guerlain: 70 posts

Chanel, Caron and Guerlain in Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita

“The first time I encountered a perfume that beguiled me was in the pages of a book. The sultry red-haired witch in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita enticed women with the promise of “Guerlain, Chanel No 5, Mitsouko, Narcisse Noir, evening gowns, cocktail dresses…” It would be some years before I smelled these perfumes, yet their names left a “baffling but seductive” imprint, just as the novel suggested.”

In my recent FT column, Revisiting Three Perfume Classics, I write about the three legendary perfumes that left their “baffling but seductive” trace in literature and history. They are Chanel No 5, Guerlain Mitsouko and Caron Narcisse Noir. Bulgakov started writing his novel in 1928 and worked on it until his death in 1940. The reason he selected these three perfumes as the lure for the black magic show was because they embodied glamour.

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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?

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