What Happens in Vegas… Part I: Guerlain – Mission Accomplished

While helping Birgit with charts for her Monday Question: Guerlain or Chanel? I was fascinated by the list of perfumes from Guerlain that respondents named as their favorites without which they couldn’t imagine their Perfume World. That was when I realized that I’d tried merely one third of all perfumes that others loved.

There is a Guerlain boutique at San Francisco Saks. It’s not too far from where I live but even a 30 minutes drive combined with the cost of downtown parking makes it an unlikely place I’d go casually to try one perfume after another.

That’s why when I realized that during my birthday trip to Las Vegas I would be staying at the hotel that hosted the only stand-alone Guerlain boutique in the city… wait… or was it that I booked my stay at the hotel because of that?.. Anyway, I thought it would be a chance to try all those perfumed wonders and asked for an advice.

As you might have noticed already, I like numbers. So here are some relevant to the topic:

  –  28 perfumes were suggested for testing and 14 of them were mentioned more than once;

  –  The most popular suggestion (7 voices) was Chamade;

  –  On this trip I smelled 14 perfumes from the list and tried some on the skin;

  –  3 days are not enough to do justice to what a great perfume house has to offer (duh!).

Las Vegas Guerlain Boutique in Palazzo

Once checked in, I immediately embarked on my mission. I went to the Guerlain boutique and explained my intentions to the SA who greeted me. He was professional and helpful but somehow we didn’t “click”. I might be wrong but I guess he didn’t think I would end up buying anything. Nevertheless we went through a number of bottles, I chose two to try on my skin and went on with my vacation. I came back the same day and then the next one, and the next – and everything repeated.

I didn’t try Chamade this time because I tried it before and liked, so it was my back-up plan (together with Vol de Nuit) – I decided I would try these two and choose one of them if I wouldn’t find any other perfume that I’d like more. I still plan to seek samples of Chamade and Vol de Nuit to figure out if I can go with the EdT, EdP or need an extrait. But all those who suggested this perfume were right: I like Chamade.

Suzanne, your bet on Samsara extrait would be safe: you were right more than you could imagine (but it’ll be a separate post next month – “How’s that for mysterious?” ©Natalie).

Out of those perfumes that I tried on the skin two were a definite No: Nahema (“old lady perfume” on my skin – sorry to everybody who loves it) and Sous le Vent (I might try it again one day but this time it wasn’t close to what I was looking for). I need to test more Angelique Noire, Cuir Beluga and Bois d’Armenie: I liked them all but it wasn’t love. At least not yet.

Las Vegas Guerlains

And then I took a blotter, inhaled and thought: This is the one! Probably you know that feeling when you smell a perfume and immediately like it. You do not need to work on it, learn to appreciate or let it grow on you. You just like it. That was what happened to me with Cruel Gardénia. It is extremely beautiful and the moment I smelled it I wanted to have it in my collection.

I wore it twice and even though I had one more day to decide (or try more perfumes) I felt it would be right to get my birthday bottle of perfume on the actual day of my birthday. When my vSO and I went to the boutique the guy who was helping me previously (you see, I don’t even know his name since he’d never introduced himself!) wasn’t there. I felt a little bad since I usually try to be fair and buy from those SAs who helped me. But in this case it was for the best: Jorganne, who was there and helped me with my order, was just a right person for me. It was a very pleasant shopping experience including a hand-written card from Jorganne that came in my package (I had to have it delivered since we had only carry-on bags). Guess where I’ll be buying my next bottle of Guerlain. And I have no doubts there will be more.

Guerlain Cruel Gardenia

And finally, please meet Elena from Perfume Shrine – a Godmother of the first Guerlain perfume bottle in my collection. She was the first to suggest Cruel Gardenia and she wrote a beautiful review for this perfume. An honorable mentioning: Asali who seconded that advice.

Images: my own


51 thoughts on “What Happens in Vegas… Part I: Guerlain – Mission Accomplished

  1. Yippee on not one, not two, but three counts!

    1) Suzanne was right. Suzanne ain’t right too often, so when she is, she’s thrilled.

    2) Undina found her Guerlain!! :-)

    3) Undina who hates tuberose fell in love with a gardenia scent. Which means she is inching closer to tuberose than she even knows. ;-)

    All ribbing aside, I’m happy for you and glad you had a wonderful trip. Happy Belated Birthday, Undina.


  2. The Guerlain boutique is absolutely amazing. Chuck was my guy there but he was recently promoted. I don’t know your tastes but my favorites are Gourmand Coquin (expensive chocolate), Iris Ganache, and SdV. Wow – I just realized that I’ve bought six bottles there over the past three years (and two from the Paris boutique) Love me some Guerlain :)


    • I was in Vegas this time a year ago celebrating my 20th anniversary (Feb. 16) and had a grand time at the same boutique. Chuck was my guy as well – the single most impressive SA I have ever met, so I’m not surprised to hear of his promotion. I’m glad to hear you clicked with Jorganne, because that makes perfume shopping so much more enjoyable.

      I’ll be checking out Cruel Gardenia the next time I’m at Holt Renfrew. (Didn’t think I was a fan of the BWFs until I recently smelled Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, that’s some sumptuous stuff.)


  3. Whoa!
    Happy bee-lated birthday to you. When was it???
    I am very happy for you and your new Guerlain love. I haven’t tried Cruel Gardenia, and was ready to write off this whole new line, but tried some and was impressed.

    I can’t believe it! I actually went to the post office and mailed the package with the samples and Guerlains to you. Then came back, and read your post :) so I guess I’m a little late to the party, so to speak. But I hope you’ll enjoy anyway.


  4. Yippeee! I’m so glad you found your Guerlain (and possibly a second – I’m excited for the mystery to be revealed!). I can’t remember Cruel Gardenia, actually. I will have to retest it so I can see what “Undina’s Guerlain” smells like.

    Congrats! :)


  5. Congratulations of your first Guerlain! I have a neglected sample of CG and will get it out tonight in your honor! :)

    I hope for a second installment of your trip? Is there maybe more you want to tell us? ;)


    • Thank you, Birgit! I’m very curious to know what you think about it (though now nothing can change my mind, I’m in love ;) )

      There definitely is at least Part II (I have no choice, I’ve said “A”). But as far as a confession goes I’d need more installments… (blushing smiley)


  6. So pleased you found your Guerlain and you didn’t have to go with a back-up or learn to love it. I wish I’d known you’d picked Cruel Gardenia when I was standing at a Guerlain counter on Wednesday because I’ve never tried it. Glad Samsara extrait was a hit too.

    Hope you had a great birthday. Now I know where I’ll be staying if I ever make it to Las Vegas… :)


    • Thank you, Tara!

      It was a very nice birthday, I enjoyed the trip.

      Palazzo is a very nice hotel (even regardless all the perfumed treasures it has). But if you ever travel to Las Vegas please ask me – I’ll have a LOT of suggestions.


  7. Congratulations Undina, on your first *real* Guerlain FB and on your birthday.
    I loved the Godmother post, and couldn’t wait to read this follow up. And like Suzanne, I’m so thrilled to have been right, even if I wasn’t first. I am so glad you like the Samsara extrait too, I would have thought it a tad too sweet for you, but it’s one of my own favourites- together with VdN in all shapes and versions :-).


    • Asali, thank you! It was a fun project and I’m greatful for everybody’s help.

      If you like Samsara I’ll definitely want you to read my post about it in March (can’t do it before because of a scheduling conflict but will definitely do it next month).


  8. Oh, missed commenting on suggestions! What I would have suggested for you: Chamade, because it is gorgeous, and Elixir Charnel Floral Romantique, which my husband would have bought me on his own if it did not cost the earth. I’m in two minds about ECFR myself – I like it very much, but anything that costs $300 a bottle had darn well better be TRANSPORTING and not just attractive. Oh, well, I have to admit that I enjoyed wearing it more than I have enjoyed a whole string of better-regarded fragrances from Guerlain.

    I don’t remember if you like aldehydes or not, but if you do, Vega is stunning and worth a sniff. That’s another ridiculously expensive one, but in my opinion worth its price.

    I had forgotten about Cruel Gardenia, which is indeed very pretty but a tad soapier than I usually prefer. It really does not deserve the sneer it gets from LT – but I notice that he’s particularly scathing about anything labeled “gardenia” that doesn’t smell the way he thinks it should, and I also notice that I am most scathing when a perfume juuuuust misses its mark, probably because I am most disappointed at that point, the “it would be perfect except for XYZ” point.


    • Mals, thank you for chiming in!

      I will keep testing Chamade (I’m so hopeful the EdP version works for me because the price for extrait is just insane!) and will continue going through the line to see what else is out there for me.

      I smelled Vega (didn’t try it on skin) and didn’t think it was for me but I’ll test it eventually to either confirm or disprove that assessment. And I think I like aldehydes (well, at least several perfumes I rerally love have it).

      I stopped reading The Guide because I don’t want to be influenced by people I don’t “know”. I do not really care what experts think about those perfumes that I love and if I do not like a perfume all praises in the world won’t be able to change it. And for those perfumes where I’m in between I’d rather go with the opinion of my blogo-friends.


  9. Just catching up with my reading and am so happy to hear that you have found your Guerlain spiritual home. And do you know what – I am not even sure that I have tried Cruel Gardenia – or Iris Ganache, come to think of it – so my own Guerlain investigations are not nearly complete.

    Loved the stats at the top of the post – as market researcher I would look at the “most frequently occurring” names, as relatively few multiple mentions can be significant.

    And like you, I prefer to buy from the SA who originally advised me – in any line of consumer goods, indeed.


    • I was thinking about Iris Ganashe: since it’s got discontinued and will be phased out by the end of this year, maybe I should find and try it while it’s still available?

      With the recommendations it was interesting: while Chamade was recommended seven times, eight other perfumes were recommended three times each and five perfumes were recommended twice.


  10. Happy Belated Birthday!!

    What a fun birthday, perfume shopping and Las Vegas! Did you win any $$ while there? Glad that you found a Guerlain to love!

    Since you’re going to try Chamade again, if you can get some vintage of it, give that a go! I was going to suggest the vintage, but you had asked for current formulations. I love the vintage (I think mine is an EDT, it’s in one of those blue & white patterned containers) and IMO it’s much better than the current that I tried.


    • Thank you, Natasha!

      I do not gamble, so when in Vegas we usually use “slot machines” (well, in my case it’s video poker machines) to sit down and rest. Since I do not expect to win, my strategy is to loose money as slow as possible. During these 4 days I paid for resting ~$30.

      I will have to investigate which version of Chamade to go with. Thank you for the advice.


  11. Hope you had a wonderful birthday and glad you found your guerlain..For a very long time, Samsara was the only guerlain that I liked..Everytime I’d go to the Neiman’s or Nordstorm guerlain counter, I try all the perfumista favorites but was drawn to only samsara (this was before any of the newer ones had come into the picture. I do like Rose Barbare). Last year, I finally ‘got’ Shalimar and also really really liked mitsouko pure parfum..So I understand your joy at loving a guerlain..finally..:)
    I really need to revisit Samsara though and see if I still like it..


  12. I think I’m going to need to spend an entire lunch hour at the Guerlain counter at Saks. I really want to get familiar with the line.

    I want to stay at the casino that houses the new LV and Prada boutique. I forgot what it’s called but that’s all me! You sound like you had a fantastic birthday!!


    • Thank you, Alexis, it was a very nice birthday. I realized I forgot to mention the name of the hotel. It’s Palazzo. There is also Dior’s boutique in there. And Barney’s next door. And Saks, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom across the street. A perfect place for a perfumista.


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  15. I only recently discovered I have a decant of Cruel Gardenia and once I sprayed it on, I kept getting back to it. It’s just so easy to love. :-)
    Although the only cruel thing about it is its price.


    • I completely agree! :)

      Every time I use it I’m amazed with its beauty. It’s not a complex or complicated perfume but it’s so beautiful!

      Let me know if you need more once you’re done with your decant.


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