time before its release, the new Guerlain Homme has been heavily debated on perfume blogs. Will Guerlain's new in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser live up to the rich Guerlain-heritage? Will the scent be a new Guerlain classic? Or a disappointment? Now it's here. The scent is in Guerlain's beloved herbaceous-woody field featuring lime, mint, cedarwood and — not least — floral notes combined with a surprising rhubarb accord. It's the first masculine Guerlain since Derby to contain mint, and like Derby, the new scent is said to reflect man's dual nature of human and animal. The advertising material is actually inspired by the Derby motto, "Barbaric and very civilized," picturing a zoomorphic face accompanied with the tag line "For the animal that lies within". The video shows wild-exotic animals drinking around a jungle-waterhole — and among them is a man! So is this the scent of the jungle? Well, to call it "animal" may be an exaggeration, but it certainly is a delicacy expressing the promised duality of greenness and sensuality.
By the way, fans are a bit confused, because in October 2007 Jean-Paul Guerlain told Le Figaro that he had "been preparing a new perfume for men during the last few months". What happened to that one? Or was he collaborating on Guerlain Homme?
LVMH wins over eBay.fr
Since the middle of July 2008, no single perfume is to be found on sale on the French internet auction site eBay.fr. The reason is that eBay was recently fined severely by a French commercial court for de facto allowing the sale of counterfeit luxury goods. The court of appeals has confirmed the decision of the commercial court, maintaining the injunction that the auction site stops selling all perfume and cosmetic goods bearing a brand name from the LVMH luxury group, fake or not, namely: Dior, Givenchy, Guerlain and Kenzo. The injunction even forbids individuals from reselling genuine LVMH products that they received as gifts. This has sadly meant a goodbye to finding rare vintage Guerlain perfumes on eBay.fr. Luckily, other national eBay sites have not been affected by this. Read more
Les Elixirs Charnels — a new feminine trio
Although some claim that the Guerlain universe has an "intellectual edge", Guerlain perfumes are basically more about flesh than mind, more emotion than thinking, more play than conversation — just remember the flagship scent Shalimar, that deep, brutal-black, carnal smell. So why not just call a spade a spade and name a series of Eaux de Parfum "Les Elixirs Charnels" — carnal elixirs? This is what Christine Nagel and Sylvaine Delacourte have done. While Shalimar, like almost every Guerlain perfume, was created by a man and therefore reflected a man's not always very subtle vision of femininity, this new all-woman trio tries to illustrate a woman's different desires and fantasies seen from within the woman — and therefore perhaps more sophisticated and elegant than Shalimar was ever able to. Named after olfactory families, each scent depicts one "typical feminine fantasy": Gourmand Coquin (the playful, sweet-toothed girl), Chypre Fatal (the self-assured, serious professional) and Oriental Brûlant (the burning hot seducer). Released in October 2008.
Guerlain in party mood
Guerlain goes berserk in a new celebration video to promote the 180th anniversary of the house. The video camera follows each and every corner and employee of the big company, and we don't see the familiar Photoshop-stylized perfume bottles, but instead smiling faces of all the people that actually produce and ship all those fragrant gems to Guerlain-lovers around the world.
Guerlain gives out "Secrets de parfumeur"
As the 180th anniversary year is progressing, Guerlain continues celebrating it. Lately, the house has given out copies of a handsome miniature book called "Secrets de Parfumeur". It consists of four encased "volumes" called "The Guerlain Saga", "The art of raw materials", "The art of the bottles" and "The art of scenting". A tiny "perfume dictionary" is also included. It's basically advertising material, but still a charming gesture, as it contains some interesting details and beautiful images.
Thierry Wasser is Guerlain's new in-house perfumer
Since Jean-Paul Guerlain's retirement in 2002, Guerlain has been without an in-house "nose" and instead worked with different external perfumers like Maurice Roucel and Béatrice Piquet. Until then, every Guerlain perfume had been created by a master perfumer from within the family, but no one was able to continue this tradition after Jean-Paul Guerlain. On the 14th of May, Guerlain's chief executive officer Laurent Boillot and Jean-Paul Guerlain announced the breaking news that Thierry Wasser has been named the exclusive perfumer for Guerlain as of June 2008 — the first person ever outside the Guerlain family appointed to this position. Jean-Paul Guerlain, consultant to the company's presidency on creation and raw materials, will continue "guiding Guerlain and its new perfumer to insure the timeless Guerlain signature that is known all over the world since 1828", reassured Boillot. Thierry Wasser has already worked on Iris Ganache and Quand Vient la Pluie for Guerlain. His first masculine Guerlain fragrance, Guerlain Homme, will be released this summer, and he tells L'Express that he's already working on the next big feminine Guerlain perfume. Read more
Les Quatre Saisons anniversary box
2008 marks the 180th anniversary of Guerlain — Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain opened his first shop in Rue de Rivoli in Paris in 1828. The first gesture to celebrate this event is released on May the 15th, a highly limited box set of four different scents representing the four seasons, that hackneyed but beautiful Vivaldi-ish idea: Muguet de Printemps, Quand Vient l'Été (formerly known as Voile d'Été), Brume d'Automne, and Winter Delice.
The perfumes are presented in heart-shaped stopper bottles, 35 ml versions made of crystal by Baccarat. The bottles have been engraved by hand with a small drawing illustrating each season. Brume d'Automne ("fall mist") is a new creation, described as aromatic, floral and woody with pink pepper, coriander, rosemary, ylang-ylang, absinthe, sandalwood and vetiver. The remaining three fragrances are reissues. According to the official brochure, all four perfumes bear Jean-Paul Guerlain's signature. With only 85 copies distributed and a price of 2,500 €, this release is targeted towards the serious Guerlain collector.
The Guide and Guerlain
Wearing perfume is "a substitute for having an orchestra follow you about playing the theme song of your choice". This and similarly poetic phrases are to be found in the long awaited "Perfumes: The Guide" by perfume expert Luca Turin and his wife Tania Sanchez, that finally arrived on the 10th of April. The book contains general essays about perfume and impressionistic reviews of hundreds of perfumes, including fifty-seven Guerlain fragrances whose ratings can be found below. It's remarkable to notice that one out of eight of the guide's top-rated perfumes is a Guerlain. Turin-followers will also notice that he has changed his view on Nahéma — while it now gets five stars, in his French 1994 guide he mocked it as "lacking personality". And why he can't appreciate the masterly treated vanilla in Spiritueuse Double Vanille is a mystery to many. Maybe he will change his view on that one in due time too.
Après l'Ondée, Chamade, Derby, Eau de Guerlain, Habit Rouge, L'Heure Bleue, Insolence EdP, Jicky, Mitsouko, Nahéma, Shalimar, Vol de Nuit.
Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune, Attrape Cœur, Candide Effluve, Chant d'Arômes, Eau de Cologne du Coq, Eau de Cologne Impériale, Eau de Fleurs de Cédrat, Elixir Charnel Oriental Brûlant, Guerlain Homme, Héritage, Insolence, L'Instant de Guerlain, L'Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme, La Petite Robe Noire, Mouchoir de Monsieur, Plus Que Jamais Guerlain, Quand Vient la Pluie, Samsara, Sous le Vent, Vetiver, Vetiver Pour Elle.
L'Âme d'un Héros, Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca, Aqua Allegoria Lilia Bella, Bois d'Arménie, Chamade Pour Homme, Cologne du 68, Cuir Beluga, Guerlinade, Habit Rouge Sport, Idylle, L'Instant Fleur de Mandarine, L'Instant Magic, Jardins de Bagatelle, Liu, Nuit d'Amour, Philtre d'Amour, Quand Vient l'Été, Rose Barbare.
Angélique Noire, Aqua Allegoria Angélique Lilas, Aqua Allergoria Figue Iris, Aqua Allegoria Laurier Reglisse, Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic, Cherry Blossom Fruity, Cruel Gardenia, Elixir Charnel Chypre Fatal, Elixir Charnel Gourmand Coquin, Insolence Eau Glacee, Metalys, My Insolence, Spiritueuse Double Vanille.
Aqua Allegoria Cherry Blossom, Aqua Allegoria Grosellina, Aqua Allegoria Lemon Fresca, Aqua Allegoria Pivoine Magnifica, Aqua Allegoria Tiaré Mimosa, Aqua Allegoria Tutti Kiwi, Eau de Shalimar, Champs-Elysées, Mayotte, Vetiver Extrême.
The guide's front cover shows Guerlain's famous blue crystal "bow tie bottle", originally made for Coque d'Or (1937).
New box design
Over the past months, Guerlain has introduced a new box design for all its perfumes, both classic range, exclusive lines and limited editions. Bottle design has not changed. Since 1828, Guerlain has changed its design several times, and the present one is perhaps the most minimalistic and elegant ever. It consists of a plain or discreetly striped box with a thin vertical line centred on the upper part of the front. The line ends in a small circle with the "double G" symbol inside, emulating the Parfum bottles' cord and metal tag. The new design has led some collectors to erroneously believe that they've come across a rare vintage edition.
Eau de Shalimar
The newly released Eau de Shalimar has already become known as "the newest derivative" of Guerlain's famous flagship fragrance from 1925. But according to Guerlain's own information, it's only a repackaging of the successful Shalimar Eau Légère Parfumée, composed by Mathilde Laurent in 2003. Jean-Paul Guerlain reworked it slightly in 2004 and the fragrance was then attributed to him. Like Habit Rouge Eau de Toilette Légère, it's a brighter, younger and more joyful scent than the original, still recognizably Shalimar, but with a tangy lime accord added to the top notes. Extremely well constructed, Eau de Shalimar could be the choice for the new generation of Guerlain lovers who find the old Shalimar too, well, old.
Figue-Iris & Laurier-Réglisse
Spring has made way for two new releases in the popular Aqua Allegoria line. This line, particularly dear to Jean-Paul Guerlain because the whole line should imitate "a walk in the garden", consists of light, fresh perfumes varying from carefree and simple to full-of-personality. Figue-Iris is made by Jean-Paul Guerlain, blending the green freshness of fig with warm, powdery orris. Laurier-Réglisse, created by Marie Salamagne and Sylvaine Delacourte, combines the sweetness of liquorice and the freshness of laurel with bergamot, orange blossom, violet and galbanum.
The newest addition to the prestigious "L'Art & la Matière" line, a line devoted to highly artistic reflections on raw materials, is the evocative Cruel Gardenia. Created by Randa Hammami in collaboration with Sylvaine Delacourte, it has immediately gained high praise. It's said to suggest the dangers of the tropics, stemming from the intense and feverish scent of gardenia weaved into a sexy, musky skin-scent.
Habit Rouge Habit de Métal
No, "Habit de Métal" is not a new version of the original Habit Rouge, but a redressing of the old Eau de Toilette to celebrate Father's Day — in a lacquered, metallic-red bottle encased in a silver outer box. The package is described as "modern, quasi-futurist, and geometric".
L'Âme d'un Héros
Erroneously described by some as "the new masculine fragrance by Guerlain", L'Âme d'un Héros ("the spirit of a hero") is simply a reintroduction of Coriolan from 1998. According to Guerlain's own information, the new name has not changed the scent at all. In spite of a sophisticated mix of cold and warm notes of lemon leaves, juniper berries and everlasting flower, Coriolan wasn't a big commercial success. Consequently, it was soon discontinued, to some men's disappointment. It can be viewed as one of the most underestimated of the Guerlain compositions, but has now been given a second chance in the Les Parisiennes collection.
Some images courtesy of guerlain.com
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