French fragrance site Auparfum has reported on Guerlain's replacement of most of its unique bottle designs with uniform bottles, asking if it's evocative of niche perfumery or just a way to trim costs.

The individual bottle designs for Samsara, Champs-Elysées, Insolence, L’Instant de Guerlain, L’Instant Magic, and Idylle are replaced with a refillable, frosted version of the bee atomizer, available in 30 ml, 50 ml, and 100 ml sizes, while the quadrilobe bottle replaces the Parfum bottles for Samsara, Champs-Elysées and L’Instant de Guerlain. Already last year, the "Habit Rouge" bottle became the standard bottle for all masculine Guerlains except L'Homme Idéal and Les Parisiens.

Auparfum is puzzled. "Uniformity is not our principle," Guerlain's former artistic director, Sylvaine Delacourte, said not that long ago, claiming that the Guerlain spirit is defined by "profusion, a certain boiling over, an organised disorder."

The bottle standardisation is accompanied by a new way of structuring Guerlain's vast fragrance catalogue. The feminines are divided into three collections: Pillars (Shalimar, Aqua Allegoria, La Petite Robe Noire, Mon Guerlain), Contemporaries (Samsara, Champs-Elysées, Insolence, L’Instant de Guerlain, L’Instant Magic, Idylle), and Heritage (Jicky, Après l’Ondée, L’Heure Bleue, Mitsouko, Vol de Nuit, Chant d’Arômes, Chamade, Nahéma, Jardins de Bagatelle). In addition, the description of each fragrance is simplified to represent an "overdose" of one single ingredient, like sandalwood for Samsara, white musk for L'Instant Magic, rose for Idylle, and violet for Insolence.

In a similar vein, the masculines are divided into elementary categories: Dandy (Habit Rouge), Hipster (Vetiver), Adventurer (Guerlain Homme), Romantic (L'Homme Idéal), and Gentleman (Héritage).

Auparfum sees this simplification as a means to make Guerlain's complex perfume art more accessible and appealing to today's fickle customers, but there's a worry that it will alienate the loyal old-timers who made the brand famous in the first place. "To neglect them is always a risk, a bit like leaving your wife after thirty years of marriage for a hot bimbo who will leave you after a year for someone who is younger and more muscled than you..." Read more
(June 2017)

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