Mon Guerlain does not dare veer into the animalic, like its forerunners Guerlain Jicky and Guerlain Shalimar do; this is the first thing one needs to watch for. The propensities of today do not allow hints of bodily odor emerging, nor would they allow the weird opening of Jicky which sometimes comes across as vaporized petrol. Instead, Mon Guerlain veers into the caramelic, with a rum & hay ambience, a "toffee" accord, which embraces the Carla lavender flower from Provence and renders it soft and pliable. After all, the starting point for perfumer Thierry Wasser was the vanillic accord, not the other way around. Was it a genius idea prompted by him? In a way. But not entirely.
There are several nuances lavender can take. A decade back, when I was describing the main odor constituents of Fragrantica's vast notes database one by one, I came up with the short form of "an aromatic clean note, medicinal on one end and licorice-like on the other end", and I stand by my description to this day. Hermès was the first to exploit this duality fully, thanks to Jean Claude Ellena's idea of a quintessential blend of exquisite lavender wrapped in licorice in Brin de Reglisse (in the boutique exclusives line), therefore the mischievous reconstruction of an olfactory symbol of the South of France reinvented by the gourmet touch of a ribbon of licorice. “Dressed in mat black, a magnified lavender, memory and landscape…”
Nowadays, it is the vanillic and licorice nuanced lavenders which are featured in any product that aims to appeal to women or women buying for babies and children. To wit, most children's products for the bath and body which claim "relaxing lavender" are mostly featuring a blend of musk with vanilla and abstract notes of extraterrestrial flowers grown on the moon; lily of the valley, jasmine and delicate, unreal roses. And this explains the divide that lavender produces; some people love the medicinal properties they have come to know from real lavender, some people abhor them, confused by the artificial construct that is advertised as "lavender" but really isn't.
If we insist in our path with Guerlain's Mon Guerlain, and in direct juxtaposition with their classic lavender-laced Jicky, one can certainly see how over a century of fragrance production has seismically shifted the notion of lavender in general. From an animal-laced beast into a vanillic comforting cocoon for women who love their desserts, but don't want to be seen stuffing their mouths with it.
There's something sexy about making one's self feel good about themselves, giving them the confidence to be themselves, to inhabit their skin, and maybe that's the root of the concept of comfy notes producing claims to sexiness and attraction. Mon Guerlain is in that direction, although to my more daring tastes, close but no cigar...
Very pretty (classic) bottle nevertheless!
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Perfumer Thierry Wasser