Jean-Paul Guerlain 1994, new version 2014
Family: floral, musky
Notes: anise, citrus leaf, orange blossom, honey, pistachio, mimosa, white musk
Period: The searching years
Petit Guerlain collection
Although perfume, with all its seducing and romantic aspects, is intrinsically an adult matter, Guerlain loyalists would in truth love to smell a trace of the Guerlinade on their children's cool skin. In 1994, long before the Aqua Allegorias' easy garden compositions, Jean-Paul Guerlain, now a grandfather, got the idea of making a Guerlain fragrance for children — or for child-like grownups. To make the composition, aptly named Petit Guerlain, he got help from perfumer Olivia Giacobetti who before then had shown an excellent capability to arrange fresh and soft floral notes in a way that smelled both detailed, angelically clear, and anything but banal. In Petit Guerlain, the citrus top was gentle and quiet and dissolved in a cool, almost soapy freshness of lavender, camomile and violet leaf. The fragrance was from then on dominated by honeyed and sunny mimosa, here a hundred times more composed than in Champs-Elysées two years later, before it ended in a stripped-down Guerlinade of rose, jasmine, tonka bean and a bit of vanilla. Just as the Guerlains in general are not gender-specific, Petit Guerlain wasn't necessarily for kids only either. If anything, it smelled like innocence, a powder-free Après l'Ondée, or a sort of olfactive transcription of The Little Prince. It's no longer produced but when it appeared, it came in both an oil-based "Eau de Senteur" version and an Eau de Toilette with only thirty percent alcohol to prevent drying of fragile young skin.
In 2014, Guerlain decided that it was 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 was 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, sweeter, muskier, and with more of the feel of a real Guerlain perfume. We sense the Wasser touch: orange blossom, lots of 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.
Bottle. The original Petit Guerlain bottle adorably emulated the pastel colours and basic geometric shapes of children's playthings, the bottle's lid referencing a toy ball. Later, the Eau de Toilette became housed in the more mature-looking bee atomizer. The 2014 version first came as an exclusive edition in the 250 ml bee bottle, with the choice of a light blue or pink label as well as neck strings to match the label's colour, but now comes in the more accessible bee atomizer as well.
We love: the new version
Some images courtesy of guerlain.com
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