Thierry Wasser 2015
[nə mublije pɑ]
Family: oriental, spicy, woody
Notes: tropical fruit, peach, plum, cinnamon, bergamot, neroli, rose, carnation, immortelle, orris, ylang-ylang, leather, patchouli, cumin, cardamom, cedarwood, amber, raspberry, moss, vanilla
Guerlain's new jungle of tropical fruit and spices
Period: The recapitulation years

For the first time ever, Guerlain releases a perfume whose availability is strictly limited to the Champs-Elysées boutique in Paris. In other words, it cannot be found at any other Guerlain boutique in Paris or anywhere else in the world. At a time when everything is attainable online and made to reach the maximum number of consumers, Guerlain wants to make a statement about exclusivity and hard-to-come-by luxury.

Called Ne m’Oubliez Pas ("forget me not"), its name is borrowed from the brand's revolutionary lipstick from 1870. Guerlain's innovation was a lip colour product that emerged from a tube for ease of application. In English, forget-me-not is the name of a number of species of flowering plants in the genus Myosotis, and therefore some people have been speculating that the new perfume is related to this flower which actually doesn't carry any scent. With their tender, blue petals, forget-me-nots are often associated with romance and affection, yet in French, no flower is called Ne m'Oubliez Pas. The name forget-me-not was copied from the flower's German name, "Vergissmeinnicht", which has since been translated into several other languages, but never into French. By the way, isn’t it ironic to choose the name Forget-Me-Not for a perfume that is sold only at one physical address in the whole wide world? Hence, Ne m’Oubliez Pas risks being "forgotten" all too soon.

With this new perfume, Guerlain presents a style that it hasn’t entered into before: the tropical fruity oriental. If you are familiar with Kenzo Jungle by Dominique Ropion, you know what we’re talking about. Ne m’Oubliez Pas attests to the fact that the categorization of perfumes into distinct fragrance families hasn’t become easier since Jacques Guerlain created his complex formulas. A Parfum concentration, Ne m’Oubliez Pas is one of Guerlain's most faceted and intriguing scents in the past few years. Smell it next to Mitsouko, and it will smell like honey and jam; try it against La Petite Robe Noire, and you’ll find it dry like a chypre. Guerlain aficionados will note that it has the liqueur-like richness of vintage Guerlain, with fruit, rose absolute, spices, leather, and amber, while customers with more contemporary tastes will find it sparkling and colourful. It obviously doesn’t include the cocooning effect of nitro-musk, which was the common denominator of all the Jacques Guerlain perfumes. Instead, we have to stick with the safe and clean white musk.

For the sake of simplicity, we can describe Ne m’Oubliez Pas as unfolding in three parts: spicy tropical fruit, woody immortelle, and ambery jam. When we spray it and step back, it’s remarkably fruity, mixing an assortment of luscious fruit like peach, plum, passion fruit, mangosteen, coconut, and blackcurrant, together with a crisp touch of bergamot and orange blossom. Nowadays, fruit in perfumes is often associated with pink accords that are cheap to make and sell by the truckload, but if you think that peach, coconut and passion fruit sound awfully girly and trivial, consider the fact that such classics as Mitsouko, Coque d’Or and Nahéma each contained these notes. Ne m’Oubliez Pas is fruit deluxe as it should be chez Guerlain. Yes it's sweet like a fruit candy, but in that elegant, old-school way that spices and smoke can achieve. We sense the oily, heavy spiciness of cumin, as well as cinnamon and peppery cardamom and carnation. Also, there’s the somewhat masculine scent of juniper, the classic gin note, with its smoky, leathery and fresh-resinous facets. In fact, the top note feels so smoky that we’d almost believe birch tar to be there, had we not known it’s now banned by the IFRA.

The fruit is slowly overtaken by rose, itself intense and fruity, just as we also detect the banana-like creaminess of ylang-ylang. Then the woody part arrives. It has the softly pine-like scent of immortelle, mixed with patchouli, cedarwood and oakmoss. The comfortable rose-immortelle-patchouli-moss accord dominates the heart of the fragrance, concurrently honeyed, woody, and earthy.

It’s not until the final stage of Ne m’Oubliez Pas that we encounter the gourmand streak that rules chez Guerlain these days. There are no sugared almonds, praline, or chocolate, but from below rises a thick, vanillic scent of raspberry jam, which most Guerlain lovers will recognize from La Petite Robe Noire and French Kiss. It almost gets too much, gradually more and more ambery and jammy, until we notice that the woody, mossy immortelle actually doesn't stop coming in and out of focus till the very end.

The sum total of Ne m’Oubliez Pas is mesmerizing and full of character, like plum liqueur mixed with Christmas spices and crème de cassis. For a short moment, we even get a flashback to Guet-Apens from 1999, long ago discontinued. The spiciness of cumin persists throughout the scent, although Ne m’Oubliez Pas never gets quite as spicy as the vintage Guerlains. The fascination of Ne m’Oubliez Pas is perhaps mainly in the introductory accord, and we could ask if we really need another spicy fruity-floral oriental as long as the magnificent Nahéma is still available. Let's admit that a considerable part of the attraction is to join the small group of people who can say that they went all the way to Maison Guerlain and bought Ne m'Oubliez Pas.

Like so many of Guerlain's Exclusives, Ne m'Oubliez Pas is presented in the historic quadrilobe bottle. To remind us that this perfume is limited to Maison Guerlain in Paris, the paper label is decorated with a counter-relief of the Arc de Triomphe that crowns the Champs-Elysées boulevard. The fragrance's plum theme is echoed in the colour of the juice as well as the bottle's tassel, which has been combed by hand by Guerlain's dames de table.

  We love: how spicy this is

  Elegant fruity chypre

  Woody fruit

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