Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
A lurid press release that makes bodice ripper novels appear tame has pretty much been the only distinctive thing about Les Elixirs Charnels, which include Gourmand Coquin, Chypre Fatal, Oriental Brûlant and Boisé Torride. Despite my lack of excitement about the collection, I nevertheless made a trip to Bergdorf Goodman to try the latest release, Floral Romantique. After all, I thought, the last thing one loses is hope! And I am just about to lose it… This review does not even need my customary three paragraphs to encapsulate my feelings about this new Guerlain launch. Floral Romantique is an orange blossom version of Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue with an ultra-luxurious price tag.
If you have smelled Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue and Marc Jacobs Daisy recently, you can imagine the feeling of Floral Romantique: airy, radiant floral accented with a fizzy citrusy top and a dry amber base. The floral accord relies on a rich dose of orange blossom, which gives it an interesting twist, while the sheer white floral notes give Floral Romantique a petally, luminous effect. Once the zesty brightness of the top notes vanishes and the slight smokiness of tea and amber becomes more pronounced, Floral Romantique enters into the familiar waters of all Light Blue offspring—crisp and sweet.
The reason I find Floral Romantique disappointing is precisely because it lacks originality and character. For a similar effect and much less money, one cannot go wrong with Chanel Chance Eau Tendre, Dior Addict Shine, or Calvin Klein Euphoria Blossom. In a way, I can understand why Guerlain keeps releasing all of these commercial and safe fragrances, from Idylle to La Petite Robe Noire. Its target audience, especially in the US, needs to be expanded, and it is very difficult to do so with fragrances like Shalimar and Mitsouko. Yet, every brand has an identity, its own DNA that makes it unique and distinctive. I think that the more Guerlain deviates from its traditions, the less coherence and value it will have as a brand.
Guerlain Elixir Charnel Floral Romantique includes notes of mandarin, petitgrain, ambrette seeds, yerba mate, carnation, jasmine, lily, tiare flower, ylang-ylang, cedarwood, smoked tea, benzoin, chestnut. Available from Bergdorf Goodman and Guerlain boutiques. 75 ml Eau de Parfum, $255.
Sample: my own acquisition