Jean-Paul Guerlain retired fifteen years ago, yet most Guerlain fans still regard him as the brand's last "real artist", known not least for his dismay about marketing. "I like that for laundry detergent brands. Not for perfumery," he has said.

Now he's making a comeback, releasing new fragrances under the brand name My Exclusive Collection. "We have a close partnership with Jean-Paul Guerlain," says St├ęphane Laffont-Reveilhac, founder of My Exclusive Collection. "He's still just as enthusiastic and creative and capable of doing exceptional things." Laffont-Reveilhac reveals that the fragrances are going to be released towards the end of 2017. "It’s a modern collection, destined for the Middle Eastern market, but the scents are also quite classic, quite Guerlain, as we know it from Jean-Paul's creations."

Laffont-Reveilhac says that the scents cover a wide olfactory spectrum that has the potential of reaching an international audience. "M. Guerlain has travelled a lot during his career, so he knows precisely the different tastes of various countries, and I think we have a palette that is able to attract very different cultures." At a recent press party, guests were invited to discover five scents from the collection: a fresh floral, a rose, a green oriental, a carnation-vanilla scent, and a leather oud.

80-year-old Jean-Paul Guerlain appeared very frail during the release party, using a walking stick to aid movement. "My motivation is always the same: to make a woman more beautiful, more seductive and desirable. Perfume is the most intense form of memory," he said.

The vision of Laffont-Reveilhac has been to create a new universe around Jean-Paul Guerlain, helped by a group of young talents. "We want to make a difference. We want to be part of French haute parfumerie, with natural raw materials, and to have M. Guerlain as the creator is really extraordinary." According to Laffont-Reveilhac, Jean-Paul Guerlain has composed 45 new scents in just 18 months — an impressive creativity, to say the least, and vastly more than when he worked at Guerlain, where he created one perfume approximately every four years. By comparison, Thierry Wasser and Delphine Jelk jointly make ten new fragrances per year.

But will Guerlain customers get confused when My Exclusive Collection releases new fragrances by Jean-Paul Guerlain?

"Jean-Paul Guerlain is an artist, his name belongs to him, and he will therefore sign his creations and make his name appear on the products. LVMH is well aware of the existence of our company and Jean-Paul Guerlain's collaboration with My Exclusive Collection," says Laffont-Reveilhac. "In any case, we do not compete with them. We are a small organization that doesn't constitute any threat to LVMH."

Laffont-Reveilhac emphasizes that Jean-Paul Guerlain's new scents don't resemble anything he has made before. "He hasn't used the famous Guerlinade and wanted to start with something completely new to make these fragrances, also to show that he's still capable of taking the world of cosmetics by surprise." Photo from the press party by one of Monsieur Guerlain's readers.

(March 2017)

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