Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Guerlain The Voyage Collection: Moscow, Tokyo, New York

In an idle mood last summer we had played the guess game on some new releases from Guerlain. It seems that fact corroborates our suspicions and the company has caught a genuine case of the Travel Bug. (It's become a luxury market standard to issue a cruise collection of scents; enter the latest Escale à Pondichery from Christian Dior which we reviewed here). In short Guerlain are issuing a Voyage Collection, inspired by three major (and vastly different) landmarks: Moscow, Tokyo and New York, all in relation to Paris, exactly as we had predicted. After all there was already a Météorites Voyage powder, so the recycling of names is expected. (Come to think of it, wasn't Chanel's collection from last winter called Paris Moscou?)
Please observe how Thierry Wasser, head perfumer, is nowhere to be mentioned yet again and how the retired Jean Paul Guerlain is brought back into the scene to add gravitas and a sense of tradition to the project. As to the ad copy, have they been reading our Travel Memoirs? It seems our original idea has already found imitators... But kudos on not falling back on the pseudo-erotic tales of the previous trio of Elixirs Charnels/Carnal Elixirs.
{Oh and I would have loved to see the plural of metropolis (μητρόπολις) as metropoleis (μητροπόλεις), instead of the anglisized metropolises, but Ι realise I'm overanalysing}.

"At Guerlain, it is a tradition. Crossing borders. Encountering new places. Discovering unfamiliar, exotic essences. Capturing the soul of a place by uncovering the emotional enchantment of its raw elements. In 1828, pioneer and visionary Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain already understood the importance of travelling the world in search of new fragrance sensations. More than just innovative scents, he offered an escape, a voyage for the senses.
“A perfumer must go looking for scents,” observes Jean-Paul Guerlain. And today, in the grand Guerlain tradition of exploring the world's riches, he has created a travel diary of scents, three new fragrances that pay homage to three fascinating cities: Moscow, NewYork and Tokyo.
Paris-Moscow, Paris-NewYork, Paris-Tokyo.
Three evocative fragrances that convey the identity and the heartbeat of these electrifying metropolises.Three liquid memories, presented in bottles embellished with drawings by sculptor Serge Mansau and topped with metal caps embossed with the emblematic double G. For each bottle, graphic artist Carla Talopp has devised a log, a scrapbook of cards, images, drawings, iconicphotos and symbols of the spirit of each city.

Moscow has awakened. Sleeping Beauty has opened her eyes, and her heart is fluttering. Moscow the serious has reinvented itself as Moscow the prosperous. Here and there, a hammer and sickle engraved on a building façade remind passers-by of its recent, restless history. But today, a fresh chapter is beginning. Each month, almost every day, Moscow's inhabitants write a new paragraph. They celebrate the arrival of a luxury boutique or a lavish restaurant. Women vie with one another in elegance. Businessmen bustle about. All of them are part of the metamorphosis of a capital city that proudly displays its new modernity.

With its musk, fruit and wood notes, the ultra-feminine Paris-Moscow perfume echoes the heartbeat that pounds through the Russian capital. This city throbs with life! Strolling through the opulent shopping arcades of the GUM, you are intoxicated by the heady fragrance of white musk and tonka bean. A carnal, sensual and elegant trace of vanilla and bergamot stays with you as you cross the Red Square. As you pass the Bosco Café, a sudden aroma of red currants delights your senses. The Moscow locals are enjoying their brunch, sipping their favourite beverage. Your senses stirred, you head off for some refreshment at the Botanical Gardens. A welcome respite. You close your eyes and watch as images from the day parade past. Electrified, you take in the hint of absinthe, a sparkling lemon, a note of plum. In the distance, you glimpse a verdant forest of pine needles. You can still hear the heart of Moscow beating.

*Notes for Paris Moscow: lemon, plum, pine needles, absinthe, red currants, white musk, tonka bean.

New York, New York! How many films, books and lyrics have sung the praises of the city where anything is possible? A land of dreams and pioneers, the Big Apple welcomes your deepest desires and craziest ambitions. This remarkable city boasts countless styles and atmospheres. A melting pot of communities and personalities, it evokes greatness with its skyscrapers, broad avenues and financial centre.At the same time, it cherishes its 'villages': Little Italy, Chinatown, the West Village with its tree-lined streets, low-built houses and tiny restaurants crowded with regulars. Day and night, New York is always bustling. Here, a young woman arrives at the gym as the clock strikes midnight.There, a man and his dog share dinner by the first light of dawn. Only in NewYork…

A woody oriental fragrance, sparkling and sweet, Paris-New York excites the tastebuds by transporting the senses to the heart of Manhattan on Christmas Eve. From the elegant Uptown to bohemian Downtown, children are dreaming of their Christmas pudding.Their nostrils quiver. Smells of vanilla and cinnamon float out of kitchen windows. A joyful frenzy of holiday anticipation reigns on Broadway, whose lights seem to sparkle with a new radiance. A pause; serious Wall Street goes quiet. The pedestrians on 5th Avenue finish their last errands.The sky is still the luminous, cloudless blue of a New York winter. The celebrations will start in just a few hours. Already, the air is thick with a scent of cedar, cardamom and bergamot.

*Notes for Paris-New York: bergamot, cardamom, cinnamon, cedar, vanilla.

Some say that you must see Tokyo before you die.To them, the capital of the Land of the Rising Sun is a required destination. A ground to tread. An atmosphere to soak in. An experience to live, no matter what. Tokyo fascinates, Tokyo charms, Tokyo intrigues, Tokyo intimidates. Tokyo leaves no one untouched. The surprising, completely alien metropolis embodies ultimate modernity. Tokyo is a dense anthill, gradually stealing from the sea and sky what it can no longer find on the earth. The most daring architects eagerly orchestrate these extensions into space. The city is immense; it offers an invitation to lose yourself and discover its contrasting districts,smaller cities within a city, which fit together like the animated pieces of a giant puzzle.

Green and floral, fresh and delicate, Paris-Tokyo evokes all the subtlety of the Japanese capital. Willful, yet subtle. Ultra-modern, yet bound to its traditions. The sun is still low in the sky; it is the perfect time to awaken your senses in Hibiya Park, a rare green space designed with a Western aesthetic.Very few people are walking; you pass mainly joggers. As you stroll along a pond, the morning dew gives off a fragrance of jasmine and violet, intertwined with Hinoki cypress. You stop in a teahouse, slipping out of the stream of time into a cocoon of tranquillity in the midst of turmoil. In this world apart where green tea and jasmine scent the air, you allow yourself be transpor ted by the legendary, almost magical tea-drinking tradition. It is with regret that you leave the ceremony you wish could last forever. But Ginza, the Champs-Elysées of Tokyo, is already calling your name."

*Notes for Paris Tokyo: green tea, jasmine, violet, Hinoki cypess.

The Guerlain Voyage Collection will be widely available in June and the prices will be $220 for each of the bottles.

Related Reading on Perfumeshrine: the Guerlain series, Travel Memoirs.

Pics via russianblog.org, blog.aia.org, the designblog.org


  1. Coincidentally Hermes' theme for 2009 is "l' Voyage".

    It's hard to judge from the descriptions whether these three scents are interesting or not, guess have to sample to find out.

  2. Anonymous22:03

    OOOOH NO!!!! Must go and cut up my credit card before these become available. What a price! But what a temptation! All three sound compelling. Could this signal a welcome return to Guerlain's tradition of telling stories through fragrance? They used to excel at that.


  3. Fiordiligi22:16

    Thank you so much E - I had heard that these were en route (as it were) but of course the publicity blurb doesn't really tell you anything. We need to sniff!

    The Thierry Wasser disappearing act is very strange isn't it? Not that I am complaining about Jean-Paul Guerlain having some involvement, you understand.

    I understand there is yet another Guerlain coming soon - le Parfum de Sophie or some such. Do you have any info on this please?

  4. Some fellow sniffers sampled these recently-
    it appeared that Moscow was a winner, and that Sophie was also lovely.

    Thank you for always keeping us on the edge...

    I confess to wanderlust, which I slake only RARELY, lol.

  5. Sophie???

    Chaya, my dear, you've introduced something that confuses me.

    Impossible to say without smelling the perfumes in question whether I would actually like them. Is Moscow too sweet for me, is New York too vanillic, is Tokyo too not there at all? I couldn't conjecture. I do know I don't like the ad copy. It's very cliched travelogue; in my opinion, it's simply a waste of words. The issue, I would say, pardon my opinion, E, is not that they used the wrong plural for metropolis. The issue is that they didn't use the plain English word "cities." I don't mean to suggest that everything that drips from by blog-comment pen is unvarnished English-language gold; far from it. I'm wordy and out-of-control much of the time. But in the real world, one supposedly has an editor for ad copy and things like that, who steers one away from this drivel. Just saying. Going to bed now, exhausted from the blog rant, among other things.:)

  6. I'm confused - do New Yorkers eat Christmas pudding? I always thought that was a very British dish.

    The perfumes sound very pretty, especially New York, but I'm not a fan of Wasser's fragrances (Diesel Fuel For Life For Her and Kylie Sweet Darling are two I particularly disliked) and Guerlain hasn't excited me in recent years... I'll sniff these if I come across them, but I'm not going to hunt them down.

  7. L,

    yeah...and basically Lauder and Lancome have already explored that territory. Not that it's anything terribly new, travelling has always been tied to glamorous images and the luxury market.
    It will be interesting to see how these play out...

  8. Natalia,

    the price is quite elevated so they'd better deliver!

    I can't say I'm too excited myself, but I will sample them at some point I guess. :-)

  9. D,

    I never place much trust in ad copy, although I am somewhat relieved they focused on some "images" and impessions rather than the copy on ECs.

    TW is reportedly working on another project, which I don't personally believe will have the name so far circulated. As to JPG I don't really think he was involved, honestly...But there is a nice ring to it, if he's brought into the project, huh? ;-)

    It is my understanding that Sophie will be a different project as there is no mention of it in the travelogue press release, nor is the deposited name "Paris-Sophie" like the rest.(shouldn't it be Sofia, if so? Not to mention Sofia isn't exactly a metropolis on a par with the others...). I will return with more as I get more corroborated info ;-)

  10. I,

    it's good to know that they're rather nice! I was almost expecting the usual and it was predicable up to a degree (pine needles and red currants for Moscow, green tea for Tokyo, cinnamon buns etc for NYC). Guess I'll see when I see... ;-)

    Sophie sounds like a mystery project, it reminds me of Sophie Marceau actually who did that commercial for Champs Elysees back in the day, you know?

  11. A,

    please see above replies about Sophie.

    I can't say that I am super-excited, although they do seem like a must-sniff at least (if only to get it out of my system!), but the ad copy is MUCH better in comparison with Elixirs Charnels, that much I can tell. But yes, rather predictable travelogue and you know, it's been done already! (not to sound pompous, or anything)

    As to why they chose "metropolies" instead of "cities", bah...it drips off the tongue a certain way, I guess! LOL :P Seriously, I think those things are first written in French and then someone nonchalantly reinterprets in English.

  12. Mim,

    somehow I believe it's an outsourced perfumer working on those, not Wasser (whom I can't judge yet and hope he makes worthwhile things for Guerlain, but it's to be seen).

    Good point on the pudding! I think the mapping out is quite cliché (Anglosaxon, East European and Asian) and all the rest that comes with that...Not that they're actually targeting those markets necessarily, just the perceived exoticism (M and T) or glamour (NY) of them. :-)

  13. To my nose, it's more a Chanel project :) In fact all the satelite collections of Chanel in the past 4 years have been inspired by a place related to Coco's life. Paris Tokyo (2004), Paris New York (2005) and the last one, Paris Moscou (2008). Now with the latest ad/movie for No5, the travel idea is indeed in the air.
    I would add also Le Labo and their city inspired and exclusive perfumes but also what I saw in january at the Paris Fashion Fair (the smell of Tokyo and sensorial representations of metropoleis).
    They try to catch the trend :)
    There is also a "carnet de voyage" written by Jean Paul Guerlain several years ago, with beautiful drawings and descriptions of scents/memories/places around the world.
    If you look to this book and how it was done (from a graphic point of view) I would say that it's rather Hermès who took the idea.
    Now, we associate aquarelle style with Hermès but, Guerlain did it before. When Guerlinade was launched years ago, there was an exhibition at their Institute with those gorgeous representations of travel & perfume. From a graphic point of view, Hermès took that idea, simplified it and made it modern while Guerlain was not able to go further.
    I hope I will find those perfumes in Paris, unless they are exclusive to those places :)

  14. Octavian,

    thanks for your detailed comment!
    Indeed I recalled correctly then the Paris Moscou theme of Chanel and of course you enriched that with the previous ones, thanks. Coincidence or what?? ;-)
    Yes, it seems there's a trend anew about these things, rather interesting now with the economic crisis and all. (escapism?>> juxtapose that with the 1930s)

    I haven't had the chance to get hold of the carnet de voyage by JPG, although I had heard about it. He's one person who has a LOT to tell about exotic places and stories recounted through fragrance.
    Interesting to see that Hermès is taking the idea and progressing it into a modern take. Somehow Hermès has emerged IMO as the winner in this battle of the triad in terms of modernisation with Chanel head- to-head and Guerlain left behind, gasping for air, huh?

    On the other hand Guerlinade is discontinued (among others) and it leaves me with a sense of having this rich tradition and not exploiting it as they should. What's the point of bringing something back from the achives if they're to drop it in a couple of years or leave it in the "ovens" for ages (Kadine, etc) This is a seriously disappointing facet of their modern course which I hope they wisen up to really soon.

    As to them being city-exclusive à la Le Labo:
    1)knock on wood! (That would entail serious hoops-jumping ~who do I have in Moscow to ask to forward samples??)
    2)I would be SERIOUSLY annoyed if this became the norm. Enough is enough! Even Le Labo wisened up.

  15. That carnet de voyage from JPG is a book, I do not remember exactly the name.
    The Guerlinade from 1998 was not the old Guerlinade but a nice modern perfume. I think it's now in their Parisienne line, but with Guerlain you cannot be sure what is where :)
    The city exclusive - isn't Tom Ford on this road also?

  16. Yes, I know (about the carnet being a book; haven't read it though, only heard about it).

    The Guerlinade in Les Parisiennes IS discontinued... (the modern one; the old one is something else, bien entendu). Hope you're not too keen on Métalys (pity...) or Purple Fantasy either!
    I agree though, this constant shifting is mighty annoying!! The elevated prices even more so, grrrr.

    TF always has a firm grip on the pulse of trends ~which is his redeeming point. I haven't bothered to check availability, but I liked Japon Noir :-)

  17. Anonymous02:30

    I am the odd one out here... I must say that I'm rather underwhelmed by city themed perfumes. First I think it's an excuse to churn out a lot of different perfumes without having to think of a good name and spend money on advertising etc. Second I don't live in a big city so my city is never going to be featured. Lastly I used to be so excited when Pelikan made city themed fountain pens (one released a year and later expanded to include famous landmarks) but after a few years I just couldn't continue to muster the same excitement I had for the first pen.


  18. Elaborate,

    I just saw this, sorry for the delay in replying.

    Oh, we;re not too excited either! It's just better than all sexed out, I guess :-)
    I didn't know Pelikan pens had such a collection, sounds nice, although I can see how it might look a little contrived after a while...

  19. Anonymous09:30

    Moscow is absolutely lovely. I didn't taste NY and Tokyo though

  20. Thanks for the heads-up anon!
    And it seems you picked the right verb: taste, as so often the latest Guerlains have something of the culinary.


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