This year's Muguet is advertised not only with its annual new bottle design, but, for the first time since 1998, with a whole new fragrance composed by Thierry Wasser. Until now, the varying Muguet bottles have all contained the same fragrance, originally signed by Jean-Paul Guerlain in 1998. With the advent of a Thierry Wasser version, Guerlain's Muguet will cover three generations of perfumers, reflecting how the lily of the valley theme is influenced by personal taste and history's sensibilities. Read more about Jacques Guerlain's Muguet

Muguet by Jacques Guerlain (1908). The earliest Guerlain catalogue had a Muguet cologne, dating back to 1840, and although Jacques Guerlain often used lily of the valley as a top note, he probably wouldn't have had much interest in making a proper lily of the valley perfume had it not been for the fact that it is quite a challenge to do. This flower, so strongly fragrant and pure, doesn't yield essential oils, so in order to source its fragrance, it has to be reconstructed in the laboratory by a sophisticated combination of numerous other natural and synthetic ingredients, called a base. Jacques Guerlain's Muguet was a powdery, musky fragrance with a soft, but distinct note of Nivea cream, faithful to the tastes of the Belle Époque, but unlikely to be popular nowadays. It came in a bottle with a bouquet of silk flowers fixed by a collar around the neck. Later editions of the bottle saw a simpler ribbon bow instead of the flower decoration.

Muguet by Jean-Paul Guerlain (1998). Ninety years later, Guerlain began a new convention of creating limited editions launched for special occasions. One of them was a new version of Muguet by Jean-Paul Guerlain, made to celebrate May Day, which the French sometimes call La fête du muguet. Jean-Paul Guerlain's Muguet fragrance was presented in a copy of the original bottle, but the scent was entirely different, a fresher EdT than his grandfather's musky Parfum. The lily of the valley note was still romantic, but effortlessly lifelike and crisp. We recognize the cheerful, sunny style of Aqua Allegoria, which Jean-Paul Guerlain introduced the following year. From 2006 to the present, Guerlain has issued a yearly edition of Jean-Paul Guerlain's Muguet fragrance, each year presented with a new bottle design.

Muguet by Thierry Wasser (2016). Thierry Wasser's new Muguet fragrance is described as "a remarkably natural and modern interpretation" with green notes, dewy rose, and jasmine. Its top note is more tender and vegetal than the hissing citrus opening of Jean-Paul Guerlain’s version, with a passing resemblance to the green note in Thierry Wasser’s Cologne du Parfumeur. The powerful citrus note was typical of Jean-Paul Guerlain, who preferred a very bold expression full of contrast and vibrancy. In comparison, Wasser searches for a lighter touch with subtle nuances and fine details. One reason for the gentler — and, as Guerlain puts it, "natural and modern", — feel of Thierry Wasser’s Muguet might be that it omits the lilac, that clean, bright and intensely floral note that makes some people think of old ladies' perfumes and air fresheners. Perhaps the most interesting difference is to be found in the drydown, which has a creamy, very comfortable note that goes hand-in-hand with the jasmine. Despite Guerlain’s description of 2016’s as a "modern interpretation", Wasser’s Muguet actually smells closer to the historic Jacques Guerlain version of 1908. The creamy note was completely absent in Jean-Paul Guerlain’s purely floral Muguet fragrance.

(March 2016)

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