Thursday, June 25, 2009

For the Love of Perfume, Fashion and All That is Fabulous: Paris (Part 2)

There’s nothing like the first couple of days when visiting a foreign country: energy levels are at their highest, spirits are buoyant (the reality of how short the visit truly is not having kicked in), everything is new and possibilities are endless. After our sunny walk at Rue Cler and its surrounding streets, we headed to the metro because I couldn’t wait to walk along the Champs Elysées once again. It is hard for me to write about Guerlain in the midst of the current Guerlain/LVMH crisis in the blogosphere, but then again denying the fact that I most definitely had Guerlain on my mind as the first programmed stop of the day would be an outright lie. I can’t in good honesty write this perfume/travelogue without mentioning my visit there.

I felt like skipping and hopping as we emerged from the Roosevelt metro stop and I saw all the familiar surroundings, etched lively to my memory since my prior visit. I almost run into Guerlain fully intending to buy Attrape-Coer, with which I had fallen in love with last time, and to explore all the new releases. I do not know whether it was my imagination or simply a change in taste since my acquaintance with Attrape-Coer had been all too brief, but it seemed different this time around. Gone was the magic; it failed to give me goose bumps. (I’ll need to get a decant of this and explore further, or simply buy the vintage) This might be disappointing but I also have good news to share: In my review of another of Les Parisiennes, Philtre d’Amour, I had mentioned that I did not know how the re-released version compares and that my review was based on the pre-2000 version. Well, I have great news. What is currently on offer at the Guerlain boutique smells exactly like my own juice smells like. Further good news: even though I wasn’t moved (at all) by Les Secrets de Sophie, I well liked the fruity-gourmand layers of La Petite Robe Noire. The little black dress sounded kind of ditzy with its superfluous sounding berries, fruit, violet and all manner of gourmand notes like vanilla, almond and licorice and my perception was probably not helped by the bottle (which I still do not like), but once I smelled it I was a believer. This complex beauty is every bit Guerlain and will satisfy customers of all ages. Surprisingly, despite all the fruit and all the pastry-like notes crammed into it, LPRN manages to actually smell sophisticated and elegant, not least of all because there is a ‘thorny spike’ somewhere in there, keeping everything in balance, forbidding the juice from ever becoming saccharine. This little black dress sniffs at flats and wears heels proudly.

Mon Precieux Nectar, a super expensive (6000 euro a pop expensive), super exclusive (reportedly only around 60 of those will be sold worldwide) new release by the venerable house available in 1 liter fountains left me completely cold, even after two skin tests (I had to give this a chance and smell it with a completely ‘clean’ nose, considering I probably won’t get another chance soon). According to tidbits I’d read here and there, this was supposed to be a gourmand, but at the house of Guerlain this was clearly marked as a ‘musky floral’ which matched my own experience with it. Now don’t get me wrong: this stuff is beautiful - but 100-euro beautiful, NOT 6000 euro beautiful. Would I have bought it were it indeed sold in smaller bottles and priced differently? No, I still wouldn’t have. It’s not me and it is not really special. Beautiful yes, unique and special? No. It is a very well blended quiet floral on a bed of deep honeyed musk and it goes on, practically unchanging for about six hours. Then it disappears in a whisper.

I was much, much more impressed by Les Voyages Olfactifs and in particular by Moscou and New York. Tokyo was fresh and rather insipid, I did not give it much of a chance (read: skin space) since it really wasn’t my thing when sniffed on paper. New York is a beautiful woody oriental with plenty of edible notes to keep me interested while I am going through my current gourmand kick, but Moscou really is where the money’s at. If you can imagine the most perfect marshmallow, precious and created by the most genius pastry chef ever, this would be it. Plush, fluffy, soft-as-clouds, sweet and yet barely there, hugging the skin in the gentlest, loveliest smelling sheath, this is very much in the spirit of Guerlain, a bridge between old and new. It is not rich and opulent –heavy if you will- like old Guerlains, but it most definitely stays true to the house’s devotion to the oriental theme. Its beauty, as a matter of fact, comes from its delicious softness. I could almost describe it as a skin scent, for it melds so well with the skin, yet it projects magically and invisibly like a halo, creating a beautiful aura.

My quest for the “one vanilla” led me to the L'Art et la Matiere line to try Spiritueuse Double Vanille, the only one of the seven which I had not yet tried. Unfortunately, albeit beautiful this was not the vanilla I was looking for, especially as it seemed that its vanilla ‘essence’ seemed to be spirited away with the passage of time. Compared side by side on skin with Cuir Beluga this impression intensified, due to the fact that Cuir Beluga is –against all odds- far more true to a lasting vanilla than Spiritueuse Double Vanille! In fact, if I’m honest, Cuir Beluga was probably the “one vanilla”. But I didn’t buy it, regretfully, fool that I am. Next time. Lastly, I moved to Les Elixirs Charnels which left a positive impression but did not make the earth move (more exploration is necessary here). The one I tested most extensively was (unsurprisingly, given the aforementioned gourmand kick) Gourmand Coquin which was nice, but not really me. The bottle is absolutely beautiful and the color of the juice delightful, awakening all that’s girly inside me (not that that’s so hard), but I was left with the feeling that it is not as deep or complex as I would like and moreover, that it would suit someone in their teenage years far better. The reason for this is that the predominant notes (along with vanilla and ethyl maltol) are chocolate and strawberry, the latter being quite irritating and ever-present, despite the fact that it does not smell synthetic or obnoxious. (…to be Continued)

Part 3 will be here on Monday!

Images: View of the city from atop the Printemps, La Petite Robe Noire, Hummingbird and Nectar (via, Gourmand Coquin


PinstripedZebra said...

I love to see a write-up of a trip, especially one I was on too!

Interesting to see your interpretation of the visit to Guerlain, i was interested in the gold walls and the architecture and of course your main interest was the juices!

I can't wait for the third installment!


Jenavira13 said...

I had the exact same experience with SDV and Cuir Beluga.

waftbyCarol said...

Welcome back
Soak your feet in Epsom Salts
Big Hugs
I bought FB Cuir Beluga and gave it to my Mom Shes the vanilla girl and loved it

Anonymous said...

I havent smelled any of these and you make them sound so wonderful! Is Moscow really that good?


Divina said...

Psssssshhh Z! I remember you loving the Habit Rouge! *laughs* :)

Divina said...

Oh, Jen I hope that the similarity of the experience is limited to matters olfactive and not foolishness in not buying Cuir Beluga and then regretting it!!!

Divina said...

Hello my dearest Carol! A very lucky mom! I definitely see Cuir Beluga in my future. Wonder if I can find it in London?

Divina said...

Christine, Moscow is the fluffiest, softest wonder I've smelled in ages. It is absolutely wondrous and simply divine. I can't rave enough about it!

Suzanne said...

Welcome back, Divina. Your writing is always so full of gladness, and it's especially evident here...I can tell that you had the absolutely best time in Paris! Looking forward to your next installment!

Ines said...

I am so jealous! :) Especially since I haven't tried any of the mentioned fragrances - I like your take on the LPRN, what else I've read of it, many were not very happy with it (not to say disappointed).
Can't wait to see what comes next.

Divina said...

Hi Suzanne! Thank you so much :) And you are totally right, in fact I am still buzzing from my visit. It seems like yesterday!

Divina said...

Ines, hi dear! LPNR impressed me with its complexity and sophistication. It really is a very good fragrance imho. There is lots more to share, I'm glad you're back and commenting again. How was your time at the seaside? I hope the weather played nice!