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TAMED TUBEROSE


Just six months after its previous addition to the L'Art & la Matière line, Néroli Outrenoir, Guerlain launches the line's 11th member, called Joyeuse Tubéreuse.

The scent is officially co-authored by Thierry Wasser and Delphine Jelk, and it marks the first time that Jelk's name is mentioned on Guerlain's website, although her first creation for Guerlain was La Petite Robe Noire in 2009. Sylvaine Delacourte has already said that "no one has the monopoly" at Guerlain, but this is a new kind of transparency about who actually makes what in the Guerlain lab. Traditionally, only the appointed master perfumer has been stated as the creator of Guerlain’s fragrances. Since his entry as perfumer at Guerlain, Thierry Wasser has generally been pushing the brand towards greater openness about facts that are usually regarded as trade secrets within the fragrance industry, not least those concerning reformulations and changes in raw materials.

One of perfumery’s most intoxicating, rich and penetrating floral materials, tuberose is not everyone’s cup of tea. When dosed carefully, as in Jacques Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue, its heady, creamy-fruity scent can impart incredible beauty and allure, but say “Guerlain” and “tuberose”, and most Guerlain followers will think of Jean-Paul Guerlain’s two least successful fragrances, namely the shrill, acid white-flower bouquet of Jardins de Bagatelle (1983) and the heavy coconut rum accord in Mahora (2000). This is the drawback of naming a fragrance by an ingredient: it will shape our expectations about what the fragrance smells like, discouraging some people from even trying it. With the entry of tuberose into the Exclusives, Guerlain rushes to explain that it’s “exquisitely innocent, amazingly fresh, airy, and luminous.”

That’s not to say that we don’t sense the scent of tuberose right away, with its sweet creaminess joined by sandalwood already rising from below. However, any overpowering tendencies are curbed by pure, bright notes of honeysuckle and orange blossom, together with a green, vegetal accord of newly cut grass and tea leaves. In the top note, there's actually a certain resemblance to the neroli-tea accord of Néroli Outrenoir. The mix of greenness and floral notes leaves the impression of a spring fragrance, not unlike daffodils and lilies of the valley, which is certainly not what we would expect from tuberose.

Although the floral notes retain their lightness throughout the scent, it eventually does turn richer and creamier, with sweet, sunny frangipani and ylang-ylang, and hints of jasmine. The whole thing is wrapped in a cloud of musk, of the metallic and somewhat anemic type that we know from synthetic and vegetal musks, which gives the drydown a nondescript, saccharine feel typical of so many modern Guerlains, like French Kiss, Le Bouquet de la Mariée, and Mon Exclusif.

With its hyper-balanced, clean composition, Joyeuse Tubéreuse brings to mind just how much the Guerlain style has changed since Wasser and Jelk took over from Jean-Paul Guerlain. According to Guerlain’s former creative director, Sylvaine Delacourte, the Guerlinade was traditionally characterized by a certain wildness, where fragrance accords were pushed and overdosed with contrasting materials in order to make bold, memorable statements. “At Guerlain, we have no weak, bland or very tidy formulas,” she said. Jean-Paul Guerlain in particular, brought an impulsive, vibrant and forceful signature to the brand, at least from Habit Rouge onwards. Thierry Wasser has even questioned the Guerlinade concept, saying that it is oversimplified and reductionist, like "a thing, plop, plop, that we more or less put into every bottle." Instead, he offers a looser interpretation of the Guerlain style that integrates contemporary fragrance trends.


With the launch of Joyeuse Tubéreuse, Guerlain replaced the former bulb atomizer with a non-removable standard spray, together with a new cap design that matches the Parisien and masculine lines. Guerlain had received so many customer complaints about the bulb atomizer being difficult to use that the brand was obliged to publish an instruction video on how to operate it. However, this didn’t solve the problems: customers found the bulb’s spray mist inadequate for applying enough fragrance, and the bulb atomizer made it challenging to spray one's own wrist.
(February 2017)


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