Jacques Guerlain 1900
[vwala purkwa ʒɛmɛ rozin]
Family: leather, floral, aromatic
Herbal rose
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 still a young perfumer, just 26 years of age, but already preoccupied with love, when he made Voilà Pourquoi J’Aimais Rosine. Meaning "that is why I loved Rosine", it bears one of Guerlain’s longest names for a perfume. "You always create perfumes for the women you love, whom you admire, and with whom you live," said Jacques Guerlain many years later to his grandson and future successor Jean-Paul, referring to both real and imaginary women. Among others, he let himself be inspired by his wife whom he married in 1905 (Après l’Ondée and L’Heure Bleue), a Japanese lady (Mitsouko), a Mughal empress (Shalimar), a heroic Chinese slave girl (Liu) and the American-born cabaret artiste Josephine Baker (Sous le Vent). So, who was Rosine? Rosine was the birth name of Sarah Bernhardt, a famous Parisian actress. She was one of the liberated women of that time who had been a nobleman’s mistress, and whose personal friends were avant-garde artists and celebrities. Jacques Guerlain was very fascinated by the arts of painting, writing, and performance, and even if he was no socialite, he had several contacts within these worlds.

Voilà Pourquoi J’Aimais Rosine can be described as a fresh rose-leather fragrance, proving that "masculinized" perfumes for women were known long before Coty’s Chypre, Caron's Tabac Blond and Chanel's Cuir de Russie. Perfumes didn’t really have a gender attached to them in the time of Jacques Guerlain, who made several perfumes that today would be classified as men’s scents. Voilà Pourquoi J’Aimais Rosine starts out like a typical men’s cologne, with bergamot, lemon, lavender, and a dry, smoky, somewhat rough leather note. Immediately after comes rose, a cool, citrusy kind of rose, which persists until the drydown. Along the way we get patchouli, cinnamon, Provençal herbs, moss and orris. There are a few drops of jasmine and vanilla to add roundness, but the scent overall smells herbal, almost medicinally so, earthy, and, apart from the rose, not very floral. It’s an interesting perfume, but given the choice between it and more recent Guerlains, today’s women would probably prefer Thierry Wasser’s rose-patchouli fragrance Idylle or the elegantly woody Rose Nacrée du Désert.

Voilà Pourquoi J’Aimais Rosine came in the flower-topped bottle which was later used for Fleur Qui Meurt and Muguet as well.

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