Guerlain Metallica / Metalys : Perfume Review

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Titianflora

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Carnations set in gold, Guerlain Metalys is a composition that respects classical canons, and yet the result is a modern floral crowning a soft oriental base. Alight with amber, the fragrance captures the same golden glow that bathes the figures and the landscapes in the paintings by Titian.

The metallic note hiding under the flower petals in the heart harmonizes the cold aldehydic top accord with the warm Guerlinade base. While the carnation dominates, the lily-like sweetness of ylang ylang and the fruitiness of jasmine are woven into the floral accord. The spicy petals peel away slowly to reveal the core of the composition, accented by the same metallic brilliance that gives Paco Rabanne Calandre and Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche a distinct touch. Yet, in Metalys, the metallic note conjures visions of burnished gold, rather than polished steel. Its illusory fragility is contrasted elegantly with the layers of creamy vanilla. …

Were it not for the metallic freshness, the fragrance would have dried down to the same dense richness that marks L’Instant de Guerlain. In Metalys, the classical Guerlain vanilla has enough darkness from the shadows filling the base accord to render it abstractly gourmand rather than candy-sweet. Illuminated by the transparent woody amber, its velvety veil attains a thin cashmere quality.

Luxurious softness of the drydown is a perfect accompaniment for the chilly winter days and the cold summer evenings. Metalys is easy to appreciate, especially for those who love classically themed floral and floral oriental bouquets with a twist. Originally created in 2000 by Jean Paul Guerlain, the fragrance has been pulled from the shelves following a trademark lawsuit with the band Metallica. Name changed to Metalys, the fragrance fortunately has been released for the opening of the renovated La Maison Guerlain at the special request from Roja Dove, a person whose name might be familiar to the Guerlain aficionados.

Metalys does not differ much from Metallica, except for the fact that the carnation is spicier in the former. While in Metallica the base has a creamier quality, in Metalys, it is rendered as a fraction lighter, which makes carnation shine more vividly–a subtle, but very effective touch.

Notes include vanilla, ylang ylang, rose, carnation, iris, tonka bean, amber.

Painting: Titian. Flora. c.1515-1520. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy. From efn.org.

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36 Comments

  • Denver to Paris: Metallica is my favorite Guerlain — or at least is right up there with Apres l’Ondee. I’m surprised at the relative affordability of the new Metalys; I thought the bottle was larger and so was the price, so I’m glad to see that I was mistaken. Do you know whether it comes in the bee bottle, V? November 29, 2005 at 8:56am Reply

  • AnnE: Dear V, I’ve been saving my half-full sample vial of Metalys, so I will have to test it again today! I might have to cave on this one; I’ve always loved Calandre and Rive Gauche! Marvelous review, as always. November 29, 2005 at 9:00am Reply

  • parislondres: Dear V, I love this fragrance and your review.
    It is easy to appreciate as you observed and rather easy to wear.

    Hope you are well. Hugs! November 29, 2005 at 9:49am Reply

  • Marina: Beautiful review!
    Skin chemistry is everything. But everything! Metalys was all-vanilla on me, with but a hint of carnation… November 29, 2005 at 9:50am Reply

  • marchlion: I love Mitsouko, Apres l’Ondee, L’Heure Bleue and Jicky but L’Instant dries down to a sour fruit on me. Is Metalys so similar? Where would you place Attrape-Coeur on the Guerlain spectrum? November 29, 2005 at 10:09am Reply

  • paru: I had to chuckle when I read about the trademark lawsuit with the band since that was the first thing that popped into my head when I saw the title of your post. I wonder what sort of fragrance would suit them? Nothing floral, I suppose 🙂 November 29, 2005 at 10:22am Reply

  • linda: I bought a decant of Metallica on Ebay a couple of months ago. I liked it but I haven’t worn it since then. I just dabbed some on after reading your lovely review and it’s such a pretty carnation. I should wear it more often. November 29, 2005 at 11:59am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, you will be glad to know that the bottle is actually 125 ml, not 100ml (misread the label on the bottom of my bee bottle), however the price is the same. The bee bottle is lovely. November 29, 2005 at 12:28pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear A, thank you! I have always been fond of Calandre and Rive Gauche. I have two bottles of the original Rive Gauche, and I will be sad when they will run out. I am not that interested in the reformulated version. In general, I like either the classical formulas or completely new and innovative fragrances. Reformulation is a tough compromise, although there are cases where the result is very good (Arpege by Lanvin). November 29, 2005 at 12:34pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear N, thank you. It is easy to enjoy–a warm, enveloping fragrance that has enough edge to make it different. The bottles are also very nice, aren’t they? November 29, 2005 at 12:38pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, glad that you liked it. Metallica was creamier on me than Metalys, although not sufficiently to make someone who does not like vanilla fall in love with it. Yet, the metallic do seem to keep it in check. On my skin, it is sweeter than on the blotter, but still spicy. November 29, 2005 at 12:46pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Marchlion, Metalys is not at all similar to L’Instant. I just made a comparison to note how the metallic note affects the vanillic drydown of Metalys–it makes it lighter, not rich and dense. Attrape-Coeur is another beautiful composition, lots of amber and iris. It respects Guerlain traditions, without following them blindly. November 29, 2005 at 12:54pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: P, somehow I do not see Lars Ulrich doused in carnations and vanilla. However, I may be wrong. 🙂 November 29, 2005 at 12:56pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, I rarely reach for even my favourites, because it is difficult to wear everything consistently. There are just too many fragrances and many more to sample. Therefore, I understand what you mean. Of course, it is always great to discover something wonderful in the stash. November 29, 2005 at 12:58pm Reply

  • Robin: V, it is a lovely scent that I never reach for. I need to try it again but I think I just don’t care to wear carnation maybe (?) November 29, 2005 at 1:12pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I do not wear it as often as some other Guerlain fragrances, but it is so lovely that it should not be overlooked. This week has started with such cold, dreary weather that it is a welcome ray of sunshine for me. November 29, 2005 at 1:16pm Reply

  • Sisonne: V, I have a sample of it, but didn´t have the time to test it – there are so many wonderful scents, it´s so hard to choose which to test first *sigh* ;)!
    Generally speaking I appreciate the Guerlain fragrances very much, they are very well composed. I´d say that I prefer the older compositons (like e.g. Mitsouko, Jicky, Après l´Ondée, etc.) to the newe ones (like L´Instant), I find the older ones to be more special than the newer ones.
    At the moment I really love Shalimar & I think I´ll purchase a bottle in the near future 😉 November 29, 2005 at 1:40pm Reply

  • Tara: Mmm, can’t wait to try my sample of this one, that the lovely Francoise of the Champs Elysees Guerlain boutique offered me along with the purchase of Angelique Noire and Attrape-Coeur. I am wearing Attrape-Coeur right now and it is heavenly, reminiscent of the best of Guerlain’s past with a lovely modern feel. I wore L’Instant to bed last night, comforted by the sweet magnolia scent on a cold night. My only wish now is to find a bottle of Apres l’Ondee parfum in perfect condition and I can die happy. 🙂 November 29, 2005 at 2:35pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, Metalys and Attrape-Coeurs are definitely my favourites among the newest fragrances from Guerlain. Like you, I love Shalimar, Mitsouko and Après l´Ondée. Metalys is an interesting carnation, and if you like that note and Guerlain’s vanilla, you will definitely love it. November 29, 2005 at 3:44pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, yes, that is my wish as well! Après l´Ondée in the EDT is lovely, but the parfum is magnificent. I see it on Ebay every now and then, but it seems to go for crazy sums of money. November 29, 2005 at 3:46pm Reply

  • helena: Lovely review! The original Metallica was my signature fragrance for almost a year after its release. I bought another bottle when I heard that it might be discontinued. I have many good memories associated with this fragrance. November 29, 2005 at 4:11pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Helena, you really are a farsighted woman! 🙂 I do recall that you also stocked up well on Chaos, which is now impossible to find, unless you wish to pay crazy prices on some perfume discount sites. Glad that you liked my review of your favourite. November 29, 2005 at 4:21pm Reply

  • helena: Ha ha! I was in those two cases. Usually I am not organized enough to plan ahead. 😀 November 29, 2005 at 4:33pm Reply

  • Katie: Oh yay – I have a wee sample of Metalys stashed away (somewhere) to try… I am already dressed in Theorema today, but I shall have to wear this one sometime this week after reading your wonderful thoughts on it. This scent is just so infamous because of the Metallic a lawsuit, and it still makes me laugh – that band is so lawyerhappy it approaches the absurd. It cracks me up to think they seemingly thought ANYONE would confuse a Guerlain scent with their band, since I am sure that they smell of nothing more than sweat, hubris, and legal drafts. November 29, 2005 at 4:33pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: H, it is still very impressive. 🙂 November 29, 2005 at 4:36pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, I love Theorema, a fragrance that does spicy so beautifully. I think that the trademark lawsuits were common around that time, because if I am not mistaken, Caron Royal Bain de Champagne was changed to Royal Bain de Caron and YSL Champagne was changed to Yvress. Were the champagne producers worried that someone might mistake the perfume for a drink? One say, of course, not, but in the former USSR, it was a common practice among alcoholic to drink cologne when vodka was not in stock. So, the worries are not that unfounded in this case. 🙂 November 29, 2005 at 4:43pm Reply

  • Katie: Ah, yes, I can see that in that type of instance. Metallica (the band) has a rather long list of lawsuits they’ve pressed forward on all sorts of basis, both flimsy and not quite so flimsy. I find it amusing, since all those suits and accountants and their own utter stuffiness doesn’t seem really “rock and roll,” you know? November 29, 2005 at 4:55pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: I did not know this. How odd given their seemingly anti-establishment stance. Wonder what other lawsuits were brought forward. November 29, 2005 at 5:36pm Reply

  • paru: I believe Metallica was very much involved in all the fuss about digital copyrights. If I’m not mistaken, I think they even testified in front of Congress about the issue. Brand management is a big deal for some people. It’s the sort of thing that has to be defended every step of the way since there’s no clear way to delineate the point at which the brand name becomes common parlance. Things like Kleenex and Scotch tape come to mind when thinking about this issue. Anyway, maybe Metallica is thinking of releasing their own fragrance 🙂 November 29, 2005 at 6:13pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Who knows? Maybe, they are thinking about it. Nowadays, you are not a celebrity if you do not have your own perfume! November 29, 2005 at 8:57pm Reply

  • Veronica: Re: “rumours that this is one of the fragrances that will be featured in the new Bergdorf Goodman Guerlain boutique”

    Will you please let us know if you are able to confirm? And thank you for your review. I’d definitely like to try Metalys.

    –Today, my son and I went shopping and we played with fragrance. I’m trying to get him to get over the male/female thing. We may land up sharing a bottle of “Lovely”. I’ve been spritzing him with samples and he enjoyed it. Didn’t yet know that it was “female”. lol November 29, 2005 at 9:56pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: V, I will definitely do so! I hear that the new boutique is about to get some fragrances that are exclusive to Paris for now, however I am not sure which ones.

    You made me smile with your story about “Lovely.” Glad that you are expanding his horizons! November 29, 2005 at 10:15pm Reply

  • AC: Veronica, I am a man and I wear Lovely and NR for Her. I don;t find them too feminine and my girlfriend loves them on me. November 30, 2005 at 8:23pm Reply

  • Veronica: AC, yes, I like smelling it on my son. He’s gone through 3 samples and it wasn’t until he saw the bottle that he realized it was marketed for women. A 13 yr old boy isn’t too impressed with his mother’s opinion. It’s a matter of time before a girl will want to lean in closer to smell………hmmmmm, maybe I should nix the Lovely. lol I agree with your girlfriend; NR would be nice on a man. November 30, 2005 at 10:36pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: AC, I can imagine how both would smell great on a man. They are gentle, musky fragrances, with a very nice sillage. December 1, 2005 at 12:09am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Veronica, oh, you have a great taste! Your son is lucky to have such a role model. I am sure some lucky woman will appreciate it as well in the future. 🙂 Well, if he still does not care for Lovely, you should definitely nix it! December 1, 2005 at 12:11am Reply

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