Monday, July 28, 2008

Chant d'Aromes by Guerlain: fragrance review

As I lay my hands on the black and ivory keyboard of my Pleyel, fingering Le Lac de Côme, I can't but feel the optimism and bright sunshine of a summer's day that Chant d’Arômes by Guerlain evokes in me as well. One of the lesser known Guerlains, it is akin to an innocent young love that is blossoming into the happiness of womanhood. This summer I happily rediscovered this old flame of mine and have been enjoying its tender peachiness and delicate, caressing powderiness anew.

Chant d’Arômes was created in 1962 by young Jean Paul Guerlain for his future wife, who was so loyal to her favorite Ma Griffe by Carven that she didn't wear any of the fragrances of the house her fiancé was about to inherit! In a getting even roundabout way, Jean Paul created this peachy, lactonic, floral chypre to lure her into wearing a Guerlain and thus made his first foray into the illustrious line of creations of the historical house.
Erroneously translated as "Language of Flowers" sometimes, its French name in fact has the elegiac meaning of "Song of Aromas" which beautifully echoes its oneiric musical cadenzas.

The translucent opening of Chant d’Arômes ~with what seems like a dash of mandarin~ is not unlike the older version of Ma Griffe which was much brighter due to lots of bergamot and aldehydes or Chanel No.22 with its incense touch, lending a sparkling and intriguing character to the composition. It very soon melts into the embrace of the undecalactone of peach skin ~soft, fuzzy and completely mesmerising; tender like the hand of a mother, loving like the gaze of a lover in the first throes of romance. The flowers are all subdued and well blended into a medley of harmonious arpeggios, revealing little hints of this or that at the most unexpected turns, never heady, never loud. Through it all, there sings the brassy contralto of cinnamon, accountable to benzoin, but also reminiscent of the styrax ambience of vintage Ma Griffe's drydown. You would be hard pressed to distinguish any single ingredient as they all sing together with the smoothness of a choir performing Pachelbel's Canon in D; optimistic, lightly sweet, but with the slightest mossy autumnal background, a debt to the unsurpassable Vol de Nuit.
And yet Chant d’Arômes does not aim to be a link in the Guerlain chain, but making a fresh, ever young start it takes us into the realm of the eternally sunny. Although officially classified as a chypre floral by Guerlain, I find that its chypré qualities do not make it difficult, but on the contrary it serves as the perfect choice between floral and chypre for those who do not like the extremes of either category. Its innocence fondles the mystery of youth.

According to Luca Turin in Perfumes, the Guide, it got reformulated in the early 90s to an aldehydic floral of less distinguished nuances, but it has reverted to almost full its peachy glory in 2007 in the famous bee bottles.
Extrait de Parfum was discontinued at one point but is now available at the Paris flagship boutique in Les Parisiennes line; worth pursueing for those who find that the Eau de Toilette lacks the desired staying power.
I have found that the latter performs much better in the sunny and warm weather it naturally evokes, rather than the colder days of the year, and it never fails to put me in a bright and happy mood no matter what might have intervened.

top: mirabelle, gardenia, aldehydes, fruits
heart: rose, jasmine, honeysuckle, ylang-ylang
base: benzoin, musk, vetiver, heliotrope, moss, olibanum

Clip "Le Lac de Come" by C.Galos, Op.24, originally uploaded by PSearPianist on Youtube. Pic originally uploaded by MizLiz211 on MUA.


  1. Great review, helg, of one of my all-time favorite Guerlains. I cannot imagine a young woman circa 2008 wearing this perfume, as it's so tender and subtle. (My 23 year old daughter shrugged and pronounced it 'nothing' recently...but then she's a Gucci Rush fan, need I say more?). Chant d'Aromes is a whisper of silk in a closet full of tweed.

  2. Anonymous12:28

    Hey E! I am surprised you chose to review a Guerlain today, since I too revisited a beauty this morning; Jardins de Bagatelle. Surrounded in a cloud of fleurs de blanc, I wish I wore my FdB more.

    Now, after reading your review, I wish I wore my Chant d'Aromes more as well. CdA makes me think of very refined women; wearing white, pearl necklaces, spring evenings through the Jardins Albert Kahn in Paris with flowers at full bloom, followed by a nice candlelight dinner with, as you mentioned, Pachelbel's Canon in D in the background. There is just a 'well put together' element I find in CdA very appealing. I only wish I could have smelled it in other strengths.

    I also like the ad you used. This one, if I read correctly, was specially created for use in the Italian market. A wife, a mother and yet, a modern woman perfect for CdA. Brilliant.

  3. Anonymous14:13

    I have not had an opportunity to experience this Guerlain, but will of course be searching for one. I love that you have a music selection to go along with your review...and hope that your time with your Pleyel brought as much happiness as your time with Chant d'Aromes!


    P.S. I have obtained samples of three of the Patous you recently discussed -- Colony, Cocktail, and Moment Supreme -- am looking forward to trying those!

  4. Mary,

    overjoyed to see you here, sweetie. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Hope your hands are rested and not acting up :-)

    Thanks for the compliment, I do love it so! It's so innocently tender, so soft..."a whisper of silk in a closet full of tweed": that's such a GREAT description!

    Rush is milky, but with the speakers raised to earth-shattering volume: I like it too, in its own way (for its modernity), but discreet it aint! No wonder your daughter found CdA non-existent.
    More for us to enjoy! ;-)

  5. Hi T! Uncanny, isn't it?
    Then again, we have a fondness for the house beginning with G, don't we? ;-)

    I love the image you're painting of CdA, indeed it is refined.
    Yes, the print ad was for the Italian market saying "Italian women love Chant d'Aromes" and I think it's brilliant as well. I like the tenderness and happiness of it; and the serious look on the little girl too (very Italian)!

  6. Thank you ScentSelf for your comment and you kind words!
    The Pleyel is old and has sentimental value as well as musical (I prefer it to my concert custom-made Petrof in fact) and it has indeed brought me much pleasure through the years. :-)
    Chant d'Aromes just asked for a musical piece to accompany it, didn't it?

    I hope you find it and enjoy it, as well as the Patous. (Those three are very note-worthy). Looking forward to your impressions when you do!

  7. It has been a long time since I was intrigued by a Guerlain scent, but you have me at this one Helg.

  8. Anonymous17:24

    I felt Chant was too subtle for me, not enough sexiness maybe? Don't know, couldn't make it like me, but it seems to work for you, wouldn't have known, LOL.

  9. I would say that 2 notes are not only very Ma Griffe, but also characteristic for many perfumes of that time - the combination between the green pungent stiralil acetate (gardenia) and the C11 aldehyde. In Miss Dior and Crêpe de Chine they are also present. I loved this perfume - it was ... "nonchalant" in the spirit of the 50's.

  10. One of the lesser-known Guerlains, for sure.... and I was just re-discovering it yesterday! It is lovely and delicate, and deserves way more attention than it is getting - but don't start me on that, the way the older Guerlain gems are buried, hidden at the bottom of shelves is heartbreaking.

    The extrait of Chant d'Aromes is still available as of now, but you have to get it from Paris: it is part of the Parisiennes collection, available in Guerlain boutiques only.
    Last time I was there, you could still get it from the Champs-Elysées boutique at least. Only, it has disappeared from the Parisiennes line, along with Metalys, in the latest Guerlain catalog I have (April 2008). I don't know what that means, but I don't like it.

  11. A,

    it's definitely subtle and refined. I don't think they were aiming for a seductress scent ;-)

  12. J,

    I hope you try it and let me know how you find it! :-)

  13. O,

    indeed the styralyl acetate seems to be the characteristic ingredient of those gardenia chypres of the late40s and 50s, thanks for pointing it out. It's very prominent in Ma Griffe, less to my nose in Chant.
    I am now comparing batches of Crepe de Chine I got sent and a modern "dupe" of it, so I will reserve judgment on that till I am more familiar with the nuances.
    "Nonchalant" is a great term.

  14. S,

    it's a beauty, isn't she? I wonder why it hasn't been "discovered" by more people, it has made my summer so much more joyful.
    The old Guerlains are certainly very good and they deserve all the attention they can get.

    It's sad what you say about the catalogue regarding the parfum, though. If only for tradition's and posterity's sake they should keep it in production.

  15. Thanks for this review! Chant d'Aromes is has been my scent since my best friend introduced me to it in 1966. I was so sad when it was discontinued in the 80's, then happy at the re-release in the 90's -- but so disappointed when the re-issue smeled more like Ma Griffe than the original scent. I've been trying to buy products from the first release, needless to say. Was the formula constant between the first release in 1962 until it was stopped in the late 80's, or was there a change between the 70's and 80's?

    1. It is a good scent, I agree. The current formulation is closer to the tender peachy-milky tones of the original than the mid-formulation, I believe that was greener. Not much experience with 70s and 80s batches, though a late60s-early70s (can't be sure) I had seemed like a good fit for what you are familiar with. I wouldn't go way past that in fears that the top notes have significantly deteriorated.


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