Guerlain Insolence Eau de Parfum : Fragrance Review



Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

When I first smelled Insolence Eau de Toilette, I found it curious–a brash strawberry foiling a sophisticated orange blossom and iris accord. I was torn between hating the nail polish remover sharpness of the fruity top and enjoying the Guerlinade inflected drydown, between finding the fragrance vulgar and strangely appealing simultaneously. Recently, I discovered the Eau de Parfum version, which struck me as so dramatic and memorable that I feel that it deserves a review of its own. It fills in all of the spaces that the EDT left bare and adds more. Admittedly, it is not a refined composition à la Chamade or Après l’Ondée, but it packs so much character that it blows most of other recent launches out of the water.

While the EDP opens up on a similar hot raspberry and strawberry accord as the EDT, it is softer and warmer, lacking the pungent quality that I found in the EDT. The suave and rich accord of iris and violet forms the core of the composition, with the dark accent of orange blossom notes lending a surprising twist. The perfume, Maurice Roucel, envisioned Insolence as a modern interpretation of Après l’Ondée, but the EDP bears more relation to L’Heure Bleue, especially in its lavish use of floral notes. The warmth of tonka bean and sandalwood deepens the unctuous richness of florals, with the deliciously dark vanilla gilding the drydown. The heightened hue of all the elements gives Insolence EDP a fantastic character—abstract gourmand, seductive oriental and heady floral.

In a way, the ostentatious quality of Insolence is not too much out of character for Guerlain. Today, Shalimar, Mitsouko and L’Heure Bleue seem like paragons of restraint and elegance, yet in their day, they were seen as opulent and seductive above all else. Laden with all of those sensual animalic notes as they were, Guerlain classics skirted just on the edge of being unacceptably provocative. Insolence relies on the combination of powerful red fruit and violet notes, and while its aura may be different, the ostentatious effect is fully in place.

I am not a big fan of such fruity notes, and yet it is a testament to Roucel’s genius that he retains a balance between all of the elements without one dominating the other. I keep returning to Insolence to enjoy its brightness, its plush sweetness and its sensual warmth. It is an extremely tenacious fragrance with a huge sillage (note: it is not a fragrance to wear to a restaurant nor a theater performance!) For all of the marketing talk of Insolence appealing to the younger generation of Guerlain consumers, I do not find it particularly puerile and girly. Wearing it, I feel not so much like an ingénue trying to impress, but like a woman who appreciates an occasional indulgence.

Insolence Eau de Parfum includes notes of violet, raspberry, red fruit pulp, rose, orange blossom, iris, violet, tonka bean, musk and sandalwood. Insolence is available from Neiman Marcus, Bergdoft Goodman, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and other major retailers. Also available as the Eau de Toilette and the parfum.

Sample: my own acquisition



  • karin: Hi V! You’re brave to try this one! One spray and I want to run to the hills. As you say, it’s amazingly tenacious with HUGE sillage. Guessing it would be better dabbed than sprayed. I purchased this unsniffed based on LT’s review in PtG – a large 3.4oz bottle. Yikes! Don’t think I’ll get through it in my lifetime! It’s definitely a nice scent, though…if you can manage to tame the amount used. May 25, 2011 at 8:27am Reply

  • Suzanna: I disliked the EdT for the reason you mentioned (brash fruit) and also the perception of a hot rubbery note below. Have never seen the EdP version but this write-up makes me want to try it. I must have missed this on my last trip to Orlando.

    The EdT was off-putting but I did see resemblance to earlier house classics. It just wasn’t in an especially flattering way. It will be interesting to see how the acetone/rubber thing (a new twist on the old classics and not a good one) is handled in the EdP. May 25, 2011 at 8:53am Reply

  • violetnoir: This is a memorable fragrance, isn’t it, V? I love it. And, the violet gizmo-like bottle is one of my favorite perfume bottles.

    Hugs! May 25, 2011 at 10:32am Reply

  • minette: hmmm… will have to find the edp. i actually like insolence edt, and get lots of compliments on it when i wear it! i think it’s a bit of a hidden gem, actually. May 25, 2011 at 4:31pm Reply

  • Marion: Oh gah, Roucel IS a genius…after pondering on L & T’s ‘disastrous top notes of hairspray and noise’, I decided that it was absolutely deliberate….what could be more evocative of the big nite out to those of Roucel’s (and my) generation than the makeup, hairspray, and loud records playing of insolent teenagers getting ready to prowl! May 25, 2011 at 6:28pm Reply

  • Mimi Walker: I think I first got onto this fragrance through an article in Allure magazine in a list of sexy fragrances. I tried it and have loved it since. I wish more fragrances had such great sillage.

    I wanted to ask you about a new fragrance you mentioned in March or so: Clinque Aromatic Elixer Perfumers Reserve. I keep looking for it and have yet to find it. Do you know when it is supposed to come out?

    Also, I have been trying to find Diva Rose and, again, can’t find it anywhere. Have you heard anything about it? So many of the recent limited edition fragrances with rose or just floral have been a big disappointment. It may not be a great fragrance, but I’d love to smell it. May 25, 2011 at 9:09pm Reply

  • Angela Cox: I love it , I am a violet fan though.I don’t get the sillage maybe my skin sucks it all in ! May 26, 2011 at 11:22am Reply

  • karin: I agree! Roucel has no fear! His fragrances are monumental. Compare his style to the “fresh, clean” scents (like Idylle) that abound right now – gimme Insolence EDP any day! BTW, have you tried his Roberto Cavalli Oro, V? Another powerhouse! It’s a fruit liqueur bomb! I grabbed a bottle at TJ Maxx, not knowing anything about it. The bottle’s a riot – crazy design. And the fragrance is POWERFUL. Not sure if there’s osmanthus in it or not, but there’s a definite dried apricot…and booze vibe. May 26, 2011 at 5:56pm Reply

  • karin: I have PLENTY if you want some. Email me at krnszn at gmail dot com. 🙂 May 26, 2011 at 9:30pm Reply

  • Victoria: Karin, a tiny spray is all I need. Too much, and it becoming suffocating, to say the least. Yet, in the sea of limpid and tame fragrance, it really feels so refreshing (not in a literal sense, of course!) May 26, 2011 at 5:42pm Reply

  • Victoria: Suzanna, do try the EDP. I also hated the brash, cheap strawberry in the EDT, but the EDP is differently balanced and the effect is not identical.

    I must say that I receive a ton of compliments on the EDP. Of course, it is a common thing with big sillage fragrances, but a lot of times people actually want to know where they can buy it. May 26, 2011 at 5:44pm Reply

  • Victoria: I also grew to love the violet bottle, which in this darker shade is quite whimsical (in pink, it looks a bit cheap though.) May 26, 2011 at 5:44pm Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, in this case, you simply MUST try the EDP. I bet, you will enjoy it even more than the EDT. May 26, 2011 at 5:45pm Reply

  • Victoria: I love Roucel’s bold, dramatic touches, which as I mentioned to Karin is something one does not see too often today. Compare this to Idylle, which is pretty, but rather lacking in personality… May 26, 2011 at 5:45pm Reply

  • Victoria: So well put, Karin! 🙂
    I have not tried Roberto Cavalli Oro, but your description is making me want to rush to the nearest TJ Maxx and look for a bottle. May 26, 2011 at 6:14pm Reply

  • Victoria: Hmm, try asking someone else close to you if they can smell it. Sometimes I do not smell some fragrances myself, but it is definitely very obvious to others. May 26, 2011 at 6:17pm Reply

  • Victoria: I checked with Clinique, and it seems that the launch of Aromatics Elixir Perfumer’s Reserve is pushed back till the fall. So, it is not going to be available till then. I will update the information as soon as I know.

    As for Diva Rose, I believe that Bloomingdale’s might have it. I have not smelled it myself yet. May 26, 2011 at 7:03pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you for your kind offer, Karin! May 27, 2011 at 10:57am Reply

  • Mimi: Thanking you so much for checking on the Clinique. Regards the Diva Rose, if you haven’t smelled it, I don’t think that bodes well for the scent.

    After describing finding Insolence on a list of sexy perfumes, I am driving myself crazy trying to remember the others. Chinatown was on it, but the others don’t come back. Oh well. May 27, 2011 at 7:29pm Reply

  • Victoria: I will check again at Nordstroms and Bloomingdales for Diva Rose and let you know if I find it. I am curious about it, because I love the original Diva. May 28, 2011 at 1:45pm Reply

  • Shermina: Hi there
    Thanks so much for such a great informative website!I have white ,dry skin that doesnt stick to scents much! I tested Insolence today,it seems to last better for long time,do you think I should buy it?or…? July 30, 2011 at 11:09am Reply

  • Ann-Sofie: It is dark evening now, but at noon today it was -8 degrees Celsius, and the sun was shining on the most amazing white winter landscape. I dabbed some Insolence on and went out and it was the most gregarious experience. Insolence grew into the most majestic (majestic as in Queen of Sheba) swirling winter fragrance I ever felt – a true sensation to my icy nose – and I swear by it – even a slight inscence note was fluttering above the violets and the vanilla. Truly a sensational beautiful winter perfume! I am stunned. December 2, 2012 at 2:51pm Reply

  • Kat: I’m testing the edp for the first time this morning. Violet, orange blossom or citrus scents are my favorite for Summer mornings and Insolence is no exception! I’m getting a beautiful violet, which I will have to test next to my samples of AG’s La Violette and Tresor. But so far, it’s really lovely–another wonderful recommendation. 🙂 July 17, 2014 at 12:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you liked it, Kat! And yes, lots of violet here. The sillage of Insolence is excellent, and whenever I smell it, I remark on it. July 17, 2014 at 2:37pm Reply

  • Fogdew: I bought this and I LOVE IT I LOVE IT I LOVE IT!!!!❤️❤️❤️
    It’s so marvellous! I just don’t understand why you say it’s strong, for I had to spray it a lot, I mean A LOT to feel it as much as I wanted to…
    It’s a pity I only bought the 30mL bottle…. December 18, 2014 at 11:21am Reply

  • Tijana: I am so happy I came across this review of yours Victoria! I think some time ago in passing I smelled EDT and was not impressed so I skipped Insolence altogether. Fast forward several years later and I came across this review so I decided to test EDP. Omg! This is just absolutely stunning to me – I never knew I liked violet, but now that I have this and Tom Ford Violet Blonde in my collection – it looks like I am a fan of violets and this one is just fantastic! And it does have sillage – after 6 hours of wearing yesterday in the opera someone commented on it and they were sitting two seats away from me 🙂 February 8, 2015 at 9:44am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes! The sillage of Insolence is excellent, and it’s very recognizable. I love such perfumes with big characters. February 9, 2015 at 7:49am Reply

  • Rosie: Hi Victoria, yesterday I went on a
    Perfume smelling expedition to my nearest
    Department store, without my 2 under 3’s
    Which was wonderful!
    It’s so exciting finally smelling perfumes
    Which I’ve imagined & also read about
    On you’re wonderful blog.
    Insolence Edp is wonderful!, so enveloping &
    Warm & feminine. Violet is one of my favourite notes, I have discovered, I also love it in
    Lipstick Rose ( which I am pinning for now
    My sample has ran out)
    I also love Aimez moi, which has really grown on me, & Flower by Kenzo.
    You’re writing is so inspiring, & I am learning so much, thank you ! March 1, 2015 at 1:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: They are beautiful perfumes, and I can see why you like all three–romantic, enveloping, tender. The EDP of Insolence is so much more interesting to me than the EDT, because its drydown is more lush. March 7, 2015 at 8:15am Reply

  • Carina: I find it too loud! One spray and you die of an overdose! If one could spray 1/25 of the amount of one spray maybe I would like it better…
    but I guess it’s a good thing that it doesn’t give me a headache. December 7, 2017 at 4:27pm Reply

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