From the Archives: G is for Guerlain...
From the Archives: G is for Guerlain…

Way back in April 2013 I wrote a piece for Escentual called ‘G is for Guerlain’. Keeping with this week’s Guerlain theme, I’ve unearthed the article from The Candy Perfume Boy archives, for your reading pleasure. As part of my ‘Escentual A-Z of Fragrance’, the piece took a look at the industry’s most historic and esteemed house, right from their humble beginnings up until the present day, under the ‘new guard’ of LVMH and perfumer Thierry Wasser. Guerlain is a house steeped in history and it has evolved with the times to retain one of the key players in the industry. Click here to read the piece.

A Hidden Gem from the Guerlain Archive
A Hidden Gem from the Guerlain Archive

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m throwing an informal Guerlain party this week. So far we’ve taken a gander at the perplexing Shalimar Souffle de Parfum (which really should have been an Aqua Allegoria and not a flanker to their flagship fragrance) and the deliciously dizzy and decadent French Kiss, which puts me in a much better mood than the Souffle de Parfum does.

With Guerlain in mind, I thought I’d dedicate my Escentual column this week to a fragrance that doesn’t get the attention it deserves; My Insolence. A flanker the seriously over-the-top Insolence (Maurice Roucel; 2006), this softer interpretation is a gorgeous little vanilla and almond cuddle that shows the industry how a decent fruity floral should be done. Click here to read my review.

Dare to be French Kissed
Dare to be French Kissed

“Dare the French Kiss! But watch out, this glossy floral fragrance is highly addictive”

– Guerlain

One could never accuse Guerlain of being inconsistent in terms of their olfactory output. For nearly 200 years the Parisian Patisserie has crafted some of the greatest olfactory delicacies in the world, and they show no signs of stopping. With La Petite Robe Noire (a cherry liqourice folly) and L’Homme Ideal (a robust masculine with an almond twist), i.e., their recent gourmand output, Guerlain have shown, not only their uniquely French sense of humour, frivolity and style, but also their penchant for all that is edible. They’ve taken it to the mainstream and shown the lesser mortals in the industry just how a gourmand is done, and by all accounts it has been a very successful move for them.

It is no surprise, then, that the latest addition to their Les Élixirs Charnels collection, ‘French Kiss’, displays the exact same sense of fun, foody humour and style as their mainstream launches however, this one is entirely more decadent and over the top in comparison. Created by in-house perfumer, Thierry Wasser, Guerlain’s French Kiss, which has been launched to celebrate 20 years of Guerlain KissKiss lipsticks, is described as a “glossy floral that celebrates the French art of kissing” and an “elixir as spellbinding as a sensuous kiss.” Ooh err, Mrs.

Shalimar Souffle de Parfum - The Latest Incarnation of Guerlain's 1925 Classic
Shalimar Souffle de Parfum – The Latest Incarnation of Guerlain’s 1925 Classic

“The sickness of making flankers every five minutes is very upsetting, but if I don’t want to get kicked out for not doing my job, I have to do it”

– Thierry Wasser ¹

Thierry Wasser, in-house perfumer at Guerlain, recently likened the penchant brands have for creating numerous flankers to a “sickness” and when looking at the numerous incarnatons of the house’s flagship fragrance, Shalimar, it’s easy to see why.  In the last five years we’ve seen seven, that’s right, seven new Shalimar flankers ranging from the sublime Parfum Initial and Ode à la Vanille to the less interesting Parfum Initial L’Eau, and on occasions the brand has stretched the Shalimar association pretty thin.

With their latest flanker, Shalimar Souffle de Parfum, the link has become so emaciated it may have finally snapped. Sniffing the flanker, it’s pretty difficult to pick out exactly how the two fragrances are alike. Shalimar is a grand dame of the oriental world, showcasing bubbling bergamot, smoky-sweet vanilla powder and tons of heavy resins. Souffle de Parfum on the other hand is, well, the complete opposite of that. It may not be worthy of the Shalimar name, but does that mean that it’s a bad fragrance?

Guerlain describe Souffle de Parfum as a “gently perfumed caress” ² and a “breath of extreme sensuality” ², with the ‘Souffle’ here referring to the French word for breath, as opposed to anything culinary-related. It has been designed to celebrate the lighter facets of Shalimar, specifically focus on the shining citrus that famously graces the Oriental Queen’s top notes, and the plush vanilla that sits at her core. In that respect, Souffle de Parfum succeeds, merging these two themes together to create something that may, or may not be Shalimar, depending on how one looks at it.

The Jewels of Mumtaz Mahal
The Jewels of Mumtaz Mahal

“In india, jewellery has always been an indispensable part of one’s outfit. It is said to hold the power of the gods and goddesses.”

The story of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan is the stuff of legend. Their epic love story is represented by one of the world’s most famous buildings – the Taj Mahal – a palace that was created as a mausoleum to the princess following her death, upon the orders of a distraught Shah Jahan. The Mughal Empire may now be a thing of the past, but the story of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan, and the Taj Mahal lives on.

Historic perfume house, Guerlain has a strong link to this tale. Their flagship fragrance, Shalimar was inspired by the story and named after the Shalimar gardens created by Shah Jahan in Lahore. The Jacques Guerlain creation from 1925 is perhaps as well-known as the heartbreaking legend of the Emperor and the Princess, and it is widely considered as a true classic of perfumery, and the crown jewel in Guerlain’s wardrobe of wonderful fragrances.

“Three months to dream and admire the jewellery worn 400 years ago by a great rani worthy of the Thousand and One Nights.”

Speaking of jewels, a chance encounter between Laurent Boillot, the President and CEO of Guerlain, and Indian entrepreneur, Vinita Jain has resulted in a very special exhibition at La Maison Guerlain – Guerlain’s flagship boutique at No. 68 Champs-Élysées, Paris. From 03 September to 14 November 2014, visitors can view three special pieces – a ring, necklace and head jewel – worn by a princess famed for her beauty and essential artefacts in one of the greatest love stories of all time.

Click below the jump to see the other pieces that will be exhibited at La Maison Guerlain this autumn.

New from Guerlain: L'Homme Idéal
New from Guerlain: ‘L’Homme Idéal’

For my Escentual column this week, I have had the pleasure of reviewing the latest fragrance from Guerlain – the new masculine offering ‘L’Homme Idéal‘. The fragrance is accompanied by the tagline; “The ideal man is a myth. His fragrance, a reality” and is already dividing opinion amongst the perfume loving community – some love it and others see it as a commercial and unimpressive offering from the house. To read my in-depth thoughts you can click here to head on over to Escentual and peruse my review, but I will say now that I’m definitely in the ‘yes’ camp when it comes to L’Homme Idéal.

Created by Thierry Wasser, Guerlain’s in-house perfumer, L’Homme Idéal strikes me as a more commercial offering for the house, yes, but it’s also excellently crafted, as one would expect, and grounded within the rich gourmand heritage that is oh so very ‘Guerlain’. Is it the ideal masculine fragrance? Well as I say in my review, the answer is entirely subjective, and whilst it isn’t as distinct as Habit Rouge or even Homme, Wasser’s first masculine for the brand, it is a robust masculine with a cheeky feminine twist. What’s not to like?

As I’ve reviewed the fragrance over at Escentual (who are going a bit L’Homme Idéal mad for a fragrant takeover), I thought I’d do something a little bit different here and share with you four things I enjoy about the fragrance. So gents (and ladies, because there are no gender barriers here), stick the kettle on, grab a slice of cake (always mandatory), sit back and enjoy my little fragrant guide to the very latest offering from the most important fragrance house in the world.

Fragrant Ditties: Guerlain's Aqua Allegoria Collection
Fragrant Ditties: Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Collection

Everyone loves Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria collection, right? I mean, what’s not to adore about easy-breezy fragrances inspired by nature? Nothing – that’s what. This diffusion line presents fragrant ditties that sing with floral and citrus notes very much in line with the ‘Guerlain DNA’. All-in-all, it’s a very good line, and whilst I’m still lamenting the grossly unfair discontinuation of my beloved Lys Soleia (yes I’m giving you the evil eye, Guerlain), it’s hard to deny that the Aqua Allegorias, for the most part, are great perfumes.

Since the line’s launch in 1999, Guerlain have launched a whopping 31 Aqua Allegoria fragrances (according to Basenotes). Of course, many of these editions have not stood the test of time and despite annual launches, the collection currently stands at a neat total of 5 fragrances; Pamplelune (Holy Grapefruit), Herba Fresca (Magic Mint), Mandarine Basilic (Mediterranean Showdown), Nerolia Bianca (Orange is the New Blossom) and Limon Verde (Mojito Madness).

For my Escentual column this week I have sniffed and reviewed the entire Aqua Allegoria collection, including Limon Verde, the latest addition to the collection. So, if you’re in a summer mood and you’re wanting to hear some pretty little tunes played by the world’s greatest perfume house (an undeniable fact, I think you’ll find), simply click here to head on over to Escentual. As always, please feel free to leave a comment (either here or there) to let me know what your favourite Aqua Allegoria is.