Good things come to those that wait, right? Upon its release in December 2008 to 'friends of Guerlain' (read: those that spend a LOT in the boutiques), I could only sigh and hope that someday a bottle of 180 Ans would grace my shelf. Last year I jumped on the chance to pay nearly $30 for a tiny 1.5ml decant from TPC when they first offered it. Nearly a year and half later, a little bit of luck has put a full bottle of 180 Ans on my shelf. It's not the same as receiving it as a gift from La Maison, but I can enjoy the fragrance nonetheless.
As Mr. Guerlain describes, 180 Ans presents the Guerlinade accord. Unlike most Guerlain perfumes containing the accord, in 180 Ans it is front and center from application through the base instead of only being a basenote accord. Various notes accompany the Guerlinade through 180's stages of development On application one experiences Guerlinade with a strong dose of tonka, almond, and a hint of citrus underneath. The subtle citrus fades fairly quickly, and there is a floral heart that gives some breadth the Guerlinade. I wouldn't have initially noticed the orange blossom in the heart, but a later fragrance* has allowed me to pick up on the orange blossom that enhances 180. The drydown is pure Guerlinade, a la Shalimar/Jicky/MdM. Although there's not a whole lot of sillage (which would clearly be inappropriate for such a delicate scent), the longevity is incredible and a couple sprays easily last 8-10 hours. 180 Ans really comes into its own when worn (as opposed to just sampled), and like Cologne du 68 the intricacy one smells when closely examined gives way to a wonderful overall aroma surrounding the wearer.
* In January 2010 Guerlain released Tonka Imperiale into the L'Art et la Matiere line. Smelling Tonka Imperiale, I immediately draw the connection to 180 Ans, to the point where I almost get the sense that 180 Ans was the basis on which Tonka Imperiale was created - the starting point of sorts. Tonka Imperiale is certainly much more potent with a rich, boozy tonka/orange blossom accord laid over a Guerlinade base. It does not have the subtlety or delicacy of 180 Ans, but they are certainly related perfumes.
The ultimate celebratory act of Guerlain's 180th anniversary year was Jean-Paul Guerlain's creation of a non-commercial perfume gift offered to loyal customers and people within the industry. Simply called 180 Ans de Créations 1828-2008, this Eau de Parfum composition is quite simple: It represents what is perhaps the purest and most stripped down form of the famous Guerlinade accord ever produced by Guerlain: bergamot, jasmine, orange blossom, vetiver, tonka bean, amber and vanilla. The only "modern notes" are grapefruit, pink pepper and musk - respectively adding a bitter-sweet, spicy and soft skin-like touch to the otherwise very powdery fragrance. It's presented in the square Elixirs Charnels bottle decorated with an elegant strip of metal bearing the perfume's name.