Hong Kong afternoon tea inspired by Guerlain
Hong Kong's MO Bar at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental has devised an exclusive Christmas afternoon tea inspired by Guerlain fragrances and makeup. The chic hotel bar is located in the same building as Guerlain's Hong Kong boutique, and inspired by the "Collection Les Ors" featuring Guerlain's bee emblem, the menu is modelled around the iconic Guerlain range. Sous Chef Sidney Schutte explains: "We started off with the Or Imperial Sublime Radiant Powder which has a beautiful gold shimmer and we created a zabaglione sponge cake and clementine and walnut macaron in these tones." HK$325 including champagne and a small Guerlain gift, available throughout December. Read more
Unfortunate public remark ends Jean-Paul Guerlain's career
What was meant as an ironic remark by Jean-Paul Guerlain ended up infuriating anti-racism groups and the entire perfume blogosphere because of racial suggestions. During an interview by French television channel France 2 on October the 15th, he talked about the creation of his perfume Samsara. "Pour une fois, je me suis mis à travailler comme un nègre. Je ne sais pas si les nègres ont toujours tellement travaillé, enfin..." The phrase "travailler comme un nègre" is an old French saying which was not originally racist but referred to the exploitation of workers, meaning something like "to slave away". However, Jean-Paul Guerlain's joking addition in many ears connoted derogatory colonial attitudes, very unbecoming of this well-travelled and cultivated old gentleman perfumer. The inconsiderate remark was dropped only a few days after the launch of his new book "Parfums d'Amour" in which he praises "the human relationship".
Guerlain issued an apology following the broadcast, saying: "My words do not reflect in any way my profound thoughts but are due to an inopportune misspeaking which I vividly regret." He also expressed concern that his words might damage the company's image and pointed out that he is no longer a shareholder or employee of the company. The Guerlain website states in a communique that "his remarks are contrary to the culture, values and ethics practiced by the company who promotes the diversity of talents originating from all over the world." The company has immediately cancelled its contract with Jean-Paul Guerlain as consultant and mentor, and it leaves Thierry Wasser in full charge of the house. "I admire his career, I love his fragrances, my first fragrance was Habit Rouge which he made. He's my hero. It's not easy. It's not the best way to leave your professional career, and it is painful for me too," Wasser told in a BBC interview. "We have a very sensitive relationship, and this has absolutely nothing to do with it." Read more
Les Parisiennes now include Nuit d'Amour
Guerlain's exclusive line Les Parisiennes is dedicated to revivals of earlier one-off Jean-Paul Guerlain creations, but it had to wait four years to receive Nuit d'Amour, a 2006 limited Parfum, back then presented in a quadrilobe bottle that featured a Belle Époque collar of jet glass beads with a cameo medallion. It was also distributed as a less costly Eau de Parfum, and it is this version that is now available again, this time in the small bee bottle. Nuit d'Amour never obtained wide acclaim, but Les Parisiennes have recently lost Attrape Cœur and Philtre d'Amour due to IFRA restrictions, and Nuit d'Amour enters by way of consolation. The fragrance, a rosy plushy oriental with fruity overtones, was inspired by the tango clubs of Buenos Aires. Gustav Klimt's portrait "Lady with Hat and Feather Boa" also influenced it with its erotic 1909 society redhead in a fur coat. The notes include litchi, Provence rose, pink peppercorn, aldehydes, violet, orris, sandalwood, and musk. 125 ml including bulb atomizer, 180 €. For this release, the Parisienne bee bottle has been redressed with a pink ribbon to support breast cancer awareness.
New book by Jean-Paul Guerlain
About the time when Jacques Guerlain retired, he told his grandson Jean-Paul, future master perfumer, that "you always create perfumes for the woman with whom you live and whom you love." Since then, Jean-Paul Guerlain has always linked his creations to love, being in love with or wooing a woman. He has now written a book titled "Parfums d'Amour" about the love affairs behind his most loved perfumes. Unlike the 2002 autobiography Les Routes de Mes Parfums, which was written as general reflections on his work, notably his many travels for raw materials, Parfums d'Amour is more of a journal themed around his specific creations. In it, he reveals some of the intimate secrets behind Samsara, Spiritueuse Double Vanille, Nuit d'Amour, Cherry Blossom, Habit Rouge, Vetiver and Vetiver Pour Elle. "This book was born from a desire to share with you the creative Guerlain philosophy which prefers the human relationship to market analyses," his preface explains. Since the book centres around Guerlain's eternal love for vanilla, a 15 ml bottle of Spiritueuse Double Vanille is included. La Maison Guerlain held a press release book signing the 30th of September. French edition, 58 €, limited to 1.400 numbered copies.
Arsène Lupin, dandy and rascal
73-year-old Jean-Paul Guerlain is still an active perfumer. He visits the Guerlain factory once a week to work on his own creations, and for a long period, he has been working on what ended up being two new fragrances for men, his first masculine since Coriolan back in 1998. Three years ago, prior to the launch of Wasser's Guerlain Homme, the French newspaper Le Figaro reported that Jean-Paul Guerlain had "been preparing a new perfume for men during the last months" and since then, Guerlainophiles have eagerly awaited the result.
Now it's here, comprising a duo called "Arsène Lupin" since it's inspired by Maurice Leblanc's twenty volume book series about the fictional gentleman thief of the same name. In Francophone countries, the Arsène Lupin character, invented in 1905, has enjoyed a popularity as long-lasting and considerable as Sherlock Holmes in the English-speaking world. The two new perfumes, launched as exclusive Eaux de Parfum, are meant to reflect the two-faced personality of Arsène Lupin, the dandy and the rascal. Arsène Lupin Dandy is described as a gallant, sophisticated oriental leather fragrance with notes of pink pepper, cardamom, violet, labdanum, leather and patchouli, at once powdery and dry. Arsène Lupin Voyou is more of a vivacious woody aromatic with a bitter orange and mugwort opening that turns warm and sweet of rose, sandalwood, benzoin and musk. Both scents are very refined and chic, not sharing the saturated, raspy style that Jean-Paul Guerlain has been noted for (think Vetiver, Habit Rouge, Héritage, Coriolan), and housed in contemporary-looking bottles with wooden frames, equally unusual for Guerlain. 165 € for 100 ml.
Shalimar Ode à la Vanille
The vast Guerlain catalogue allows for an endless list of anniversaries, and 2010 marks the 85th one of Shalimar's launch. As if it wasn't enough with the sleek new look of its bottle, Shalimar also receives a new olfactory orchestration that, maybe needless to say, pays homage to vanilla, the most cherished and fetishized of the Guerlain notes and the building block of Shalimar. Appropriately called Ode à la Vanille, this reworking is composed by Thierry Wasser who explores the gourmand potential of the legendary fragrance with more luxurious and silky vanilla, an intensified and rather dark vanilla infusion boozed-up with heady jasmine and reminiscent of brown cacao liqueur. The composition includes both a vanilla tincture from Mayotte, where Jean-Paul Guerlain owns plantations, and a vanilla absolute from Madagascar. At the same time, Wasser has minimized what is by many considered the hallmark of classic Shalimar, those swaying, jazzy notes of powder and musk. The result is a less low-cut Shalimar, a dessert that is more serious and elegant, at once less sweet and more substantial. A beautifully packaged limited edition 50 ml Eau de Parfum, 86 €.
L'Abeille de Guerlain
1853: Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain presents his Eau de Cologne to the French empress in a bottle shaped like a beehive and covered with 69 gilded bees — the Napoleonic emblem of efficiency and productivity. 2010: the bee is more central than ever in Guerlain's presentation designs, honoured as the symbol that links new creations to the House's proud history. This year's exclusive Guerlain launch is ultra-exclusive. Guerlain has asked Baccarat to manufacture the biggest perfume bottle ever done by the distinguished crystal works firm, an immense handblown crystal sculpture in the shape of a more than thirty centimeter tall bee with wings as faceted as diamonds.
Destined for only the most affluent collectors, L'Abeille de Guerlain, or the Guerlain bee, was fashioned by jewellery designer Lorenz Bäume who is also behind the look of Rouge G lipstick cases. Just 46 numbered pieces have been made, each one containing 245 ml of Parfum at the luxurious price of 12,500 €. The juice is composed by Thierry Wasser who explains that he has tried to "view a garden from a bee's perspective", sweet pollen, chlorophyllous greens (that vegetal accord that by now has become Wasser's hallmark), a blend of sunny flowers: mimosa, orange blossom, jasmine. Wasser also used a note of golden honey which "marries so well with summer flowers". While he admits that this mix risks smelling syrupy thick if treated badly, he assures us that his creation "flies like an angel, diffuses without suffocating, twines around the marvellous orris, so precisely powdery". The result is as classic as it is narcotic, not unlike Jean-Paul Guerlain's Les Secrets de Sophie or Jacques' Candide Effluve, or even Wasser's own Flora Nymphéa. L'Abeille has jasmine intense and carnal, it's hazily powdered, with the illuminating, slightly innocent effect of mimosa, and with a honey that indeed is not too sweet, but aromatically herbal and buoyant.
Jade Jagger designs new atomizer bottle for Shalimar
Considering Guerlain's usual speed of new launches, this summer has been fairly quiet. A second renovation of the Maison Guerlain had been planned to begin in June (a very thorough one, leaving only the gilded walls from the 2005 renovation), but it was at the last minute rescheduled for later. And, Guerlain was already busy enough as it was. The house always seems to have an anniversary to celebrate and in 2010, it's been 85 years since Shalimar was presented to the public for the first time. Time for a new bottle design! Guerlain openly admits that the smooth "bat-shaped" design of the Shalimar atomizers wasn't the most successful, and designer Jade Jagger was commissioned to create a new look for it. Her aura of bohemian rock & roll seemed perfect to unite nostalgia and hipness in an updated Shalimar vessel.
In the new design, so far only made for the EdP atomizer but scheduled also for the EdT, Jade Jagger goes back to Raymond Guerlain's iconic Art Deco idea of an fountain on a pedestal, but with lines more fluid and simple — since its inception in 1986, the EdP has had three different bottles but never a foot (see illustration). The foot on Jagger's bottle is proportionally diminished as to make the body seem even more imposing, and the stopper has a stylized, chunky look like that of a Photoshopped blue jewel. The new Shalimar bottle comes in 30, 50 and 90 ml EdP. As an anniversary bonus, 182 bottles (a number concordant with Maison Guerlain's 182nd birthday) of a special 20 ml Parfum version have been distributed worldwide. For the price of 1,200 €, you get a piece of design each decorated with a genuine sapphire engraved with the "G" symbol. In order to avoid any confusion, it should be pointed out that the original Parfum bottle is neither changed nor discontinued. Read more
Idylle Eau de Toilette
Thierry Wasser has now made his "mist of flowers" of Idylle from last year even more floral and romantic. A new reformulated Eau de Toilette successor is launched, and its floral bouquet is fresher, greener and more naked than in the Eau de Parfum, and neroli has been added. Also the heralded Bulgarian rose blend is of a brighter variety, while patchouli — Idylle's "chypre sensuality" — has been toned down and lit up by ylang-ylang, lending "a sensual and natural colour to the fragrance, the aroma of cashmere on the skin and a warm voluptuous sensation."
The fifth generation Guerlain Cologne
Guerlain is mainly celebrated for its richly adorned perfumes, but the house also takes great pride in its line of "Eaux", fresh and short-lived colognes made from citrus and herbs. It was after all Eau de Cologne Impériale that earned founder Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain his fame in 1853, and it has since been a sort of compulsory rite of passage for the next perfumer in succession to create his own Eau. Thirty-six years after Jean-Paul Guerlain's sublimely aromatic Eau de Guerlain, it's Thierry Wasser's turn to prove himself worthy to be included in the historical Cologne club as fifth generation. Given the name Cologne du Parfumeur, it oozes of self-esteem: "Originally, I created this Cologne for myself," Thierry Wasser explains. "I composed it at the same time as Idylle, it was my downtime. I wanted a Cologne in the tradition of the great classics but with a modern twist." Like Flora Nymphéa, it includes time-honored orange blossom, but here very grassy green and citrusy, and with a contemporary sweet and musky background. As to officially inscribe Thierry Wasser's name in the Guerlain tale, all five Eaux have been relabeled with each perfumer's signature below the fragrance name.
Guerlain Homme L'Eau
Guerlain Homme was described as "inimitable greenness". But, freshness can be even fresher. Subtitled "L'Eau", this new summer's version, simpler, easier, happier, more vibrant, is made of just the appetizing Mojito accord from the original Guerlain Homme, sweet lime, mint and rum, plus a new, bitterness-stripped grapefruit note.
Flora Nymphéa and Bouquet No.1
March and April means spring approaching and the emergence of new Aqua Allegorias, Guerlain's tender fragrance line inspired by flowers, herbs and citruses. Since the line's conception in 1999 by botany lover Jean-Paul Guerlain, various perfumers have been interpreting the scent of spring. This year's Allegoria launches are composed by the man who also made idyllic Idylle, in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser. First an airy watercolour floral called Flora Nymphéa, described as poetic and romantic in an impressionist "Belle Époque" style, centred around Philadelphus flower, orange blossom, honey, red fruits and musk. Philadelphus is also called "poets' jasmine" and smells deliciously of lilac, orange blossom and anise, but in perfumery, it only exists as a reconstructed fragrance. The second Allegoria is released as a travel exclusive and named Bouquet No.1, a quite classic flower fragrance with jasmine, peach and a green twist of freshly cut grass. Incidentally, the whole line's box and label has been redesigned this year with a focus on Guerlain's bee symbol.
Guerlain's ever-expanding line of artful raw material highlights — L'Art & la Matière — received its seventh member the 1st of February. This time, the matter in focus is the tonka bean, that small South American chocolate-brown "bean", actually the dried stone of a fruit containing coumarin, smelling so deliciously of almond, honey, wood, vanilla and hay, and used for ages for its balsamic and sweet-warm scent in various dessert dishes, in tobacco and in fragrance. Since Jicky, coumarin has been on the Guerlinade palette and included in almost each and every Guerlain perfume. With Tonka Impériale, the dessert chef Guerlain, this time in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser, pays tribute to this fetishized ingredient alone, only accompanied by notes that accentuate the tonka bean's natural facets plus rosemary to add spicy freshness, in a mildly sweet and charmingly aromatic Eau de Parfum smelling somewhere between gingerbread and chocolate. The result will delight both men (its herbal-woody accord) and women (the velvety balsam of tonka bean). Tonka Impériale is maybe the "most Guerlain" of this "modern niche" line: it has the emblematic reminiscence of Jicky, just modernized as more pleasingly straight-out gourmand.
Thierry Wasser et al. declare war on strict IFRA regulations
For several years, perfume aficionados have smelled their favourite classic scents being changed, and the Mitsouko-without-oakmoss case has been intensely debated on various perfume blogs, along with news about the very recent discontinuation of Attrape Cœur and Philtre d'Amour. Many people have been thinking that the perfume houses were abandoning their customers' loyal devotion but now, the perfumers themselves chime in. In a very outspoken article in Le Monde they declare war on the regulations of the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) that become stricter and stricter each year. One of the protesters is Guerlain's in-house nose Thierry Wasser: "We sell perfumes of which the oldest is over 150 years old. If some day Brussels doesn't want rose essence any longer, what am I to do? There is rose in almost all our perfumes... It is a heritage we need to defend." He adds: "Jean-Paul Guerlain had created Parure for his mother. We had to discontinue it because we could no longer use the ingredients necessary to make it. It's a heartbreak."
Some images courtesy of guerlain.com
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