There is an ever-growing trend within perfumery for intense sweetness. I’m not talking about your everyday gourmands, because those have been around forever, I’m referring to scents that offer up pure, unrefined sugar by the ton, not say, the likes of MUGLER’s Angel which inspired the gourmand trend, but ultimately was an essay in tension between sugar and patchouli. In the mainstream, it all started in 2004 with Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb, a nuclear candy floss scent that contains as much ethyl maltol as is possible to shoehorn into a bottle, presenting sugar toasted at the edges without any dark contrasts to temper it. Ever since, fragrance houses have been stumbling over themselves to see who can make the sweetest, most obnoxious fragrance, well that was until Lancôme came along with La Vie est Belle – officially the world’s most tooth-achingly sweet, toasted candy floss scent. It’s also an international best seller – go figure.
Now, I mention all of this not to moan, but instead to say that despite this ever popular trend, a house is yet to make a deliciously sweet overdose of a scent that doesn’t cause olfactory diabetes with one sniff. Well, that is until GUERLAIN threw their hat into the ring with Mon Exclusif, which turns out to be a decadent little treat that knows exactly when to say ‘no more for me, thank you’. Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised that GUERLAIN have been the brand to hit the nail on the head here, they are, after all half-perfumer and half-perume-patissiere, churning out some of the world’s most delicious morsels in fragrant form. So it’s no surprise then, that Mon Exclusif is a delightful bon bon that has depth and contrast to its sugar overload.
GUERLAIN launched Mon Exclusif in 2015. Created by Thierry Wasser, GUERLAIN’s in-house perfumer, the novel aspect of the fragrance is that it technically comes with no name, allowing the wearer to select their own title by placing the sticky silver letters on the bottle, which itself is a reinterpretation of the house’s famous Coque d’Or bow flacon. “Because your relationship with your fragrance is very intimate” GUERLAIN says, “it’s up to you to name this partner by your side”. So Mon Exclusif can be whatever one wants it to be: Jack, Tyler or Pierre. The choices are infinite and for many reasons, which I’m sure you’ll be able to guess, I decided to call mine ‘CANDY’.
Top: Mandarin, Bergamot and Sugared Almond
Heart: Lavender and Solar Notes
Base: Iris, White Musks, Sandalwood and Toffee Accord
How Does it Smell?
Mon Exclusif opens crunchy sweet with smashed sugared almonds and marzipan all rolled together into a tasty treat. There’s a touch of GUERLAIN’s signature bergamot up top to add both sparkle and a dancing lightness that prevents everything from ever becoming cloying in the slightest. Mon Exclusif’s heart accord is a candied lavender frozen in sugar crystals and served in a pool of warm caramel. As it dries down, abstraction takes the stage and Mon Exclusif becomes less of a literal treat for the senses, offering up a dusting of doughy iris, and a fuzzy blanket of sandalwood. Delicious, decadent and defiantly GUERLAIN, Mon Exclusif manages to smell fun without overdosing on the sweet stuff, making for a delicious piece of candy that’s not likely to cause a tummy ache.
Mon Exclusif is a pure delight to wear. Yes, it’s sweet and more so than most of GUERLAIN’s offerings, but it has a beautiful floralcy to it that really does provide enough contrast to soften the impact of the sugar. I smell a wonderful, candied lavender drizzled with the silkiest of caramels and it’s all perfectly in balance. The result is a youthful and modern fragrance that is perfectly on trend but also elevated from the crassness that clutters the genre. Sure, the sticky letters and idea of naming the scent are a little bit gimmicky, but in truth, the presentations works as a fun gift for a young girl who is looking for her first perfume, no sorry, her first GUERLAIN. Mon Exclusif is a gateway drug to the more hardcore addictions of Shalimar, and Spiriteuse Double Vanille – an entry level GUERLAIN gourmand to kick start one’s long life of cravings.
Mon Exclusif is available in 50ml Eau de Parfum.
Sample, notes and quotes via Guerlain. Images are my own.