Jean-Paul Guerlain: 12 posts

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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Guerlain Plus Que Jamais : Perfume Review

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Pearls

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

A fan of scent strips in my hand allows me to travel through the hallmarks of the venerable house’s history—Jicky, Après l’Ondée, L’Heure Bleue, Mitsouko, Shalimar, Vol de Nuit…. The accords making these fragrances memorable strike me like a handful of colorful jewels, whether it might be the civet laced richness of Jicky, the violet melancholy of Après l’Ondée, or the burnished ambery glow of Attrape-Coeur. The common golden thread in these Guerlain fragrances is the velvety, powdery accord based around orris known as Guerlinade. Embellished with rose, jasmine, tonka bean, and amber, among other notes, Guerlinade is the silky veil that softens the sharp edges and lends a whisper of delicious sweetness with an intriguing incensy touch. Guerlinade can be subtle or obvious, a gentle accent or an unequivocal proposal; however its presence in most Guerlain fragrances ensures an ability to trace lineage from Shalimar to Attrape Coeur.

Plus Que Jamais is the fragrance created by Jean-Paul Guerlain to commemorate the reopening of La Maison Guerlain at 68, Avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris (please see my article about the boutique here). Opulent composition, Plus Que Jamais is indeed “more than ever” Guerlain, with its arrangement sustained on the ornate oriental base layering vanilla, amber, iris and enchantingly earthy vetiver into a vision of silk shimmering with gold embroidery. …

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