Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
A fan of scent strips in my hand allows me to travel through the hallmarks of the venerable house’s history—Jicky, Après l’Ondée, L’Heure Bleue, Mitsouko, Shalimar, Vol de Nuit…. The accords making these fragrances memorable strike me like a handful of colorful jewels, whether it might be the civet laced richness of Jicky, the violet melancholy of Après l’Ondée, or the burnished ambery glow of Attrape-Coeur. The common golden thread in these Guerlain fragrances is the velvety, powdery accord based around orris known as Guerlinade. Embellished with rose, jasmine, tonka bean, and amber, among other notes, Guerlinade is the silky veil that softens the sharp edges and lends a whisper of delicious sweetness with an intriguing incensy touch. Guerlinade can be subtle or obvious, a gentle accent or an unequivocal proposal; however its presence in most Guerlain fragrances ensures an ability to trace lineage from Shalimar to Attrape Coeur.
Plus Que Jamais is the fragrance created by Jean-Paul Guerlain to commemorate the reopening of La Maison Guerlain at 68, Avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris (please see my article about the boutique here). Opulent composition, Plus Que Jamais is indeed “more than ever” Guerlain, with its arrangement sustained on the ornate oriental base layering vanilla, amber, iris and enchantingly earthy vetiver into a vision of silk shimmering with gold embroidery. …
Like the string of pearls that decorates its Baccarat crystal flacon, the top notes of Plus Que Jamais are marked by the opalescent luster of aldehydes. Classically strung over the wreath of ylang ylang and orange blossom, aldehydic top notes melt like seafoam on the sand. Their touch is subtle and gentle, serving to provide a sparkling jewel-like brilliance, and while the aldehydic character retreats in the background, its radiance persists, lighting up the arrangement. The richness of the floral heart has a voluptuous softness that hides a luscious toffee element under the dewy rose and jasmine petals. Yet, even the silky quality of the heart cannot match the polished elegance of the drydown. The pearly sheen of amber delicately chilled by the woody iris and vetiver is set into the creamy sweetness of Guerlain vanilla and misted by the muted smokiness.
Being a grand composition in the classical manner, Plus Que Jamais does not have a retro aura about it, with the complex clarity of the floral notes and the toned down powdery sweetness marking the fragrance as modern. While it may not result in epiphany for those lacking affection for Guerlain, the fans of house will no doubt find it enchantingly wistful and unapologetically glamorous.
Notes include lemon, bergamot, ylang-ylang, neroli, iris, jasmine, and vanilla. Plus Que Jamais is priced at $318 for 2 oz, and it can be purchased from Bergdorf Goodman in New York as well from the Guerlain flagship store in Paris. As much as I like the bottle, the pump atomizer is frustrating, as not do I find it ruining the elegant line, but also it is liable to breakage. I discovered the same issue with the three Guerlain exclusives, Cuir Beluga, Rose Barbare and Angelique Noire. Moreover, since the atomizers are porous, they might cause quicker evaporation of perfume. Indeed, it was recommended to store my bottle covered instead with a lid that accompanies the presentation.
A recent article in Washington Post tells an amusing story about a columnist Gene Weingarten shopping for perfume for his wife and discovering nothing less than Plus Que Jamais.
Please see other Guerlain reviews.