Tag Archives: Guerlain

Mon Guerlain by Guerlain

 

“My invisible tattoo, my fragrance, Mon Guerlain.”

Notes:  Bergamot, Carla Lavender, Paradisone (radiant floral), Coumarin, Iris, Vanilla Tahitensis, Sambac Jasmine and Album Sandalwood.

 

Guerlain has long been the perfume house I’ve most admired. They are not a designer brand that does fragrance on the side to bring in the big bucks – they have only ever been about the scent.

However, a while ago I gave up on their new releases because for me, they never lived up to the promise of the past. I tried to switch-off and content myself with the classics, such as my holy grail, Vol de Nuit. However, it’s hard to ignore this recent big launch, especially as they have Angelina Jolie fronting the ad campaign.

 

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Mon Guerlain may have some nicely musty lavender in its top notes along with some citrus sparkle but this is no 21st century Jicky.  Guerlain categorise it as a “fresh oriental” although I’d describe it as a gourmand with a feather-light fougère accord (which comes from the combination of lavender and hay-like coumarin).

I wasn’t surprised that Mon Guerlain is another sugary confection, especially given the pink juice, but you might have expected otherwise if you knew the inspiration was Angelina’s “strong, free and sensual femininity”.

Perhaps it’s naive to think it would – or should – reflect anything other that what is popular right now. The last time I looked, the number one selling perfume in France was still the iris-drowning-in-caramel that is La Vie Est Belle.

Mon Guerlain is nowhere near as invasive as the Lancome, or even Chanel’s Allure which features a similarly frothy cloud of candy floss, albeit it at fifty times the volume. Unlike most other modern gourmands, Mon Guerlain is surprisingly soft spoken. There’s not much throw, which is an asset in my view. At least that closeness to the skin echoes a kind of tattoo-like intimacy.

Admittedly, I have a low tolerance for sweetness in perfume and am not generally a fan of this style but I still think it’s a shame that we no longer have to wait for the trademark Guerlain vanilla base. It used to be that you had time to anticipate your dessert – now it arrives with the starter. It also makes the fragrance less sophisticated because it’s missing that air of mystique. Mon Guerlain isn’t bad, it’s just not very compelling.

Without contrast there is no tension and without tension there is no excitement, no drama, no addiction. For that, see the coquettish caramelised lavender of Kiki by Vero Profumo who incidentally, had the fragrance as tattoo concept with Rozy back in 2014.

It’s funny, I commented on Bonkers About Perfume the other week about how I wasn’t pro negative reviews, but hopefully it’s clear I’m coming from the perspective of a long-time Guerlain fan and heavens knows they won’t be affected by what I write.

 

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It’s not my Guerlain but it may still be yours.

 

How have you fared with Guerlain’s releases of the last decade or so?

 

 

 

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In Rotation

Spring has sprung in the UK and so the perfumes I have in heavy rotation at the moment reflect this. I use the season as the first criteria for narrowing down my daily fragrance selection, followed by mood. So of the several scents I feel appropriate for this time of year, here are the ones that are currently getting the most wear and why.

Vol de Nuit EdT (vintage) by Guerlain

Notes: Bergamot, Galbanum, Petitgrain, Jasmine, Jonquil, Violet, Carnation, Rose, Spices, Woods, Iris, Vanilla, Sandalwood and Amber.

I think it’s the large amount of Guerlainade that does it – Vol de Nuit just makes me feel so grounded. If I’m feeling stressed during springtime, I always turn to this enigmatic chypre oriental: it soothes me. The vernal scents of green leaves and delicate flowers are weighed down in the rich earth, dark woods and emerald moss.

I have a 93ml refillable cannister which is three-quarter full, but I still feel uneasy as I watch the level drop. Vol de Nuit is the fragrance that I feel most at home in.

Champaca EdP by Ormonde Jayne

Notes: Neroli, Pink Pepper and Bamboo,  Champaca Absolute, Freesia Absolute and Basmati notes: Myrrh, Green Tea and Musk

I wear green-tinged fragrances in March/April to echo the resurgence of nature. Most greens have a bitter edge but this pale green floral is nothing but fresh, breezy and easy to wear. It reminds me of the striking rice terraces of Bali, the most breath-taking place I’ve ever visited. This is probably because of the bamboo and Basmati rice accords.

For me, Champaca is a relaxing, beautiful, feel-good perfume that transports me to much more scenic climes. It’s filled with light, air and lush vegetation.

Diorella Edt (vintage) by Dior

Notes: Sicilian Lemon, Basil, Honeysuckle, Peach, Vetiver and Oakmoss

Diorella has such a fruity zing it mirrors the bright new mornings after the clocks go forward. When I first spray it after the winter, I’m reminded of just how much I enjoy this early love of mine. It always feel right, whenever, wherever.

The zesty citrus, gentle florals and fresh herbs make it uplifting while the mossy base gives it an air of easy-going elegance. It’s a killer combination.

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My bottles of Diorella, Vol de Nuit and Champaca

Which fragrances do you have in rotation right now?

 

 

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Bottled Starlight – Vega by Guerlain

The brightest star in the sky…

Top notes: aldehydes, bergamot and orange blossom. Heart notes: jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang, blackcurrant blossom, carnation, iris and rosewood. Base notes: vanilla, sandalwood, musk and amber.

Last year I met someone whose taste in perfume perfectly mirrored their personality. While communicating online she told me a few of her favourite fragrances and it was then easy to pinpoint that she was drawn to aldehydic florals.

When we then met in person, it was clear that this category of perfume was a perfect fit for her. She is effervescent, bright and beautiful both inside and out. The correlation with her favourite fragrance genre was striking.

I gave her an atomiaser filled with Vega, which is my favourite floral aldehyde fragrance and as I anticipated, she fell in love with it. In her own words “I can’t even explain it to you…it transports me to an entirely new world. That is my heaven”.

I get a real kick out of being a perfume matchmaker so hearing this from someone who I felt an immediate connection with, was wonderful.

In the past, I never had much luck with floral aldehydes. They were usually too soapy for my taste and the bubbly effect irritated my sinuses. They just didn’t feel like me. Then Birgit generously gave me a decant of Vega and my eyes were opened. This was unlike any of the others, it was so soft and luminous: Pure aldehyde perfection.

This fragrance was first released by Guerlain in 1936 and relaunched as an exclusive in 2006. It shines like starlight and is as smooth as the most expensive champagne. You could separate out the different floral components but this is a fragrance that is more than the sum of its parts. I switch off and let it send me off into the ether.

I wear Vega for celebrations because it’s so sparkling; like bathing myself with a thousand tiny stars.  I picture it as pure white light and feel as if it’s shimmering off my skin. For me, it’s best applied by dabbing rather than spraying.

I wore it to my fabulous friend Thomas’s wedding and that was one of the few times someone’s complimented me on my perfume.

A great twist is that in the base there’s something warm and dark which contrasts so nicely with its cool and clean character. Truly intoxicating.

Unfortunately, Vega has been discontinued. Not only is it sad to lose such a transcendent scent but just look at that stunning Art Deco bottle!

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Do you think the kind of fragrances you like reflects your personality?

 

 

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Perfume, Books and Booze -The Imbibliotheque at Libreria, London

I think it was Robin writing on Now Smell This that said the one thing that all people with a passion for perfume have in common, is a love of books.

Thanks to Esperanza, I got a last minute ticket to an evening imbibing scents, alcohol and literature. This was held at the brand new bookshop, Libreria, on Hanbury Street (incidentally the same road as niche perfumerie, Bloom) in East London.

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Libreria bookshop, 65 Hanbury Street, London

Independent bookshops are having a tough time these days but Libreria is offering something  a bit different. They provide an internet-free zone where you can attend events and of course, browse the books, but you can also take a course on how to use the printing press in the basement and even print your own work.

The Imbibliotheque event was hosted by drinks writer, Henry Jeffreys and Lizzie Ostrom, author of “Perfume : A Century of Scents“. Lizzie runs regular perfume-themed soirées in the capital under her excellent nom de plume, Odette Toilette.

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Looking around the room, it seemed to be more of a literary crowd than a fragrant one (I won’t presume that anyone was there primarily for the booze). We started with a small sherry (to be followed by Marsala and gin) and then Henry and Lizzie proceeded to regale us with tales of literary works that mention either alcohol or scent. As this is mostly a perfume blog, I’ll be concentrating on Lizzie’s contributions.

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Lizzie Ostrom a.k.a. Odette Toilette

Lizzie started by saying that whenever she tells anyone about her interest in fragrance they usually respond with “Have you read Perfume by Patrick Suskind?”. Being the well-brought-up woman she is, Lizzie merely tells them that she has, while admitting to us “I hate it”.

These are the books with fragrant motifs that she prefers.

Wise Children by Angela Carter

Wise Children is the magical tale of two identical twins, Nora and Dora Chance, who were both chorus girls in their youth. The only way you could tell them apart was by their scent: one wore Shalimar while the other wore Mitsouko.

Lizzie points out these are clever choices because like the twins, both perfumes come from the same mother; Guerlain.  In the novel the girls swap scents and so manage to deceive their lovers as to their identity. This is because their scent is their identity.

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In the 1930s, when the novel is set, Lizzie tells us that scent was sold as a way to portray an  “amped-up” version of yourself. Perfume was about role-play.

The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler

Apparently perfume is mentioned quite regularly in detective novels, sometimes as a plot device. It’s referred to in a number of Raymond Chandler’s works in which it has the ability to betray someone. It literally leaves a scent trail.

In one story, a potential suspect is eliminated because the perfume found on a handkerchief at the crime scene is too vulgar for her to possibly wear.

In The Lady in the Lake, Philip Marlowe visits “The Gillerlain Company” (Hmm sounds familiar). Here’s an excerpt.

“The cream of the crop seemed to be something very small and simple in a squat amber bottle. It was in the middle at eye height, had a lot of space to itself, and was labeled Gillerlain Regal, The Champagne of Perfumes. It was definitely the stuff to get. One drop of that in the hollow of your throat and the matched pink pearls started falling on you like summer rain.”

Riders by Jilly Cooper

Lizzie had recently done an event for the Jilly Cooper Book Club and found that her bonkbusters are peppered with references to scent. Women are always pouring perfume over themselves in anticipation of meeting their lover. It gives the impression of “putting on the glitz”. It’s also used to show how extravagant a character is when another quips that she pours “God knows how many bottles of Diorissimo” into her swimming pool.

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When describing the character, Mrs Walters, Jilly Cooper writes “Caleche rises like morning mist from her ravine of a cleavage”. We tried some Caleche by Hermes on paper strips, which Lizzie says makes people treat her like a bitch whenever she wears it.

The Loved Ones by Evelyn Waugh

Published in 1948, The Loved Ones is a short novel set in Los Angeles. In it, Waugh satirises how perfume is being sold to women at that time.

“With a steady hand Aimee fulfilled the prescribed rites of an American girl preparing to meet her lover — dabbed herself under the arms with a preparation designed to seal the sweatglands, gargled another to sweeten the breath, and brushed into her hair some odorous drops from a bottle labelled: “Jungle Venom”- “From the depth of the fever-ridden swamp,” the advertisement had stated, “where juju drums throb for the human sacrifice, Jeannette’ s latest exclusive creation Jungle Venom comes to you with the remorseless stealth of the hunting cannibal.”

The Leopard by  Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

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For a book full of descriptions of scent and smell, Lizzie reckons you can’t do better than The Leopard. This novel is set in Scilly in the 1860s, during the upheaval caused by the unification of Italy. Its theme of a decaying way of life is reflected in the depiction of the aristocratic family’s garden with its “oily emanations of magnolias” and a multitude of other scents clamouring for attention.

The garden has beauty but it’s also squalid, with the body of a soldier buried within it. The scent descriptions intoxicate the reader but they also send them reeling from the olfactory cacophony.

Lizzie matched The Leopard with a roll-on jasmine scent from Hyderabad which was indeed both captivating and repulsive, being both fleshy and plastick-y.

Snowball by Brigid Brophy

Snowball is a comedy of manners set at a New Year’s Eve Ball in a fancy house in London. Lizzie read us a description of how a perfume’s presence disappears from a room – it “shrivels like a corpse entombed”. One of the characters also consumes peppermint creams so this was a nice excuse to pass a box around the audience. I have to say I didn’t do any much sniffing before I wolfed one down.

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Books, glorious books: The shelves at Libreria

Doting by Henry Green

The wife of an adulterer in Doting isn’t sure of what she saw, but when dismissed by her cheating husband during a confrontation, she says “I smelt you, Arthur”.  She was born with such a strong sense of smell that she has utmost confidence in it.

Set in post-war London, the writer lets the reader experience the novel’s environment solely through the senses of the characters.

Brighton Rock by Graeme Green

Graeme Green drops in various uninspiring aromas from dead fish to creosote in order to remind the reader of how dreary the setting is. It creates a shorthand for a whole environment in this classic 1930s murder thriller.

Lizzie obtained one of the scents from IFF’s “Living Portfolio” which uses headspace technology to recreate everyday smells. The one that we tried was “Living Motor Oil” and it was incredibly realistic.

Ghost Stories

In Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, the new Mrs De Winter is haunted by Rebecca’s perfume. There are also references to scent in the work of Edgar Allan Poe.

Fragrance can be used to represent the ethereal presence of someone long gone or inspire grief when encountering the scent associated with a lost loved one.

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Have you read any of these books? Do you have any novels with scent references to share?

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is a favourite of mine with wonderful descriptions of various aromas sprinkled throughout.

 

 

 

 

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