Jacques Guerlain 1901
[flœ:r ki mœr]
Family: violet, green, chypre
Green violet
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.

Meaning "dying flower", Fleur Qui Meurt might as well have been the title of an impressionist painting. Jacques Guerlain's life-long passion for impressionist art is well-known, and his early creations often bore these kinds of atmospheric, poetic names. Fleur Qui Meurt was maybe more morbid-sounding than what would be acceptable today, but then again, you need to kill flowers to make a perfume. During his career there was no such thing as a marketing department to decide how to name or advertise a perfume.

The flower in question is violet, or rather the laboratory-produced molecules, ionones, that imitate its scent. Ionones were discovered in 1893, only a few years before Jacques Guerlain took over from his uncle Aimé as Guerlain's chief perfumer. Due to their low price and lifelike violet odour, ionones immediately became some of the most popular materials among perfumers. Therefore, it's only natural that many of Jacques Guerlain's first compositions had violet as a key note. Apart from violet, he was very fond of orris, heliotrope, jasmine and musk (think of his two Belle Époque masterpieces Après l’Ondée and L’Heure Bleue), and all are there in Fleur Qui Meurt.

Like Après l’Ondée, it’s one of Guerlain’s quiet and poetic perfumes; in fact, it probably wouldn't be wrong to regard it as one of the experiments that eventually led to the beautiful composition that is Après l'Ondée. The violet is immediately present, powdery and sweet like violet drops, yet at the same time incredibly green and leafy. The fragrance diagram also mentions the woody-rooty, violet-like scent of costus. What justifies the autumnal name of Fleur Qui Meurt, is that it doesn’t give you the Provençal herbs and orange blossom that made Après l’Ondée sunny despite its misty paleness. Instead, Fleur Qui Meurt has what we today would call a chypre base, an earthy and rather dry mixture of vetiver, patchouli and oakmoss. Upon smelling Fleur Qui Meurt we’re astonished to learn that the violet-patchouli accord, hallmark of Dior's Fahrenheit, is actually more than a hundred years old. It confirms that unisex perfumery is not a new invention chez Guerlain.

Fleur Qui Meurt came in the so-called flowered bottle, originally made for Voilà Pourquoi J’Aimais Rosine. The name of the bottle derived from the fact that it used to come with a bouquet of silk flowers fixed by a collar around the bottleneck.

Back to vintages      Back to perfumes