History has a way of repeating itself: hard to believe nowadays but less has not always been more.
Nearly thirty years later I have seldom heard the tale told in its entirety. Perhaps because of the typical Guerlain complexity in its inspiration? Or perhaps its somewhat awkward placement within the Guerlain archive, tucked between the fabled Chamade (1969), Parure (1975), Nahéma (1979) and Samsara (1989)? Either case the story is far too fascinating to be left ignored.
Bagatelle: A Brief Trifle History
Everything started with a bet: In 1775 the the Comte d'Artois purchased the property with the intention of an overhaul; his sister-in-law, Marie Antoinette, perhaps out of sheer boredom, wagered that the new château could not possibly be completed within one hundred days. She was proven wrong: the Comte engaged the neoclassical architect François-Joseph Bélanger to design and had the whole thing all to himself in mere sixty-three days. That’s not to say that the architect skimped on luxury in order to hasten the completion—in true Rococo fashion the garden immediately surrounding the Château de Bagatelle is famously redolent of heady florals, as attested by the rambling roses blooming in profusion within the opening photo. And that’s a mere corner of the château.
Now in this context the second usage of the word ‘bagatelle’ is also utilized, describing here a short piece of music, typically for the piano, and usually of a light, mellow character. The name here serves as a reference to the innocent character of the piece (not necessarily, of course, the lack of technical and artistic demands of the music, as many piano students fall out one way for another upon learning the music).
Given its heady égeries one shouldn’t expect less from Jardins de Bagatelle, referred by some as the scent of the whole garden bottled! In fact it is precisely this fact that yours truly prefers the eau de toilette incarnation, and then only in light application!
Note: Personally I never had any problem with the quality of this eau de toilette, and I’ve read favourable review even after the supposed reformulation. Then again if you have recent encounters please do chime in!