I had tried and really liked the current formulation, but did not need that much juice, so I hesitated purchasing. About a week ago, I found one of the older 30 ml bottles that were made in the Louis the XVI style bottle (mine was sealed and in a zebra box, so likely from the 80's, though possibly later).
I really LOVE the scent now! It seems brighter (if that could be possible) and the lavender is less heavy (at least that is my impression). Longevity is still an "issue" but as it was never meant to last, I don't really consider it a factor. Projection is minimal, making it a rather personal or intimate scent, perfect to enjoy for the sake of its pleasure, or for the sultriest of summer days.
Of the Guerlain fragrances I own this is probably my least favorite. It is nice enough just nothing spectacular IMHO. Nice enough for spring / summer wear to the office. The scent is not offensive. Fleeting projection and longevity.
This is an exquisite lime-based eau de cologne housed in an exquisite bottle that fades depressingly quickly. I spray this on hard (12-15 times on skin and clothes) and the scent might last two hours. Because of the terrible longevity, I cannot recommend Eau de Cologne Imperiale over comparable (in price and style) scents that last longer or otherwise perform better. Said another way, Eau de Cologne Imperiale does not hold a candle to Eau de Guerlain, which can be obtained at the same price point, packaged in a similar bottle, and lasts 8-10 hours with 3-6 sprays. Nor can Imperiale compete with Santa Maria Novella's signature scent or Aqua di Sicilia, both of which are EDCs like Imperiale, but which last leagues better.
After a few wearings, I think Imperiale's best use may be as a fragrance to layer with others. I've used it to brighten Smell Bent's Dark Green Citrus (a Frankensmellie) and Santa Maria Novella's Verbena (the combination smells quite a bit like Eau de Guerlain), and I've enjoyed these combinations better than I enjoy Imperiale by itself.
EDC Imperiale is a pleasant enough cologne that is pretty reminiscent of 4711, but not quite as astringent. The opening is sweet and sour citrus, much like a lemon lime soda with a hint of spice in the background. It was never meant to last very long or to have any significant sillage, but just as a refresher for the wearer. It's easily unisex, and pretty interesting IMO just from a historical standpoint, but it has such limited use when there are so many more better performing options that fit the bright, clean and refreshing category.
EdC Impériale has no floral component but the coumarin in the base leans it of he feminine side. This adds a dash of sweet powderiness and lends it a soft luxurious feel.
Coumarin doesn't overcome the problem of cologne's short longevity, but as the only known solution is white musk I'd rather just reapply this.
02nd July, 2015 (last edited: 19th February, 2016)
This is one of the finest eau de colognes you will find today.
The classic formula of bergamot, neroli, verbena, lemon and orange are supported in the dry down by lavender with cedar and tonka providing a warm woody vanilla base.
The addition of citrus-smelling herbs (bergamot, verbena) and flowers (neroli) to the basic lemon and orange pure citrus scents ups the ante and the lavender secures the scent, but discreetly never overpowers its delicacy.
An improvement over their original eau de cologne and the preferable of the two to add to your scent library.