100 Fragrances Every Frag-Head Guy Should Try, part 3: What's The Big Deal About Guerlain?

    100 Fragrances Every Frag-Head Guy Should Try, part 3: What's The Big Deal About Guerlain?

    post #1 of 15
    Thread Starter 
    Wow its already time for our next installment of 100 Fragrances Every Frag-Obsessed Guy Should Try. As before, please bear in mind that this is one amateur's opinion. If you disagree with anything, please comment!


    Today, its time to tackle something big:

    Whats The Big Deal About Guerlain?

    When I first discovered Basenotes, I was shocked by how much all the experts here were constantly clamoring over Guerlain. Honestly, it wasnt even a brand Id heard of, not being sold at Macys or the mall stores where I shopped at the time. I tracked it down and sniffed a few and found them either old fashioned (their Eaus), strange and foreign (their legendary classics), or just plain nasty (their civet monsters like Jicky). Needless to say, I wasnt ready to make the switch from my Hugo Bosses and my Bulgaris yet.

    Thankfully, the patient saleslady made me some samples so I could get to know the line. She even explained that it might take me a while, but that eventually Id understand how great they were and come back to her. And she was right, but it took a couple of years of smelling hundreds of other frags before something clicked and I finally got how awesome the legendary Guerlains are. As such, I fully realize that Im throwing you guys in at the deep end of the pool, but these are important, masterful perfumes, without which youll never truly be able to understand what a real masterpiece perfume can be, even if it takes a while.

    Oh, and to make matters more confusing, the following scents come in different concentrations. If at all possible, try them in their pure parfum (aka extrait) concentrations. Those are the testers in the cube-shaped bottles (which are usually available but hidden at the better Nordstroms or Bllomingdales, as well as Saks or Neimans). Oh, and the tester bottles are different from the bottles the parfums are actually sold in, just to make everything weirder.

    With that, I give you my next picks:



    8. Mitsouko by Guerlain



    Here it is. The perfume that perfume experts and legendary noses will generally tell you is the best perfume in the world. Though, to be painfully specific, theyre usually referring to the vintage version before Guerlain had to take out the oakmoss in 1990. But the current version you can just go sniff is still incredible, so dont let that bother you.

    So what does it smell like? Its actually very hard to describe, and constantly changes over the course of the day (which, of course, are top requirements for something to be a truly great perfume). The whole thing, especially the extrait, has a spiced bready smell to it, with a perfumey, artificial peach note on top and hints of greens and weird spices and candied flowers coming and going. Its got those powdery white flowers that are common in old perfumes, and eventually dries down to a base that finds a perfect mix between spicy doughy iris and mossy greens and something akin to suede.

    Weirdly, youll often see Mitsouko referred to as a reference chypre. Honestly, I find that a bit cruel to people who are trying to figure out what a chypre actually smells like. This confused me personally for quite a while. Well get to chypres later in this 100 Fragrances list, of course Suffice it to say that Mitsouko is anything but a common chypre



    9. LHeure Bleue by Guerlain



    If Mitsouko is a well-read, well-traveled, occasionally moody, fascinatingly hard to describe beauty of a perfume, LHeure Bleue is her even moodier, more guarded sister who only opens up and reveals her deepest beauty after hours of thoughtful teasing.

    They share a family resemblance both are based on the same doughy, bready notes intertwined with mysterious spices and flowers. LHeure Bleue amps up the powder and the greens, featuring a mix of pollen and fennel seed that has gone on to become a Guerlain staple (they form the heart of the popular LInstant Pour Homme, which could probably be argued to be a dumbed-down modern version of LHeure Bleue marketed to men If that sounds like an insult, its not just about any perfume smells dumb next to the LHeure Bleues guarded genius).

    Then, the vanilla comes in and LHeure Bleue goes from clever and smart to utterly resplendent. The mix of iris, suede, vanilla, booze, spices, and greens is the best possible example of the legendary Guerlinade base, and will go further than anything else to show what the big deal is about Guerlain.



    10. Shalimar by Guerlain



    According to legend, Shalimar was born when Guerlains perfumer wondered what would happen if he added vanilla to Jicky. As such, its a poop-filled diaper mixed with lavender with vanilla added. But it somehow becomes greater than the sum of its parts. The vanilla fills in all the cracks, mixing with the subtle tonka bean undertones and even the poop smell to form something warm and sweet and creamy and luxurious that also came to define the concept of a luxurious and sexy musk perfume.

    To be honest, I dont like Shalimar, or poop scents in general, so I cant really wax as poetic about Shalimar as I can Mitsouko or LHeure Bleue, but theres definitely a reason its been popular for a hundred years now and its certainly required sniffing.



    Please comment!

    Shalimar fans, what did I miss? Why would it be considered required sniffing for you? Oh, and there are dozens of other classic Guerlains that are important. Some will be coming later (I couldnt possibly leave off Vetiver and others), but I had to axe quite a few what would you pick over these three greats??
    post #2 of 15
    I have never smelled any of the above fragrances, but I bought my mom Shalimar Light, and I think it's pretty good. I was suprised she liked it actually because she is very anti old womanish perfumes. I never sprayed it on myself because I am not the type to wear womens perfume, but it reminded me of my own Habit Rouge EDT.
    post #3 of 15
    Well I take that back I did test it on my arm, which is as far as I go with womens perfumes.
    post #4 of 15
    Thread Starter 
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dwrestle;bt5554

    Well I take that back I did test it on my arm, which is as far as I go with womens perfumes.

    That's enough for me - it's not like you have to wear ten sprays of something you're uncomfortable with out for a night with your friends or something...
    post #5 of 15
    I agree that Mitsouko and Shalimar are imperative in your list. L'Heure Bleue - I concur, without objection, but substitutes would be acceptable to me.

    I think that Shalimar and Mitsouko have something above almost every other old Guerlain - a certain timelessness that makes them very wearable even today. Those are the true masterpieces that a perfumer dreams of discovering. Guerlain is an oil-field of classics, but those two are truly the big money.
    post #6 of 15
    Excellent choices all, but since this is a list intended for guys I'm surprised you left out Vetiver and Habit Rouge, since they're both Guerlain's landmark masculines (Vetiver especially). Then again, I have no idea what you'd have to omit in order to include at least one of them! (Maybe L’Heure Bleue?) This 100 fragrance limit really is tough ...
    post #7 of 15
    Thread Starter 
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JacquesD;bt5560

    Excellent choices all, but since this is a list intended for guys I'm surprised you left out Vetiver and Habit Rouge, since they're both Guerlain's landmark masculines (Vetiver especially). Then again, I have no idea what you'd have to omit in order to include at least one of them! (Maybe LHeure Bleue?) This 100 fragrance limit really is tough ...

    Vetiver will definitely be coming later, and Derby, too. I haven't fit in Habit Rouge, yet, which is a bit of a scandal. I intentionally picked L'Heure Bleue over L'Instant because I really do think LHB is LI's much-more-noteworthy grandmother, as well as the perfect example of Guerlinade.

    It's weird, Guerlain has a tendency to re-use their favorite notes over and over again, which makes has led to a lot of scents that are great in their own right, but slightly redundant on a list like this. Stupid Habit Rouge. The more I think of it, I'm going to have to kick something off...
    post #8 of 15
    I think the vintage Shalimar extrait drydown with its smokiness (from the impure vanilla?), opoponax and ambergris has been imitated or rented many times, but never made to such perfection. I do nitpick with Shalimar... I am only really terribly crazy about it in its old vintage zigzag box from a natural bergamot smell all the way through to the perfectioned deep base.
    post #9 of 15
    To answer your other question: I would pick L'Heure Bleue, because its beauty moves me most.
    post #10 of 15
    Maybe you can have 101? Nobody should flinch at that.

    You are dead-on about the redundancy, but you are also right giving these three their due. For my money, nothing comes close to Mitsouko-- the other two are not even distant seconds. But I am glad I ordered samples and smelled them because they are "required reading (sniffing)" in perfume 101.

    Could a man wear them? Well, I guess that depends on the man. It is kind of like the proverbial pink shirt-- a person has to be pretty secure to pull it off. But when you pull it off, it is divine.
    post #11 of 15
    I don't think the truly frag-obsessed guy would ever nitpick over Habit Rouge vs Shalimar as he probably wears both! But imho Shalimar vs Habit Rouge is hardly a contest; the grand 'ol dame will send the boy to his room sans dinner.
    post #12 of 15
    I'm with the 101 idea. Bonus track kinda deal. And it sounds catchy!
    post #13 of 15
    Guerlain - now we're talking!

    Well everyone on BN knows I'm a long time member of the Shalimar Fan Club, loving every single version (and flanker) except for the Eau de Toilette (which is just TOO powdery) and the newest Parfum Initial which is just too...iris prominent. Of course, vintage Shalimar is more desirable, but that doesn't mean that the new juice (or new releases) are not satisfying, because they are. Shalimar Ode de la Vanille is just magical! And the vintage Bath Salts! And the Shower Gel! OK, I'll stop.

    I think it is important also to note, that in regards to Mitsouko, the 'chypre' accord is so well represented. Chypre by Coty (which I also own and love) is nice, and it's the one that started it all, but then when you smell vintage Mitsouko extrait and you're able to see how genius this is in comparison. That dark, evil green woods mixed with peach and then the chypre accord comes up slowly like a helicopter vibrating in the air, off in the distance.

    LHB, well, you said it all. I must say, it's the spices that do it for me on this one. In the Parfum de Toilette formula they just explode on the skin. Spice, spice, spice...Diptyque ain't got nothing on this stuff. But, like Shalimar, LHB EdT is just gross.

    The only other Guerlain that I would pick over these 3 would be Djedi. But, that's not really fair since it's so hard to source a sample/bottle of. Still - it is a FAN-tastic leather/vetiver scent - sort of blew my head off when I wore it.
    post #14 of 15
    Never having had the good fortune to smell either Shalimar or Mitsuoko in their earlier incarnations, I will only say that I am not terribly impressed with their current reincarnations. However I do know, and adore, L'Heure Bleu, not so much for the individual parts that make up that incredibly complex and elusive scent, but for the mood it instills. This is Billy Holiday singing, with Miles Davis playing softly in the background.
    post #15 of 15
    For me Mitsouko is so easily a textbook example of a Chypre frag! It shows at very well done way the contrast of lightness versus darkness that you will find on a chypre frag. I love the peachskin effect at the opening that slowly transforms into the mossy base. But i think that the vintage version has the chypre part in more evidence. Guerlain is a brand that will never get sick of wearing, one of my favorites so far

    9/5/11 at 11:56am

    rogalal said:



    Wow its already time for our next installment of 100 Fragrances Every Frag-Obsessed Guy Should Try. As before, please bear in mind that this is one amateur's opinion. If you disagree with anything, please comment!


    Today, its time to tackle something big:

    Whats The Big Deal About Guerlain?

    When I first discovered Basenotes, I was shocked by how much all the experts here were constantly clamoring over Guerlain. Honestly, it wasnt even a brand Id heard of, not being sold at Macys or the mall stores where I shopped at the time. I tracked it down and sniffed a few and found them either old fashioned (their Eaus), strange and foreign (their legendary classics), or just plain nasty (their civet monsters like Jicky). Needless to say, I wasnt ready to make the switch from my Hugo Bosses and my Bulgaris yet.

    Thankfully, the patient saleslady made me some samples so I could get to know the line. She even explained that it might take me a while, but that eventually Id understand how great they were and come back to her. And she was right, but it took a couple of years of smelling hundreds of other frags before something clicked and I finally got how awesome the legendary Guerlains are. As such, I fully realize that Im throwing you guys in at the deep end of the pool, but these are important, masterful perfumes, without which youll never truly be able to understand what a real masterpiece perfume can be, even if it takes a while.

    Oh, and to make matters more confusing, the following scents come in different concentrations. If at all possible, try them in their pure parfum (aka extrait) concentrations. Those are the testers in the cube-shaped bottles (which are usually available but hidden at the better Nordstroms or Bllomingdales, as well as Saks or Neimans). Oh, and the tester bottles are different from the bottles the parfums are actually sold in, just to make everything weirder.

    With that, I give you my next picks:



    8. Mitsouko by Guerlain



    Here it is. The perfume that perfume experts and legendary noses will generally tell you is the best perfume in the world. Though, to be painfully specific, theyre usually referring to the vintage version before Guerlain had to take out the oakmoss in 1990. But the current version you can just go sniff is still incredible, so dont let that bother you.

    So what does it smell like? Its actually very hard to describe, and constantly changes over the course of the day (which, of course, are top requirements for something to be a truly great perfume). The whole thing, especially the extrait, has a spiced bready smell to it, with a perfumey, artificial peach note on top and hints of greens and weird spices and candied flowers coming and going. Its got those powdery white flowers that are common in old perfumes, and eventually dries down to a base that finds a perfect mix between spicy doughy iris and mossy greens and something akin to suede.

    Weirdly, youll often see Mitsouko referred to as a reference chypre. Honestly, I find that a bit cruel to people who are trying to figure out what a chypre actually smells like. This confused me personally for quite a while. Well get to chypres later in this 100 Fragrances list, of course Suffice it to say that Mitsouko is anything but a common chypre



    9. LHeure Bleue by Guerlain



    If Mitsouko is a well-read, well-traveled, occasionally moody, fascinatingly hard to describe beauty of a perfume, LHeure Bleue is her even moodier, more guarded sister who only opens up and reveals her deepest beauty after hours of thoughtful teasing.

    They share a family resemblance both are based on the same doughy, bready notes intertwined with mysterious spices and flowers. LHeure Bleue amps up the powder and the greens, featuring a mix of pollen and fennel seed that has gone on to become a Guerlain staple (they form the heart of the popular LInstant Pour Homme, which could probably be argued to be a dumbed-down modern version of LHeure Bleue marketed to men If that sounds like an insult, its not just about any perfume smells dumb next to the LHeure Bleues guarded genius).

    Then, the vanilla comes in and LHeure Bleue goes from clever and smart to utterly resplendent. The mix of iris, suede, vanilla, booze, spices, and greens is the best possible example of the legendary Guerlinade base, and will go further than anything else to show what the big deal is about Guerlain.



    10. Shalimar by Guerlain



    According to legend, Shalimar was born when Guerlains perfumer wondered what would happen if he added vanilla to Jicky. As such, its a poop-filled diaper mixed with lavender with vanilla added. But it somehow becomes greater than the sum of its parts. The vanilla fills in all the cracks, mixing with the subtle tonka bean undertones and even the poop smell to form something warm and sweet and creamy and luxurious that also came to define the concept of a luxurious and sexy musk perfume.

    To be honest, I dont like Shalimar, or poop scents in general, so I cant really wax as poetic about Shalimar as I can Mitsouko or LHeure Bleue, but theres definitely a reason its been popular for a hundred years now and its certainly required sniffing.



    Please comment!

    Shalimar fans, what did I miss? Why would it be considered required sniffing for you? Oh, and there are dozens of other classic Guerlains that are important. Some will be coming later (I couldnt possibly leave off Vetiver and others), but I had to axe quite a few what would you pick over these three greats??

    9/5/11 at 5:23pm

    dwrestle said:



    I have never smelled any of the above fragrances, but I bought my mom Shalimar Light, and I think it's pretty good. I was suprised she liked it actually because she is very anti old womanish perfumes. I never sprayed it on myself because I am not the type to wear womens perfume, but it reminded me of my own Habit Rouge EDT.

    9/5/11 at 5:25pm

    dwrestle said:



    Well I take that back I did test it on my arm, which is as far as I go with womens perfumes.

    9/5/11 at 6:20pm

    rogalal said:



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dwrestle;bt5554

    Well I take that back I did test it on my arm, which is as far as I go with womens perfumes.

    That's enough for me - it's not like you have to wear ten sprays of something you're uncomfortable with out for a night with your friends or something...

    9/5/11 at 6:39pm

    Redneck Perfumisto said:



    I agree that Mitsouko and Shalimar are imperative in your list. L'Heure Bleue - I concur, without objection, but substitutes would be acceptable to me.

    I think that Shalimar and Mitsouko have something above almost every other old Guerlain - a certain timelessness that makes them very wearable even today. Those are the true masterpieces that a perfumer dreams of discovering. Guerlain is an oil-field of classics, but those two are truly the big money.

    9/5/11 at 10:05pm

    JacquesD said:



    Excellent choices all, but since this is a list intended for guys I'm surprised you left out Vetiver and Habit Rouge, since they're both Guerlain's landmark masculines (Vetiver especially). Then again, I have no idea what you'd have to omit in order to include at least one of them! (Maybe L’Heure Bleue?) This 100 fragrance limit really is tough ...

    9/5/11 at 10:58pm

    rogalal said:



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JacquesD;bt5560

    Excellent choices all, but since this is a list intended for guys I'm surprised you left out Vetiver and Habit Rouge, since they're both Guerlain's landmark masculines (Vetiver especially). Then again, I have no idea what you'd have to omit in order to include at least one of them! (Maybe LHeure Bleue?) This 100 fragrance limit really is tough ...

    Vetiver will definitely be coming later, and Derby, too. I haven't fit in Habit Rouge, yet, which is a bit of a scandal. I intentionally picked L'Heure Bleue over L'Instant because I really do think LHB is LI's much-more-noteworthy grandmother, as well as the perfect example of Guerlinade.

    It's weird, Guerlain has a tendency to re-use their favorite notes over and over again, which makes has led to a lot of scents that are great in their own right, but slightly redundant on a list like this. Stupid Habit Rouge. The more I think of it, I'm going to have to kick something off...

    9/6/11 at 3:52am

    Larimar said:



    I think the vintage Shalimar extrait drydown with its smokiness (from the impure vanilla?), opoponax and ambergris has been imitated or rented many times, but never made to such perfection. I do nitpick with Shalimar... I am only really terribly crazy about it in its old vintage zigzag box from a natural bergamot smell all the way through to the perfectioned deep base.

    9/6/11 at 3:55am

    Larimar said:



    To answer your other question: I would pick L'Heure Bleue, because its beauty moves me most.

    9/6/11 at 7:10am

    lisa16 said:



    Maybe you can have 101? Nobody should flinch at that.

    You are dead-on about the redundancy, but you are also right giving these three their due. For my money, nothing comes close to Mitsouko-- the other two are not even distant seconds. But I am glad I ordered samples and smelled them because they are "required reading (sniffing)" in perfume 101.

    Could a man wear them? Well, I guess that depends on the man. It is kind of like the proverbial pink shirt-- a person has to be pretty secure to pull it off. But when you pull it off, it is divine.

    9/6/11 at 8:37am

    Diamondflame said:



    I don't think the truly frag-obsessed guy would ever nitpick over Habit Rouge vs Shalimar as he probably wears both! But imho Shalimar vs Habit Rouge is hardly a contest; the grand 'ol dame will send the boy to his room sans dinner.

    9/7/11 at 2:00am

    mr. reasonable said:



    I'm with the 101 idea. Bonus track kinda deal. And it sounds catchy!

    9/11/11 at 7:07pm

    mikeperez23 said:



    Guerlain - now we're talking!

    Well everyone on BN knows I'm a long time member of the Shalimar Fan Club, loving every single version (and flanker) except for the Eau de Toilette (which is just TOO powdery) and the newest Parfum Initial which is just too...iris prominent. Of course, vintage Shalimar is more desirable, but that doesn't mean that the new juice (or new releases) are not satisfying, because they are. Shalimar Ode de la Vanille is just magical! And the vintage Bath Salts! And the Shower Gel! OK, I'll stop.

    I think it is important also to note, that in regards to Mitsouko, the 'chypre' accord is so well represented. Chypre by Coty (which I also own and love) is nice, and it's the one that started it all, but then when you smell vintage Mitsouko extrait and you're able to see how genius this is in comparison. That dark, evil green woods mixed with peach and then the chypre accord comes up slowly like a helicopter vibrating in the air, off in the distance.

    LHB, well, you said it all. I must say, it's the spices that do it for me on this one. In the Parfum de Toilette formula they just explode on the skin. Spice, spice, spice...Diptyque ain't got nothing on this stuff. But, like Shalimar, LHB EdT is just gross.

    The only other Guerlain that I would pick over these 3 would be Djedi. But, that's not really fair since it's so hard to source a sample/bottle of. Still - it is a FAN-tastic leather/vetiver scent - sort of blew my head off when I wore it.

    9/22/11 at 4:24pm

    Roper-Hall said:



    Never having had the good fortune to smell either Shalimar or Mitsuoko in their earlier incarnations, I will only say that I am not terribly impressed with their current reincarnations. However I do know, and adore, L'Heure Bleu, not so much for the individual parts that make up that incredibly complex and elusive scent, but for the mood it instills. This is Billy Holiday singing, with Miles Davis playing softly in the background.

    11/19/11 at 6:18pm

    rickbr said:



    For me Mitsouko is so easily a textbook example of a Chypre frag! It shows at very well done way the contrast of lightness versus darkness that you will find on a chypre frag. I love the peachskin effect at the opening that slowly transforms into the mossy base. But i think that the vintage version has the chypre part in more evidence. Guerlain is a brand that will never get sick of wearing, one of my favorites so far





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