Sunday, December 13, 2009

Guerlain L'Abeille: Bee transformed into a Luxurious New Fragrance

It's not just for Christmas that Guerlain had sculptress Géraldine Gonzales decorate their windows with crystal bees dangling and swaying from gold-plated trees in their Parisian boutiques this season. The bee, an iconic symbol for Guerlain, has a history that goes back to the 19th century: 1853 to be precise, with l’Eau de Cologne Impériale for the patrons of the Second Empire. Now it is becoming an extra luxurious, extra exclusive new fragrance as well! Rumour wants it to be called L'Abeille (although no official confirmation has been given this is the code-word to open Sesame so far), and to be a very tightly distributed parfum in the manner of Mon Précieux Nectar previously.

The price tag of 8000s Euros (!) certainly doesn't allow a stampede for its acquisition, especially in times of economic crisis, yet the luxury market hasn't really shown a budge; proving that those who collect these things always have a way to partake of the holy eaux! Expect to see this "bee-centered" L'Abeille fragrance issued in July/August 2010 in a flacon shaped like a bee, sculpted by a Place Vendôme designer and executed in Baccarat crystal. Insider info on the scent itself wants to be along floral arpeggios and very "sumptuous". The celebration of the bee in such a lavish manner unifies the Guerlain tradition: The famous "bee bottles" (flacons d'abeilles) are glass or gilded flacons with small Napoleonic bees on relief, wonderfully referencing French royalty and its history, bees being alongside the more traditional royal symbol, the eagle, the emblems of the First and later Second Empire. Guerlain has used them in their lineup of Eaux including some non-Eaux fragrances (Apres L'Ondee, Chant d'Arômes, Mouchoir de Monsieur), as well as Les Parisiennes more exclusive boutique line, while a more simplified version with plain glass and a golden overlay with a bee on the button spray is being used in the Aqua Allegoria line.
Edit to add: According to Octavian, notes include acacia, soft vanilla, floral honey, ylang-ylang and solar flowers.

Also, for those who missed it last season while talking with Madame Delacourte, the newest L'Art et La Matière fragrance by Guerlain is going to be Tonka Impériale with notes of tonka bean, amber, vanilla, rose, orange blossom and rosemary. A modern rendition yet à l'ancienne (style-wise) of one of the leading Guerlinade notes and perhaps a re-orchestration of some of the elements in Jicky. Olfactorum who sampled it describes it as "if Guerlain is an empire, then Tonka Impériale is one of its recent most beautiful adornments". We will return with a full review soon!

Related reading: The Symbolism of Bee & Honey Scents, Guerlain series (reviews & history of scents), Guerlain News , Upcoming releases

Thanks to Mr.G for some of the info. Pics of Guerlain boutique decoration with bees via


  1. What a pretty blog!
    Do you know of a 'perfume of the month club' that will send decanted fragrances monthly? I'm looking for something 'off-the-beaten-path' and not the usual department store fragrances - any suggestions?

  2. Jerilyn: I don't know of any perfume of the month club (though it's not a bad idea). However, the Perfumed Court (they can be found on the web by running Perfumed Court together and adding a dot com) has all kinds of samplers - "beginner's guides to niche fragrances," samplers of small and large samples of perfumes with a particular main note, etc. They do ship internationally & I have always been happy with them. (No affiliation, just a satisfied customer.)

    Elena, I always love reading your blog, but it is even more enchanting with these lovely photos. Someday I'll have to be in Paris at Christmas - it must be so beautiful!

  3. Fiordiligi09:43

    Gorgeous, thank you, dearest E! At that price, I too will be relying on TPC for some droplets of l'Abeille to try. The Tonka will probably be priced at Sophie level, don't you think? That sounds more feasible....oh dear, here we go again! So lovely to have some proper beauties to look forward to in 2010.

  4. Jerilyn,

    why, thank you so much! :-)

    I don't know exactly what you imply by monthly decanters, but I can recommend the Perfumed Court, the Posh Peasant, Eiderdown Press and Rei Rien as reputable sites run by reputable people. A Google search brings up all the links.

  5. PF,

    thanks! I like to bring a little festivity online especially for these days :-)
    Hope your get to travel to Paris on Christmas!

  6. D, dearest,

    I believe the Tonka Imperiale is part of L'Art et la Matiere, like Rose Barbare, Angelique Noire, Cuir Beluga etc. Therefore even more "economical" than Les Secrets de Sophie! (Hurray, the new "cheap" is 150 euros! *evil grin*)
    I'm psyched as well. Here's hoping!

    PS.Still didn't manage to reply in full to your mail. Will be forwarding what we discussed, let me know you got it! ;-)

  7. Lovely windows Helg!

  8. I had the chance to smell it - I do not know if it was the final version or not. BUT - it is a splendor, something very delicious and modern. Acacia, soft vanilla, floral honey, maybe ylang and other solar flowers. It is pure emotion.

  9. Thanks M, I found them worth including as well :-)

  10. Octavian,

    thank you for reporting from the battle-field!! It sounds delicious indeed: acacia is a note very simpatico to Guerlain, isn't it? (and acacia honey is along with thyme honey my favourite!)
    If only it wasn't reserved for the super-collectors. :/


Type your comment in the box, choose the Profile option you prefer from the drop down menu below the text box (Anonymous is fine if you don't want the other options!) and hit Publish!
And you're set!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin