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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

When Magic is not Enough ~L'instant Magic by Guerlain: fragrance review

A caress of flowers and woods… That's how L'instant Magic , a flanker to the original L'instant by Maurice Roucel for Guerlain, was introduced to the public last September. The anticipation was mostly accountable to its being a new Guerlain for the mainstream distribution as opposed to their exclusive boutique scents; a challenging feat. Yet the resulting pastiche leaves something to be desired, highligting the all too painful division between both the glorious delicacy of yesteryear such as Chant d'Arômes but also the brave stance of modern additions such as Insolence.

"After a bergamot opening, the fragrance unveils a musky-floral heart with fresh notes of rose and freesia. The white-musk dry-down worked into a ‘muscinade’ (a wink and a nod to the famous Guerlinade) is warmed up with woods and a touch of almond."
Designed by Randa Hammami of Symrise, in collaboration with Sylvaine Delacourte, artistic director at Guerlain, L'instant Magic launched in September 2007. I had resisted reviewing it for months, because I was hoping that I was oblivious to some hidden charm that would reveal itself to me in a flash of apocalyptic glory when I was least expecting it.
However, with the apostasis of several months and numerous trials, I can safely say that it didn't live up to my expectations. Not to mention that the linguistically schizophrenic name irritates me (shouldn't it have been "Magique" since the rest of it is French?)

The fragrance itself fails to capture me aesthetically, but also on a cerebral level: if one wants an almond gourmand ~as surmised by the marzipan paste detectable after the initial burst of Earl Grey tonalities in L'instant Magic~ one needs to see no further than Hypnotic Poison with its dare and sexy attitude; if one seeks a feminine musky floral with a "clean" feel , then Hammami's Cruel Gardenia is so much better; if the pursuit is instead focused on a smooth woody fragrance for women, then Flower Oriental by Kenzo fits the bill with less pretence and more conviction. L'instant Magic tries to be too many things at once, failing to bring a coherence of vision.
The overall effect is startingly un-Guerlain-like with a sweet, rotten fruits vibe which seems so fashionable right now; but whereas the original L'instant by Roucel ~more or less also separated from the Guerlain tradition~ managed to be nuzzlingly pleasant and addictive to its fans, L'instant Magic is a departure to a destination best forgotten where magic has escaped like a djin who left the bottle long ago.

The bottle reinterprets the curves of the original L’Instant, but the base of the bottle and the surface of the cap are black.
The commercial was directed by Jean Bocheux, featuring rather indecently-clad model Michelle Buswell ascending what seems like a never-ending staircase to who knows where and who cares anyway.



L'instant Magic comes in Eau de Parfum 80ml/2.7oz, 50ml/1.7oz and 30ml/1 fl. oz.; Extrait de parfum bottle 7.5ml/¼ fl.oz, Magical Body Lotion 6.8 fl. oz, Magical Shower Gel 6.8 fl. oz.
Available from major department stores.




Ad pic courtesy of Fragrantica. Clip originally uploaded by MollyPepper1 on Youtube

16 comments:

  1. The close of your review... lol!

    It is a little sad, no? Guerlain is so highly respectable one would think they would have the self-assurance not to resort to tawdry flankers. O, LMVH.

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  2. D,

    yeah, lol :P

    I am a little hurt to see my favourite house releasing fragrances not on a par with what they can do. It's also a little vexing to see they are issuing one excellent line for the boutique, one less stellar one for the grande distribution.
    Let's see what will happen now they have an in-house nose. Although I am afraid these are accountants' and marketing decisions, not perfumers'.

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  3. Guerlain has gone to the dogs!
    What a bloody "try hard" ad for a ordinary scent!
    Like you said Helg - who cares where that trashy bum-crack showing tart is climbing too! LOL
    May they never get rid of the classics for when they do......
    You have lost me as a customer!

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  4. Guerlain has gone to the dogs!
    What a bloody "try hard" ad for a ordinary scent!
    Like you said Helg - who cares where that trashy bum-crack showing tart is climbing too! LOL
    May they never get rid of the classics for when they do......
    You have lost me as a customer!

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  5. I appreciate your honesty: this was a disaster on me!
    The SA insisted I try it and went on to show me the parfum bottle, which does look elegant, insisting it's so smooth, so sexy and so modern that in the end I had to excuse myself by diverting my attention to another tester, the first one that was close by which, worse luck, happened to be the new Laurier one (another one I couldn't stomach)! No need to add that I left having bought nothing.

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  6. This was yet another Guerlain disaster on me also. I found this to be a rather gaggy powder when it finally dried down. Glad to know that I am not the only one who did not like this.

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  7. Anonymous17:49

    Another insipid trashy meh juice from Guerlain for the masses. What did you expect?
    Aline

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  8. M,

    "try hard" is a good term. Indeed!

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  9. J,

    I am sure there are others who didn't like it either :-) I don't know why that rotten vibe sneaked in. It could have been so much better.

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  10. S,

    you're very welcome. I try to judge as objectively as possible: there are things which I am not crazy about, but which are well made. I didn't think this was one of them.

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  11. A,

    I didn't expect another Mitsouko, but another L'instant or another Insolence (I mean on a par) wouldn't have been that bad!
    If only...

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  12. Anonymous20:37

    Dear E.,
    I am so glad that I am not alone in this. People around me were praising it and I felt like I did something wrong. I am not a person who praises only old things, there are new things I really love (Burberry's London for example), but this is really weird one.
    lavinia

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  13. Dear L,

    but you shouldn't feel like that! Everyone is entitled to their opinion and yours is no less valid :-)
    Yes, weird describes it well. I thought it was "confused".

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  14. Anonymous14:07

    Thank you for your support!:-)
    lavinia

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  15. Anonymous02:52

    what's wrong with you guys :D it's a heavenly fragrance!

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  16. Anon,

    everyone reacts to perfume in a different way. It's very un-Guerlain-like, a surefire trait of enraging hardcore Guerlain-o-philes (such as those here).
    The thing I can offer is that I've since relaxed my stance on it a bit. :-)

    ReplyDelete

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