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Friday, June 4, 2010

Guerlain Cologne du Parfumeur: fragrance review & draw

If we lamented the course of Chanel the other day, today is Guerlain's par for the course. Although I am a fervent fan of the house and have worn almost everything ever produced with pleasure and reflective appreciation over the years, I can't warm too much towards the latest Cologne du Parfumeur, especially after the very good and very "Guerlain-feeling" Tonka Impériale which had produced a coup de foudre.
Cologne du Parfumeur comes as the latest installment in the Eaux de Cologne line of classic eaux by Guerlain and the delineating of a continuing tradition is at the heart of the launch's philosophy with a refurbishing of the bee bottles to bear the names of the perfumers who composed each of them: Following in the footsteps of L’Eau de Cologne du Coq (1894), L’Eau de Cologne Impériale (1853) and L’Eau de Fleurs de Cedrat (1920), in 2010, Thierry Wasser presents ‘Cologne du Parfumeur’, issued in May 2010, a creation that Thierry admits having originally thought of for himself.

The key note is Calabrian orange blossom intertwined with other citrus fruit. Yet this fairly classic accord also has a ‘modern twist’ thanks to green, musky and sweet facets. The designer acknowledges that it can be worn alone or layered with your usual scent (and I can totally see the latter). The practice of hereby chronicling the heritage of the house by naming each successive perfumer on the eaux bottles themselves also indicates that the more cynical amidst the perfumeland ~who have been bemoaning the LVMH takeover as the cultural ruin of Guerlain for long~ are being heard. Possibly (but not conclusively) this is also a move to assuage the negativity of the Guerlain detractors being vocal on the Net.

The fragrance however removes itself from any traditional Eau de Cologne mould, injecting an opaline green rather than distinctly herbal/aromatic touch (a hint of rosemary instead of the fuller pungent lavender and bouquet de Provence) atop a very "clean" (not tart!) orange blossom (see Yves Rocher or Prada Infusion des Fleurs d'Oranger) and a pale woody musk at the base which produced a "white" effect. But whereas the dry feel of "vegetal" musks worked superbly (and daringly) in Hermes's Eau de Gentiane Blanche, evoking white washed rocks under a hot sky and staying bitterish and insolent, Guerlain's Cologne du Parfumeur feels pale and wane in comparison, too tame & behaved for a vegetal musk, whereas too subdued and sanitized for a Mediterranean cologne; and believe me, I grew up with the latter. Like the perfumer's country of origin, this is Switzerland among perfumes: Always neutral, never engaging in exalted passions, and sometimes reminding me of the very unfair ~yet perfectly witty~ criticism of Orson Welles: "In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

But of course Thierry isn't to blame solely. Decisions are very rarely only taken in the lab! The cologne is perfectly unisex, undoubtedly pleasant, reminiscent of several familiar themes, but it doesn't really cut through the "white" gauzy net of eaux that flood the market currently, which is its major disadvantage.
Cologne du Parfumeur has average tenacity (not at all bad for a cologne) and subtle sillage, but ultimately it reinforces the idea of Guerlain's "Diorisation" after the take-over by LVMH, a plight which is not ultimately desirable by neither core fans of the brand, nor new audiences who can find catchier names and catchier marketing featured in glossies from other brands.
It is available from May 2010 on those Guerlain counters which carry the Eaux line in a redesigned bee bottle bearing a label with the perfumer's name on it.
Please note the moniker "Les Exclusifs" under the Guerlain name and funnily enough...the French definitive article before the name Cologne (i.e. La Cologne).

Notes for Guerlain Cologne du Parfumeur:
Citrus, Amalfi lemon, African orange blossom, rosemary, mint, lavender, musk.

I was honoured to be sent a generous preview decant from a very dear friend and in appreciation of their kind offer I am extending one sample to a lucky reader. State your interest in the comments! Draw will remain open till Wednesday 8th June midnight.

Read another view by Octavian. Illustration via getnouveau.com

60 comments:

  1. I'd like to get the chance to give it a sniff myself ... I've recently decided that my collection is really really lacking in the light, clean, good at any time of year sorts of fragrances, and some days, that is the sort of thing I want to wear ... something simple.

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  2. well I would like to try for myself- and I like the idea of re- imagining cologne in theory- but it doesn't sound great. I like the term 'Diorisation' and do agree. Much as I love Guerlain there are just so many. Quality not quantity!

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  3. Please count me in for the draw. I'd love to have a chance to sample this!

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  4. It seems these days all I try and read about are the colognes (well, summer is just around the corner, I just wish it would actually manifest itslef here).
    I'd like to enter. :)

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  5. I like Guerlain s scents. It would be great to win this sample. thanks for a chance
    lubaska dot k at gmail dot com

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  6. Fernando14:02

    Please enter me in the draw. I just recently got a bottle of the Imperiale, which I like a lot, and it doesn't sound as if I'll want a bottle of this cuckoo clock... but it'd be good to test it.

    You've got to be daring to present your latest creation as part of a set that contains those classic colognes. I'll salute TW about that, at least, though who knows if he had any choice...

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  7. Well, it sounds interesting on intellectual grounds, if nothing else. I'd love to check it out. Thanks,as aways, for the thorough and thoughtful review.

    Yours, LBV

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  8. Anonymous14:19

    Dearest E,

    I am always up for testing a new Guerlain so I would love to be included in the draw. By the way, I would love to hear more about your impressions of Tonka Imperiale because I was thoroughly underwhelmed on trying it; too sweet by far for me.

    Natalia

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  9. chris g15:05

    It will be interesting to see how this does commercially - please enter me in the draw. Thanks!

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  10. Oh E.! Your quote re the Swiss had me spewing tea this a.m.! It's a keeper for sure! Thanks!

    Nothing more damning than faint praise. While I have no interest in this, it's made me realize that the cologne category is sadly under-represented in my collection. I need to explore the classics.

    Donna

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  11. Mimi Gardenia16:06

    That Orson Welles qoute is fab- sort of somes things up. It would be good to try this new cologne though so please enter me in the draw , E !
    Guerlain being 'Diorised !' Absolutely right!

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  12. Anonymous21:15

    Please count me in .
    Something light might be nice, its possible :o)

    Ross
    http://olfactoryrescueservice.wordpress.com/

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  13. I'm still looking for a cologne to love. Maybe this will be it!? Please include me in the draw. Thanks!

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  14. Elizabeth01:04

    I am not much of a cologne lover, but I would like to try this anyway, seeing as summer is almost here, and I feel like I *should* be wearing lighter scents! Please enter me, thanks!

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  15. I'd love to try it. Sounds great!

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  16. I would like to try this!

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  17. I have my fingers crossed! :)

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  18. I would love to try this, count me in please!

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  19. I'm a huge fan of orange blossom and clean scents, so in a way, I think that this might work on me. I like skin scents, too, so a "neutral" cologne might work on me. But if it's not beautiful, then what's the point of another perfume? We all have so many.

    I'm still hoping that I'll find it beautiful though, so please enter me in the draw!

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  20. Anonymous17:39

    Sometimes the light, inoffensive fragrances are just right--I would love to try this one, and thank you for being willing to share your sample-I think the Orson Welles quote is actually a line from the movie "The Third Man" -Thanks again--mary

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  21. P,

    I am all for more colognes and it seems like it's a trend coming back, but they'd have to be either very traditionalist or else very daring.

    You're in!

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  22. K,

    yeah, well we have discussed Diorisation here in the past with someone who is fond of that term and it seems to apply to an extend. Then again they did Tonka Imperiale which is very good and very Guerlain-like. So..?

    You're in!

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  23. M,

    of course, good luck!

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  24. Ines,

    I know exactly what you mean and hope summer comes quickly to your region. It's so warm and nights are so balmy here right now...

    Good luck!

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  25. Lubaska,

    thanks for stopping by and hope you win!

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  26. F,

    I sympathise with Thierry: No one has ever been in such a perilous and tight place, except maybe when Roudnitska had left Dior for greener pastures. (there goes Dior in this again). The man has an electrocuting job: He's darned if he does, darned if he doesn't. I would like to give him every benefit of a doubt. Then again, maybe this isn't his proudest creation, although who knows what restrictions and directives were imposed on him.

    Good luck!

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  27. LBV,

    thanks for your kind compliments and of course, you're included! Intellectual grounds is always a good enough cause to try something :-)

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  28. Natalia,

    naturally you're included.

    I have written a long review of Tonka Imperiale, linked within this article, so you would have no trouble finding it.
    in short, I liked it very much, even though I agree it is very sweet. But it's intentionally and Guerlain-characteristically sweet as opposed to haphazardly and clumpsily sweet (compared to the other brands and the rest of the market).

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  29. C,

    it would, wouldn't it? I am genuinely curious myself.

    You're in!

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  30. D,

    LOL, it's a funny line I guess. NO offence to the Swiss. But this IS Switzerland among perfumes, I'm not taking it back.

    Good luck!

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  31. MG,

    it's proven quite a popular quote, I see. I lament the Diorisation, especially now that new developments and not as fierce restrictions would theoretically allow more room for manoeuvering.

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  32. Ross,

    nothing wrong with light scents! Just not wallpaper ones :p

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  33. S,

    best of luck! Colognes are nice for warm weather, such a gesture of well-being.

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  34. E,

    hope you win! Don't feel obliged, just use another form of the things you like (lotion, soap, a little dab behind the knees) instead of the big swoooooosh of the sprayer. Usually works a treat!

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  35. Orchid,

    of course I'm including you! Good luck!

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  36. Robbie,

    hopefully they will work their charm! :-)

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  37. KKinDK,

    another entry counted, thanks for stopping by! Good luck!

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  38. GG,

    you ask me, I ask you...what's the point? No one can give satisfactory answers on that. Beyond our theories at least.

    You're in!

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  39. Anon/Mary,

    thanks for commenting and of course I am including you for the draw!

    The quote does come from the Third Man; yet as far as I know, it was Orson Welles's addition to the script, not in the original novel. He suggested it to the director who kept it; probably because it sounded so cute and scathing (and it is). Funnily enough, it's historically inaccurate, as Switzerland at the time was quite different from the neutral region it is nowadays! (as evidenced Douglas Miller's "The Swiss at War"). But it sticks, doesn't it.

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  40. Please enter me in the draw. Maybe this is a step away from their usual line. Maybe that's not such a bad thing. I would appreciate a quality citrus fragrance since I do not own one currently. Thanks:)

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  41. I too adored Tonka Imperiale, my favorite of the Materiere line by far. Have yet to try Cologne du Parfumeur and would love too; please enter me in the draw. Thanks!

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  42. Eleonore10:13

    This comment to let you know I DO agree with you 100%: the "diorisation" of the brand is a curse and a shame..Thierry Wasser is not to blame of course, he just obeys the big boss's orders and desiderata...but it is such a shame to see a famous name and so many talented creators of the family humiliated in this way...True creation doesn't mean anything for the LVMH people, what counts is the mass products people will buy saying "ah, I bought a Guerlain something!" yes the name is there but the spirit has gone! Sorry to sound so mournful but I am French and I am so sad to see what's happened to our wonderful Guerlain! of course, I don't wish to enter the draw, I leave it for another sample

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  43. Tuca,

    you're included! Good luck!
    It's not really about citrus, the way citrus is thought of. It's a "clean" orange and orange flower, like Prada's, on a white musk and pale woods base. It's pleasant, I have to admit.

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  44. Katherine,

    there's something about TI, isn't there? It's sweet yes, but somehow addictive.

    Good luck!

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  45. Eleonore,

    thanks for stopping by and for your eloquent comment! It does highlight that the French and the perfume lovers have been expecting a lot from Guerlain and not without good reason: after all, it's such an historic, purely beauty-oriented house, which is a rarity these days of multi-branching. They can and do produce beautiful things when they want to, so I expect them to always pay attention and produce top-notch stuff.

    Let's see what happens with the upcoming Arsene Lupin masculine; I'm super excited about it! ;-)

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  46. Eleonore18:09

    Thank you so much for the links to your previous article about the future Arsène Lupin and to the video with M. Jean Paul Guerlain whom I admire very much..I wonder what he thinks of the feminine fragrances issued since he retired (paquets de lessives, maybe?) Just like you I look forward to discovering the upcoming fragrances and I hope I'll be happily surprised! Thank you for your blog (so, so interesting) I love perfume and I learn a great deal with you.

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  47. Please add me to the draw, but Guerlain, ahhh, let me just go cry. I have a collection of the older scents and my signature scent is Mitsouko with Sous le Vent being my latest favorite; wish they would make a perfume version that actually stays on the skin for more that 15 minutes. I just can't bear the changes at this perfume house.

    Thank you!

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  48. I would love a chance to smell this Guerlain. Please enter me into your drawing.

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  49. I'm still hoping Wasser grows into his new role and sneaks in the odd masterpiece. And I also happen to think Idylle is underrated. One thing's for sure: Guerlain's future development will be very interesting to watch.

    Oh, and please include me in the draw. Thanks.

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  50. Anonymous03:15

    Please include me in the draw.

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  51. Eleonore,

    you're most welcome! Hope to see you often here.
    I found the video truly charming and it highlights well how the family idea of luxury and tradition was at the mind of JPG all the while. Perhaps he does consider that today's market is "corrupted"...

    I am optimistic, there can be beautiful, rich, wonderful perfumes still, if we only demand them. :-)

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  52. Stelma,

    SLV is such a wonderful perfume, what a great choice! It's atypical in that it's not sweet but it's so elegant. I do wish they'd issue a parfum version but with current restrictions it seems impossible... :/

    Good luck!

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  53. Melissa,
    done deal, good luck! Thanks for stopping by!

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  54. Persolaise,

    he does receive a lot of flak, poor guy..He could produce a modern masterpiece in due time, I think he very well might, given a chance. It's good that he's having coaching by the very best (JPG), so let's be hopeful and allow him to grow into it.

    Good luck with the draw!

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  55. Anon,

    of course you're included. Thanks for stopping by!

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  56. OperaFan21:23

    Please enter me in the draw!
    I recently purchased Cologne du 68 and have EdFdC, EdG, and Imperiale in various sizes. Would love to add another Guerlain "Eau" to my collection, even if it's ultimately Swiss...

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  57. Opera Fan,

    they do make some lovely colognes (Eau de Guerlain is my favourite and is quite lasting!) and the Du 68 is one I like too.
    I'm including you in the draw! Good luck!

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  58. Hmm, I thought I had already commented, but I can´t seem to find it?!
    Just to make sure: please include me in the draw..I am currently on a perfume testing spree and with the weathr getting hotter, the lighter frags are right up my alley. :o)
    Thanks!

    Eva

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  59. Eva,
    don't worry, if Blogger ate your comment, I'm including you all the same! Thanks for stopping by and best of luck!

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