guerlain: 69 posts

Sandalwood Scented Dreams

India and sandalwood. Long before I became interested in perfume as vocation, I knew of this connection. More than a stereotype, it reflects the significance of this wood in India’s traditions, from birth to death, from a wedding to a funeral. Sandalwood makes one’s skin more beautiful and gods more pleased. It smells divine. In my new FT column The Scent of Sandalwood, I explore how Indian and modern European perfumery were inspired by this precious material. Also, I touch upon an issue that rarely clouds the romantic accounts of Mysore sandalwood groves–their overharvesting and near complete devastation.

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“My mother-in-law rubbed a piece of pink-coloured wood on a rough stone until it turned to paste. My husband and I were about to travel back to Europe and in the Hindu custom my mother-in-law performed a puja, an act of worship, to ensure our safe journey. She lit joss sticks around the deities and dabbed some of the paste on the figurines of gods arranged on her small altar and then on our foreheads – the fragrance of sandalwood rose in the warm air. Many hours later as I sat in the plane, the creamy, floral perfume lingered around me, carrying with it the memory of a caring touch.” To continue, please click here.

One of my favorite sandalwood perfumes today–it uses a mixture of Australian and synthetic sandalwood–is 10 Corso Como. A niche classic. Do you enjoy sandalwood?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, all rights reserved

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Flora Rosa : Perfume Review

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Roses have been on my mind a lot lately, and not simply in the form of rose jam and rose tea. I received a small challenge to compile a list of fruity rose perfumes for a project, and the trail behind me has been rose scented for the past two weeks. It was a challenge, because rose paired with fruit is such a common pairing that any comprehensive list means hundreds of fragrance tests. Why so? Rose essence naturally contains many nuances reminiscent of raspberries, strawberries, red currants or apples, depending on variety. Highlighting them with richer fruity notes makes for a harmonious blend.

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Harmonious is fine, of course, but how do you make it distinctive? This is the question I’ve posed often when testing fruity roses, and in particular, the latest from Guerlain, Aqua Allegoria Flora Rosa. The conclusion I’ve reached is that it’s possible if the perfumer wants to go big, bold and glamorous (think Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose with its dark raspberry) but more complicated if the aim is lightweight and pretty. Flora Rosa is all air kisses and smiles, a charming blend of red currants and pink roses.

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From Jicky to Petite Robe Noire : Guerlain-Osmotheque Event

On Saturday, April 11th, the perfume conservatory Osmothèque and Guerlain will present a new lecture on the history of this venerable French house. Titled “From Jicky to Petite Robe Noire”, the event will cover Guerlain’s masterpieces and legacies. The session will be presented by Guerlain’s Sylvaine Delacourte and Osmothèque’s Patricia de Nicolaï. If you’re close to Versailles, it’s a wonderful opportunity to learn about French perfumery tradition from experts close to the source.

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When: April 11th, Saturday at 14h15 (1.5-2 hours duration)
Where: The Osmothèque, 36 rue du Parc de Clagny, 78000 Versailles
Online Order Fees: 22€ per person; the reduced fee for students and members of Société des Amis de l’Osmothèque is 16€. Entry for students of ISIPCA is free. To reserve your tickets, please click here.

“10 Fragrances Every Woman Should Own” : Red Magazine

Red Magazine’s November issue includes my love letter to Guerlain Chamade in its feature, “10 Fragrances Every Woman Should Own.” I was thinking more along the lines of a great perfume everyone should try, and Chamade made the cut for a number of reasons: it has a distinctive personality, an original form, and it is beyond the trends and whims of fashion. There are many excellent and unexpected selections in the article. For instance, Tania Sanchez makes an impassioned call for Lush’s Gorilla Perfume Breath of God. Michael Donovan writes about Caldey Island Lavender Water, and Sali Hughes makes a great case for considering Chanel No 5.

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I also describe why I love Serge Lutens’s Féminité du Bois in Red’s online feature, Best Perfumes for Women.

If you were to suggest fragrances for others to try, what would you include?

Guerlain Habit Rouge and Its Family : Perfume Review

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Jean-Paul Guerlain, the last perfumer for the house carrying the family name, once memorably said that one could be a Shalimar woman or a L’Heure Bleue woman, but not both. Of course, he made the statement in his usual provocative manner, but the idea was that the two perfumes had such different characters that you loved either one or the other. I had all the makings of a L’Heure Bleue woman, having fallen for its older sister Après l’Ondée, but then I met Habit Rouge. One encounter was all it took for me not only to be captivated by its velvety orange blossom doused in incense and bergamot, but also to understand the allure of Shalimar.

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That Habit Rouge is marketed to men should make no difference to women. In 1965, when Habit Rouge was created by Guerlain, the collection had many splendid feminine perfumes like Jicky, Shalimar, L’Heure Bleue, and Mitsouko, but the offerings for men were considerably less outstanding. The exception was Vétiver, which Jean-Paul Guerlain created a few years earlier. His solution to draw gentlemen to the perfume counter was to take the basic outline of Shalimar and its famous accord of citrus and sweet oriental notes and give it a dandy appeal with leather and green orange blossom. The result was a less sweet, less curvy and less ripe version of Shalimar, but with all the elegance and panache of its great ancestor.

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