Aimé Guerlain 1883
Family: musky
Musk and cookies
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.

"The present is a little unsatisfying because life is a little unsatisfying," philosophizes Woody Allen's protagonist in the movie "Midnight in Paris". Hence people long for the good old days. Woody Allen wants us to see that in the good old days, people were equally unsatisfied with their own present and therefore nostalgic too.

Guerlain lovers may be among the most nostalgic of all: if only they could turn back time and browse the rue de la Paix shop, say hello to Aimé Guerlain and inhale all those odours that are now restricted by decrees and marketing. Thierry Wasser fulfills our wish and transports us back to the beginning of the Belle Époque, only to discover that Guerlain back then was no less preoccupied with the past than we are today. The name of Aimé Guerlain's 1883 perfume, Jadis, translates as "in olden days”.

So what did the days of yore smell like to Aimé Guerlain? Maybe like a madeleine cookie dipped in musk! Jadis appears as what we now know was a typical Aimé Guerlain formula: short and simple. It's actually just a four-component accord of bergamot, musk, vanilla and orris. This low-key but lovely scent feels vaguely related to Jicky, and seems to provide an understanding of the very basic building blocks of the Guerlain signature.

Created a whole century before the IFRA ever came into existence and demanded everything be made non-allergenic, Jadis surprises us by its inclusion of synthetic white musk, with its dry, clean scent of laundry soap. However, this is soon forgotten as we sense the warm and sensual odour of substances from three different animals: the musk deer, the beaver, and the civet. For obvious ethical reasons, these materials are now completely banned in perfumery, but we must admit they are exciting to discover in this "educational" setting. Thierry Wasser assures us that all animal materials used in the re-created historic samples come from a small reserve that the Guerlain factory has been storing over the years.

Jadis is not that "dirty" though, as the animal notes are carefully dosed and balanced with the gentleness of synthetic musk and the powdery scent of orris. Also, the vanillin imparts a certain childlike innocence to the perfume, with its soft sensation of cookies.

Jadis 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.

Back to vintages      Back to perfumes