View RSS Feed

De Fragrante Delectatio

Guerlain Elixirs Charnels: reviews

Rate this Entry
Synopsis: It seems, along with the new Homme, that Guerlain is hoping to appeal to a much broader audience with its latest releases. None of these three are quirky or unusual, none of them are at any risk of alienating anybody, but they will each definitely appeal to a large chunk of the market. So I have to wonder: why aren't they priced to appeal to a large chunk of the market? I mean, they're more expensive than the Serge Lutens exclusifs, more expensive than the Hermessences. They should be knock-down, drag-out gorgeous, but they're not - though they are eminently wearable.

(Italicized descriptions taken from Perfume Shrine.)

Chypre Fatal
"is geared towards the Hitchcockian heroine, a femme fatale with a disposition to match. Its intense sillage, full of confidence announces a fiery heart under an exterior of icy demeanor. To make this woman unforgettable the composition is lightly woody and spicy, softened with lappings of the infamous Guerlain vanilla and white peach."
Notes: white peach, rose, patchouli, vanilla

Chypre? This begins as a definite fruity-floral (gee, it must be the peach and rose!). It reminds me of Guerlain's own Cherry Blossom, but really, it might just as easily remind you of any other in the genre. Actually, I think I may be flashing back to one of the Harajuku Lovers set from Gwen Stefani. After about 4 hours the peach has mostly faded away and it becomes much more obviously a chypre, with rose, à la Rose Barbare; also, the patchouli and vanilla start to peek out. They gradually become more and more prominent, leaving the drydown rather firmly in "oriental" territory.

Gourmand Coquin
"aimed at producing the playful innocence of the woman-child, who might be not so innocent after all, is playing on two terrains, with notes of chocolate, piquant pepper, soft vanillic rose and lively rhum. First impressions are hinting at a profusion of chocolate which was only hinted at in Iris Ganache, last year's Guerlain gourmand, producing a very rich and sensual composition."
Notes: black pepper, rose, rum, chocolate.

Yes, rum and spices - dessert spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg, with just a touch of (pink?) pepper - plus chocolate. It strikes me as a cross between Spiritueuse Double Vanille and Ambre Narguile, two of the best-loved niche gourmands of the last few years, with an added element of something almost doughy, so that it puts me in mind of cinnamon buns. You'd think that since I love both SDV and AN to pieces, I'd be all over this, but I don't think I love it quite as much as either of them (although I might have given it five stars if neither of them existed). The fragrance loses some of its shape and distinctiveness as time goes on; it's as if the bun starts off baked, and gradually un-bakes over time. This becomes quite noticeable by the 4-hour mark. It's still lovely, though, and my pick for winner of the trio. Very Christmasy, too.

Oriental Brûlant
"is composed for those women who produce an instant reaction to men, that is them loosening up their ties. This soft oriental is evoking the colour red and is sensual and feline to the extreme in its ambience, with its warm tonka beans and the soft caress of soft almonds. The impression is one of a soft and appealing oriental à la manière Guerlain."
Notes: clementine, almond, tonka beans, vanilla

This was the one I was most excited to try, based on the notes. For the first hour or so, the 4 repetitions of the word "soft" in the above paragraph are not overdoing it in the slightest. It starts off with clementine and a very powdery, sweet almond (think Profumum Confetto) predominating. The powdery sweetness reminds me a little bit of Turkish Delight, without actually smelling anything like Turkish Delight - it's more like the mood of Turkish Delight. In its sweet softness it also smells reminiscent of the discontinued Aqua Allegoria Lavande Velours. After about an hour the powdery sweetness starts to recede, leaving a drier almond, with vanilla just beginning to come through. Two hours after that, the tonka bean has established itself, taking the scent into fairly straightforward, almond-gourmand territory. Over the following 2-3 hours the almond gradually fades, leaving a fairly simple, sweet vanilla/tonka base.

I find this neither oriental nor brûlant. Where are the amber, resins and spices that we've come to expect from any fragrance calling itself "oriental"? This is a straightforward gourmand almond/vanilla with nothing particularly exciting going on. Decent enough, but really, I would expect more from Guerlain - and for the price!

Updated 22nd January 2009 at 02:32 PM by kopah

Guerlain , Reviews


  1. JaimeB's Avatar
    Personally, I lean toward Gourmand Coquin, too. I bought Chypre Fatal, and ended up a little disappointed in it. Oriental Brûlant is a little thin, too. On the whole, this series is a little too minimalist for my taste, but it's not bad, either, especially if your taste runs in a more modern vein...
    Updated 21st November 2008 at 05:09 AM by JaimeB
  2. analavande's Avatar
    Thank you for an insightful review of Les Elixirs Charnels series. I am a 'Guerlain gal' but, I have only sampled Gourmand Coquin. Your descriptions of Chypre Fatal
    After about 4 hours the peach has mostly faded away and it becomes much more obviously a chypre, with rose, à la Rose Barbare; also, the patchouli and vanilla start to peek out.
    and Oriental Brulant
    In its sweet softness it also smells reminiscent of the discontinued Aqua Allegoria Lavande Velours.
    have persuaded me to sample those as well. Despite the cost, I think they are worth having in my collection...eventually.


Total Trackbacks 0
Trackback URL:

Loving perfume on the Internet since 2000