Shalimar Parfum Initial discontinued
Three years ago, Guerlain pulled out all the stops to make a success of the "younger" Shalimar, Parfum Initial. Unfortunately, it didn't work out; the sales figures have been depressing. Despite its wonderful fragrance, mixing rose, orris, tonka bean, caramel, patchouli, white musk and a dash of vanilla, people were confused by the complicated name, unable to decipher what it wished to communicate. Was this Shalimar or not?
Guerlain now informs us that Shalimar Parfum Initial has been discontinued. The fragrance was taken out of production a while back, and now the last stock has left the factory. Only Shalimar Parfum Initial L'Eau is still to be found on Guerlain's website, but according to Guerlain it too will disappear.
Thierry Wasser has been very open about the lack of success of Shalimar Parfum Initial. "I think the whole concept didn't work. There is only one Shalimar," he said. "But frankly, I work for a company and we're not philanthropists, we have to make some money. The sickness of making flankers every five minutes is very upsetting, but if I don't want to get kicked out for not doing my job, I have to do it."
Thierry Wasser awarded the Legion of Honour
Thierry Wasser has been raised to the rank of Knight of the Legion of Honour, a French order established by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1802 to recognize excellent societal conduct. The order is the highest decoration in France. The motivation for awarding Thierry Wasser is described as follows: 1) For meeting the European Commission with an aim to defend the use of natural raw materials. 2) For making France shine around the world through the know-how of Guerlain's perfume art. 3) For helping local communities in foreign countries to develop a production of raw materials. Read more
Guerlain's Movember team collects 8,167 €
Thanks to very kind donations, Guerlain's Movember team Moustache de Messieurs has collected 8,167 € to support men's health. With this amount, the team ended as the #6 biggest contributor in France. A warm thanks to everyone who has donated to Moustache de Messieurs.
One city, one exclusive
The "Une Ville, Un Parfum" series may be discontinued, but Guerlain still has the world at its feet! There are now five special editions each exclusive to one city:
• Paris: Cour des Senteurs Versailles (a reissue of Jasminora)
• London: Royal Extract (a reissue of Attrape Cœur)
• Dubai: Santal Royal (new fragrance)
• Moscow: Le Bolshoï Black Swan (new fragrance)
• New York: L'Instant Magic EdP bee bottle
In a world where everything can be purchased at online stores, limited accessibility is an easy way for brands to heighten the sense of uniqueness and luxury.
Coque d'Or — reissue vs. original formula
Guerlain presents a deluxe reissue of Jacques Guerlain’s 1937 perfume Coque d’Or. Priced at 17,000 €, it is limited to 29 handmade pieces. The fragrance has been reformulated to conform with today’s safety norms on raw materials.
Earlier this year, Thierry Wasser re-created the original versions of several old Guerlains for Maison Guerlain’s perfume museum, among them Coque d’Or. Because these perfumes are not for sale, Wasser was able to use the exact same ingredients as in the time of Jacques Guerlain. This gives us the opportunity to compare modern formulas with the original ones.
From Wasser’s re-created oldies we know that the most important differences between then and now are about the prohibition of raw bergamot oil, nitro-musk and animal tinctures. This generally leaves the top notes flatter and shriller and the base less rounded, rich and long-lasting. Luckily, modern versions of Mitsouko, Vol de Nuit and other Guerlain classics are proof that Wasser wants to go a long way in the lab to try to imitate the effect of a raw material that can no longer be used.
When smelling the new reissue version of Coque d’Or, which Guerlain has made available to test at certain boutiques, we clearly get the powdery, fruity chypre accord of the original, an elegantly makeup-like, slightly matte yet glamorous effect of orris, pineapple, daffodil, jasmine, oakmoss and patchouli. As expected, the top notes are much barer and lighter than in the original version, leaving more air for the floral notes, which actually may appeal to modern tastes. Jacques Guerlain’s olfactive style was extremely rich and condensed, and some think that his perfumes had an “old woman” vibe. The reformulated Coque d’Or feels bright and airy up top, but the downside is definitely a loss of depth and longevity.
In the same vein, the lack of nitro-musk means that we no longer get the enveloping, puffy cloud of musk that defined most of Jacques Guerlain’s work. This too makes for a barer fragrance, but may be preferred by many of today's perfume wearers.
Finally, there’s the compulsory omission of civet tincture, which is a bit like taking umami out of a dish. Besides adding richness and depth, civet has an earthy facet, which gave the original Coque d’Or a certain dry, dark and stately quality. Without civet, the new reissue version meets you as friendlier, sweeter and cleaner, but it leaves the orris and moss a bit alone at the base.
All in all, however, we must applaud Thierry Wasser and his assistant perfumer for doing their best to retain the spirit of vintage Guerlain, given the restrictions on raw materials. We just wish that LVMH would drop the “haute couture” attitude and make Coque d’Or within financial reach for those of us who have a genuine passion for historic Guerlain. Read more about Coque d'Or
The making of Baccarat's reissue of the bow tie bottle
Baccarat creates a replica of the historic bow tie bottle for Guerlain's reissued 1937 perfume Coque d'Or. Gilded by hand, this 190 ml crystal edition is priced at 17,000 €. Photos from Instagram.
Exclusive reissue of Coque d'Or
This year, Guerlain presents an exclusive reissue of the historic perfume Coque d'Or. It comes in a large 190 ml size of the original bottle from 1937, the so-called bow tie bottle, made of cobalt blue Baccarat crystal and gilded by hand. The box is a replica of the original presentation as well, featuring a minimalist Art Deco look with a straw marquetry effect, typical of its designer, Jean-Michel Franck who also decorated the beauty institute on the first floor of Maison Guerlain in 1939. The reissued Coque d'Or has been produced in 29 numbered pieces, each for a price of 17,000 €. This makes it Guerlain's most expensive vintage edition to date; compare with the 60 ml model of Candide Effluve from 2007, which sold for 2,000 €.
It was when LVMH started to infuse funds into the brand in 1994 that it became possible for Guerlain to fulfil its dream of relaunching historic perfumes in limited deluxe editions. The first vintage edition was that of Liu, after which it looked like a yearly tradition. Parfum des Champs-Elysées came after in 1995, then Djedi (1996), Véga (1997) and Quand Vient l'Été (1998). There was a pause until the first renovation of Maison Guerlain in 2005 when we had the snail bottle duo of Voilette de Madame and Mouchoir de Monsieur, followed by Eau de Cologne Hégémonienne (2006), Candide Effluve (2007), and a second reissue of Parfum des Champs-Elysées in 2008. Guerlain reported that it had to give up plans of reissuing Ode, and we began to think that the idea of vintage reissues was altogether abandoned. Vintage reissues are very demanding financially, and also technically given the IFRA norms on raw materials. However, there was a special vintage edition of Vol de Nuit last year for the perfume's 80th anniversary, and now we get Coque d'Or.
For this edition, Coque d'Or has been reformulated in order to meet the existing safety restrictions. If you want to sample the original version, you can make an appointment with Maison Guerlain's museum which holds Thierry Wasser's collection of re-created vintage formulas, made with all the original ingredients. Image by Guerlain. Read more about Coque d'Or
Le Bolshoï Black Swan
It was in 2011 that Tchaikovsky's beautiful ballet, Swan Lake, as well as the ballerina aesthetic in general, achieved mainstream fame with the film Black Swan. The same year, Guerlain issued Le Bolshoï to commemorate the reopening of the Bolshoi theatre after extensive renovation. Now, three years later, Guerlain presents Le Bolshoï Black Swan, a limited perfume edition exclusive to Moscow. For this edition, a new fragrance has been composed, described as woody, milky, fresh, and sparkling. Its key note is sandalwood, which marks the scent from the top notes through to the base. The remaining notes are: milky note, lemon, bergamot, mandarin, jasmine, lily of the valley, rose, violet, cedarwood, white musk and vanilla. The name Black Swan is also used for part of the colour palette of Guerlain's Un Soir à l'Opéra makeup collection.
The first Le Bolshoï was a 60 ml prestige atomizer bottle containing Les Secrets de Sophie, a beautiful jasmine scent from 2009. In 2012, Guerlain launched a second edition of Le Bolshoï, with the same scent as the year before and this time available outside of Moscow as well. The new Le Bolshoï concurs with the reissue of Coque d'Or and the Un Soir à l'Opéra makeup collection, which both have a Russian ballet and opera theme. 60 ml, circa 375 €.
A boutique dedicated to the Exclusive Collections
For the first time, Guerlain dedicates an entire boutique — the one in rue Tronchet in Paris — to the Exclusive Collections, presented in all their majesty. Each collection is accompanied by a small text, at once informative and poetic, as is each fragrance, specifying its olfactory universe and dominant notes. One can also discover some of the raw materials. Read more
Movember is here! Monsieur Guerlain has teamed up with Guerlain's Movember crew, Moustache de Messieurs. Any donation to support men's health will be very much appreciated.
Jean-Paul Guerlain raised to the rank of Commander of the Order of the Star of Comoros
The renowned perfumer Jean-Paul Guerlain has recently been raised to the rank of Commander of the Order of the Star of Comoros by prince Fahmi Saïd Ibrahim for his investment in the archipelago of the Comoros. The ceremony took place at the sumptuous salons Gordon Ramsay of the Trianon Palace at Versailles. "The Comoros are big suppliers of raw materials such as frangipani, orange, vanilla. In Mayotte, I had one extraction factory alembics to extract vanilla and ylang-ylang," Jean-Paul Guerlain told a French news site.
The interest in Jean-Paul Guerlain from the media puts a finger on one of Guerlain's very sore points. In 2010, he was dismissed from the company after making a racist remark on French television regarding the inspiration for his perfume Samsara. "We avoid posting articles about Jean-Paul Guerlain after his racist speak. It damages us a lot," Guerlain says today. However, it's difficult to ignore the artistic legacy of Jean-Paul Guerlain, creator of such classics as Vetiver, Habit Rouge, Chamade, Nahéma, Héritage and Samsara, and he's still to be found on Guerlain's official website. In 2012, Jean-Paul Guerlain was fined for his remarks, and during the trial he said he was very sorry about his inopportune misspeaking, explaining that he's from another generation and anything but racist.
With Santal Royal, Guerlain highlights the precious scent of sandalwood. Sandalwood is an endangered species, but Thierry Wasser has set up sustainable sandalwood plantations in Sri Lanka.
There's a lot of money in the United Arab Emirates, and every luxury brand would love to hit it big there. Therefore, Guerlain has started to design fragrances for the Arab market. Guerlain is deeply rooted in a French perfume tradition dominated by floral harmonies, citrus, amber and powder, which isn't popular in the Middle East. Arabs simply aren't attracted to classic European perfumes, not even the orientals; living in a hot, humid climate, they prefer strong woody scents, dark rose, and spices. Thierry Wasser's perfume trio Les Déserts d'Orient from 2012 was targeted directly at Arab customers, and so is Santal Royal. Read review of Santal Royal
Guerlain launches a new fragrance called Santal Royal, at first exclusive for Harrods which is opening its new Salon de Parfums. Notes listed for Santal Royal are sandalwood, leather, agarwood, neroli, cinnamon, rose, amber and musk. The new fragrance comes in a black spray bottle in the bee bottle shape of the Aqua Allegoria and fabric scent lines, here with a gold label. The scent is targeted to the Middle Eastern market, although the look of the bottle sets it apart from the Déserts d'Orient line. Santal Royal will come to Paris in January 2015. 125 ml, 145 €. Photo from Instagram.
A second batch of Terracotta Le Parfum
Guerlain reports that due to the success of the limited edition of Terracotta Le Parfum, a second batch is produced in mid-October 2014.
Fleur de Vigne
Moët Hennessy opens its first stand-alone boutique, situated at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. For this boutique, Thierry Wasser has created a new room fragrance, called Fleur de Vigne, inspired by the scent of a vineyard.
Tropical Chic, a fragrance for Cheval Blanc hotel
Cheval Blanc, a chain of luxury hotels owned by LVMH, opens up in Saint Barthélemy, the Antilles. Guerlain's Thierry Wasser has composed a new fragrance exclusively for this hotel. Called Tropical Chic, the scent is made in the spirit of the exotic surroundings, and guests will find it in the shampoo samples provided in their bathroom. On a side note, Saint Barthélemy is part of the Leeward Islands after which Jacques Guerlain's 1934 perfume Sous le Vent is named.
Un Soir à l'Opéra Christmas makeup collection
Guerlain's Christmas makeup collection 2014 will be inspired by Jacques Guerlain's 1937 perfume Coque d'Or, which is being relaunched this fall in a deluxe vintage edition. The makeup collection, called Un Soir à l'Opéra ("an evening at the opera") features a powder spray that replicates the original Coque d'Or bottle. Previous Christmas makeup collections had similar historic themes, like Liu and Vol de Nuit. One of Guerlain's most iconic Art Deco designs, the Coque d'Or bottle is shaped like a gilded bow tie. While the design is both unique and age-old, it has been noted that its reinstatement comes strikingly close to Viktor & Rolf's presentation of their new fragrance Bonbon, also housed in a bow tie bottle. We wonder who spied on whom?
Hyper-Natural: Scent from Design to Art
Perfume critic Chandler Burr curates an exhibition around the magic of synthetics in perfumery. Held at National Gallery of Victoria, Australia’s oldest public art gallery, the exhibition will offer an intimate behind-the-scenes view of famous Guerlain perfumes – Jicky, Shalimar, Chamade, Samsara, Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca, La Petite Robe Noire, and L'Homme Idéal. "In 1969 Jean-Paul Guerlain designed a work entitled Chamade with the synthetic p-Mentha-8-thiol-3-one, which smells like a neon fruit salad of sulfury mango and guava powered by the nuclear radiation of the Fukushima reactor," says Chandler Burr. "It is a shocking material, and it let Guerlain create a work that presented these natural olfactory aspects not as natural but as hyper-natural. Which is why my exhibition, in which you will smell these molecules and these works, is called Hyper-Natural."
Guerlain institutes literary prize
Les Abeilles de Guerlain is a new literary prize in a short story competition organized by Guerlain, le cherche midi publishing company and L'Express news magazine. The purpose is to get new talents to put olfactive memories into words. Read more
Collector's editions 2014
It has become a yearly tradition for Guerlain to offer collector's editions of Shalimar and La Petite Robe Noire. Called "Nuit des Indes", this year's Shalimar is a giant blue glass bottle. It is decorated with a necklace made of blue and mother-of-pearl beads on a 24 carats gold mount, inspired by traditional Indian Kundan jewellery. The bottle contains classic Shalimar Parfum. 1.5 litre, 9,500 €. La Petite Robe Noire Parfum comes in a black Baccarat crystal bottle with an embroidered flower ornament designed by Macon & Lesquoy. 250 ml Parfum, 12,000 €.
French Kiss: a sweet meringue variation on La Petite Robe Noire
Guerlain describes its new Elixir Charnel fragrance as a "glossy floral. Desirable, delicious, sexy." We're not sure if it's glossy, but it sure is desirable and delicious. Sexy depending on taste. Pink like fruit candy, it mixes litchi, rose, raspberry, violet, vanilla, heliotrope, orris and white musk. It's supposed to have a lipstick note, but if anything, it's more the notorious hairspray top note of Insolence EdT that we find. The rest smells like a variation on La Petite Robe Noire, having black tea and patchouli replaced with the addictive marzipan-like scent of heliotrope. Read review
Elixir Charnel French Kiss
Guerlain launches a new Elixir Charnel fragrance called French Kiss. The name deviates from that of the previous Elixirs Charnels which all bear the name of a perfume family: Oriental Brûlant, Chypre Fatal, Gourmand Coquin, Boisé Torride and Floral Romantique. The new scent is made to highlight this year's 20th anniversary of Guerlain's KissKiss lipsticks. French Kiss is described as a highly addictive "glossy floral" worked around a scent of lipstick. Notes listed are litchi, rose, raspberry, violet, vanilla, heliotrope, orris and white musk. EdP 75 ml, 185 €, available from the end of August at Guerlain boutiques in Paris.
Thierry Wasser on raw materials and reformulations
On a recent trip to London to promote Guerlain's new men's scent, L'Homme Idéal, Thierry Wasser was interviewed by the Perfume Society about his thoughts on raw materials and reformulations.
"Is it true that you've recreated some of the old Guerlains — according to their original formulas — so that you can smell what they were like?"
Thierry Wasser: "I have. We have the old books of formulas — the manuscript of all the formulas from the time of the founder until now — but they don't 'speak', really. You can see from the handwriting that there is a rhythm, there is a succession of raw materials, but it doesn't speak. And to have a clearer vision, I re-compounded twenty or so old fragrances. I had to fetch raw materials from very remote places to find what I thought would be close to what was used in the 19th century or the beginning of the 20th. For example, bergamot was not treated; it was raw. That one was easy, because I said to our partners in Italy, 'Give me 5 kilos of raw bergamot before you start killing it.' So I can have a Shalimar in its 1925 version, which is interesting to smell, because it is, indeed, different from the one we know today. I'm not sure that people nowadays would like it."
"You said that the original Shalimar smells quite different from the current version. What differences would we spot if we could smell them side by side?"
Thierry Wasser: "You would see several things. The original is much less animalic than the version we have today, because the civet is rounded by the raw bergamot. But it's much more leathery, because it has birch tar, which today has been turned into birch water by IFRA. And it's much muskier than today's. Now, the musk has disappeared. Those are the main, striking differences."
"What's your favourite perfume from the ones you've made?"
Thierry Wasser: "It's always the latest one. I have a soft spot for Idylle, because it was the first perfume I made in-house at Guerlain. I had a lot of pride for Shalimar Parfum Initial. I love the fragrance, but I think the whole concept didn't work. There is only one Shalimar. But frankly, I work for a company and we're not philanthropists, we have to make some money. The sickness of making flankers every five minutes is very upsetting, but if I don't want to get kicked out for not doing my job, I have to do it." Read the full interview
New additions to Maison Guerlain's vintage museum
When Thierry Wasser invited perfume bloggers to Maison Guerlain to discover the historic world of Guerlain, he promised us to continue the re-creation of perfumes from the archive. He kept his promise and now adds Jasmiralda (Jacques Guerlain 1917) and Parfum Impérial Russe (Aimé Guerlain 1880) to Maison Guerlain's museum. The re-created vintages can be tried by appointment but not purchased, as they contain ingredients that are not IFRA norm-conforming. In the coming days, Monsieur Guerlain will review these two fragrances. Read reviews of Thierry Wasser's re-created Guerlain vintages
New limited bottle editions of La Petite Robe Noire
Guerlain offers a new limited bottle edition of La Petite Robe Noire. As before, it's designed by the French artist duo Kuntzel+Deygas who this time made a sequined dress. This is the third special bottle edition of the fragrance. It comes in EdP, EdT and Couture versions.
A breeze of Thierry Wasser
Thierry Wasser introduces a new flanker to Shalimar, called Shalimar Souffle de Parfum, by all accounts a replacement of the unsuccessful Shalimar Parfum Initial. The launch is scheduled for the end of August, but Sephora has it "en avant-première" in France.
Like Parfum Initial, Souffle de Parfum has no connection to classic Shalimar except for the name, merely retaining a few of the oriental ingredients like jasmine and vanilla. Classic Shalimar is above all about smoky leather, powder and animal notes, while the flankers are designed specifically for those who don’t like these “old-fashioned” scents. (This rule doesn’t apply to the Ode à la Vanille variants which were classic Shalimar with different sorts of natural vanilla tinctures added to the ethylvanillin.)
"Souffle" is French for "breeze", and the aim of this new fragrance is to offer a very airy and pure interpretation of the oriental accord. Guerlain defines the scent as a "tender floriental", fresh, luminous and cocooning, with notes of jasmine, orange blossom water absolute, white musk, and a drop of vanilla. This description captures quite well the scent of Souffle de Parfum, an example of what Guerlain paradoxically terms a "fresh vanilla". The citrus and orange blossom are angelically light and tender, with a transparent, ozonic and even slightly green feel. This is far removed from Shalimar’s overdose of zesty bergamot. When the top notes meet with white musk, we get the so-called marshmallow effect that several recent Guerlain scents feature too, like L’Heure de Nuit and Mademoiselle Guerlain. Here, however, it’s even airier, and less sweet, than in any of those, with a lightness that achieves an almost aldehydic and salty character. The jasmine provides a certain body and creaminess but, like the vanilla note, dosed lightly. Yet, the overall impression is not light as in "diluted", but more as in "airy" or "ozonic" — an example of "the weird long-term freshness that Thierry Wasser somehow builds into the fabric of his fragrances," as Luca Turin puts it. The drydown is only marginally gourmand, and we sense the warm dryness of cedarwood towards the end.
The fragrance could easily have been an Aqua Allegoria. It smells lovely, really like nothing else Guerlain has made before, and it certainly doesn’t smell like Shalimar. Maybe it smells like what we'd imagine to be the scent of a fresh vanilla orchid in bloom. There will probably be complaints about projection and longevity, although the latter isn’t bad if you can enjoy it as a skin scent. We ask ourselves why Guerlain keeps issuing Shalimar flankers that don’t smell one bit like Shalimar. It’s not unlikely, though, that flankers serve to direct new attention to the original perfume, thereby strengthening its commercial position.
Compared to Parfum Initial, Souffle de Parfum comes across as stripped of the richness of bergamot, rose, caramel and orris. While Parfum Initial could be worn as an evening perfume, Souffle de Parfum seems more like a light and casual, but still refined fragrance. And, compared to Eau de Shalimar which is markedly citrusy and vanillic, and also a bit leathery and “dirty” despite its softness, Souffle de Parfum is far more pure, crisp and airy. With its green and salty aspects, it would work as a masculine fragrance.
The box design for Souffle de Parfum features a print of one of Maison Guerlain’s silk scarves. Read more about Shalimar and its flankers
Shalimar Souffle de Parfum
After the unsuccessful Shalimar Parfum Initial, Thierry Wasser tests his luck with a new Shalimar flanker called Souffle de Parfum ("breeze of perfume"). Guerlain describes the scent as a "tender floriental", fresh, luminous and cocooning. The highlighted notes are jasmine, orange blossom water absolute and white musk. We expect that Souffle de Parfum is to Shalimar what L'Heure de Nuit was to L'Heure Bleue, an airy and very pure floral interpretation of Jacques Guerlain's rich Guerlinade. For this fragrance, the Shalimar bottle has been tinted blue, and Natalia Vodianova poses in a new ad. 30 ml, 50 ml and 100 ml EdP.
Rumours and reality about discontinuations
Guerlain announced recently that several of its perfumes are to be discontinued: the Une Ville, Un Parfum collection, the Vintage collection (Véga and Sous le Vent), and Shalimar Parfum Initial. Since then, rumours about even more discontinuations have been spreading among internet users. We've seen at least the following fragrances mentioned: L'Instant de Guerlain, L'Instant Magic, the Elixirs Charnels line, Vetiver Extrême, Guerlain Homme EdT, Vol de Nuit Parfum, Jicky and Après l'Ondée.
At the time of writing, Guerlain dismisses any of these rumours, with the exception of L'Instant Magic Parfum which Guerlain staff has informed us is taken out of production. However, a reliable source within the industry confirms that Guerlain has announced to take Guerlain Homme EdT out of production at the end of 2014.
Discontinuation rumours have existed ever since online perfume forums were invented some years ago. Sometimes, these rumours start because one shop stops stocking a given perfume, and the sales staff or the customer erroneously conclude that the perfume is no longer being produced. Also, even in the case of a discontinuation, reality can prove more complex than we thought. Example: Guerlain has confirmed that the Vintage collection will disappear from the boutiques. However, the scents can still be purchased by special order, says Guerlain.
Interview with Thierry Wasser about L'Homme Idéal
Men's Up, a French online lifestyle magazine, has talked with Thierry Wasser about his new masculine Guerlain fragrance. He explains that above all, it’s the interplay between bitter almond and tonka bean that gives L’Homme Idéal its depth and originality. The idea of the bitter almond is taken from Jicky, he says, but it’s the first time that a fragrance uses it as a dominant note. To him, L’Homme Idéal goes along well with the Guerlain signature, although it has its own modern character. "I am not here to be a revolutionary," he modestly remarks. "In our inventions nothing prevents us from eyeing what the neighbour brings out, and I do that very openly." Just like he lets himself be inspired by the work of Jean-Paul, Jacques, Aimé, and Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain. Read more (in French)
The L'Homme Idéal film
The ad film for Guerlain's new men's scent L'Homme Idéal is made by French film director, screenwriter and producer, Michel Gondry. He's in particular known for his music videos for Björk and Daft Punk. The film shows top model Jon Kortajarena as the superstar who proves to be only a fantasy. "The ideal man is a myth," says Guerlain. "His fragrance, a reality."
Guerlain likes to be mentioned as the brand that brought several ground-breaking ideas to 20th century perfumery: the revolutionary Jicky, the fruity chypre, the oriental accord, and the masculine oriental, to name the greatest. There's another talent, though, that is just as important as the first, namely to pick up a popular trend and give it the Guerlain treatment. Guerlain's long-awaited new men's fragrance, L’Homme Idéal, is an example of the latter. It can be classified as what perfumers call a "boisé sec", a category of potent fresh-woody fragrances of which Boss Bottled by Annick Menardo (1998) was amongst the first. Her stratagem was to use powerful aroma molecules that smell vigorously, yet monotonously woody and citric. The effect is cool, young and dynamic, with impressive radiance and tenacity. Not surprisingly, the concept has been copied and interpreted by most perfume brands, as in Bleu de Chanel (monochrome woody), Bang by Marc Jacobs (peppery woody), 1 Million by Paco Rabanne (fruity-sweet woody) and Invictus (macho woody, also by Paco Rabanne). Nightclubbing boys like these fragrances for their capacity to act as sex pheromones, while professional men buy them for their self-confident masculinity. Perfume aficionados, on the other hand, generally don't find them tasteful, and we guess most had hoped that Guerlain would never venture into this genre. So, what magic did the Guerlain machinery create this time? Well, let it be said from the start, that the whole thing — juice, bottle, box and marketing message — is very handsome. Read review
Guerlain's new men's fragrance
After months of waiting, Guerlain's new men's fragrance, called L'Homme Idéal, will be presented to the press on June 3rd. According to Guerlain, it's the first fresh woody masculine ever to feature almond. Notes listed are citrus, rosemary, orange blossom, almond, tonka bean, vetiver, cedarwood and leather. The commercial release is set for June 23rd, but you can have a preview already from May 28th in select travel retail shops.
The "Une Ville, Un Parfum" collection discontinued
Guerlain seems these days to be doing some serious tidying-up of its admittedly copious catalogue. Everything that doesn't sell well has to go. We recently lost the Vintage collection (Sous le Vent and Véga), and now the time has come for the "Une Ville, Un Parfum" collection. This collection consists of five fragrances dedicated to world-famous capitals, New York, Moscow, Tokyo, London and Shanghai. The production has already been stopped, and the fragrances will be for sale only while stocks last.
A new Parisienne:
The Parisienne collection gets a new member. The collection consists of reissued perfumes, and the new one is La Petite Robe Noire Modèle No.2 from 2011. With notes of orange blossom, orris, marshmallow, galbanum, soft leather and musk, this fragrance was altogether different from the original La Petite Robe Noire. It only appeared for a very short period before the worldwide launch of La Petite Robe Noire. For the reissue, it will be renamed Mademoiselle Guerlain. The ribbon is made of pink grosgrain to indicate that part of the proceeds will go to the association Belle & Bien which supports women with cancer. The 125 ml EdP. Read more
Each year since 1998 (with a few lapses), Guerlain has launched a collectible edition of Muguet perfume on the 1st of May. The fragrance is not the same as Jacques Guerlain's original 1908 entry, but the new Muguet is popular because the bottle presentation changes from year to year. For the first time, Guerlain uses its famous bee bottle for Muguet, probably as a follow-up on the bee bottle anniversary a few months back. The presentation includes a handmade white porcelain holder decorated with lily of the valley motifs, conceived by Parisian ceramic artist Brigitte de Bazelaire. 125 ml, 400 €. See previous Muguet editions
Mon Habit Rouge Taillé Sur Mesure
This year's collector's edition of Habit Rouge lets you do some of the work yourself. The classic Habit Rouge bottle comes in all-black glass decorated only with a thin red stripe along each side, like that on the outer side seam of a pair of tuxedo trousers. There's no label on the bottle; instead the box contains a set of self-adhesive letters to customize your initials on the empty label space. The fragrance remains unchanged. 100 ml EdT, 86 €.
Royal Extract is a Guerlain perfume sold exclusively at Harrods. It's in fact a reissue of the discontinued Attrape Cœur, loved and lamented by many a Guerlain aficionado. The scent is a beautiful, rich amber fragrance with notes of rose, jasmine, tuberose, peach, vanilla, orris, and of course amber. 125 ml bee bottle, 340 €. See more
Thierry Wasser invites perfume bloggers to discover vintage Guerlain
Guerlain has recently re-created several of its historic perfumes for Maison Guerlain's perfume bottle museum. The perfumes have been made from their original formula, using original raw materials many of which are not used in today's cosmetic industry for ethical, safety or availability reasons. This admirable project has required an enormous amount of research by Thierry Wasser and junior perfumer Frédéric Sacone.
Now, the two perfumers have invited a group of perfume bloggers, all with a particular interest in the Guerlain universe, to meet at Maison Guerlain to discover and discuss the olfactive history of the house. The event was named "Les blogueurs et Guerlain à table" and for the occasion, a unique sample set — bearing the label L'ADN Guerlain — was generously offered to each of the participants at the meeting. The set contains twenty-five re-created vintage Guerlain scents in their original Parfum versions. We were most delighted to experience what Jicky, Mitsouko and Shalimar originally smelled like.
Thierry Wasser began by explaining that the idea for the meeting came in three "waves". The first wave was purely technical and internal, namely a wish to evaluate the current state of the existing Guerlain classics by comparing them with exact remakes from their original, handwritten formulas, dispensing with all safety restrictions on ingredients. The second wave was junior perfumer Frédéric Sacone's suggestion to re-create the vintage perfumes represented at Maison Guerlain's bottle museum in order to let visitors not only see but also smell these historic scents. And finally, the two decided that it was time to open up in public the discussion about reformulations and how bureaucratic safety norms affect the olfactive patrimony of Guerlain. Thierry Wasser argued that Guerlain needs transparency and the support of all Guerlain lovers as a means to increase the pressure on bureaucracy, and that inviting perfume bloggers is an obvious way to spread the word about what happens to a perfume when the use of certain raw materials is drastically restricted.
Present at the meeting were Thierry Wasser, Frédéric Sacone, and the perfume bloggers, Esprit de Parfum (Guerlain's own Sylvaine Delacourte and editor Nathalie Pichard), Grain de Musc, Poivre Bleu, Auparfum, Mybluehour, Atrecherche, Spirit of Guerlain, Olfactorum, Musque Moi, Dr Jicky & Mister Phoebus, The Empty Bottle, Parfumessence, and Monsieur Guerlain. Read Monsieur Guerlain's reviews of the vintage set
Guerlain discontinues the Vintage collection
It has been rumoured for quite a while, but Guerlain now confirms the fact: the Vintage collection has been taken out of production. Ironically, the sad news arrives at a time when Guerlain seems to have decided on a stronger focus on its olfactive history, setting up a perfume museum at Maison Guerlain as a unique possibility to explore the vintage world of Guerlain. The Vintage collection (first named "Il Était Une Fois Guerlain") was launched in 2005 after the first renovation of Maison Guerlain and originally planned on counting five reissued EdT by Jacques Guerlain: Ode (1955), Kadine (1911), Cachet Jaune (1937), Sous le Vent (1934) and Véga (1936). Eventually, only Sous le Vent and Véga became available for purchase. As predicted, none of these ended up as bestsellers, but Guerlain lovers were delighted by the fact that Guerlain made them available again. We will miss the vintage-looking laboratory bottle with its black lacquer seal and consider buying a bottle or two while stocks last in the boutiques. Guerlain's PR department explains: "The continuous introduction of new fragrances and cosmetics requires the selection to be renewed. The products must always be more efficient, of better quality, and with the highest possible diversity. As a consequence, the weak demand of a product forces us to discontinue its fabrication." Read more
Habit Rouge enters the Fragrance Hall of Fame
Thanks to its enduring appeal and style, Habit Rouge recently received the Fifi Awards' Prix des Parfums Mythiques, also called the Fragrance Hall of Fame Award. This prize recognizes a fragrance classic which has achieved legendary stature and been on the market 15 years or more. The fragrance got immense attention and acclaim right from the start, back in 1965, attracting both fathers and sons, and many men report it as their very first cologne or at least the one they remember. Today you will still be able to overhear senior customers at Maison Guerlain declaring their lifelong devotion to Habit Rouge. When asked if it will ever be discontinued, Guerlain replies, "Non, Habit Rouge c'est comme les petits pains," — a French institution as constant as croissants. In 2015, Habit Rouge has served for 50 years. We hope Guerlain will delight all Habit Rouge lovers with a beautiful anniversary edition. Read more (in French)
Mitsouko receives Prix du Patrimoine 2013
Mitsouko has been voted best reformulation in 2013 by Olfactorama, thanks to Thierry Wasser's careful revisionary efforts to bring this Guerlain classic closer to its original spirit. Read more (in French)
Terracotta Le Parfum
Guerlain introduced its Terracotta makeup line in 1984, inspired by the warm, suntanned colours of the era. The line has continued to be popular and celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. To mark the anniversary, Guerlain launches a limited edition fragrance called Terracotta Le Parfum, a solar floral with notes of bergamot, coconut, tiaré flower, orange blossom, jasmine, ylang-ylang, vanilla and musk. Guerlain describes the scent as "the allure of the sun, in a bottle." It is "irresistibly sensual, exotic and luminous, inspired by the radiant realm of Terracotta." Terracotta Le Parfum is the fourth fragrance associated with the makeup line, after Voile d'Été, Eau Sous le Vent and Huile du Voyageur.
Insolence Crazy Touch
This spring, Insolence gets a new collectible bottle, called Crazy Touch. It's decorated with pink polka dots, and the name is taken from the Crazy Paris makeup line from last winter. The fragrance remains unchanged. The Insolence bottle got a similar makeover in 2009 with the Blooming edition, featuring Japanese-style manga flowers as part of the Cherry Blossom makeup collection. 50 ml EdT for 75 €.
Eau de Cashmere
Guerlain has launched its third "fragrance for fabrics", after Eau de Lit and Eau de Lingerie. The new Eau de Cashmere is meant to scent your pullovers and wool scarves with a fresh-soft mix of mandarin, lavender, orris, cedarwood and musk. Eau de Cashmere is well suited to layer with fragrances from the L'Art & la Matière line, especially Cuir Beluga. 125 ml for 72 €.
Aqua Allegoria Limon Verde
This year's Aqua Allegoria is called Limon Verde, inspired by the Brazilian drink, caipirinha. "Savour a caipirinha under the lemon trees along the Amazon River," says Guerlain. The Caipirinha lime theme was first used in Guerlain Homme, but Limon Verde is a much more exotic fragrance, featuring a sunny, tropical fruit note. This year's travel exclusive Aqua Allegoria will be Flora Rosa, a reissue from last year.
La Petite Robe Noire Couture
Guerlain launches a new version of its best-selling fragrance La Petite Robe Noire. Called La Petite Robe Noire Couture, it's described as "the glamorous sister" of the original. "She's the one who's out there on the red carpet at night. She's floral, fruity, bubbly, slightly eccentric and vivacious. You could say that the length has changed — there's a different colour and texture; it’s an evening gown," explains Thierry Wasser. "There's still this gourmand and fruity character. The top note is sparkling because it's like Oscar night, so I amped up the bergamot. But I emphasized its depth and presence with chypre to add mystery." The chypre base consists of patchouli, vetiver and moss. A Russian prerelease is scheduled for February. Read more
Guerlain rereleases Idylle Duet Rose-Patchouli
Guerlain rereleases Idylle Duet Rose-Patchouli, the first Idylle flanker from 2011. In this version, Thierry Wasser highlights Idylle's two signature ingredients, Bulgarian rose and Indonesian patchouli for 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. Some sources have cited the rerelease as a new formula, but it's actually the same fragrance in a new, simpler packaging.
Maison Guerlain re-creates its olfactive past
In her latest blog entry, Guerlain’s Sylvaine Delacourte told us about the new permanent exhibition of vintage Guerlain perfume bottles at Maison Guerlain. This "museum", dubbed the Hall of Mirrors due to its dazzling glass-and-mirror interior design, shows a small part of Sylvie Guerlain’s vast collection. Until the recent renovation of Maison Guerlain, the more distant part of Guerlain’s rich creative history was only represented by Eau de Cologne Impériale, Jicky, a handful of Jacques Guerlain’s classics, an occasional vintage reissue, and some old bottles on display here and there. Guerlain’s Patrimony department, directed by Elisabeth Sirot, decided that the new Maison Guerlain should boast a proper exhibition of historic Guerlain bottles. So now, if you go to Paris and visit 68 Champs-Elysées, you will be able to dwell for a while on the Guerlain past and see a selection of the house’s most exquisite and rare perfume bottles. Among the exhibited bottles are the Empire bottle, the tortoise bottle, the bow-tie bottle, the watch-shaped bottle, the snuffbox bottle, the lyre bottle and the snail bottle, just to name a few.
Upon seing this new bottle museum at Maison Guerlain, Thierry Wasser and junior perfumer Frédéric Sacone thought that all the Guerlain lovers should be able not only to see but also to smell these lost perfumes. Together they started to research the old Guerlain formulas. They wanted to re-create each of the perfumes represented at the museum as close as possible to how it originally smelled, using raw materials that are no longer allowed by IFRA. Therefore, it’s not possible to buy these vintage perfumes. At the time of writing, you can experience the following sixteen vintage scents at Maison Guerlain: Après l’Ondée (Parfum), Bouquet de Faunes, Voilà Pourquoi J’Aimais Rosine, Fleur Qui Meurt, Muguet (original version), Cachet Jaune, Pao Rosa, À Travers Champs, Candide Effluve, Mouchoir de Monsieur, Voilette de Madame, Sillage, Parfum des Champs-Elysées, Cuir de Russie, Coque d'Or and Atuana. Read more
A new Petit Guerlain
Twenty years ago, Jean-Paul Guerlain made the first Guerlain fragrance intended for children, aptly named Petit Guerlain. He had just become a grandfather by that time, which probably inspired him a great deal. The fragrance was extremely pretty — tenderly sweet mimosa, rose and jasmine married with citrusy, aromatic and soapy notes — but for some reason, Guerlain didn't keep it in the catalogue for long. Now, Guerlain has decided that it’s about time to take up Petit Guerlain again.
However, since 1994, a long list of restrictions on the use of raw materials has been legislated, especially in cosmetic products for children, hence Thierry Wasser was forced to remake Petit Guerlain without any use of the allergenic essential oils that the original contained. He could still work it around mimosa absolute, though. The major challenge has been to maintain the cologne-like freshness without using citrus and lavender, but Thierry Wasser has been able to do it with green and anisic top notes. The opening effect of the new Petit Guerlain retains the tender and charming spirit of the first one, but less soapy, spicier, and with more of the feel of a real Guerlain perfume. We sense the Wasser touch: orange blossom, white musk and a pistachio-almond accord whose cuddly effect is accentuated by honeyed and slightly woody notes. Like so many Guerlains, the new Petit Guerlain is quite addictive with its sweet musky drydown (which was not present in the 1994 version), and there’s no reason that an adult couldn’t use Petit Guerlain as a pleasant unisex fragrance. It comes in a 250 ml bee bottle with either a light blue or pink label and coordinating cord, along with a refillable atomizer. In accordance with Guerlain’s recent practice of exclusivity, Petit Guerlain is only available at Maison Guerlain, priced at 250 €.
Some images courtesy of guerlain.com
Back to news overview