Jacques Guerlain 1910
[kɑ̃ vjɛ̃ lete]
Family: tobacco
Sunny hay
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.

In 1998, Guerlain released a limited edition of what appeared to be a reissue of Quand Vient l’Été, a Jacques Guerlain perfume from 1910. Guerlain later revealed, though, that it was actually just a special bottle edition of a scent that came out in wide distribution the following year, namely Voile d’Été in the Terracotta series. The fragrance reappeared in the Parisienne collection (2005), this time again called Quand Vient l'Été. According to Guerlain, the scent was “based on” Jacques Guerlain’s old formula for Quand Vient l’Été, but no one knew if it really resembled the original perfume.

We know that logically any commercial remake of a Jacques Guerlain fragrance is bound to be only loosely connected to the original, since much of what defined his style is now prohibited or restricted in perfume products, or is no longer produced, such as animal tinctures, nitro-musk, birch tar and several different perfume bases. Thanks to Thierry Wasser’s re-created vintage Guerlains, for the first time we are now able to discover what the original Quand Vient l’Été smelled like.

It turns out that at least part of Voile d’Été was indeed based on Jacques Guerlain’s formula. What connects the two is a mint note up top, a solar floral heart, and a spicy, powdery drydown of clove, orris and vanilla. On the other hand, Voile d’Été had a cool, fruity pear note that was not originally included, and overall it had a clean, transparent feel that appealed to modern tastes because it was devoid of vintage leather and animal odours.

As the name suggests, Quand Vient l’Été (“when summer comes”) was meant to evoke the impression of a sunny summer day. It’s another example of the full-bodied floral oriental signature that Jacques Guerlain introduced with Sillage (1907), using rich absolutes and tinctures. In his time, the practice of classifying perfumes into olfactive families had not yet been established, but today Guerlain labels Quand Vient l’Été as a tobacco fragrance, because it features a prominent, very characteristic hay accord.

The summery theme of Quand Vient l’Été is evident right from the start, with a luminous, radiant mixture of lemon, jasmine and golden honey, contrasted with minty green freshness. Typical of Jacques Guerlain’s condensed style, dark leather and civet rise to the surface immediately and blend with the top notes. The scent gets warmer and spicier as it develops, with rose, sweet heliotrope, and the white-flower creaminess of ylang-ylang and orchid, before culminating in a strong clove note. The medicinal eugenol scent of clove and carnation, now perceived as a bit outdated, was a frequent inclusion in the Jacques Guerlain works. However, the spicy clove note was perhaps what most clearly linked the modern Voile d’Été version with Quand Vient l’Été.

The drydown has the aforementioned scent of hay, derived from coumarin, which together with orris and vanilla gives the perfume a comfortably warm, dry, slightly aromatic and suede-like profile. It's what Guerlain describes as tobacco, and some may recognize it from Mouchoir de Monsieur and Voilette de Madame. As usual in the vintage world of Guerlain, the whole thing is smoothed by a long-lasting cocoon of nitro-musk and civet.

The 1998 reinterpretation of Quand Vient l’Été was presented in the so-called flowered bottle, a design dating back to 1900. However, it appears that the original perfume never came in this bottle, but only in the standard quadrilobe bottle. Read about Voile d'Été

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