jacques guerlain: 8 posts

What Does The Word Mitsouko Mean?

Of the legendary fragrances, Guerlain classics have some of the most beautiful names and stories to go with them. Shalimar and Shah Jahan’s gardens in Lahore. L’Heure Bleue and the streets of Paris at dusk. Après L’Ondée and a sudden May downpour. And there is Mitsouko. The fragrance created in 1919 was inspired by two extraordinary successes of its time–a perfume and a novel, Coty’s Chypre and Claude Farrère’s La Bataille. Farrère was a close friend of Jacques Guerlain, and a few years earlier Farrère mentioned Jicky in his novel Opium Smoke–“Jicky poured drop by drop onto the hands blackened by the drug.” This image delighted Guerlain enough to return the favor by baptizing a new creation after Mitsouko Yorisaka, a character in La Bataille (The Battle).

Farrère’s novel sold more than a million copies in its day, but the perfume inspired by it survived the test of time better. Much of Farrère’s work, La Bataille included, doesn’t excite. It’s a novel of conventional value and somewhat stuffy, nostalgic style inspired by Pierre Loti’s Madame Chrysanthème, Farrère’s commander during his stint with the French navy. To Farrère’s credit, unlike Loti, he attempted to present Japan as an evolving modern society, rather than a place of ikebana and geishas. The background for the story is the Russo-Japanese war of 1905, in which Japan wiped out the Russian fleet and demonstrated that the Meiji era reforms put it on equal footing with the Western powers. Farrère had spent three days in Nagasaki and had done his own research, but in the end, the plot suffers too much from melodrama and clichés borrowed from Loti, without Loti’s refined style.

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Perfumers on Perfume : Jacques Guerlain

Jacques Guerlain needs no introduction. Shalimar, L’Heure Bleue, Mitsouko–these words say it all. The fragrances created by Guerlain in the first decades of the 20th century continue influencing perfumers and fragrance lovers. The trends are still set by them, and most perfume collections have at least one Guerlain inspired creation. Born in 1874, he entered the family business run by his uncle Aimé Guerlain and before long, he established the house’s reputation for creativity and quality.

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Much has been written about Jacques Guerlain’s creations, but the man himself remains in the shadows. He preferred working at the perfumer’s organ to speaking at public gatherings, and he left behind few articles and interviews. He let the perfume do the talking.

In partnership with the Osmothèque, I offer you an excerpt from The Perfumer’s Chronicle, a 1964 magazine article by Marcel Billot (a Houbigant perfumer of Chantilly fame). Billot was also the founding president of the French Society of Perfumers, and The Perfumer’s Chronicle was his regular beat. With the exception of L’Heure Bleue, all the Guerlain perfumes Billot mentions were recently reconstituted for the Osmothèque by the current Guerlain perfumer Thierry Wasser.

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Fragrances That Influenced Perfume History : 100 Great Perfumes Series 1/10

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Series 1 :: Series 2 :: Series 3 :: Series 4 :: Series 5 :: Series 6 :: Series 7 :: Series 8 :: Series 9 :: Series 10

My most recent project was a compilation of feminine and masculine fragrances that influenced the course of perfume history for a perfumery training course. I decided that perhaps this list might be of interest to you. There are several criteria I used to select the 100 fragrances below: they have to be responsible for setting a new trend either due to their unique character or their novel use of a raw material and they have to be recognized as trendsetting by industry professionals, namely, perfumers.

While my list includes many legendary fragrances, it does not include every grand parfum. For instance, my list is missing Chanel Bois des Iles, Caron Nuit de Noël and Guerlain Nahéma, which are great fragrances, but their impact on the fragrance market was less profound than that of other less unique perfumes. While it is by no means a definitive list—even 100 is bound to exclude some remarkable fragrances–I hope that it provides a glimpse into the development of perfumery, from the late 19th to the early 21th centuries. With each entry, I include an explanation as to why I selected it as well as to demonstrate how its influence on the fragrance market is felt today.

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Guerlain Vol de Nuit : Perfume Review (New and Vintage)

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A gem of Guerlain’s classical collection, Vol de Nuit is a miniature universe. Smelling it, I am transported to a wood-paneled library. The gilded leather bound books, the honeyed scent of beeswax candles and the warmth of the fire are evoked by its balsamic and leathery notes. The baroque oriental base of Vol de Nuit cradles a luminous orange blossom and narcissus.

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Perfumer Jacques Guerlain created Vol de Nuit, “night flight”, in 1933 as an homage to the brave aviators of the 1920s. The French company Aéropostale was one of the first operations to fly the mail from continent to continent. The chief pilot of Aéropostale’s operations was Antoine de St. Exupéry. After serving as a French combat pilot during World War I, he wrote several books, among them Wind, Sand and Stars, Night Flight and The Little Prince. He disappeared during World War II while flying a reconnaissance mission in 1944. Vol de Nuit was named after a novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The bottle is emblazoned with the shape of French Air Force wings and has a dark amber color.

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Guerlain Mitsouko : Fragrance Review (New and Vintage)

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Guerlain Mitsouko is the scent of golden autumn days, ripe peaches and burnished wood. Created by Jacques Guerlain in 1919, Mitsouko was a variation on the avant-garde fragrance of the period–Coty Chypre.

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Chypre was based on the startling contrast among the bergamot top notes, the jasmine heart and the richness of oakmoss. Though undoubtedly beautiful, Chypre was brutal in its impact. Guerlain took the idea behind its famous forerunner and made it elegant and refined. A soft accent of peach skin gives Mitsouko a tender quality and a teasing gourmand impression. A classical Guerlinade accord of tonka bean, vanilla, iris and rose further refines and rounds out the composition. Mitsouko is a kiss to Coty Chypre’s slap in the face, and for this reason, its popularity endures to this day.

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Latest Comments

  • Victoria in Chanel Gabrielle : Perfume Review: Very true. September 19, 2017 at 12:56pm

  • Liz S in 5 Ways to Transition Into Fall: The autumn chill has come early to London and whilst I am looking forward to bringing out my ‘heavier’ perfumes, I am really enjoying wearing Laura Biagiotti’s Venezia and Serge… September 19, 2017 at 12:52pm

  • Aurora in 5 Ways to Transition Into Fall: And I’ll quote Lamartine: [Automne] C’est l’adieu d’un ami, c’est le dernier sourire Des levres que la mort va fermer pour jamais. September 19, 2017 at 12:52pm

  • Liz S in 5 Ways to Transition Into Fall: Nora, thank you so much for sharing the poem. It is so wonderfully evocative and melancholy. Just beautiful! September 19, 2017 at 12:39pm

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