Shalimar Midnight Blue
This Christmas, Shalimar presents itself extra extravagantly. Baccarat has made a blue quadrilobe crystal bottle containing 500 ml, and Guerlain's "dames de table" have dressed it with a thick cord to seal it and brushed the tassel more voluminously than ever. The presentation, called "Shalimar Midnight Blue", is one of Guerlain's most beautiful for Shalimar since 1925. A very limited quantity of bottles are produced, containing either Shalimar Parfum (6,500 €) or Shalimar Parfum Initial EdP (6,000 €).
A gift for the man who has everything
Among this year's special Christmas editions at Guerlain, one finds something for him: an exclusive perfume box set for the man who already has it all. The box set is made as a luxurious, dandified wood-and-leather cigar humidor containing two masculine fragrances, and two different sets are available, one with the Arsène Lupin fragrance duo, the other an Habit Rouge pairing of L'Extrait and Thierry Wasser's new L'Eau. Smoking isn't a welcome habit any more, but the French don't seem to care and Jean-Paul Guerlain probably even less. 2,500 €.
A perfume for the renovated Bolshoi theatre
The famous Bolshoi theatre in Moscow will reopen on October 28 after years of renovation. The 1825 building was damaged by fires and a Nazi bombing. The Communists used the theatre for party gatherings and expanded the hall, damaging the acoustics. In 2005, the theatre closed for reconstruction, now finally completed in its original design with tsarist insignia and additional underground stages. Guerlain is official sponsor of the theatre in 2011 and to celebrate the reopening day, the perfume Le Bolshoi is presented, 60 ml Eau de Parfum inside a quadrilobe atomizer. Only 400 bottles have been made to sell exclusively in Moscow. The fragrance is attributed to Jean-Paul Guerlain, and the notes listed — bitter orange, jasmine, ylang-ylang, violet leaf, musk, tonka bean, vanilla, incense — are those of Les Secrets de Sophie. It has not been officially confirmed, however, if Le Bolshoi is the same perfume relabeled. Around 16,000 roubles.
Fragrant bee jewellery
Guerlain has always stressed that its bottles should be pieces of art as beautiful, detailed and important as the scents themselves. How sad you must leave the bottle at home in the vitrine! For the first time, Guerlain presents a very luxurious way to actually wear the bottle. A jeweller and a watchmaker have been commissioned to create a piece of jewellery in the shape of a bee, the mythic Guerlain symbol, with diamonds and polished black onyx in a platinum setting, that holds a small container of Guerlain perfume. It can be worn as a brooch or a pendant, and its ingenious construction allows the wearer to make the wings open up and diffuse a small dose of fragrance by pushing an almond-shaped diamond on the bee's body. The piece is titled Le Secret de la Reine ("the queen's secret"). Made to order with your favourite fragrance.
Two dressed-up orientals
In keeping with tradition Guerlain dresses up its two big orientals for the coming Christmas season. Shalimar puts on a "Fourreau du Soir" (evening sheath dress), a black tulle veil printed on the bottle's hourglass figure with a leather ribbon and bow to accentuate the décolleté neck. 50 ml EdP. According to Guerlain, the inspiration comes from a true story: Madame Guerlain wearing an evening dress in lace aboard the Normandie ocean liner and an unknown perfume that made everyone talk, the new Shalimar. In the men's department, Habit Rouge goes "Habit de Cuir" with a refillable red leather case. 100 ml EdT. The two fragrances inside remain the same.
A weekend behind the scenes
For the weekend of October 15th and 16th, French luxury goods group LVMH invites visitors to explore the secrets of several of its houses, from Moët & Chandon and Dom Pérignon to Christian Dior, Guerlain and Louis Vuitton. Admission is free but tickets are very limited. For this occasion, Maison Guerlain has organized a busy programme including one-hour presentations by Thierry Wasser and Sylvaine Delacourte, conducted tours of vintage bottles, and lectures about Guerlain's raw materials and perfume accords. Read more
Guerlain withdraws the "Dandy" name
Due to a copyright conflict, possibly with D'Orsay's Le Dandy, the name of Arsène Lupin Dandy has been changed into only Arsène Lupin. All bottles bearing the "Dandy" name have been withdrawn from stock. The design of the bottle is unaltered, and the name of Arsène Lupin Voyou also stays the same.
London, the fourth capital fragrance
Guerlain's line of tributes to the world's great cities, "Une ville, un parfum" a.k.a. the Voyage collection, now gets London on the map. Moscou was brisk air, Tokyo tender greens, and New York warm Christmas. So what does London smell like? Guerlain's Thierry Wasser chose sugared rhubarb, so dear to the British in various desserts, combined with violet and a flavour of English boiled sweets, acidulous and fruity, plus drier notes of black tea, vetiver and cedarwood. On the occasion, the jumbo bottles have been downsized to 100 ml rectangular sprayers, redesigned with a city scene motif — Guerlain concluded that a Voyage fragrance too big for a toiletry bag isn't logical. To compensate, all four fragrances in the line are modified into Eaux de Parfum, sold for 150 €.
Idylle Eau Sublime
It almost seems like Thierry Wasser's Idylle derivatives will never stop. Idylle Eau Sublime is the fifth incarnation of the Idylle theme, yet only the first widely available flanker after the limited edition Idylle Duet. While the latter was marked by a warm rosy intensity, Eau Sublime sees into lightness and the feeling of water. For this effect, Wasser used rose water, the liquid left over from distilling rose oil. Rose water has a distinct, slightly soapy scent, often used to flavour food and sweets in India and the Arab world. Eau Sublime adds litchi and peach for a luscious, fruity sparkle. Available as 70 ml and 100 ml EdT.
The much anticipated Parfum version of Idylle is now being released. The fresh flowers of the Idylle fragrance have been significantly toned down to only contain freesia, and heart and base are put into focus. The rose note is intensified by addition of rose absolutes together with raspberry and litchi fruit, and the base is a whole new reworking with the precious ambrette material, balsamic, sensual and animalic. Sold in an extremely cute 10 ml flacon.
Wasser revisits Habit Rouge
"I love his fragrances, my first fragrance was Habit Rouge," said Thierry Wasser about his mentor Jean-Paul Guerlain, and now he has had the chance to put his own touch on this classic masculine. Wasser made Habit Rouge L'Eau which is a softer, easy-to-wear and less contracted adaptation of the original, with notes of hazel and jasmine. Delicately fresh and slightly musky, it seems obvious that Wasser did it while working on Cologne du Parfumeur. The woodier Habit Rouge Sport will still be available alongside the new L'Eau.
La Petite Robe Noire Modèle No.2
Guerlain's little black dress, La Petite Robe Noire, a boutique exclusive from 2009, divided the audience. There were those who found the name to be a Chanel knockoff, and the fragrance, a confection of licorice, almond and berries, to be pink rather than black. And then there were those who bought it and loved it: It was literally flying off the shelves. Its success soon made it a staple house fragrance chez Guerlain, to the extent that it's now joined by a second dress model. The new Petite Robe Noire is designed by Thierry Wasser and is less tangy-berry and more powdery-floral with orange blossom, iris and marshmallow, "infinitely delicate and perfectly sweet". No licorice (the only "black" note in the first Robe Noire) but with galbanum and a soft leather note to accompany the white musks. Still presented in the heart-shaped stopper atomizer, now with a new dress model printed on the front and, yes, a pinker juice. 50 ml EdP.
Bee with gold wings
Last year, Guerlain issued in collaboration with Baccarat crystal works an extremely exclusive perfume creation called L'Abeille ("the bee"). The scent evoked a honeyed summer garden and the bottle an immense stylized bee with crystal wings. Self-confidently stating that "we have only one rule: the exceptional," Guerlain now presents to collectors a second, even more sumptuous Abeille. Thierry Wasser has composed a classical and sensual floral fragrance, named Paradis Interdit ("forbidden paradise"), of mandarin, pink pepper, gardenia, ylang-ylang, jasmine, labdanum and musk, all enveloped in the bee-inspired honey note. The bottle has kept the same shape but with 18 carat gold leaf laid into the wings, glittering behind the faceted handblown crystal. Appropriately, the presentation is called L'Abeille aux Ailes Or ("bee with gold wings"). 57 pieces worldwide, 245 ml Parfum, 17,000 €. See the promotional material
Maison Guerlain expands
Last year, Guerlain announced an expansion of the renovated Maison at Champs-Elysées, but it was postponed at the last minute. Now it begins! Guerlain has taken over the 100 square metres on the ground floor of the building just left to the boutique entrance where a restaurant once resided, and as a prelude converted the space into a temporary concept store that will be open during summer. Designed to replicate a "workshop" atmosphere, at once sophisticated, playful and relaxed, the idea is to let people test, try and sniff everything Guerlain, perfumes, makeup and skincare.
The collection of Elixirs Charnels devoted to feminine fragrance families — oriental, chypre, gourmand, boisé — is now complemented with what is perhaps the most well-known of categories, a floral. Thierry Wasser has made Floral Romantique, a very luminous and sensual composition of orange blossom, jasmine, lily, tiaré, ylang-ylang and carnation. Up top are mandarin and grassy yerba mate, while the base has the almost edible gourmand touch of the Elixir line, here benzoin, ambrette and chestnut, only turned drier and saltier with cedarwood and smoked tea.
This year's Muguet
Guerlain's yearly Muguet fragrance is back. The house began in 1998 to reissue a limited portion of Jacques Guerlain's old Muguet each year the 1st of May under the motto "Un jour, un parfum" ("one day, one perfume"), for it is a tradition in France to buy and give this flower the first day of May as a symbol of spring and return of happiness. The fragrance wasn't released in 2010 though — maybe it took too long to find an IFRA compliant formula. If so, it was worth the wait, because it smells as clear and jubilant as ever. Mainly a collector's item, this year's model features a 100 ml square bottle with a square stopper and a felty label with hand-painted lilies of the valley.
The Aqua Allegorias 2011
This year's Aqua Allegoria is once more about Guerlain's beloved jasmine flower. Jasminora is as tender and retro as its Belle Époque name suggests, a floral in the fresh end of the spectrum with galbanum, freesia and lily of the valley. And of course jasmine. Two additional scents have been made, sold as limited editions. Rosa Blanca is a luminous rose fragrance, in the style of Nuit d'Amour but less powdery. The second extra is Bouquet No.2, an even fruitier floral than last year's Bouquet No.1.
Shalimar Parfum Initial
"Parfum Initial" is actually a misleading name, since this is neither a Parfum nor any first version. It's actually the very latest flanker to old Shalimar, after the Light and Ode à la Vanille variants. So instead think of its name as alluding to the Shalimar ad soundtrack, Serge Gainsbourg's Guerlain-referencing 1968 hit fanfare "Initials B.B.". Well, and to Guerlain's stated aim to promote a "Mon Premier Shalimar", a beginner's version for the follower in spe. Shalimar is certainly a fun creature to play with: she can be fresh, she can be dark, or tender, or overpowering — the different ways of reinterpreting this legendary perfume seem inexhaustible. The new creation was like Ode à la Vanille developed by Thierry Wasser, reportedly at the request of his niece who wanted a more contemporary Shalimar. The result is a luminous floral amber scent, with extra rose, jasmine and orris. Besides tonka bean and vanilla, the base includes white musk, providing a warm, slightly carnal cashmere effect. The juice has got a new blush rose tint, the sole most debated detail about the fragrance prior to its release. Its bottle is a slightly taller and slenderer version of the new Shalimar atomizer, sold as 40 ml, 60 ml and 100 ml EdP.
Vetiver returns to its good old bottle
After ten years with a young and independent look for the old staple Vetiver, it seems that Guerlain has had second thoughts, because the fragrance is now moved back into the noble and much-loved "Habit Rouge bottle". In 2000, Robert Granai was asked to modernize the Vetiver presentation and give it its own distinct design. He created a masculine and solid bottle ribbed with irregular lines, very suiting for the rugged, rooty fragrance. It looked great, but the more conservative of Vetiver's fans didn't like the change and felt that it was too frivolous, for this the most classic of Guerlain's gentleman's scents. Whether Guerlain heeded the complaints or not we don't know, but it's a fact that Vetiver returns to its timeless design, an honour simultaneously given to Vetiver Extrême (deservedly or not). Just when the ribbed bottle was becoming a new classic...
Idylle Duet: rose and patchouli
After the more fresh floral EdT version of Idylle, the time has now come for an exclusive limited edition flanker of the fragrance. Since Idylle's launch in 2009, its advertised signature has been the marriage of Bulgarian rose and Indonesian patchouli, a combination that is at once dewy and dry, lush and earthy. Thierry Wasser now highlights these two signature ingredients, in a new edition called "Duet", to make a more dramatic presentation of the perfume's romantic idea. In addition to that, moss replaces white musk for a darker feel. The result is a classic rose perfume. A limited number of teardrop-shaped bottles are sold in the same kind of box as that of Shalimar Ode à la Vanille, 50 ml and 35 ml Eau de Parfum.
Cherry Blossom goes West
All of a sudden, the once so plentiful and proud Parisienne line seemed to go down hill: Attrape Cœur and Philtre d'Amour went out of production and the masculine "Parisiens" going astray towards square-bottled territory. Nuit d'Amour, an exclusive 2006 launch, came to the rescue as a Parisienne revival in October 2010, but the line could still only count four feminine fragrances, too meagre to be called a collection. Now, yet another former one-off Jean-Paul Guerlain fragrance is installed in the line: Cherry Blossom EdT. Not to be confused with the 2009 Aqua Allegoria Cherry Blossom, it was originally a Japan-only release from 2000, created as both Parfum and EdT, with green tea, cherry and lemon to celebrate Japan's famous cherry blossom season in April. Japanese spring has gone West, joining Mayotte, Vetiver Pour Elle, Nuit d'Amour and Liu. 125 ml including removable atomizer, 180 €.
Guerlain gets a whole masculine exclusive line: Les Parisiens join Arsène Lupin
The line Les Parisiennes used to contain three "Parisiens", masculine fragrances. In order to give them a more distinctly masculine look more appealing to the average man than that of the decorated small bee bottles, these have now been moved into square wooden framed bottles that fit Jean-Paul Guerlain's two Arsène Lupin fragrances. Hence, a whole line of masculine exclusives has emerged: Derby EdT, Chamade Pour Homme EdT, L'Âme d'un Héros EdT (formerly Coriolan), Arsène Lupin Dandy EdP and Arsène Lupin Voyou EdP. 100 ml cost 165 €, quite a bit more expensive per volume than the Parisiens used to be.
Some images courtesy of guerlain.com
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