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THE NEW VINTAGE GUERLAIN


In the Jacques Guerlain era, it was common practice at Guerlain to reuse the same bottle for different perfumes. It wasn't until Jean-Paul Guerlain took over that every new fragrance came with a unique bottle design.

Now, Guerlain returns to earlier standards and replaces most of its individual bottle designs with uniform packaging, namely the quadrilobe bottle and bee atomizer for the feminines, and the “Habit Rouge” bottle for the masculines. It reflects a style in niche perfumery where brands sell all of their scents in the same bottle in order to show that what counts is the juice, not the packaging. Also, uniform bottles are much cheaper for fragrance brands to produce and pack than individualized designs.

Below, you'll find descriptions of the eleven Guerlain bottle designs that have disappeared since 2011, soon to be considered vintage and collectible.

The Jardins de Bagatelle bottle (1983). For the Jardins de Bagatelle bottle, Guerlain's then in-house bottle designer Robert Granai had the task of uniting the eighties' sharp suits with Guerlain's romantic ideals. His solution was to construct it as a stylized, shoulder-draped "pillar" shaped like the classical Greek caryatids that hold up a portico, the first-ever straight-lined perfume presentation for a feminine Guerlain. To begin with, the bottle had a smoked lid, typical of the eighties but later replaced by a transparent one, while the EdP was dressed in a deluxe gold case. In 2013, the Jardins de Bagatelle bottle was replaced by the bee atomizer. Read more about Jardins de Bagatelle

The Samsara bottle (1989). The deep red, gold-trimmed Samsara bottle was one of Robert Granai's most elegant Guerlain designs, its curves drawn from the ancient statue of a Khmer dancer's waist and neck, and the stopper shaped like a Buddha's closed eyelid. The 30 ml Parfum presentation was nothing short of majestic, a voluminous, heavy bottle cushioned on a red velvet bed inside a Chinese-style lacquer box. The original clear glass atomizers for the EdP and EdT were later replaced by opaque red ones. In 2017, Guerlain replaces the Samsara bottle with the standard quadrilobe bottle and bee atomizer. Read more about Samsara

The Héritage bottle (1992). For the Héritage bottle, by far Guerlain's most refined and elaborate for a men's scent, Robert Granai wanted a reassuring, solid look, an expression of durability. As to illustrate the Guerlain motto of persistence and change, he was inspired by Foucault's pendulum which hangs in the dome of the Panthéon in Paris. The bottle's stopper could be both the brass weight and the hemispherical roof, while the glass facets reflected the pendular movement lines as well as the Panthéon's impressive columns. It has also been noted that the architectural design incorporates the wedge-shape of a keystone, the stone piece that sits at the apex of a masonry vault allowing it to bear the weight of the building. In 2016, the Héritage bottle was replaced with the classic "Habit Rouge" bottle, featuring a wooden cap that matches the exclusive Parisien line. Read more about Héritage

The Habit de Fête canister (1996). In 1965, Guerlain introduced its first commercial atomizer bottle, made as a refillable metal canister. Subsequent to the initial Delftware decoration, it came with different outer case motifs and contained all Eaux de Toilette until 1982 when it was replaced by a standard gold-toned canister with a basket weave pattern. In 1996, the gold canister was modernized with a furrow-and-hole look, called "Habit de Fête" (meaning "holiday dress"). The refillable canisters were made for not only EdT, but also some EdP and Parfums. In 2016, the Habit de Fête canisters were replaced with the bee atomizer. Read more about Guerlain's refillable canisters

The Champs-Elysées bottle (1996). Robert Granai designed the Champs-Elysées bottle like a walk along Paris' so-called Axe Historique, the vista to the west seen through the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel near the Louvre. As with many Guerlain bottles, the geometry of the shape was simultaneously suggestive of a woman's figure. I.M. Pei's controversial glass pyramid inside Louvre's courtyard was the starting point for the base of the bottle. As one passes through the Jardin des Tuileries to the Place de la Concorde, the Obelisk from Luxor comes into view. The top of the obelisk was echoed in the triangular shape of the bottle's base. Travelling past the Marly horses at the gateway to the Champs-Elysées boulevard, one will eventually come to the head office of Maison Guerlain at no.68 on the right. The vanishing point of the boulevard is crowned by the grand Arc de Triomphe whose flat top level was the inspiration for the lid of the bottle. In 2017, Guerlain replaces the Champs-Elysées bottle with the standard quadrilobe bottle and bee atomizer. Read more about Champs-Elysées

The new Vetiver bottle (2000). In 1988, as Vetiver Eau de Toilette was prepared, Guerlain commissioned Robert Granai to design a new bottle, simply named the Eau de Toilette bottle. This bottle is still today emblematic for the fragrance Habit Rouge, to the extent it's often called the "Habit Rouge bottle", and it became the standard bottle for most masculine Guerlains in 2016. In 2000, a totally different look for Vetiver was advertised, with a modern bottle, still by Robert Granai, and a greener juice colour. The bottle was shaped like stacked irregular slats of clear and frosted glass, meant to symbolize the many layers of a man's life. In 2011, Guerlain moved Vetiver back into the classic Eau de Toilette bottle. The bottle's metal cap was replaced in 2016 by a coloured faux wood design that matches the Parisien line. Read more about Vetiver

The L'Instant de Guerlain bottle (2003). Jean-Paul Guerlain's retirement in 2002 heralded a new era at Guerlain, beginning with Maurice Roucel's L'Instant de Guerlain. Its bottle, designed by Jérôme Faillant Dumas, featured sleek, contemporary lines, while the stopper had an engraving of the circular Vol de Nuit logo which emphasized the patrimony of the company, as does the name of the fragrance. The bottle was reused for L'Instant Magic (2007), decorated with a black rim. In 2017, Guerlain replaces the L'Instant de Guerlain bottle with the standard quadrilobe bottle and bee atomizer. Read more about L'Instant Magic

The L'Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme bottle (2004). The bottle for L'Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme, also by Jérôme Faillant Dumas, was made with all the elegance of the 1930s' imposing Art Deco. The Eau de Parfum bottle had a dark chocolate brown rim to complement the square Bakelite-like stopper. To cut costs, Guerlain subsequently chose to sell the EdP in the same clear bottle as the EdT, minus the rim. In 2016, the bottle was replaced by the classic "Habit Rouge" bottle. Read more about L'Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme

The Insolence bottle (2006). Maurice Roucel's Insolence is emblematic of modern Guerlain, turning vintage violet into an audacious fruity-floral fragrance, and its bottle was equally striking. Created by French sculptor Serge Mansau as three stacked, tilting half-spheres, it resembled a spinning top or spiral in movement to fit the fragrance's "olfactive spiral" structure. People had divided opinions on the look. Some found it innovative and beautifully shaped, while others thought it was too futuristic for Guerlain, or even a bit silly, sometimes mentioned as the "dishes in the kitchen sink" bottle. Cardiet Design, a Parisian firm, filed a lawsuit alleging that Guerlain had copied one of their designs, but Guerlain maintained that the Insolence bottle was inspired by a sculpture Serge Mansau made in 1973, and Cardiet Design later dropped the case. The Parfum version of Insolence was discontinued in 2015. In 2017, Guerlain replaces the Insolence spray bottle with the standard bee atomizer. Read more about Insolence

The Guerlain Homme bottle (2008). The Guerlain Homme bottle's combination of metal and glass was almost a tribute to the eye-catching Art Deco bottle of Vol de Nuit, though here heavily modernized by Italian car designer Pininfarina. (Maybe Guerlain had read perfume critic Luca Turin's earlier notion that if perfume houses were coachbuilders, then Guerlain would be a graceful Pininfarina.) Turn the bottle on its back, and the top silver part would look like the hood of a car with the transparent lid as the windscreen, while straight up it suggested a male torso. The EdP variant had a smoked glass body garbed with a dark anthracite lacquer front. From 2013, the bottle was made of all glass without the metal front. In 2016, the Guerlain Homme bottle was replaced by the classic "Habit Rouge" bottle. Read more about Guerlain Homme

The Idylle bottle (2009). The bottle for Idylle, Thierry Wasser's first fragrance as the brand's master perfumer, was created by the young French designer Ora-Ïto. Bronze-coloured and formed like "a tear of joy", it had fluid lines as romantic as Art Nouveau ever was, and was widely acclaimed for its shapeliness. The pointed cap bore the sign of a renewal, like spring flowers poking their heads out above the soil. The Parfum version of Idylle was discontinued in 2016. In 2017, Guerlain replaces the Idylle spray bottle with the standard bee atomizer. Read more about Idylle
(April 2017)


Some images courtesy of guerlain.com


Read more about Guerlain's bottle standardisation


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