Monday, February 21, 2011

Frequent Questions: How to Date Guerlain Parure Bottles

Among the Guerlain fragrances, one of relatively not very old crop (1975) is seriously missed by connoisseurs: Parure, with its golden plummy reprise of what made Mitsouko the monument of beauty that it is. Simply put, Parure is a more wearable, more festive Mitsouko, a fruity chypre in the best possible sense "a wildly original blend of lilac and amber, cyprus and plum blossoms" (as quoted in a 1977 advertisement) and one of the last throes of a lineage which includes such beauties as Rochas Femme and Dior's Diorama. Parure is discontinued due to not conforming with recent standards of alleged allergens in the industry self-regulating body IFRA, according to an interview which the artistic director of maison Guerlain, Sylvaine Delacourte granted to Perfume Shrine in summer 2009. Very much a pity, shooting vintage juice on sale to stratospheric heights and justifiably so: Because Parure not only is lovely to smell, but it also came in some of the most beautiful, unique bottles and packaging in Guerlain history! In the interests of chronologising your bottles (or potential purchases, if you are so lucky as to find any), here is a small guide to Guerlain Parure perfume bottles.

The original edition in extrait de parfum is among the most beautiful specimens of crystal making: a rounded body topped with a crystal cap which reprises the movement of a wave, the whole mounted on a small pedestral in black bakelite engraved Guerlain and housed in a celadon-hued box. Six moulds were made by Pochet et du Courval from March 1975 till September 1981 in the following sizes:
2.3ml mini,
15ml/0.5oz (with a footing in crystal instead of the black pedestral)
30ml/1oz, 60ml/2oz,
120cc (that's 120ml aprox.; it has no "foot" in crystal and bears 1974 copyright on the box, while it was stopped in October 1980) and a staggering mould for a 1290ml factice.
Saint-Gobin Desjonquères issued a 15ml/0.5oz mould in June 1979, which bears on the bottom in relief "Guerlain Paris Bottle made in France SGD" and the number of the lot.

A contemporary more standard amphora bottle of the extrait de parfum (like the one depicted here) was also in circulation as well as the "umbrella flacon" (see this article), probably aimed at different markets as is usual with a house with so rich a history as Guerlain.

From October 1981, the production of the magnificent Parure extrait "wave" bottle stopped altogether (making the crystal extrait version extremely sought after as a rare collectable). The fragrance was offered instead in standard quadrilobe bottles (which also houses many of the house's extraits to this day, such as Jicky, Nahema, Vol de Nuit etc) in sizes 7.5ml and 15ml. You can see a big picture of it on this article, reviewing a rarer scent in the Guerlain stable, Pour Troubler.
All extrait de parfum (pure parfum) producion in Parure stopped at the end of 1989 and the fragrance circulated in Eau de Toilette concentration (and Eau de Parfum from the 1980s onwards, but NOT Parfum de Toilette) thereafter.

Another very rare specimen and sought-after collectable is this design on the right, le flacon strié, as it's called. The rarity is due to it being a limited edition, issued for the Eau de Toilette of only Parure and Chant d'Arômes. This version by Saint-Gobin Desjonquères circulated from March 1994 until August 1995 in only 750.000 bottles for both scents. The box and round sticker label on the bottle are in geometrical patterns of red-orange-terracotta tones for Parure and in pink-yellow-pistachio hues for Chant d'Arômes.

Habit de Fete bottle for Eau de Toilette, far left and far right.

Flacon goutte for 500ml eau de toilette

The more standard bottle for the length of the late 1980s and 1990s in Parure Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum was the long refill bottle in the Habit de Fete gold canister with the cut-outs (left and right of the top photo): 50ml for Eau de Parfum and 93ml for Eau de Toilette.
Before that there was the flacon goutte (shaped like a large tear, hence teardrop bottle) with a mushroom-like cap for the Eau de Toilette in the 500ml size for dedicated wearers, depicted directly above. The label is oval with a black background and gold lettering, as you can see.

The final design for Parure comes in the standard "bee bottle" introduced for the rest of the Eau de Toilette range (including Après L'Ondée, Chant d'Aromes, Mouchoir de Monsieur, the Eaux de Cologne such as Impériale, Du Coq and Fleurs de Cedrat) in the early late 1990s. Two versions circulate in this size and style: one reformulated to meet latest requirements till 2009, the other with a shorter ingredients list slightly older. The packaging is otherwise identical.

Guerlain Parure is just one of the vintage scents where knowing the packaging history greatly adds to the better understanding of both scent and the collection value of any bottle.

top pic & goute pic thanks to les-parfums


  1. Fiordiligi15:54

    Oh what a beauty this scent is! Guerlain aficionados (and indeed the company itself) believe it to have been ahead of its time and thus underappreciated.

    Now, my dear, I do have the flacon strie but I also have a bottle, still 99.9% full, of what I believe is eau de parfum in the 50ml ribbed bottle with the black band round the top - you know the one I mean? I have quite a few of my Guerlains in this design including Vol de Nuit. Sorry I don't have a picture to post.

    Thank you as always for a lovely piece!

  2. I'm so impressed with your wealth of information. I feel like you are laying out history that will be easily accessible for future generations! It's practically public service. Thanks so much!

  3. fantastic bottles, I love the original edition of extrait de parfum, great post!

  4. Parure is one of my all-time favorites. This is phenomenal info to have, in case I run across any bottles (fingers crossed :-D

    Thanks so much for taking the time to do this!

  5. Anonymous08:09

    Dear Elena! What a treat this morning: an article about Fidji (which i recently discovered in the new version, which i really like, but now i have to hunt down the vintage.. drat!) and then about Parure! I actually have it in perfume form in the umbrella bottle, which i do not see mentioned in your article. if you want i can email a picture of it? warmest regards, Wendy

  6. D,

    you're absolutely right: Parure is a wonderful true Guerlain, very underrated because it circulated like a secret, never much promoted and then abruptly cut off. :-(

    You mean the one which is hourglass like?(usual for Shalimar?) I don't have a mental picture of another at this moment.

    You're most welcome, glad you enjoyed!

  7. Lang,

    profuse praise, thank you so much. You make me blush.

  8. Musette,

    you're most welcome. I get a kick out of laying out perfume history, it's ingrained in me, can't help it.

  9. Wendy,

    thanks for commenting and so happy you liked the articles. It's always a pleasure seeing people getting a kick out of them or having meaningful commentary to make.

    You're 100% right: It did circulate in the umbrella. I have added it with a link to my Umbrella Flacon article. Thank you! The only one NOT coming in that design is Nahema, strangely enough.

  10. kathleen14:46

    What an interesting post, and so timely, too. I've just received Parure in "le flacon strié". Now, I know, a little more, about it.

  11. Kathleen,

    you're very lucky. Do treasure your bottle, it's a lovely fragrance and very much in the GUerlain spirit!

  12. Dear Elena,
    I dreamt of owning this brilliant perfume so many times that suddenly I found it today (two bottles of this) in a small store somewhere in Athens. Both they are eau de cologne, the one in the "disc" bottle with the pyramid cap, the other in a ribbed bottle with the spray on the cap. Their boxes have that black zig-zag print on it. I searched for these editions but still I'm not sure if they are from '70s or later. I bought the ribbed one, it smells heavenly and although it's EDC it lasts for long time. I would be grateful if you shared your knowledge with me about these editions.

  13. Soleil,

    oh what a find!!

    Please do email me using email contact: perfumeshrine AT yahoo DOT com

    I would be happy to answer all your questions! :-)


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