Jean-Paul Guerlain: 13 posts

Guerlain Eau de Cologne du Coq, Eau de Fleurs de Cédrat and Eau de Guerlain

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With the start of summer it seems natural to reach for a cologne. This style of fragrances based on citrus is uplifting and bright, and wearing a cologne is a low-commitment affair since it lasts on skin for only a few hours, leaving behind a memory of freshness. Of course, these days there are many different colognes, some promising an all-day citrus blast and others treating the most un-cologne-like notes like sandalwood, roses and musk in the style’s gossamer lightness. For my part, I recommend visiting three classics from Guerlain: Eau de Cologne du Coq, Eau de Fleurs de Cédrat and Eau de Guerlain.

Not only does the trio offer a range of styles, it gives a great overview of the house’s signature and the way it evolved over time. The fragrances were created by three perfumers representing different generations of the Guerlain family–Aimé Guerlain with his fin-de-siecle sensibilities, Jacques Guerlain renowned for his technical mastery and Jean-Paul Guerlain, the renegade. One need not have all three colognes in one’s wardrobe, but each is distinctive enough to be worth comparing.

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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.

Habit-Rouge-Guerlain

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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Guerlain Samsara New and Vintage: Perfume Review

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Samsara

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

The old Mughal palaces have a very peculiar scent of wet wood, old books and dried roses. Drawn to the decaying glamor of the past, I have spent a fair bit of time exploring them, and the scent is what I tend to remember the most. Over time I have realized that the closest olfactive equivalent of my own Indian fantasies, both real and conjured by my imagination, is Guerlain Samsara. Guerlain has a long tradition of paying tribute to India at its most romantic, but Samsara goes even further by serving as a gold standard for sandalwood fragrances, the most quintessential Indian perfume. What follows is not just a review, but also a guide to vintage perfume hunters curious to smell Samsara in its former reincarnation.

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Guerlain Arsene Lupin Dandy and Arsene Lupin Voyou : Fragrance Reviews

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Guerlain-arsene-lupin

Arsène Lupin Dandy:

Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Arsène Lupin Voyou:

Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

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

When I reflect on Jean-Paul Guerlain’s impressive body of work, from Vétiver de Guerlain to Chamade to Samsara, the recent Guerlain PR fiascos involving him sadden me even more. With the fragrances he created, he managed to do what LVMH is still struggling with: to take the classical Guerlain signature of warm tonka bean, rose, iris, vanilla and modernize it. Even more so, he has created scents that have a timeless appeal and that (if regulations do not interfere) will outlive all of the L’Instants, Insolences and Idylles. Jean-Paul Guerlain mentioned in a few interviews that Arsène Lupin Dandy and  Voyou, on which he has worked with Guerlain in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser, are the last fragrances he will create. If so, then this chapter in Guerlain history will be closing on a high note, because out of the two, Arsène Lupin Dandy is a refined, elegant composition with a timeless quality.

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Guerlain Nuit d’Amour : Fragrance Review

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Nuitdamour4_2

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

Nuit d’Amour is the latest limited edition from Guerlain, which follows the 2005 launch of Plus Que Jamais. The fragrance was inspired by Gustav Klimt’s Lady with Hat and Feather Boa (Dame au Chapeau et Boa de Plumes). I am rather at a loss as to what about the flat floral oriental blend is meant to evoke a beautiful Art Noveau painting depicting a flushed redhead tightly wrapping a dark feather boa around her shoulders. Although Plus Que Jamais was a level below the classical Guerlains and their depth and complexity, it nevertheless captured the opulence and romance marking the house’s creations. Nuit d’Amour, on the other hand, veers too far into territory that has already been well explored and exploited. …

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