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 freerangestock.com, Gourmand Coquin