Friday, April 30, 2010

Guerlain Arsene Lupin, Nuit d'Amour, Idylle Duet: new fragrances

What do an amorous night, an idyllic duet and "le gentilhomme cambrioleur" of French literature, Arsène Lupin, have in common? They're all purported to be future releases by Guerlain! Now that I caught your attention, let's take things one by one.

Arsène Lupin has been tied to a leather masculine fragrance created by Thierry Wasser and Jean Paul Guerlain, due to launch in November 2010. {It has been officially confirmed that it is a Jean Paul Guerlain creation alone} It's purported to be an aromatic violet cuir (leather) with hints of Jolie Madame threw in and tentative resemblances to a reworking of the theme of Coriolan and Chamade pour Homme but with a drier leather base (according to Basenotes and mr.Guerlain). Another member on the same forum mentions trying the scent and reports: "[Guerlain's Arsène Lupin] does has some similarities with the other Guerlain masculines - i.e. Coriolan and Chamade pour homme. I could describe it as green-gray aromatic cologne with some flowers (not much) and dry mossy-leathery sillage.
It resembles vintage Jolie Madame by Balmain (violet+leather) and the new Le Temps d`une Fête by Parfums de Nicolai (narcissus or hyacinth) made with more dry feeling. It definitely has green bitter galbanum with bergamot, and some Provençal herbs like rosemary, lavender. Camphor-cooling feeling also detected. Heart is spicy-woody - wormwood, nutmeg and maybe pepper + coriander. Sillage is dry woody - moss, sandalwood, vetiver, immortelle (?) and leather". The longevity was also deemed good, with the intriguing addition that sales assistants report there would be two versions: a younger "dandy" version and a more mature version. (Just how groovy and cunning is that??)

ETA: The newest info we have tells us these will comprise an "Arsène Lupin collection by Guerlain" in which one will be called Arsène Lupin Le Dandy and the other Arsène Lupin Le Voyou (the latter meaning Lout). The double name is meant to reflect the two faces of Janus which the fictional hero exhibits. The bottles are encased in a wooden panel and follow a modern aesthetic (a more masculine take than the one for the Elixir Charnels by the same house), somewhat in contrast with the retro name, whereas the juice is lilac for Le Dandy and straw-golden for Le Voyou as visible on the pics.

*Notes for Arsène Lupin Le Dandy: bergamot, bigarade, pink peppercorn, cardamom, violet, sandalwood, patchouli, cistus, olibanum.

*Notes for Arsène Lupin Le Voyou: bigarade, aromatic herbs, mugwort, coriander, pepper, sandalwood, patchouli, benzoin, rose, white musks.

But what's in a name? The literary character Arsène Lupin began his fictional life in 1905 (under "Lopin", until a namesake politician protested), smack-right into La Belle Epoque; an enigmatic figure in black-tie respendid with white gloves, a cape and a monocle, relieving the haute-bourgeoisie from their money, which seems like the perfect analogy for the clients of Guerlain! The comings and goings of Lupin in horse-carriages and the suaveness of the character evoked saddlery according to Jean Paul Guerlain. Are they pulling an Hermès on us? Or are we to expect a fragrance by the name of Rocambole next? :-)

It's interesting to note that lupin is also a flower, grown in northern climates and known for its antioxidant properties. This might have pointed to the name being only "lupin" and thus tied to skincare instead of fragrancing. So, I decided to research a bit deeper: It seems that the trademark Arsène Lupin is still held by Leblanc Florence, 20 rue Edouard Nortier,92200 NEUILLY-SUR-SEINE and it's applicable to several trademark categories. Among them, yes, perfume too! According to Perfume Intelligence there are already two fragrances named after the gentleman thief, Arsène Lupin pour femme and Arsène Lupin pour homme developped by Intercosma as Eaux de Toilette. However, according to my info it seems that there has been a legal "transmission partielle de propriété" to Guerlain by the original beneficiary, which confirms that the name is official beyond any doubt!

The new feminines by Guerlain will be somewhat different. On the one hand there is the "new" Les Parisiennes for women called Nuit d'Amour, in fact an earlier creation by Jean Paul Guerlain in 2006 which followed the 2005 launch of Plus Que Jamais, and which had previously circulated as a limited edition of only 500 bottles conceived as tribute to Gustav Klimt. According to the official LVMH info: "Jean-Paul Guerlain has always been fascinated by Gustav Klimt’s painting "Lady with Hat and Feather Boa". Gracious and proud, yet fragile, elegant and mysterious, this woman intrigues him. Delicate but intense, Nuit d’Amour is a tribute to the stirrings aroused by meeting a strange woman with an indefinable charm.
Nuit d’Amour is a floral, powdery, woody fragrance, its top notes mingling the freshness of litchi with the gentle tingle of pink peppercorns. A hint of aldehydes, wedded with a bouquet of feminine, graceful Provence rose and subtle, powdery iris, translates the emotions tinting the young woman’s cheeks. Sandalwood prolongs the base note with its warm, sensuous tones, just as the dark feather boa envelopes her shoulders and throat..."
Nuit d'Amour now joins the more "stable" stable of Les Parisiennes (bee bottles exclusive to Guerlain boutiques) as a re-issue, possibly to make up for some of the discontinuations that happened in the line. Please note that the photo depicted here is of the previous limited edition with the Belle Epoque jet-bead "necklace"; the new will be the standard "bee" bottle of Les Parisiennes.

On the other hand a new version of Idylle is already in the cards, aimed at mainstream release and developed by Thierry Wasser, the nose behind the original as well: Idylle Duet Rose-Patchouli is already in the works, an Eau de Parfum version that highlights the two notes. Please find the visual representation included on your right.

It looks like we'll be having lots of material to discuss coming from Guerlain in the next months!
For our French-speaking readers, please watch this interesting video:

Jean-Paul Guerlain testing herbs and spices at the market, talking about modern perfumery ("lesivière!") citing Baudelaire, meeting in the lab with Thierry Wasser (whom he considers a disciple and an accomplice) and his esprit collectioneur des femmes (ah!)!click the link below:

Le surdoué du parfum

Sincere thanks to Moon Fish for their reportage on Basenotes.
Illustration of Arsene Lupin via Werner Maresta. Film stills from the 2004 film Arsène Lupin starring Romain Duris, Kristin Scott-Thomas Pascal Gregorry and Eva Green


  1. Fiordiligi13:44

    Oh my, dearest E - a lovely new Guerlain post and how wonderful, especially the Arsene Lupin! Love the story-telling. Nuit d'Amour didn't have too many admirers on its first outing but I am keen to see how it's faring now, even though "litchi and pink peppercorns" makes me feel a bit queasy.

    I'll pass on the Idylle variation, thank you.....not my thing.

    Off to watch the video now!

  2. Mystic Knot15:54

    Thanks for the article Helg. At last, some new Guerlains to salivate over- sounds great but I am also not sure about the litchi !
    A flanker for Idylle too !

  3. These all sound quite promising--and I am delighted to see that Arsene Lupin has inspired a fragrance!

  4. D darling,

    I knew you'd be interested! It's an intriguing if a little baffling choice, then again what's left, all the good names have been taken, so I guess the great literary tradition and le roman policier are prime target. I can see several heroes and heroines of Balzac inspiring scented stuff ;-)

    Re: NDA I'm most interested to see how the "new" will compare with the old. I wasn't too impressed with the latter in sample form (might be that that was faulty?), but maybe they unsweeten it a bit.

  5. M,

    you're most welcome. It neeeded some compiling of info and a factoid or two through in, didn't it?
    I personally think the flanker of Idylle might be rather nice: rose and patchouli is a tried and tested combination and I hope they make it more "edgy" than the original. As to Nuit d'Amour, I found the old one was too sweet on the litchi. The pink pepper didn't offend at all, though (it's a very nice smell by itself btw).

  6. M,

    there's potential there, no doubt!
    I wonder which British brand will come up with a Sherlock Holmes fragrance now, so that we can have that classic "Sherlock Holmes vs Arsene Lupin" epic in olfactory terrain!! :P

  7. Goodness gracious, that is fantastic!

    Arsène Lupin? I'm flabbergasted. That is - I don't know, insanely cool (especially from a house that went from coolness itself with names like "Vol de Nuit" or "Sous le Vent" to, well, "Gold Sparkly Blooming Mandarin Flakes - Happy Bunny Rabbits Edition").

    And it being a leather, and a dual scent, from the sound of it? I am eagerly waiting for these.

    Idylle Rose and patchouli, bah, I guess I can't muster any enthusiasm...

    Nuit d'Amour, why not. Nice.
    (you know, I think if I chant it enough, left, right and center, maybe I will be heard one day ;))

    (did you catch the dialog between JP Guerlain and Th. Wasser in the vid, about the new, secret feminine? "it's very fruity" so far, and JP Guerlain would have liked it more leathery... curious about that one, too!)

  8. Fabulous story and I am reeling at the pachouli-rose combination... how long ago was that, I wonder? Just the name is spectacular and evocative.

  9. Thanks for the news, E. The Arsène Lupin sounds very interesting indeed. And in two versions? "Dandy" and "more mature"? I look forward to trying these (although I imagine the Idylle Duet will not hold much appeal for me).

  10. Six,

    darling! Welcome! (I haven't been able to reply YET!! Give me another day or two...or six months, LOL!!! Promise, I will email)

    Yeah, isn't that great news?? It's absolutely fantastic that they went into great lengths to secure the trademark rights for this Arsene Lupin fragrance, even if it sounded totally impropable at first (I was thinking of Sherlock Holmes frag for Anglo audiences and thinking how much gimmicky it'd sound). But it's 100% true and all, so rubbing palms together. I enjoyed the adventures of Lupin a LOT in my childhood (and liked all those characters, Phantomas, Rocambole etc) and always found them very cool: the fashions, the times, the jewelry...In a way it all ties in with the Guerlain tradition.

    I'm not averse to ANY JPG creation entering Les Parisiennes, so I hope they hear us and make more of them available!! Surely there are creations ripe for the resurrection (I am praying with you for the Cachet Jaune)

    I did catch the dialogue between JPG and Wasser, but I was wondering whether it has to do with a new feminine or a "new" feminine (as a reworking of a previous fragrance a la Nuit d'Amour ~which WAS quite sweet~ or a flanker.) This wasn't very clear to me, maybe I should rewatch.
    I guess I will report back with Guerlain developments as soon as I hear more. ;-)

    And hugs!!

  11. D,

    hi there, how are you? :-)

    That Lupin story is a great background, le gentilhomme cabrioleur and all that...Totally cool! It almost begs for tie-in merchandising, LOL!!

    Seriously now, I think rose and patchouli is a tried and tested combination in perfumery, although I have no idea how they will play it out in this new version (hopefully edgy). Had a bad experience in the past, I presume? (spill the beans!)

  12. J,

    hello, long time no see, good to see you back!

    I suppose LeBlanc is stirring a bit in his grave, given that A.Lupin MIGHT have been based on well-known real-life anarchist, Marius Jacob! In a way this is highly ironic, given the rather anarcho-capitalistic stance of LVMH! (then again, they're not very pro-Rothbard on what applies to copyrights and sharing of wares among individuals, so...)

    I'm very much looking forward to both versions of the A.L. fragrance, at any rate.

  13. Lupin! frankly excited by all Guerlains as you know but that one especially.

  14. Oh, these sound so promising! Fingers crossed PLEASE GOD NOT ANOTHER VANILLIC/HELIOTROPE GOURMANDY THING.

  15. Of these, Arsene Lupin really fascinates me - Guerlain always does such great masculines!

    Nuit d'Amour sounds very promising too, like a return to the classic style, may it be so!


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