If Apres L'Ondee captured the moment just after a heavy shower in summertime, L'Heure Bleue is the same scene after the sun has gone down. It's opening bristles with spices and the scents of warm earth, but this is lightened by a cool breeze, carrying the scent of iris and rose. Somehow it manages to be both dramatic and serene, and is probably the most evocative perfume I have ever come across.
I recognise this, as I've smelled it a thousand times before but I never really noticed it. That says it all really. It's quite nice, but so what?
Vol de Nuit is often described as a green perfume, but for me it's more autumnal, like brown leaves. Once the opening fades, the sweet suede-like vanillic base takes over, until what remains after several hours is a glorious dry resin. While this in itself is wonderful, it's not the most amazing thing about this perfume. The real magic is an unbelievably delicate aura that seems to appear out of nowhere just when it seems the perfume is fading. This happens very quietly and without any drama -which makes it all the more breathtaking. It's like glancing across a room to discover someone who is utterly ravishing but doesn't know it. No histrionics, no posing, just pure understated loveliness.
Some perfumes make me smile, but I happily move on to something else the next day on my quest for another masterpiece. Then there are those that become an important part of my life. I have a lasting relationship with Mitsouko, still I'm not really sure what it smells like. Sometimes it's a delicate veil of almond and pepper, sometimes it's a dark wood of a mysterious temple, and sometimes it's what I think molten gold should smell like.
For me Mitsouko has so many faces, and I know I haven't discovered all of them yet. As soon as I think I have it pinned down, something catches me off guard and I discover a new perfume. Mitsouko got me interested in women's perfumery. One day while absentmindedly browsing a Guerlain counter I happened to pick up a bottle, and the exquisitely delicate balance of contrasting notes did something to me. I've been hunting for another Misouko ever since, and while I have since found quite a few perfumes that I couldn't live without, Mitsouko has a unique place in the perfume firmament.
Can a perfume tell a story? There are countless theories about the way the sense of smell is tied up with memory, but with Narcisse Noir there is something I don't understand. It reminds me of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. It really conjures up the atmosphere of old Hollywood films, but as I only smelled the perfume recently, and never met an old-school Hollywood femme fatale, there can't be any memory that Narcisse Noir triggers whenever I smell it. Still, it just seems to fit my image of this other world, and it just so happens that it was the perfume Norma Desmond drenched herself with as she made the transition from the glamorous to the grotesque. Indeed actress Gloria Swanson is said to have had the Sunset Boulevard set sprayed with the stuff, so it must have had a similar effect on her.
Now I'm sure if I could trace back all of the scents I have ever smelled throughout my life as well as the complex of associations I have made with them, it would become clear why this perfume presents itself to me the way it does. Still, I can’t imagine how I could possibly interpret its bold mix of coppery tones over a dank spicy base as anything other than the dark edgy side of glamour from a bygone age. Maybe I'm suggestible, or maybe Narcisse Noir actually is a film noir in a bottle.
There is a central stylistic theme running through the classic Chanel perfumes. Yes there are recognisable notes and recurrent themes that coalesce to create the Chanel style, but to me it is something of a mystery –it’s not really about identifying notes. With No.22 however, that broad style has been refined into something tangible -as though Ernest Beaux discovered the Chanel flower and extracted its essence. I am at a loss to understand how a human being could have thought this up. Genius.
Perfume is a very important part of my life. When a special occasion is coming up, I don't really spend much time thinking about what clothes I am going to wear, but I do think about my scent. The problem is that the fragrance ends up commanding my attention over everything else. but there are times when I just want to smell fantastic, and that's when I choose New York.
If I were ever nominated for an Oscar or a Nobel Prize, I would probably spend a lot of time trying to choose the perfect scent for the occasion -but at the last minute I might just end up reaching for New York. It's my default choice for a special occasion -unassuming, elegant and always perfect -whether it's part of my grand plan or not.
There is a very obvious similarity between the perfumes created by Ernest Beaux, and in particular between Cuir de Russie and Bois des Îles. While both perfumes are centred on very different notes (leather and sandalwood respectively), these defining notes are placed in a very similar setting. As BdI progresses, and the sandalwood becomes more prominent, it begins to resemble No.5, but in this case the fragrance takes on an almost edible sweetness. This is the emergence of the so-called gingerbread note for which this perfume is famous. I am not particularly interested in gourmand notes, so I didn't expect this to be a highlight of the fragrance. However, I found it disarmingly beautiful -one of the great miracles in perfumery. I stopped thinking at that point...
I love Ulysse. It's a beautifully balanced fragrance, with green and powdery facets counterbalancing each other. It has a texture like the frosted glass on the bottle, and if worn in moderation is both delicate and sensual.
I think Cool Water is the perfect link between the '80s power scent and its aquatic '90s equivalent. I often wonder how different things would have been had it flopped. I love it, but it's a shame that the genre it inspired was so awful.
I am giving this a thumbs up, because I owe Chrome a debt of gratitude -it's the fragrance that started my obsession. When I first smelled this I was blown away. It seemed so cool like metal, yet it was downright gorgeous. It was instant adoration, and I felt so sophisticated wearing it. Then, one day, everything changed. All of a sudden my nose smelled something else. It was as if the bottle had turned, but the fault was my nose. I got another bottle but it didn't make any difference -I could no longer smell Chrome the way I used to. I'm over it now, but I envy the people who can smell this as I once could. It's a thumbs up for one of the greatest fragrant experiences of my life. Too bad it didn't last...
This is probably the worst stench I have ever come across. Cheap rubbery powder. I can't imagine how anyone actually came up with this vile filth.
The opening blast reminds me of a much more animalic Vol de Nuit that morphs over time to a very heavy scent that's typical of its era, being driven by its very heavy musks,and ending on something that reminds me of Paco Rabanne Pour Homme -with its relatively dry, soapy, and heavy musks that could be overpowering if not applied judiciously. There's no escaping the prominent civet note, which doesn't strike me as particularly dirty, although it does help to give the fragrance its depth. This is not a very expensive perfume, and while I can't say it smells cheap, it's not quite as luxurious as I would like for a heavy oriental. It's still a good perfume.
I've only tried the parfum.
I was compelled to buy it after trying it out but I then found the later stages were a peculiar synthetic emptiness. Still, I think it deserves a thumbs up for the opening, which is spectacular. I remember saying once that this fragrance was so close to being a masterpiece that it hurt. It seems Luca Turin feels the same as he describes it as "frustratingly close to greatness" in The Guide.
Only once in my life was I ever stopped in the street by a woman who wanted to know what fragrance I was wearing. It was Tuscany.
I bought this fragrance when it first came on the market and I still love it. It is warm and spicy, and its signature accord is like carnation mixed with petrol. The after shave is quite light while the EdT is heavy and more complex. This is one of those scents that mark the 1990s as a very distinctive era.
Completely over the top. Opulent to the point of vulgarity. Love it!!!
I love Apres l'Ondee. There's something almost innocent about it. It's a light airy floral, but being a Guerlain there's also a hint of something darker going on. I generally don't get fanciful descrptions of perfumes, but I actually understand the summer and rain thing here. It really does feel like the quiet dampness after a thunderstom in summertime. Wonderful...
This is a lovely fragrance, and I was a pleasantly surprised by it. I bought it unsniffed in Paris and was delighted to discover something that is very much in the Guerlain style. It has a rich ambery and vanillic base, but the overall composition is quite dry and dark. While displaying typical Guerlain richness, the perfume is not too heavy, and so might be ideal for someone who admires Guerlain, but finds their classics just a bit too much. I don't necessarily think this is a masterpiece, but it is a worthy addition to the Guerlain fan's wardrobe, and it makes a refreshing change from the classics from time to time. Besides, you can never have too many Guerlains!
On a trip to Paris I went into the wonderful Lutens boutique expecting to buy Muscs Koublai Khan, but to my surprise this was the fragrance I ended up buying. It is delightfully strange in the way that many fragrances from this house are, with the dry vetiver working with the gourmand and sumptuous oriental notes forming a mysterious composition that seems to be greater than the sum of its parts. While it is very rich, it is never overpowering, and over time the rawness of vetiver becomes its dominant characteristic, making it a wonderfully masculine fragrance. It is well worth trying if you admire Lutens, but find his fragrances overpowering.
If an alien came from another planet and wanted to know what perfume smells like, I would give him a bottle of Tweed. It has all of the things that a perfume is supposed to have -nothing more, nothing less. I find it quite elegant and sensual, without any hint of pretentiousness.
Joy is a very bold statement. It's all about the harmony of its rich and sensual floral essences, and while the release of a floral composition this heavy and dense would be a rarity from any fragrance house today -with the possible exception of Amouage, Joy still has a place in the modern World. That's because its aesthetic is really quite simple; it accentuates the shameless luxury of its ingredients, but manages to do so in a way that favours opulence over vulgarity.
When I wear Chanel Pour Monsieur, I feel like a little boy playing with my father's after shave. It is both masculine and comforting, with the combination of its very conservative citrus top notes over a soft and warm base. I haven't tried the concentree, and I'm not in any hurry to do so, as the whole point of this fragrance for me is that it's an instant shot of 1950s elegance in a world of dumbed down reformulations. Understated sophistication combined with top quality ingredients and workmanship -the values that made Coco Chanel famous.
Like many admirers of classic Guerlains, I have been concerned with the direction the house has taken in recent years. However Insolence was a very pleasant surprise, as it shows the respect the house still has for its past. I immediately noticed a resemblance to L'Heure Bleue, but I was also reminded of the general aesthetic of Shalimar in that it marries a very heady sweetness with a dark and complex base. I think there is an interesting parallel here in that Shalimar was derived from Jicky, just as this fragrance was derived from L'Heure Bleue. Of course this perfume is more than just a homage to Guerlain's past, and has to stand up on its own merits, and I believe it does so very well. It is hard to know if this will be a future classic, but it is certainly a reassuring addition to the mass market.
This is a wonderful perfume. At first it seems like a simple cheery floral with a little powder, but it soon reveals something going on underneath that gives it an interesting edge, as well as depth without any trace of heaviness. My nose was instantly struck by the quality, which in this case is as good as it gets. This beautifully made fragrance is devoid of any hint of pretentiousness, and seems to be all about simple beauty, as opposed to the ravishing grandeur often associated with Guerlain.
Like a lot of people, I was surprised that this perfume had very little in common with the great Guerlain classics, but after trying it for a while I recognised it lurking underneath other Guerlains, especially Vol de Nuit -although it wasn't what I would have considered one of the defining notes.
While this might not be a ground-breaking masterpiece, its refinement and delicacy mean it is an exquisite perfume.
I really love Mouchoir de Monsieur. It might seem old fashioned, but it is magical. When I wear it, it reveals different facets over time, and this is what makes it a very special perfume. Initially it is like an eau de cologne, but it has a very unusual sweet animalistic edge, but after a while it resembles Jicky with the combination of lavender and civet. However both fragrances seem to have very different personalities. In Mouchoir de Monsieur the lavender is always part of a sweet sumptuous accord, whereas in Jicky it can sometimes seem exposed like an essential oil. On the surface I also think that this fragrance is more complex than Jicky -as if extra ingredients were added to the mix. The drydown of both frarances is absolutely heavenly, with moments of beautiful perfection, as different notes pop up and combine with each other in countless different ways.
I have three bottles of this from different eras, and they are all different from each other, but my favourite bottle seems to be slightly off in the top notes for the first few minutes, but is absolutely stunning after that. Still, the current version is excellent, with the major difference being that the sumptuous animalic side seems to be a little less vivid. Regardless of vintage, this is my favourite masculine Guerlain, and it is good to be able to stockpile the current version in case it ever gets pulled.
Jicky is my favourite perfume, as it moves me in a way that no other perfume can. Jicky is a compelling fragrance, and seems to have real personality -or personalities. Sometimes it is a nice pleasant herbal perfume, sometimes it is a little raunchy with its animalistic undercurrent, and sometimes it has an almost milky sweetness that is very comforting. It also has a spicy fougere side to it that I love, and when I wear it, all of these different facets emerge at different times and combine with each other as if to form many different perfumes, all of which I find wonderful.
I have recent bottles of parfum and EdP, as well as a fifty-year-old bottle of EdT and they are all wonderful, and I love them all. The parfum emphasizes the herbal aspect, the EdP the dirtier civet, while the EdT is brighter and airier with the lavender more exposed and medicinal, but it changes very quickly into something that resembles the EdP, but is not nearly as robust in the late drydown.
I love many perfumes, and some of them are more immediately striking and exotic, and on the surface more beautiful. However, with Jicky the real beauty is revealed in exquisite moments that are hidden below the surface. These moments are the most profoundly beautiful I have ever experienced in perfume. I love you Jicky.
I have been a fan of Heritage for several years, and I don't see that changing soon. I love the combination of woodiness and sweetness in a way that's almost discordant, and the epitome of Guerlain. I sometimes find that the top notes glare too much, and seem almost metallic, but it's fine if I only apply a tiny amount, and when it works it is like being surrounded by a cloud of sophistication. I love Vetiver, Coriolan, Derby and Habit Rouge, but there is something very cool about Heritage that makes it unique amongst JP Guerlain's creations. Still, Mouchoir de Monsieur will always be my favourite masculine Guerlain.
At the moment this is my favourite Chanel. I am reviewing the parfum, as I have only tried the other formulations in passing. I love the really cool and almost crystalline opening of rose and aldehydes, before the amazing and earthy iris takes over. The perfume is very complex, yet it is always beautifully controlled. At every stage of development different notes pop in and out, but always seem to know where they are in the overall picture. When I bought No.19, I expected to like it -possibly even love it; but I didn't expect it to be this good. As a perfume junkie, I have collected hundreds over the years, but this one reminded me why I fell in love with perfume in the first place. No.19 is perfume perfection.