I have a confession to make: I do not own a single full bottle of perfume from Guerlain. While I’m at it, I don’t think I have more than 2-3 ml of any Guerlain scent in my collection. Here, I said that.
Many years ago I was gifted with a bottle of Champs Elysees (EdT? EdP?). I didn’t dislike it but I wasn’t too impressed either. There was something unsettling about that scent. I kept the bottle but didn’t use it much. Until one day I read something very nice about this perfume somewhere. I do not remember exactly where or what (it was more than 10 years ago), I remember only that it was described as bold and sexy… Yeah, I know, nowadays which perfume isn’t described along those lines one way or the other. But back then that suggestive description made me change my mind about Champs Elysees. And I wore it happily feeling sexy, and daring, and vivacious. Until… One day a co-worker who was also “in perfumes” came over for a quick lunchtime sniffing session, picked up my bottle, sniffed it from a nozzle and pronounced: “It smells like a bug spray!” And that was it. I didn’t suddenly realize Champs Elysees smelled the way she described. She wasn’t even my close friend! But nevertheless I couldn’t bring myself to wearing it again. That’s how impressionable I am. Luckily my second bottle of that perfume was almost empty so I didn’t waste much. But that was the only and the last bottle of Guerlain perfume in my collection.
It was a preamble. A tale comes next.
As I’ve mentioned already I am impressionable. Not only my Champs Elysees story above but a list of my last year’s perfume godmothers attests to that.
As an aspiring perfumista I made a New Year resolution to find at least one Guerlain perfume to love (and to hold in my collection). For my upcoming birthday I’m going to the ball traveling and staying in a very close proximity to a Guerlain boutique for several days. What I need now is an inspiration, a perfume godmother to share her (his?) passion for a perfume from this perfume house.
If you had to name just one Guerlain perfume (currently available, modern formulation) for me to try what would it be? If you’ve previously reviewed it on your blog give me a link, I’d love to read it. Or just tell me why you love it.
To make it harder, I’ll list those perfumes I’ve tried already.
Vol de Nuit is the closest to become a bottle in my collection. I was tempted (surprise!) by Natalie’s review of Vol de Nuit and since then I kept trying Vol de Nuit in both concentrations – EdT and parfum. I have a strange love-hate relationship with it: every time I apply it I think: “Hmm… not bad. Why didn’t I like it last time?” Five minutes later: “It is unpleasant on my skin. It’s definitely not for me.” Thirty minutes into wearing and for as long as it stays on my skin I like it very much and keep sniffing my wrist. And the next time it all repeats.
Usual suspects – Shalimar (EdP), L’Heure Bleue (EdT and parfum) and Mitsouko (EdP and EdT): I tried them again and again (and again…) and no, I do not want to wear them. I can appreciate them, even like them on paper and kind of like some stages of their development on my skin but I do not think I would choose any of them to wear as my perfume if I had other choices.
I do not mind Shalimar Parfum Initial, it’s never unpleasant on my skin (unlike its classical siblings mentioned above) but it’s too boring.
I like how Rose Barbare develops on my skin but in the beginning it’s too sweet. I have a large sample to keep testing and make up my mind but I do not see it as the bottle now.
What say you? Is there a hope for me?
Image: my own (with the help of glassgiant.com poster generator)
There sure is! :)
Great that you are going away for a little vacation! And near a Guerlain boutique – that is perfection in my opinion.
Maybe you might like Cuir Beluga, my current favorite in the L’Art et Matiere line. It is so very elegant, smooth and just beautiful (not a heavy leather at all!). My review is written, but not yet published, it will be soon though. Give it a try!
(whispering) There is supposed to be a Dior boutique there as well. So I’ll try to pace myself.
Cuir Beluga – added to the list.
(whispering) Would that be in Boston? Saks has a Guerlain Boutique, plus what seems to be a full Dior line. Don’t know if it’s an actual boutique, but they’ve got Diorella, Dioressence, Diorama, all except Diorling, which I’m waiting for! There’s also a Barneys close by.
(you don’t have to publish this comment, in case you don’t want people to know where you’re going on vacation or whatever. But if it is Boston, that’s a great area for perfumes! Saks, Barneys, and Neiman Marcus, too. Oh, plus Hermes and Chanel stores within a few blocks. I know Hermes has perfumes, Chanel probably does, the store is a bit intimidating so I haven’t ventured in. Yet.
There’s always hope! If not now, 6 months down the road. :)
I’m not firmly on Guerlain ground, but I can give you some of my favorites you can try : Jicky (although it took me quite some time to fall in love with it), Tonka Imperiale, Chamade, Mayotte, Nahema.
Enjoy your trip!
Oh gosh, you should find a Guerlain to claim as your own if only in order to possess a piece of perfume history! Since you lean towards non characteristic Guerlains, I would suggest exploring the Art et la Matiere line further as they’re developed for the non hard-core Guerlainophiliac in mind (Have you tried Tonka Imperiale, Cuir Beluga and Bois d’Armenie? Though they just might veer into “too sweet” for your particular sensibilities. I also like the soapy aldehydic Cruel Gardenia which isn’t really floral despite the name and is lightly musky like the Rose)
From the rest I’m going to be contrary and suggest Vetiver (yes, the men’s, though the women’s is excellent too), Habit Rouge and Sous le Vent. If you need samples, let me know! I do this all the time. ;-)
I really love Samsara EDP, and I also have the powder. For some reason, it reminds me of Christmas with the lights and sparkle, white powdery snow, wearing your best dress, and the excitement!! I always feel very elegant when I wear this fragrance and yes…I have my fairy godmother transformation! The compliments are always a plus, which are many.
Please enjoy your visit to the Guerlain boutique. I’m sure you will have a wonderful time and lots of stories to tell!!
P.S. I’m guilty…I purchased a mini Champs Elysees around six months ago, and I do like it!
Ha! Nice title.
Vol de Nuit has become my favourite Guerlain after The Candy Perfume Boy generously sent me a sample of the vintage parfum. It blew me away!
I would add Chant d’Aromes and Nahema to my previous recommendation of Chamade – all best in parfum strength. I’ll also throw in Angelique Noire after trying it for the first time on Vanessa! I can’t believe there isn’t a Guerlain out there for you.
I know that you like Diorella enough to own a bottle, and Philtre d’Amour reminds me of Diorella… But better! I’d say, give that one a try, it’s absolutely wonderful. I posted a review of it today, but it’s not very telling… More of a mini-review. But I do think that it’s the sort of thing you’ll appreciate.
Also, seconding Chamade!
Good luck Undina, I’m sure that there is a Guerlain for you! :)
Maybe you have fallen in the gender trap. I would like to suggest: Habit Rouge, which is absolutely delightful on the women I have smelled it (that came out strange). If you try it and like it, I will claim the title of your Guerlain Godfather.
I understand exactly where you stand with the Guerlain’s. I have tried several. Every time I try one for the first time I say: “Wow…!”. And then slowly I start humming Peggy Lee’s tune “Is that all there is?”. And I do not mean this as a punchline. You have to know the song to understand exactly what I mean. They just make me feel cynical. It is as if someone offered me a beautiful authentic Roman marble bust. Sure it is lovely but I cannot see it in my apartment.
Still my favourite is Habit Rouge edp and I cannot stress the edp strongly enough. Good luck in your quest. I hope you find love inside the Guerlain boutique but don’t push it. You know what they say: you cannot fall in love if you actually try to. :)
Chamade here too (and I have just remembered I have some to spare and could have given you that instead of the Serges!), also a big vote for Bois d’Armenia and Angelique Noire.
But the single one you should try – Apres L’Ondee!
Bois d’Armenie, sorry!
I’m with you in not really warming to the classic Guerlains. However, I have sampled and liked several from the Art et Matiere line. Perhaps it is because I generally prefer what I think of as “modern” perfumes over “classic” perfumes. The one that I have liked enough to get a decant of is Bois d’Armenie.
I am curious about Habit Rouge – I sniffed it once at a group get-together and liked it a lot.
I will send you some samples along with the ones we were talking about (yes, hang my head in shame, I haven’t mailed you a package still, but now I have a good reason for it since I know what to add :)
I can’t wear the old classic Guerlains at all, but I do like a number of the newer ones, including the aforementioned Tonka Imperiale and Rose Barbare. Also, just to be contrary — Insolence!
Oh, I so hope you find your Guerlain on this trip! I would second the Cuir Beluga recommendations, but I think you tried that when we sniffed and it didn’t grab you? I also wonder if you would get along well with Samsara. And last, maybe Paris to Moscow (or just Moscow as it is now called).
Hmmmmm. Keep us posted!
Dear Undina, you have so many great Guerlain- Godmothers here already, but I kind of had to join in since I think I know what you mean; It can be difficult to find your entry to Guerlain, but I am certain that you will find it. It’s like a rabbit hole within the rabbit hole, and once you’re there you’ll find more…If that sounded condescending, it absolutely wasn’t what I meant, just to explain how I felt:-)
The way I think of your tastes, I should second and third Chamade, Nahema, Angelique Noire, Cruel Gardenia and yes also Après L’Ondee. I also think you should try Mouchoir de Monsieur, and my newest love is the London in the Voyages Olfactifs line, perfect for the upcoming season.
Enjoy you stay and good hunt:-)
How about L’Instant? Not many people like it (not sure why, I like both the men’s and ladies’ versions) but perhaps this might do the trick…
This might make you feel bettr. Even Robin of NST had trouble with the classic Guerlains! Maybe Apres L’Ondee will be the one you fall for too.
Undina, please try Samsara in the extrait concentration. I’m putting my money on that one for you. Well, not literally, since the stuff is expensive, but you know what I mean. ;-)
LOVE Samsara extrait! Good choice Suzanne.
Undina, this is a great post. I have near to no experience of Guerlain so I love to hear peoples opinions on which ones are “must tries”. I might have tried on something like 3 scents in all, which is kind of embarrassing. But hey, things can only get better. At least some of them can be found in stores in Sweden, so I’m now putting them on my mental “try on sight”-list :)
I can’t name just one….but will suggest L’Instant and Mahora (now Mayotte in the Les Parisiennes line) which are two (along with original Samsara) of my early Guerlain loves, discovered before I became I perfume fanatic. BTW Champs Elysees is the only Guerlain I don’t like. L’Instant is beautiful, honey, magnolia, with a dusting of powder and vanilla. Too much can bring on a headache. Mahora is, to me, summer in a bottle, white florals, vanilla, ylang-ylang, and almond, it’s got a coconut vibe without being gourmand, or “beachy”.
Since you’re going to a Guerlain Boutique, if they have Attrape Coeur, by all means try it! It’s being discontinued, but they might still have some around. I got mine last spring. They may have the Muguet bottle on the counter, too. If you like chypres try Sous Le Vent. It’s a nice, somewhat sheer representation of the vintage. Oops, I went well over just one suggestion! Have fun!
I’m very grateful to everybody for their suggestions. I will respond once I’m back.
I’m a little biased being a Guerlain girl from way-back and their catalog is huge, but I’m going to second Vanessa and suggest Chamade. The edt is not expensive and can be worn any day, any time. The parfum is more sultry with a drydown that is drop-dead gorgeous, but not never over-whelming. I ALWAYS get compliments when wearing Chamade – plus, it’s not a fragrance that many people wear – at least, not in my experience. I’m excited to read about your up-coming Guerlain adventure : )
I have very little experience with Guerlain, and I haven’t found one to love yet, either… I’ve been wanting to try Nahema, though.
Oh my goodness, not yet in love with Guerlain?? This must be fixed! *gets on godmothering hat*
I think it’s interesting that everyone is climbing on board Chamade. I do agree with this, I find it easy to love, and can even pass on a sample of the vintage if you’d like to try it.
I also struggled to love Guerlain (specifically Shalimar, which I now adore in many incarnations), though, and am lucky enough to live close to a good Guerlain counter, where I have enjoyed Spiriteuse Double Vanille (not actually discontinued, they tease), or, if you like something less gourmandy, perhaps you’d like to try Fleurs de Cedrat. This is what my friend described as smelling like “a lemon tree”. It doesn’t last forever but is extremely pretty, like light through the leaves of said lemon tree, which is wearing both lemon fruit and flowers. Quite light but definitely Guerlain.
There are a number of more “wearable” Guerlains in the form of the Aqua Allegorias, too; I like Mandarine-Basilisc.
And as a fan of big white florals, I love Mahora, which Luca Turin described as laughably bad, apparently. It’s soft, tropical, big, and lush. Love.
I have smelled Rose Barbare and it too is lovely. Just couldn’t get behind Nahema somehow but if you like rose, that might be the way to go.
Very interested now to see if there’s anything you like!
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