Love it or hate it, it’s impossible to ignore Mon Guerlain and unless you’ve been hiding under a (rather fragrant) rock for the last month or so, it’s incredibly unlikely that you’ll have not seen or sniffed it. This is a Guerlain launch unlike no other – it is literally everywhere and the brand has gone balls to the wall (for want of a better phrase) in terms of promotion. Not only have they chosen Oscar-winning actress, director and human rights campaigner Angelina Jolie as the Mon Guerlain muse (an excellent choice IMHO), they’ve also worked with director Terrence Malick on the accompanying film. Not to mention the huge push in terms of press that the launch has had, which overshadows any other offering from Guerlain in the past. It really is a huge launch.
This post isn’t going to be a review of Mon Guerlain. I’ve already put together my thoughts on the scent, in isolation from its concepts and history for my Escentual column, and you can read those thoughts here. I stand by the fact that I really like how it smells. To me, Mon Guerlain is a novel take on lavender, one that amps up the material’s natural burned sugar notes and folds it into delicious butter candy and musk. It really is lovely, commercial yes, but undeniably lovely and made with top notch materials too. It’s also very Guerlain as well, especially seeing as the house is well know for being the utter dons at making gourmand treats for the nose. Mon Guerlain is no exception and it smells great.
So if this post isn’t a review, what is it? Well, Mon Guerlain is such a huge launch and such a game changer for Guerlain, I wanted to explore the commercial context in which it has arrived and what it may mean for Guerlain going forward. From a house that brought us Jicky, Shalimar, Mitsouko, L’Heure Bleue, Vol de Nuit and Chamade (I really could go on and on, and on) with little fanfare, Mon Guerlain says that Guerlain has finally arrived to play with the big guns like Chanel and Dior. And guess what? They mean business.
Today is the day! Guerlain’s hotly anticipated new feminine fragrance launches and it’s a a big one! Mon Guerlain is the brand’s first feminine pillar since La Petite Robe Noire in 2012 and Guerlain are pulling out all of the stops, placing their new scent in a sprayable version of their famous quadrille bottle for the very first time. Oh and they’ve recruited none other than Hollywood actress, director and UN special-envoy Angelina Jolie (who is donating her fee to charity, I should add) as the face of their brand new fragrance: Mon Guerlain.
When I think of neroli I don’t necessarily think of the colour black, in fact, my mind wanders to shades of white, orange, gold and yellow – hues that are as far from ‘noir’ as they possibly can be. But it is the ingredient neroli and the idea of ‘outrenoir’ or beyond black (a concept created by artist Pierre Soulages) that serves as inspiration for the very latest addition to Guerlain’s L’Art et la Matiére (‘The Art and the Material’) collection: Néroli Outrenoir – neroli beyond black.
“I wanted all of its facets to be expressed: zesty, orangey neroli essence; woody, aromatic petitgrain essence; and orange blossom absolute.”
– Thierry Wasser
Created by Guerlain’s in-house Perfumer, Thierry Wasser, Néroli Outrenoir is described by Guerlain as being a fragrance that “draws on the contrast between the luminescence of neroli and the obscurity of much darker and more mysterious notes”. Coming from a collection that boasts bold compositions such as Spiritueuse Double Vanille (the booziest, biggest and baddest vanilla around) and Rose Barbare (the rose chypre to end all rose chypres), to name just two, it’s fair to say that Néroli Outrenoir has stiff composition, but it has many a trick and a surprise up its pretty little sleeves to allow it to earn its place in the collection.
Before we take a dive into the petitgrain pools of Néroli Outrenoir, it’s important to take a few moments to discuss packaging because the entire L’Art et la Matiére collection has been beautifully repackaged. The fragrances now come in a beautiful leatherette box shaded in a deep purple, but most importantly the bulb atomisers which have always been known to aid evaporation have been niftily remade (again in a beautiful purple shade) with an on-and-off mechanism to prevent fragrance-loss. The packaging is sublime, but how does the scent match-up? All shall be revealed…
“Shalimar” – just the utterance of its name sends shivers down my spine. Whenever I feel tired of overwhelmed with the onslaught of perfumery today, I often spritz on a touch of Shalimar to recalibrate. It refreshes my nose and reminds me of what ‘great’ smells like. But what makes Shalimar so wonderful? What makes it more than a classic – a legend? Well, for my Escentual column this week I’ve written about The Legend of Shalimar to coincide with the launch of the Shalimar Holiday Makeup Collection, which is currently Exclusive to Escentual for two weeks. To read my column click here, but also don’t forget to check out Emma’s piece on the swatches from the collection and Ceryn’s on the collection’s look.
GUERLAIN’S La Petite Robe Noire has quickly become a part of the fabric of the brand, taking its place next to the likes of icons such as Shalimar, Mitsouko and Samsara, and deservedly so. With LPRN, GUERLAIN took the fruity floral genre and showed everybody else just how it should be done, specifically with fizz, flair and a shedload of fun. The fragrance has been a huge hit, and whilst marketing may have played a big part in this, one cannot deny that La Petite Robe Noire is; a) an excellent fragrance (that fizzy cherry juxtaposed against that smoky black tea is just gorgeous); and b) a GUERLAIN fragrance through and through.
So with success come flankers and GUERLAIN have served us a number of delectable noire treats since LPRN’s launch in 2012 (well it’s mainstream launch, that is, the scent was a boutique exclusive launched in 2009 that was subsequently remixed for the wider market). The latest of which is La Petite Robe Noire Intense, a fragrance that evokes the idea of a breeze billowing though the pleats of a dress as it is transported around the world. That’s right, Miss La Petite Robe Noire is globetrotting and she has packed a brand new dress for her journey. But what does this particular garment smell like? Well, the answer is simple: it smells like fun!
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’.