Jacques Guerlain 1895
[lə ʒardɛ̃ də mɔ̃ kyre]
Family: leather
Herb garden
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.

Jacques Guerlain was just twenty years old when he entered the family business in 1894, and the following year he created Le Jardin de Mon Curé, generally regarded as his first perfume. The Guerlain annals suggest, however, that he wrote his very first perfume formula, called Ambre, at the age of sixteen. Will Inrig, research intern at the Osmothèque, tells us that in addition to this remarkable natural talent, Jacques Guerlain went through extensive technical training to become a highly skilled chemist. This was in contrast to his rivals Parquet, Coty and Daltroff, who were all self-taught.

It's only logical that in the initial years of his career, Jacques Guerlain hadn't yet ascertained what would become his olfactive signature, which in retrospect is admired for its richness, polish, balance and detail. His first major success was Après l'Ondée in 1906. Until then his works were merely small poems and sketches, much like today's niche perfumes, centred around citrus, herbs, subtle floral accords, and animal and leathery ingredients.

Le Jardin de Mon Curé ("my vicar's garden") is the scent of an aromatic herb garden, gently fresh and anise-like. There are classic cologne notes of lemon, neroli, verbena and absinthe, and the spiciness of carnation and resin. In the middle, we perceive a delicate sweetness from jasmine, rose and violet, a floral bouquet typical of Jacques Guerlain's early period. Violet was a very popular scent at the time, as ionone, a low-cost aroma chemical that imitates violet perfectly, had just been discovered. When we smell this violet, powdery like violet drops mixed with anise and neroli, we could almost believe it to be a glimpse of what would turn into the renowned Après l'Ondée accord, only in a simpler and fresher form. Like vintage Après l'Ondée, the drydown of Le Jardin de Mon Curé is marked by animal odours, surely too much for today's tastes, but excellent as a fixative.

Le Jardin de Mon Curé was sold 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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