Guerlain Plus Que Jamais : Perfume Review

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Pearls

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. …

Plusqueguerlain

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.

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25 Comments

  • julien: I don’t know why but i don’t like this scent.
    Not for the scent itself,because it is rather good but something it has that makes me sad about it.
    To me it is like a kind of present before death from Guerlain.

    Kisses,j. January 13, 2006 at 4:25am Reply

  • Christina H.: I have recently acquired the small bottle from Bergdorf’s and it is a really nice scent that definitely has a vanilla note to it but for me the lasting power left much to be desired.Did you try the parfum or the edp?I am somewhat disappointed in it,in the sense that though I also enjoyed the fragrance very much,I was hoping for at least 4-5hrs on me and probably got 2 and a half at the very best.I am curious if the parfum version would clearly make up for this.This fragrance runs along the same vein of IPdF Vaniglia or the LT Plaisir.I love the bottle and was wondering,is my small bottle a Baccarat bottle also? Well,I feel sort of torn,lovely fragrance albeit a bit common(in my opinion)and gorgeous bottle.I just wish the edp lasted longer for me.Thank you for reviewing this. January 13, 2006 at 9:15am Reply

  • marchlion: It sounds…. stunning. If you had to compare it to another Guerlain, which would you say it is the closest to, and why? Thanks. January 13, 2006 at 9:18am Reply

  • Marina: Lovely review! This is one of my biggest lemmings, a sample proves elusive (not surprisingly, looking at the price :-))”Enchantingly wistful and unapologetically glamorous”. My lemming just grew by 100% 🙂 January 13, 2006 at 10:20am Reply

  • parislondres: Beautiful review as always dear V! I do like it very much but do not feel like shelling out the money.

    It was so wonderful seeing you again and hope you have a super 2006.

    Mwah! January 13, 2006 at 10:39am Reply

  • Laura: I remember this from our October trip, when we both thought it smelled very Ylang et Vanille-y. I’m glad it wasn’t even close to a must buy. And yet, I wish it had been more delicious, more architectural, more something unusual—and then I would have bought it, even at the price! On the other hand, I’m wearing Angelique Noire again today–have gone through over half the bottle. January 13, 2006 at 12:29pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Julien, you are really taking the gloomy point of view, no? 🙂 However, I agree. There is a very farewell aura about the entire presentation. January 13, 2006 at 12:46pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Christina, are you using the atomizer it comes with? It hardly releases anything. Moreover, as I mentioned above, these atomizers seem to be porous and your perfume will evaporate faster if you store the bottle with the atomizer, rather than with the golden lid. I just ended up using a dropper (I buy disposable droppers for other purposes and use them to apply parfum or anything from a splash bottle). The lasting power is rather good on my skin, and I can apply some in the morning and still smell it in the evening. I should test side by side, but I do not find it to be vanillic enough for PQJ to be compared to Plaisir or IPF Vanilia. It is more of a soft aldehydic floral like Metalys. January 13, 2006 at 12:51pm Reply

  • Christina H.: Yes,I’ve been using the little spritzer and will definitely give the dropper method a try!Unfortunately,I have not had the privelage of trying the Metalys to compare it with but maybe this also will be addded to the Bergdorf Guerlain line up soon! January 13, 2006 at 12:55pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, it is closer to Attrape-Coeur and Metalys than say to Shalimar. It has a voluptuous floral heart and a rounded warm base that ambery and slightly smoky (very delicately so, in a typical Guerlain manner). I would say that the price is rather high, but the presentation is lovely. January 13, 2006 at 12:56pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, thank you! I have a feeling that you might enjoy it, because it is in line with many of your other favourites. However, it is a little bit aldehydic in the top notes. January 13, 2006 at 12:58pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear N, nice to see you! I know what you mean about the price (it is more than ever indeed!) I suppose that the Baccarat flacon must be the reason. January 13, 2006 at 12:59pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, I have to retract Ylang & Vanille comment now, although there is definitely a facet that is common to both. PQJ is a bit more interesting and certainly not as sweet. I recall that you were looking for something autumnal and this one was not it. I like it, but I agree–I would have wished for a bit more originality. January 13, 2006 at 1:02pm Reply

  • Tania: You make me want to go to Bergdorf and try it again. The first time I smelled it, I thought it resembled a Caron more than a Guerlain. 🙂 But I had so many things on I think by the time it must have been attaining its heart character, I couldn’t smell a thing. January 13, 2006 at 1:02pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Christina, yes, I hear that Metalys will be added to the line at Bergdorf for the reopening of the boutique. I have tried PQJ only in the EDP, and I would imagine the parfum to be richer. If that is the case, I am not sure I would want more richness, because the EDP has enough of it. January 13, 2006 at 1:05pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, it is definitely a large floral bouquet, in the vein of classical tradition. A grand ballet like Swan Lake, rather than Balanchine’s Four Temperaments. There is a place for both in my heart. I would be curious as to what you think. January 13, 2006 at 1:09pm Reply

  • michel: i think it’s a great perfum, modern and classical in the way of the old chanel and Patou joy or 1000 even Enjoy ,I mean only serious perfumer with a big heritage can produced this .Plus que Jamais is expensive , that’s right, packaging and small production can easily explain this but it’s far away from all these fantaisies you can find every were ,it’s a category of “haute parfumerie” at good price . January 13, 2006 at 2:04pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Michel, I agree. It is still not completely outrageous, like some limited edition fragrances. I do like the treatment of the Guerlain tradition in this fragrance, because while classical, it is not retro. The hues are rich, but they have some transparency. January 13, 2006 at 2:08pm Reply

  • linda: I need to run to BG to sample this one. Thank you for a beautiful review! Have a wonderful weekend, V. January 13, 2006 at 2:39pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, let me know what you think. Have a great weekend too! January 13, 2006 at 2:56pm Reply

  • julien: Yes…some people “always take the right side of life” and i take the gloomy one,at least for Guerlain!lol January 14, 2006 at 5:14am Reply

  • Sisonne: Dear V, oh, Plus Que Jamais seems to be lovely – but the price…
    When I get a chance, I´ll test it for sure, hoping I won´t like it *lol*
    I´m still wanting Angélique Noire so badly – & to be honest: Cuir Beluga is very lovely, too ;-)It´s such a pity that it´s not possible to buy them here, because for some obscure reasons Guerlain takes a ridiculous price for shipping from France…!
    Yesterday I revistited Jicky, but I think that one has to wait until it gets a bit warmer. At the moment I´ll prefer Shalimar which is like “winter in a bottle” to me 🙂 January 14, 2006 at 7:06am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Julien, well, the world should have its share of optimists and pessimists! 🙂 January 15, 2006 at 2:24pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, the flacon is lovely, if you like classical Guerlain style (which I do very much). I cannot understand why Guerlain charges almost as much to ship within Europe as it does to ship to the States. Incredible! Jicky is the one I was wearing yesterday. Its drydown is wonderfully warm and soft, with that interesting civet touch (not overwhelming though). I have been enjoying it lately. January 15, 2006 at 2:26pm Reply

  • Romina: I just a sample of this. It is a GREAT Guerlain, extraordinary. I liked it very much, tho it’s too heavy for tiny me :). Also, as it wore I noticed the same tickle start in the back of my throat I get from one other scent and recognized which other great scent it smelled like. J’ai ose, by Guy Laroche.

    I’d highly recommend this one. It’s grand. June 23, 2006 at 10:52pm Reply

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