Mitsouko turns ninety
La Grande Dame Mitsouko turns ninety this year, and to celebrate her birthday, Guerlain has produced fourteen 450 ml Baccarat crystal bottles filled with Mitsouko Parfum. The bottle's neck is decorated with jade and pearls. Circa 4,800 €.
A French kiss called Boisé Torride
Without the bodily odour of Jicky and the delicious cherry pie scent of L'Heure Bleue, Guerlain would perhaps never have been called "racy" or "gourmand". But exist they do, and without blushing Guerlain has associated and marketed itself with all things erotic and edible for more than a century. But never more explicitly than in the small collection called Les Elixirs Charnels from last year, "carnal fluids" that each celebrates an olfactory family — oriental, chypre, gourmand. "Elixir" usually means a sweet flavoured liquid containing alcohol used in compounding medicines, and the scents in the collection have a boozy-sweet quality, warm, rich and intoxicating, that fits this term. Now a fourth fragrance has joined the trio, this time portraying the woody family: Boisé Torride. Perhaps the only necessary introduction is to say that the nearly-identically sounding "un baiser torride" in French means a burning hot kiss! Guerlain boldly calls it "a new expression of eroticism", namely androgyny, using traditionally masculine woody essences like cedar and patchouli. The sugary and culinary aspect is given by pink berries and a marshmallow accord. 75 ml Eau de Parfum spray.
Idylle — a florist's young fantasy
Thierry Wasser's first big feminine launch has been long in the making and anticipated with much curiosity. Its name has been known for quite a while: Idylle, suggesting young and romantic fantasies. According to the ad, "Thierry Wasser composed his bouquet like a florist, with a light, exuberant touch, to encapsulate the idea of the idyll, a joyous, lighthearted romance." Albeit built on the new incarnation of the old signature accord, the so-called Musquinade, Idylle is a pause from the gourmand Guerlain launches of recent years, featuring lily of the valley, lilac, freesia, peony, jasmine and Bulgarian rose communelle. Classified as a chypre but much more florally delicate than the oldies, Mitsouko, Sous le Vent and Chant d'Arômes, although a prominent patchouli base gives it quite some character. Young French designer Ora-Ito is behind the bottle, shaped like a "a tear of joy and feminine happiness". Available in 35, 50 and 100 ml Eau de Parfum spray.
Guerlain Homme Eau de Parfum
AUGUST 2009. Although the Mojito accord of Guerlain Homme was specifically created for those men who "don't feel comfortable with 'round' or sensual fragrances", Guerlain one year later launches an Eau de Parfum version, a label that doesn't immediately stand for freshness and could risk to frighten those same men. But don't fear: it has more rum and warmer wood, but the overall conservative impression of greenery remains unchanged. The really good news: matte black metal and smoked glass is an extremely handsome combination.
Sylvaine Delacourte talks to Perfume Shrine
JULY 2009. In recent years, or more precisely since the "hostile takeover" by giant LVMH, Guerlain has been fiercely accused by die-hard fans of corruptly and secretly reducing standards and debasing the house's proud traditions. Sylvaine Delacourte, rising from makeup artist to artistic director chez Guerlain, has been bearing the brunt of most attacks, but as to disprove them always reacting with attentive openness and eagerness to discuss on various blogs, including her own, Esprit de Parfum. She now talks to Perfume Shrine, a very active and informative perfume blog, about her thoughts on Guerlain devotees' worries and dissatisfactions. "We have to conform to IFRA regulations of course and as you know those change often. It is much more complex for Guerlain than other brands, because the brand is 181 years old and you can imagine that some old raw materials have disappeared," she explains. "We have to find good substitutes. So it's a huge permanent work. But be assured that our perfumer Thierry Wasser works on this very carefully and is aware of the latest discovery of new raw materials that could be interesting as good substitutes of some components." Read more
Les Secrets de Sophie
French jewellery designer Sophie Lévy has created a small ornament — a cut stone with a padlock and its key as a symbol of love — to decorate a new limited edition Eau de Parfum by Jean-Paul Guerlain. Called Les Secrets de Sophie, it comes in a 60 ml version of the historic quadrilobe bottle, and the stone can be had in black, rose pink or mother-of-pearl, respectively named Secrets Noirs, Secrets Poudrés and Secrets Nacrés. The scent is described as a rich white floral softened by violet and incense. 300 €.
Jean-Paul Guerlain's student
MAY 2009. The renowned design magazine Wallpaper has interviewed Jean-Paul Guerlain and Thierry Wasser about how to mentor a new in-house perfumer of a legendary house — and how one learns to be both renewing and true to the Guerlain tradition. Jean-Paul Guerlain had to prove his own talent when the successor of Jacques Guerlain — creator of L'Heure Bleue, Mitsouko and Shalimar — was pointed out: "We had a problem with daffodil oil because there was a severe frost and the harvest was poor. My grandfather told me to try and create one. When he smelt what I had done he thought I had cheated and found some daffodil oil somewhere, because it smelt so authentic. He made me do it again to be sure. That's when he rang my father and said it is your youngest son, not your eldest who will succeed me." Right now, Thierry Wasser is spending his time as Jean-Paul Guerlain's student: "I would like to be patient, and humble enough to be like M Guerlain." Read more
Three cities, three fragrances
Guerlain loves trios — and travelling. This year, the house launches a collection called "Une ville, un parfum", three Eaux de Toilette inspired by and named after major capitals: Moscou, New York and Tokyo. The Moscou fragrance wants us to feel the spicy, brisk atmosphere of the Russian city with lemon, red currant, absinthe, plum, pine needles, tonka bean and white musk. In New York, we find Manhattan's Christmas scents of vanilla, cinnamon, tangerine, cardamom and cedarwood. And finally in Tokyo, the light, crisp Asian breeze of violet, jasmine, Hinoki cypress and green tea. Available in Guerlain boutiques in cylindrical 250 ml bottles, 157 € each.
New Aqua Allegorias
This year's Aqua Allegorias are two odes to spring: Cherry Blossom and Tiaré-Mimosa. Cherry Blossom is described as "aerial", a dry and slightly aldehydic scent of tender cherry blossom, bergamot, fleshy peach and green tea, more or less a reissue of the 1999 Japanese market launch. Tiaré-Mimosa is labeled as a "solar floral", opening on sparkly and bright notes of citruses and pink pepper before it unfolds spicy flowers, vanilla, vetiver and musk.
Get your own private Imperial Fountain
The big exclusive 2009 offering from Guerlain is called Mon Précieux Nectar, a rich, plushy gourmand fragrance in Parfum concentration of orange blossom, jasmine, bitter almond, sandalwood, incense, amber, vanilla and musk. It's sold in a one-litre crystal bottle named La Fontaine Impériale after the Champs-Elysées store's sophisticated tube system for filling empty bee bottles. The "fountain" container is accompanied by a small vaporizer placed in a black leather box. 100 numbered bottles, each at 6,000 €.
Three new reinterpretations
This spring, Guerlain will release modern interpretations of three of its bestsellers — Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus, Habit Rouge Sport and Insolence Eau Glacée. Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus, a Japan-only launch, is Jean-Paul Guerlain's attempt to brighten up the dark, complex Mitsouko with a lotus flower note, often described as giving a "watery" floral-green effect. "Sporty" versions of men's fragrances have become increasingly common, and as Guerlain's famous horse rider perfume Habit Rouge has always been about sweaty bodies, a Sport version seems almost natural. The new Habit Rouge Sport is described as more "tonic and dynamic" than the original with added notes of bamboo, pink pepper and — surprisingly for a masculine fragrance — jasmine. Insolence Eau Glacée, the fourth reinterpretation of the original Insolence, features a cooling effect given by notes of green apple sorbet and citruses.
The little pink black dress
Guerlain opens 2009 with what has already been judged as "very little black" and "very much pink": La Petite Robe Noire, a celebration of women's beloved "little black dress", described as a "fruity gourmand" Eau de Parfum with notes of lemon, liquorice, almond, rose, smoked tea, musk and vanilla. Limited edition and only available in Guerlain boutiques, 50 ml at 90 €.
Some images courtesy of guerlain.com
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