Aimé Guerlain 1892
[bɛl frɑ̃s]
Family: floral, ambery
Roses and meadows
Period: The Belle Époque years

Thierry Wasser and 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.

You could well imagine that after Jicky, Aimé Guerlain felt he had discovered the complex, magic formula that smelled so fantastic and that he'd never want to return to the simpler recipes that had preceded Jicky. But instead he continued to produce simple, brief, and linear fragrances like Belle France, in 1892. Guerlain classifies it as a floral amber fragrance, yet it’s not the kind of smouldering oriental that we have come to associate with amber. On the contrary, it’s utterly delicate and hushed, with the mild, chocolate-box vanilla note that we also find in Jadis (1883).

The raw material called amber is a composite of several balsamic, resinous and woody-aromatic ingredients, and the name derives from its golden colour. It’s generally agreed that the amber accord was born with Aimé Guerlain’s Jicky and later customized by other perfumers. The mighty Shalimar could be designated the epitome of an amber perfume. In its pure, solid form, however, amber smells very calming, soft, and not too sweet, and actually feels closer to Belle France than Shalimar.

The top note of Belle France is made up of rose and orange blossom, fresh, pure and romantic, and quite fleeting. The fresh facet evaporates in a blink and leaves us with the gently vanillic balsam mentioned above, including a touch of musk and white-flower cream. In combination, vetiver and orris add a dusty, grassy effect to the scent. The drydown reminds us of a potpourri of dried rose petals, incense, and grass that has turned yellow.

Meaning "beautiful France", the name of Belle France may indicate that this perfume is how Aimé Guerlain envisioned his home country, a land covered with fields and wildflower meadows. It’s worth noting that the Guerlain family originated from the Somme in the Picardy region of northern France, known for its open water, marshes, dunes and meadows.

Belle France came in the so-called oval bottle. One of Guerlain's early standard bottles, its name derived from the fact that both the bottle and the stopper had an oval shape.

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