Monday, February 24, 2014

Fragrance Reviews of the Resurrected Guerlain Perfumes for the Centenary Celebration at Champs Elysees

Guerlain celebrated its centenary anniversary at Champs Elysées with an extensive renovation which lasted 9 months. The re-opening of the boutique on November 23rd impressed all Guerlain lovers with the reaffirming of the splendor of the classic French brand, as well as with the reissuing of iconic fragrances which form part of the cultural heritage of Maison Guerlain. These perfumes, displayed on the first floor of the 68 Champs Elysées boutique however are not for sale: the perfume enthusiast can visit the flagship and experience the sensations that these recreated scents from the past convey, but the formulae do not comply with current standards and therefore they stand mostly as a prized curio and a dream vehicle than a product to place on one's vanity.

But it is no matter!

The vivid and creative imagination of Jacques Guerlain who produced several fragrances per year is something to be enjoyed, rather than hoarded with materialistic aspirations.

So, the question is: How do these resurrected, Guerlain heritage fragrances actually smell? Thanks to the talents of Thierry Wasser and Fred Sacone (junior perfumer at Guerlain) who recreated them in contemporary time but vintage context as well as the indomitable spirit and generosity of Sylvaine Delacourte, it was possible to share with you. I thank Sylvaine for sharing her impressions and for continuing to assist the perfumers in what is a labor of prestige and love for the brand.

Here there are, the scent descriptions for all of them, in chronological order of original launch.

PAO ROSA (1877)

This really old cologne was first made in 1877, comprising the elements we have come to associate with classic colognes. The effarvescent top is comprised of bergamot and neroli, while the heart is centered on rose with the animalic notes of Tibetan musk tincture and civet tincture.


Despite the opening notes of bergamot, petit grain and lavender, the focus of the extrait of A Travers Champs is undisputedly floral with rose, ylang ylang and a very pronounced spicy carnation note. The background is built on powdery iris, an authentic birch tar leathery note, woods and sensual impressions from amber and animalic scents.

Click to read more.



This lovingly named perfume ("that's why I loved Rosine") was specifically made ​​for Sarah Berhnardt , whose nickname was Rosine.

Rosine is reminiscent of Shalimar, with pronounced bergamot top, flanked by lemon lavender, a light floral heart of rose, jasmine and iris, but with an atypical background that is leathery, smoky like lapsang souchong tea due to birch and with real oakmoss and tinctures full of character.



The dying flower in question is violet, replete with its leaves, as well as the flower of cassie with n added floral garland of jasmine and ylang. The base is built on a woody chypre oakmoss with a perceptible costus note.


This duo of fragrances (re-issued again a few years ago by Guerlain in the flacon escargot) were wedding gift offered to a couple of friends by Jacques Guerlain.

The original edition of Voilette de Madame (Madame's Veil) is richer and more faceted than the previous re-issue from mid-2000s, with a very powdery floral bouquet with lots of violet and iris, as well as cassie supported by rose, jasmine, ylang and neroli. The rich background is built on oakmoss and animalic tinctures which give it a beautifully sexy tonality.

The masculine version, Mouchoir de Monsieur (Gentleman's Handkerchief) is again much more animalic in the original formula than the still circulating re-issued edition.
The elegant fougere is dandy-ish, with lots of bergamot and geranium, patchouli and a flanking of other wood notes. The base is soft, lightly vanillic with tonka, and powdewry with iris.



Lovers of the classic "after the shower" perfume will rejoice for two reasons. The original formula, recomposed at present by the Guerlain perfumers, is even more lovely than the previously reissued "extrait" which was eventually removed from the catalogue. The extrait is also richer than the still circulating Eau de Toilette which presents a more "pastel" rendition of this fragrance.

This beautiful floral is of course the precursor of a more faceted masterwork, L'Heure Bleue.
At the opening notes of rosemary, bergamot and lavender segue to anisealdehyde and heliotropin, which were here first used in perfumes. At heart the purple effect of iris, jasmine and orange blossom (same as in L'Heure Bleue) but with a less warm or gourmand background than L'Heure Bleue. Still a beautiful and authentic musk note is hiding in the base.

Continuing to part 2 on this link….

thanks to espritdeparfum for the pics


  1. leathermountain00:26

    Sort of like a living museum? I can't wait to visit.

  2. Even if it were not Guerlain, anything with the name Fleur qui meurt, voila pourquoi j'amais Rosine, and Pao Rosa would be worth smelling.

    Fitting that Apres l'ondee has been declared dead and committed to the museum grave, where it can be lamented (presumably amid the utter indifference of Monsieur we know who, who evidently only cares for what goes onto his Sephora shelves). The same should happen for Heure Bleue, rather than the abortive attempts at centenary editions (though l'heure de nuit was cute on its own).


  3. Crappers. I was getting ready for a shopping spree.

    Well, Guerlain's loss.

  4. Angie Cox07:42

    Thank-you that was fascinating.Angie.

  5. Fiordiligi08:49

    Sorry - I missed Part 1 and thought that Part 2 was Part 1....but oh my goodness, this avid Guerlainophile is in utter heaven about the fabulous lost treasures!

    Fortunately I have plenty of vintage Apres l'Ondee. How awful that we are losing it.

  6. A,

    a museum of smell, recreated the way the archeological settlement in Acrotiti in Santorini is re-made. Fab thought!!

  7. M,

    the names are indeed gorgeous, poetic and at the same time evocative of the era.

    Apres L'ondee isn't discontinued in the Eau de toilette. It continues to be produced. It's only the extrait which won't be because it doesn't comply with regulations on heliotropin anymore. (it was discontinued some years ago anyway, if you recall).

  8. L,

    but all the same interesting to historians and all collectors. I suppose if they milked it for sales they're be doing all sort of summersaults to convince we were smelling the original while it wouldn't be so, so I prefer this approach. More honest. More personal.

  9. Angie,

    you're welcome. It's a nice summary of the splendor of stepping one's toes into living history.

  10. D,

    no problem. It's something to warm the cockles of one's Guerlainoloving heart. :-)

    But as I said to Cacio above, we're not losing Apres L'ondee. The extrait won't be produced (as it wasn't for some time now), but the eau de toilette continues to circulate and be produced. :-)

  11. Strange to see that costs found use so often in the past. I find it a very "difficult" note and practically non-existent in contemporary perfumery. How did they make it "work" back in the day?

  12. K,

    costus is now prohibited (no wonder, it IS sensitizing, better not to work with it).
    I believe costus root oil was a necessary part to render that lived in, hair & scalp note; nowadays certain musks can do it plus civetonne (sp?)


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