Monday, October 27, 2008

L’Instant Magic by Guerlain : Perfume Review

Our body is very clever in telling us what we need to eat to keep healthy: craving a particular food is often our body's way of nudging us to eat that particular something that has been missing from our diet. But what about cravings for a particular perfume? Do you ever get those? Why do they happen? As strange (or indeed as ridiculous a notion) as it may sound, I do often feel that my body lets me know what it 'wants' or needs to smell. My daily perfume choices are not always guided by logic, but often by little pangs of scent-specific hunger: "I need something with patchouli today" or "I need to smell vanilla". Aside from notes and accords, I also find myself craving a certain family (a gourmand, a chypre...) or even a particular perfume, sending me to rummage in my sample bags for the matching little phial.

During these past 3 weeks of intense exam preparation and endless studying I found myself once again experiencing perfume cravings of unprecedented intensity. It all started out with a generalized craving for a gourmand scent with a hefty dose of vanilla, but nothing I had handy seemed like it would do. Serendipitously, I decided to do a side by side comparison of the original L’Instant which I already knew I hated, with the newer L’Instant Magic, a sample of which I had I recently received with a purchase. Ten minutes later, the original absolutely had to be scrubbed off as usual, but the flanker was pleasant enough to stay, if not immediately interesting enough to grab my attention and hold me in its thrall. Quietly and unassumingly however, it worked its...magic, hitting all the right spots. It was exactly what I needed, what I was craving for and didn’t yet know. I got so hooked on this little beauty, I felt I had to have some on my skin every day while studying. That first sample didn’t make it through the week, and I had to nicely ask the dbf to “Please, please go get me a sample” twice, as if it was laced with crack.

So what’s L’Instant Magic like? Delicious, seductive, comforting and exactly the type of thing I normally wouldn’t give the time of day to, especially since it is most definitely not what I expect from a Guerlain. Even though it is supposed to be a completely different fragrance from the original L’Instant, its lineage is surprisingly easy to discern. It is as if there is this very obvious red thread running through it, unequivocally connecting it to its sister: That powdery floral character that is L’Instant’s signature, threads itself like a precious vein through L’Instant Magic making it instantly recognizable as a member of the family once it is discerned. But whereas it is this very same characteristic I find oppressing and deeply uncomfortable in the original, I find myself being seduced by it in Magic. This time it is rendered lightly, with an air of improbable femininity and has the softness of a caress. The fact that it is only part of the supporting cast and not the star makes a huge difference as well. Finally, I can appreciate it. But truly, the best thing about L’Instant Magic is its incredible almond-vanilla combo that has brought me to the brink of addiction. It manages to do something that very few gourmands can: through its amazing warmth and sweetness, L’Instant Magic still manages to somehow sparkle with bright effervescence. The result is that while it retains all the seductive, mysterious characteristics of an oriental and all the bubblegum-vixen traits of a gourmand, it is also cheery and carefree. Most importantly, even though it is very clearly a comforting, linear scent, its genius lies in the fact that it retains an abstracted quality that makes it veer far away from ever becoming foody. Instead, it remains both feminine and sophisticated in character.


Vetivresse said...


Tag! You're It. Lucy from Indie Perfumes tagged me, and now I'm tagging you, one of my favorite blogs.

So, here’s the protocol:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Six random things about me:

1. I am a lover of organ music (Bach, Widor, Franck, Dupré and Messiaen, especially).
2. I speak French and German, in addition to my native English.
3. I, too, am a compulsive reader. I like subways for that reason. For some reason, I can never read in cabs or town cars.
4. A couple of times a year, I fetishize the ritual of consuming of a very good dry-aged steak with an excellent bottle of wine. Otherwise, I keep a near-abstemious monastic regime.
5. I have never eaten an ortolan and consider myself the poorer for it.
6. I am planning a trek along the Silk Road in 2010, provided my country re-educates itself in the art of diplomacy just a wee, teensy bit.

Now for some favorite blogs:

Grain de Musc
The Moment
Fragrance Bouquet
Perfume Shrine
The Sartorialist

Enjoy being It!

maisqueperfume said...

I also choose my daily scent according to cravings, but I call them differently.
I wear perfume according to the mood or atmosphere - reality i want to create.
In a very cold, gray, depressing day, when everybody take it as an opportunity for dense fragrance, i wear Summer by Kenzo, because i like to create an aura around me that takes me to a shinier day.I also wear Tommy Girl by Hilfiger to bring back my youth less stress memories.
I wear Channel t feel like a Diva etc...
But unfortunately, i have chocolate cravings and PMS cravings for sweets. it is real, not something I like to create.
these days, make me wonder if a gourmet perfume will do the trick :;-)
kisses, Simone

Anonymous said...

Hi Divina,

Just recently discovered your blog and very much enjoy your writing. About cravings for a particular scent; not strange at all. As with food or indeed scent our bodies also tell us what we may need mentally. Next to reading about perfume (and sniffing and buying of course) I also like to read about aromatherapy because I too noticed the craving for particular scents. Maybe it can give you some more insight as wel.
Keep up the blogging!!


The Daily Connoisseur said...

Hi Divina- best of luck with your exams!

I find that I crave different families more than certain notes... probably because my nose isn't quite as refined as I'd like it to be... lol...

L'Instant Magic sounds fantastic- thanks for the review!

Linda said...

Dear Divina,
I hope that your exams go really well and that you gain the highest accolades! I so agree with you about perfume cravings: and like you I was very unimpressed by the original L'Instant. I have sniffed L'Instant Magic and now want to try again after your great review. The words "feminine and sophisticated" appeal to me!
Today I'm craving Chamade...

Bobby said...

Hi Divina

I'm glad to stumble upon your blog. Very interesting how we really sometimes crave for a certain scents, and sometimes want to stay away from a particular scents as well.


Make Homemade Fragrances

marchlion said...

Oooh, I want it!!! Will definitely keep an eye out for the almond-vanilla love. And I think the bottle's pretty too.

Abigail said...

Scent cravings - oh, yeah! All the time. This fall I've been craving a lot of patchouli, earthy woods and dry spices, hence I'm wearing Chanel Coromandel this week.
Yes...I often feel like I have a crack-perfume addiction LOL :-D
L'Instant wasn't a scrubber for me - but it was simply "meh."
L'Instant Magic, as you've described it, sounds lovely. I usually like the vanilla-almond combo - so it sounds like something I need to check out.
And the bottle looks purdy.

Divina said...

Hey Christopher! You can check out my own answers in the entry just below this one :) Thanks for thinking of me!

Divina said...

Simone! Hi! Yeah, what you described is exactly what I do when I don't have cravings.. I think of the mood, or what I want to 'radiate' and choose carefully. But sometimes, I get these cravings that have no logic or planning behind them!

Divina said...

Linda, I'm happy you found your way to my blog! I hope to see you here often :) Yes! You are so right! Your comment about aromatherapy made me think of... well this will probably sound strange, but I found it almost miraculous: an animal behaviorist who works a lot with aromatherapy. She uses different essential oils according to the problem behavior of the animal and what is even more stunning is that it actually works! I hope to learn more about it, especially from my friend Simone who writes Mais Que Parfume.

Divina said...

Daily, the more you sniff and the more you keep busy with perfume, the more discerning the nose gets!

Divina said...

My dearest dearest Linda, it's so good to see you here again :) Yes, the original L'Instant really is a scrubber for me. It also reminds me a little bit of Kenzo's flower, which I also can't stand. They both have this really oppressing flowery powderiness that makes me gag. Chamade is such a wonderful, wonderful choice. I am not sure L'Instant Magic can compete with the older Guerlains in terms of sophistication, but it is definitely very refined for a gourmand scent!


Divina said...

Bobby, yeah I have the same, sometimes it indeed works in reverse and I just can't even imagine wearing a particular scent. That can be frustrating when you feel like you're wearing the perfect outfit for a particular perfume but just can't bring yourself to wearing it.

Divina said...

March, is it not out in the US yet? Yeah, this bottle is really pretty, but unfortunately it is just the limited edition bottle. The normal one is plainer, basically the same as the L'Instant bottle but outlined in black.

Divina said...

Hey Abigail! Do you have any more vanilla-almond suggestions for me? Not Hypnotic Poison however, cause it is one of my most hated scents, lol!

Abigail said...

Actually I used to *think* I loved Hypnotic Poison but I've come to admit I don't like it either. It's too sweet/cloying and plasticy.

CARON Farnesiana is a gorgeous almondy fragrance. I don't think it contains almond as a note but the overall scent is almondy. And it's not sweet/foody at all. I love this one.
Ava Luxe Loukhoum is also a nice almondy scent. It's similar to SL Loukhoum and Keiko Mecheri Loukhoum but a bit less sweet and more nutty.
Hanae Mori Butterfly (the blue butterfly concentration) is a sweet yet still delightful floral/vanilla/almond. It's delicate but can be strong and tenacious so I apply lightly.
L'Artisan Bois Farine is an interesting scent. It mostly smells like fresh bread with nutty/almond hints. It's not very sweet either which is nice.
There are many others but I'm only mentioning the one's I personally like ;-)

Ash said...

Hi Divina,

The same thing happened to me, I picked up L'Instant Magic bottle at a duty free store two days ago, and spreayed it on a card.. and I could not stop smelling it. I don't know what it was... but I really could not put it down.
I just knew I had to have it. So went shopping for it yesterday. Now now happily wearing it.