Annick Ménardo 2009
Family: floral, woody
Notes: bergamot, yuzu, green tea, hinoki cypress, violet, jasmine, vanilla
Period: The recapitulation years
"'A perfumer must go looking for scents,' observes Jean-Paul Guerlain. And today, in the grand Guerlain tradition of exploring the world's riches, he has created a travel diary of scents, three new fragrances that pay homage to three fascinating cities: Moscow, New York, and Tokyo." So announced the ad for Guerlain's voyage trio, three EdT together named Une Ville, Un Parfum ("a city, a fragrance"). Since the renovation of Maison Guerlain in 2005, the house has been issuing several themed collections, possibly encouraged by the success of the Aqua Allegoria collection: Les Parisiennes (a reissue collection), L'Art & la Matière (an "artistic" collection), Il Était Une Fois Guerlain (a vintage collection, now discontinued), Les Elixirs Charnels (an olfactive family collection), and Les Déserts d'Orient (a Middle Eastern collection). These series are all based on wonderful ideas, yet set against Jean-Paul Guerlain's formulation of "the creative Guerlain philosophy which prefers the human relationship to market analyses," fragrance compilations overall seem a bit hypocritical, like a pretext, albeit an intelligent one, for selling more, especially to Guerlain completists. Yet, the olfactive craftsmanship of Guerlain and the company's obvious dedication to its history usually make you leave the boutique feeling spoiled by the ample selection, rather than fooled. Although Jean-Paul Guerlain openly despises both marketing briefs and big cities, the voyage trio was very likely a heartfelt project, linked to the man who so often has proclaimed his passion for travelling far and wide for inspiration and raw materials. However, not the entire collection was signed by him.
These three fragrances were like beautiful tourist brochure images distilled into fragrance. Moscow (by Randa Hammami) was brisk air, communist red and dark borscht — plum, pine needles, absinthe, redcurrant, saffron, chocolate. New York (by Jean-Paul Guerlain) was Manhattan at Christmas — cardamom, cinnamon, cedarwood, vanilla, orange. And then Tokyo (by Annick Ménardo, the nose behind Bois d'Arménie as well) was Japanese spring, previously celebrated by Guerlain with Cherry Blossom.
Guerlain's Tokyo was a stripped-down green floral in the style of Shanghai-inspired Vetiver Pour Elle, but devised with much more delicacy: a gentle smoky aroma of green tea, and a powdery watercolour background, somewhat reminiscent of Après l'Ondée, of violet, jasmine and vanilla. Hinoki cypress ensured a distinctive woody freshness all the way through, and the jasmine was subdued enough to feel fresh more than sensual. While Moscow and New York both faced hard competition from Guerlain's catalogue of gourmands and fruity perfumes, Tokyo stood out as one of those rare occasions when Guerlain aims its remarkable talent at playing with pastels.
The Une Ville, Un Parfum range was subsequently extended to London, by Christine Nagel (rhubarb, rose, black tea), and Shanghai, by Thierry Wasser (anise, mimosa, wood). The entire line was discontinued in 2015 due to low demand, while the Tokyo fragrance appeared in a lighter version as Aqua Allegoria Teazzurra.
Bottle. Advertised as spontaneous, easy scents, the voyage fragrances came in a bottle that was correspondingly voluminous and plain, designed by Serge Mansau. It was basically the original Cologne du 68 bottle with a more minimalistic metal cap and artwork. Included in the box was a "city guide" foldout, a drawing made by graphic artist Carla Talopp. The jumbo bottles were later downsized from 250 ml to 100 ml rectangular sprayers, redesigned with a city scene motif — Guerlain concluded that a travel-themed fragrance too big for a toiletry bag isn't logical. As to justify the higher milliliter price, the scents were then labelled as EdP instead of EdT, although they all smelled exactly the same.
We love: how good Guerlain is at green
A terrific Guerlain men's scent
Back to rarities
Back to perfumes