guerlain: 91 posts

Why Classics Retain Their Appeal

Whenever I browse the list of perfume best sellers, regardless of the geographic market, I’m always struck by the enduring presence of classics. Chanel No 5 rarely gives up its position in the top five, while perfumes like Guerlain Shalimar, Clinique Aromatics Elixir, and Aramis keep their place in the top twenty. What can explain the lasting appeal of these icons, especially today when every season brings more and more new creations?

For the author of Perfume: A Century of Scents, Lizzie Ostrom, the answer lies partly in this avalanche of new launches.  “Classic scents are lodestars. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by new launches, it’s often just easier to go for the ones you recognize, like ignoring fashion fads and saving up for a Yves Saint Laurent Le Smoking instead,” she says. Perfumes like Chanel No 19 or Lancôme Magie Noire convey different moods and experiences, but they also have a reputation. (Incidentally, neither No 19 nor Magie Noire is a top seller for their brands, but their following is fiercely loyal.)

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Guerlain Releases Matisse Perfume Bottle

Do you have 17,000 euros to spare? If so, Guerlain has released a limited edition bottle created in collaboration with Maison Matisse, a design house founded in 2019 by Henri Matisse’s heirs to produce objects inspired by the French painter’s art.  According to the Artnet Magazine, the bottle is inspired by La Musique, a work painted by the artist in 1939. It fuses the colors of the painting and the iconic shape of the Bee Bottle to celebrate its 170th anniversary. Painted by hand, it’s a stunning object, but clearly aimed at collectors. 

For me personally, the most compelling bottle collaboration from Guerlain remains their work with Arita Lab in Japan. Adorned with traditional Aritayaki motifs, it’s a beautiful pairing of Japanese craftsmanship and Guerlain’s style.

Via Artnet

The Allure of Sandalwood

My mother-in-law rubbed a piece of pink colored 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 on the airplane, the creamy, floral perfume lingered around me, carrying with it the memory of a caring touch.


In Indian paintings you can sometimes spot curious image of snakes curving sensually around sandalwood trees. According to legend, the tree releases such a beautiful scent that serpents are charmed by it. More than a pleasing aromatic, sandalwood is a means to feel closer to the divine, for all creatures alike. This is the reason why Vedic religious rites, from birth to death, are accompanied by this precious wood.

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Three Classics and One Great Novel

The first time I encountered a perfume that beguiled me was on 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, but their names left a “baffling but seductive” imprint, just as suggested by the novel.

It is no accident that Bulgakov selected Chanel No 5, Guerlain Mitsouko and Caron Narcisse Noir. Those were the fragrances worn by his wife, Elena Bulgakova, the muse for Margarita in the novel. Elena Bulgakova’s granddaughter from her first marriage used to be part of my family. She often mentioned how much her grandmother loved fragrance, especially the three perfumes mentioned in the novel. Chanel No 5 evoked elegance for her. Mitsouko conveyed sophistication. And Caron was pure magic in its opulent glamour.

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Scent Diary : Chamade and Ice

I like when I wake up in the morning expecting another grey winter day and find everything touched with ice. Belgian skies are grey, fog has a grey tint, but seen through the arabesques of ice on the window, the world looks enchanted–and the grey becomes pearly. I selected Chamade today, one of my favorites from Guerlain. I’ve been revisiting Guerlain classics lately, and Chamade, along with Mitsouko, have kept me company. Chamade is a green floral, with notes of hyacinth, blackcurrant, and galbanum offset by amber and woods. Impeccably crafted, it develops in waves as it were. First, there is a wave of lemon yellow, then green, then pale purple. But Chamade’s radiance persists throughout. It lingers so well that I’m sure that when I wake up on the Christmas morning, its soft glow will remain on my scarf.

What about you? What are you wearing today?

Scent Diary is a place to write your observations about the scents around you. Whether you write down 1 recollection or 10 matters less than simply reminding yourself to smell. You can add as many comments as you wish. You can comment today or over the course of the week; this thread will always be open. Of course, do share what perfume you’re wearing or what particularly good scented products you’ve discovered.

While looking through my articles, I found this article that I wrote a few years ago but that still remains popular and often-read: A to Z Tips for Enjoyable, Affordable and Rewarding Perfume Hobby. If you have any tips to add, I’d love to hear them.

I wish all of you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you for your reading, visiting, and for joining my classes. It’s been such a pleasure meeting many of you face to face.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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