Aimé Guerlain 1900
Family: woody, spicy
Period: The Belle Époque years
Thierry Wasser and his assistant perfumer Frédéric Sacone have re-created an extensive list of historic Guerlain perfumes, using the exact same ingredients as when they saw the light for the first time.
Guerlain is unable to provide an explanation for the meaning of the name Plagia. It could be the past tense of the verb "plagier", which is French for "plagiarize". Other sources suggest that the name refers to Plagianthus, a genus of trees and shrubs native to New Zealand, but unknown in perfumery. Either way, it doesn’t make much sense to us today.
There was a gradual transition between Aimé and Jacques Guerlain’s role as the family’s master nose. Jacques’ first official Guerlain perfume was Le Jardin de Mon Curé (1895), but Aimé continued to create perfumes while Jacques was in his beginner’s phase. Plagia may have been the final fragrance of Aimé, who died in 1910. Guerlain says that the formula obviously was written by Aimé, as it’s too simple and short to be a Jacques Guerlain composition.
Plagia does smell somewhat simple, but none the less charming. It’s worked around the unmistakable scent of sandalwood, sweet, smooth, and profoundly warm and oily. Supported by creamy notes of ambrette, deer musk and suede, the sandalwood is so dominant from start to finish that Guerlain classifies Plagia as a woody fragrance.
Speaking of plagiarism, when we smell Thierry Wasser's re-created scents from the historic Guerlain catalogue, we come to imagine that Jean-Paul Guerlain equally had made himself familiar with some of his ancestors' perfumes, to find inspiration for his own work. In Jacques Guerlain's Vague Souvenir, for example, we found certain links to Habit Rouge and Nahéma. Now, as we discover Plagia’s accord of sandalwood and ylang-ylang, we can’t help thinking of Samsara. However, in the time of Aimé Guerlain there was no such thing as polysantol to boost nature's fragile odours, and Plagia falls far short of the big-haired opulence of Samsara.
Plagia retains the woody warmth throughout, mixing in cinnamon and other aromatic, peppery spices, like the "brown cardboard box" scent of calamus. At the drydown, where sandalwood, musk and cinnamon meet orris and vanilla in the most powdery Guerlain manner, the scent quite resembles Jicky, even though it got there from a different direction. Only in that sense is Plagia a case of "plagiarism". But can a man really plagiarize himself?
Bottle. Plagia came in the so-called square bottle, a design inspired by medicine jars and used for various Guerlain perfumes at the end of the 19th century.
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