Mon Guerlain, Envisioning Notes of a Woman

20th March, 2017


Thierry Wasser

I recently met up with Guerlain Master Perfumer, Thierry Wasser at the Guerlain Boutique, Toronto, Canada, to explore the back story and fragrance notes for the launch of, Mon Guerlain and subsequent relationship with actress, Angelina Jolie.

Curious to know how this partnership came about and just how active Jolie was with the scent, his answer was curiously refreshing and intriguing. The fragrance had already been created by Wasser in his image of a Guerlain woman and his experiences. Unbeknownst to him, in 2015 the CEO and President of Guerlain S.A., Laurent Boillet sought out Jolie in Cambodia where she was working on her latest movie “First, they killed my father”. The marriage of Wasser’s vision and the actress was exact. Her beauty, strength and international humanitarism was a natural draw for the house with the proviso that her fee be donated to charity.

Her instant approval of the fragrance was met with great optimism and her hands-on involvement thereon in, with the selection of packaging, flacon and ad campaign, which she insisted upon should be shot and stylized in the South of France involved her complete input and direction on just about every facet, participation and message. It was a natural fit.

Her choice of flacon is based on the original quadrilobe, four-lobed bottle cap created by Gabriel Guerlain in 1908 in Baccarat crystal which appealed to her aesthetics and was reworked into a modern version yet still retaining the elegance of bygone flaconnage. Also available to collectors, Mon Guerlain can also be decanted and engraved into your choice of Baccarat Bee bottles as well.

Mon Guerlain is an Oriental Fresh and was developed by Wasser as a manifesto brand. Each accord or note has significance based on his travels around the world and his observations socially and culturally with women.

The scent has top notes of fresh bergamot to greet the nose. The heart, Carla Lavender Wasser describes as “a scream of truth, a ray of light, a genuine floracy” in lavender that he became addicted to. He discovered this unusual lavender odour through a House, Baume des Anges where the scent is mostly used in the culinary world. He describes the rows upon rows of French lavender commonly used in Aix en Provence as hybrids but Carla derives its’ scent from various species of lavender that might possess white and pink, pink and purple along with purple and green flowers which are generated by a multitude of individual genetic seeds giving off multi-facets to the odour. By distilling at lower temperatures at 60˚ – 70˚F as opposed to 100˚- 120˚F, the oil becomes richer and has more tonality without being harmed.

To this is the added note of Paradisone for a unique floracy. His relationship with India has become a great part of his work for sourcing and growing. This usually involves Sambac jasmine for other Guerlain fragrances such as Samsara and Shalimar. The significance personally and socially in the use of Sambac jasmine and women across India can’t be denied. Garlands of jasmine flowers are worn around the neck, through the hair and as offerings in temples and special occasions. It is ingrained in Indian life and in the air, and to Wasser is not just another lovely perfumer’s note in perfumery which took on a bigger social impact to the perfumer who spends a great deal of time with the production teams and manufacturing plants there for extended periods of time.

The addition of coumarin and orris notes in the heart enrich the floracy with beautiful green overtones.

Mon Guerlain
The base of sandalwood though takes on new significance. Once grown in India and was over harvested from Bangalore to the point that India could no longer provide the hearty genus Santalom Album any longer; all eyes turned to Australia and their sandalwood harvest of Santalom Spicatum which has it’s own scent properties.

It was only a few years ago when Wasser was informed the government of Western Australia selected a very large lake to sew cotton plants, rice, mango and Sandalwood Trees through an irrigation initiative in the NorthWest part of Australia. One little known fact was that those very Sandalwood trees were transplanted from the Indian Santalom Album species and were grown to service the aromatics industries but to Wasser, this was like finding a treasured long lost family member. The ability to continue the Guerlain tradition of Indian sandalwood is a great coup and tradition for the House. Wasser views this scent as “resistance and strength” of a woman.

Says Wasser, with “the maternal notes” of Tahitensis vanilla reflect Motherhood and nurturing. The scent is complex with hidden meanings behind the choice of each accord. The fact that Jolie understood and related to all the dynamics and approved without any changes, speaks to a great partnership. Jolie calls Mon Guerlain her “Invisible Tattoo” which is apparent in the video literally and visually. A nice touch.

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About the author: Marian Bendeth

Marian Bendeth is a Global Fragrance Expert based out of Toronto, Canada. Marian has won six fragrance industry editorial awards for her writing. You can find out more on her website



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      • gandhajala | 21st March 2017 10:08

        Thanks for this.

        I know I'm being pernickety, but the piece would benefit from proofreading.

        For example:

        Its = possessive, not it's nor its'.

        The genus is Santalum not Santalom (thrice).

        The verb meaning 'to plant seeds' is 'sow' not 'sew'.

        The word 'Trees' is unnecessarily capitalised in paragraph 10.

      • saminlondon | 21st March 2017 10:57

        Not to mention the bizarre punctuation. It needs a proper edit. (This is no way intended to do down the content, but the piece would be so much easier to digest if properly presented.)

      • hednic | 21st March 2017 11:50

        Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

      • Scarce | 21st March 2017 12:19

        More underwhelming nonsense from Guerlain. A sales associate noted my eye-rolling when sampling.

      • epapsiou | 21st March 2017 15:14

        I think they bought the algorithm from Dior. They just ask machine to make a fragrance that would sell.

        I am sure this will be a hit like Sauvage and house of Guerlain will be officially done (if not already).

        Garland of Jasmine and Sandalwood from India. Really??? If Thierry has ever been to India and bought a Garland of jasmine or SW - Mon is not what he would make.

        Maternal Notes!!

        This is a great example of Emperor's New Clothes. And unfortunately, it will work.


        Thanks for the article Marian. Sorry for the rant

      • Funwithfrags | 21st March 2017 18:11

        I had a quick sniff the other day. It reminded me of l'Homme Ideal.

      • Redneck Perfumisto | 21st March 2017 19:00

        Yes - agreed - big thanks. There is a very interesting contrast with Marian's prior Guerlain/Wasser interview that I loved. I will be re-reading this one to wrap my head around it, because I think it says something important - perhaps about this launch in particular, but perhaps also about Guerlain in general at this point.

        While I am pretty sure I'll like this one, I get your point about the jasmine. The last scandalously Indian jasmine I smelled was Sikkim Girls. Admittedly that sort of thing is way out of bounds for Guerlain, but it really does make me yearn for Guerlain to simply do something "Guerlain scandalous". Even if just a flanker bone thrown to us yapping dogs. "Credibility flanker"! Yes - there's a concept! ;-)

        A very insightful article, too. It's fascinating to see how Guerlain uses the kid gloves with a star as big as Jolie.

      • Cevenol | 22nd March 2017 03:08

        It reminds me of L'homme ideal too, but I like this better, it's actually quite nice but I wish the sweetness had been dialed down a good few notches.

        Quite unisex to my nose

      • Beck | 22nd March 2017 03:21

        I thought they would cover-up all her tattoos. Hahaha. The ad makes we believe the work of a perfumer is like that. I used to think about it imagining Jean-Claude Ellena making perfumes in a summer bungalow in the garden of his house during a cool spring day, surrounded by flasks of essential oils, pipettes, vats, containers, pencil, notepads, atomizers, tester strips... LOL. The reality has nothing to do with this. If it had I guess I would become a perfumer.

      • jujy54 | 5th April 2017 05:26

        "Oriental Fresh"? I'm not biting.

      • donna255 | 5th April 2017 12:40

        Had a chat with the manager of my local House of Fraser about it last week.

        He said its selling like mad, over 50 bottles in the first week of release and no sign of slowing down.

        I find it harmless(I don't hate it or love it. But might wear it), so all I am saying the flankers are already lining up.

      • epapsiou | 5th April 2017 12:45

        Not surprised that it is selling well. It seems crowd pleasing and quality might be orthogonal these days