Friday, November 30, 2012

Guerlain "Nous N'Avons Pas de Prenom" vs.Marcel Guerlain & Hughes Guerlain: Perfume History

It's not uncommon that perfume newbies sometimes come across fragrances with the name "Guerlain" in their presentation and get confused as to whether it pertains to the classic, revered family house (now under LVMH ownership) or it involves a fake. (Sad as it might be, the latter is not unheard of, with dubious specimens cropping up like "vintage" Louis Vuitton fragrances beyond the known etc.) The answer to this is neither.

via tumblr.com

Two other Parisian perfume companies, Marcel Guerlain & Hughes Guerlain, are in fact totally legit and have been producing beautiful perfumes for years. Although Marcel Guerlain, who has been producing fragrances and cosmetics from his beautiful 86 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honore in Paris boutique since 1923, shares a surname to one of the heirs of the Guerlain family, these names are not affiliated with the Pierre-Francois Guerlain family.

The confusion was no less annoying in the years preceding WWII than it is today: Marcel was legally forced to eventually change his company's name to Societe des Parfumeurs Francais. USA advertisements bear the inscription "no connection with any firm of similar name" before it. The Guerlains also took their own measures, giving rise to the "nous n'avons pas de prenom" campaign (i.e. we have no first name).
The often impressive Marcel Guerlain bottles were developed with the help of Andre Jollivet and other designers of the time.
via old-paper.delcampe.net
Marcel Guerlain Caravelle via worthpoint.com

Marcel Guerlain perfumes include:

1923 Kadour
1923 Le Roy le Veult
1924 Caravelle
1924 Pavillon Royal

Marcel Guerlain Royal Pavillon via worthpoint.com

1924 Pate D'Or
1925 Masque Rouge
1925 Ki-Loc
1925 Mai Wang
1927 Le Roi Le Veult
1927 Tabac Fleuri 8
1927 Tabac Fleuri 9
1927 Masque Rouge
1927 Contes Choisis
1928 Chypre
1929 Redoute Masque/ Rouge Redoute

Marcel Guerlain Rolls Royce via liveauctioneers.com

1929 Rolls Royce
1930 Aimee-Aime
1930 Le Cadre Noir
1930 Les Fleurs
1930 Mol
1930 Pois Senteur
1930 Cyclone
1930 Special 5
Aimee byHughes Guerlain via 1000fragrances.blogspot.com

It's interesting to note that the other company named in the title of this article, Hughes Guerlain, was founded also by Marcel Guerlain himself, alongside several other companies involved in the production and distribution of cosmetics and perfumes.

via catalogue.drouot.com
Hughes Guerlain perfumes comprise:

Extrait 9 (1920s)
Extrait 14 (1920s)
Chypre de Hughes Guerlain (1930s)
Aimee (1930s)
Toutes Fleurs (1940s)

In conclusion, though less celebrated than the famous Guerlain classics, the products by Marcel Guerlain and Hughes Guerlain are not to be scoffed at, being beautiful and worthwhile in their own right.

Certain chronologies via Museu del Perfum


  1. How fascinating ! I have never heard of this other Guerlain!

  2. Interesting post, but I had to read it twice to understand the meaning (the info in the parenthesis was distracting).
    I am left wondering what happened to Marcel Guerlain's cosmetic line?
    Nonetheless. outstanding bottles.

  3. M,

    those who do Ebay come across those other Guerlains quite a bit, I'm told.

  4. Jam,

    sorry about that. I meant that there are a lot of fakes around, sometimes using a famous name (like LV) to con. But not here.
    The cosmetics line continued unabashed within the 1940s with specimens even now cropping up on the net and auction sites.
    (see for instance:http://www.ebay.com/itm/1940-French-Perfume-Cosmetic-Cream-Box-Marcel-Guerlain-/230446662210)

  5. Unseen,

    yeah, isn't it? :-)
    Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Anonymous04:12

    I have a Cyclone by Hughes Guerlain, similar to Octavian's photo of Aimee, although the stopper and label on the bottle are simpler. This makes me wonder if other Marcel Guerlain perfumes may also have been produced under the Hughes Guerlain label. It's sealed and I haven't opened it yet, so I cannot report on what it's smells like. ~~nozknoz

  7. Nozkoz,

    sounds really a find, then! Must have been in the interim between brands, since I know that both brands have used some formulae interchangeably. I guess even if you break the seal unless we have a Cyclone by Marcel Guerlain we can't compare to see whether they're the same or whether the company just used the name and "type" again. Trippy stuff though!

  8. Anonymous13:07

    I used to spend far too much time on ebay searching for vintage perfumes - would just search for "vintage perfume," with a few exclusions, and look through thousands of results. Hughes Guerlain would show up from time to time, and, after reading Octavian's post, I decided to take a chance.

    That was a couple of years ago, so they probably still come up for auction. Not great odds of also finding the Marcel version, though (even if I were still looking)! ~~nozknoz

  9. N,

    One never knows what chance brings them!

  10. Loes15:16

    In front of me I have a bottle Crépe Mystique by Hughes Guerlain
    Parfumeur Paris.
    I can't find anything about this fragrances.
    Can anyone tell me more about this fragrance and bottle ?
    It is a shame but the label is damaged

  11. Loes,

    thanks for commenting!

    Apart from what is posted here I can't really help you. How do you know the name of the perfume if the label is damaged? I assume you have the box as well, right?
    I suppose it follows the Crepe de Chine trend, judging by the name, but one would need to know how it smells to ascertain that. Have you opened to sniff?

  12. Loes23:22

    Since the bottle is in my collection it's never been opened, but I'm not sur about it for the past.
    I don't have the box, but I can read the name on the label.
    Pitty I can't place a picture of it.

  13. Loes23:24

    It is a pitty I can't place a picture here.
    I don't have the box, and in spite of the damaged label I can still read it.
    Since the bottle is in my collection it's never been opened, but of course I don't know that about the past.

  14. Loe,

    if you have (or open) a Photobucket account, you can upload a pic and link it here for us to see. It would help others in your situation.
    If the bottle has the seal intact, then in all probability it hasn't been opened in the past. If it does not, then what harm would it do to open and sniff? ;-)

  15. Loes18:35

    Thank you for your answer.
    Here is a link to my Photobucket account
    There is no seal, but the bottle is almost full.
    And as a collector I Always learned not to open the bottles.

  16. Loes,

    alas I get an error on your link. Check it again, please?

    The reason I mentioned the seal is because there are scammers out there, filling up vintage bottles with who knows what. However Hughes Guerlain should have been relatively safe, thanks to its lesser known status. Therefore your bottle should be safe from that, I hope.

    I know one shouldn't open, but then the purpose of collecting perfume becomes a bit diminished, I always found. The itch can only be satisfied by trying out for one's self. :-/

  17. Loes14:41

    I hope that I succeeded this time

  18. Yup, now I can see!!

    Looks good too and in a good condition.
    Well, like I said, I have the suspicion it's riding on the coattails of the Crepe de Chine success, but I could be wrong. The only way to find out would be to sniff. But I respect your wish to keep this sealed.


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