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  1. #1
    Pollux's Avatar
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    Default New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    Due to L'Homme Ideal's recent launch in the place I live in (without any kind of adverstising campaign: they placed the bottles in the only exclusive counter Guerlain has in the city's only department store) I looked for information on it, so I checked reviews in the usual discussion boards. As everybody knows, it met polarizing points of view.

    Among readings done I was redirected to Monsieur Guerlain's blog which gave me lots of information on the House. I had the chance of reading about the store's refurbishing, lines that are discontinued and the ones being launched, Wasser's efforts in blending long gone perfumes for prosperity's sake and so forth.

    After reading these news I got the impression that LVMH is milking the cow (in other words, the brand): the catalogue of products have been diversified - from perfumes to candles and scents for clothes and fabrics, and from then on to tea, a restaurant and, finally, leather gloves and scarves perfumed with the House's iconic fragrances. Needless to mention limit edition bottles selling for thousands of Euros. Add to the costs related to product diversification a hefty budget in ad and promotional actions very much along what we know: L'Homme Ideal's ad does not differ that much to PR's 1 Million for the ladies are there. And as to the blend, much in line with common offers as many have noted.

    So, if you are looking for a House offering fragrances with a classic brand character marketed within the limits of what French (classic) luxury might entail, we might as well think the House is being reinvented along a more lavish, excessive, bold, not so restrained concept of luxury that might be the key to allure new customers. Nothing wrong about that, the company has to be profitable and the more, the better. This includes keeping up with the bunch, more even so since the company is owned by the same company owning many global designer brands, this having its cons: managers have to assure a cash flow that render innovation as risky. In other words, safe management for profit's sake.

    Bad news for the fragrance noobs? I don't consider myself one, still I prefer Guerlain's traditional persona - please, don't misunderstand me, I still enjoy Guerlain's Vetiver and think of it as a very classic scent and, frankly, I don't mind L'Ideal being blended along contemporary trends. This won't change my life - it is perfume, not one's health.

    However, I am courious: thus, I have a question which is puposedly asked for those that have done extensive smelling of scents blended by niche Houses - I am quite ignorant on them (please note that when I say "niche" I mean Houses selling their products under limited distribution while offering high-end blends, this meaning we can include both Houses as well as artisan perfumists who dare researching new olfactory ways).

    Should we be looking after Houses that keep on working along the values that characterized Guerlain decades ago - 1-. Excellent quality, 2-. Innovation, 3-. Restrained brand character ? And if so, which House would that be? Or is Guerlain irreplaceable, albeit its nouveaux riches and mass market frills?
    Last edited by Pollux; 18th August 2014 at 10:26 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pollux View Post
    Or is Guerlain irreplaceable?
    Pollux - Being a huge fan of this wonderful house, I would hate to see this; but nothing is permanent except change & if it comes to such a state, yes, Guerlain can & will be replaced. What's the point of buying Guerlain's for the sake of it, if the fragrances don't keep up to their standards? As well, online sources will soon dry out of Guerlain's if this happens - so once this generation passes, all we will see is historical mention of Guerlain. BUT:

    The direction which you mention is debatable. Their last major (sort of niche) release was the Desert trio - I find all 3 wonderful & own them, with Songe being the best. Most here on BN & Fragrantica did shower praises on these 3 & rightfully so.

    As well, many reputable Guerlain aficionados mention Wasser's efforts to bring back the classics to "how" they actually were - this is the direction I currently see the house going. A new edition Vol de Nuit / Vega or the mythical Djedi - imagine it being close to their vintage versions? Of course, it cannot be "exactly" like how these were in the past - but if reputed noses say they are almost close - I'd take that any day.

    If Wasser's efforts pay off, Guerlain cannot be replaced & I really hope it goes this way...As well LMVH being a business knows the brand value of Guerlain & why it acquired it - any business will pay attention to this part as well when considering all their options.

  3. #3

    Default Re: New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    It's been many years already (at least since it was added to lmvh's portfolio) that Guerlain stopped being what it was. But, as badarun was saying, I think these past two years have shown signs of improvement. Some of the old classics have been brought back to near what they were (though some haven't, or cannot be).

    Sprucing up the store and adding side products isn't bad per se, it's something most brands do. I went to the Paris store and it was a good experience. There's even the possibility of smelling certain old masterpieces (though it's hard and one has to book in advance).

    I agree that the proliferation of dozens of exclusive perfumes and flankers is quite depressing. After all, one cannot expect a masterpiece every year, the Guerlain classics were all far between. What was troublesome however was the degradation of the classics, thanks to IFRA (and neglect). It seems things are getting a bit better, so let's hope Guerlain will continue along this path.

    cacio

  4. #4

    Default Re: New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    Change can lead to better or worse. All depends on an individual's taste.

  5. #5
    Pollux's Avatar
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    Default Re: New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    Quote Originally Posted by badarun View Post
    The direction which you mention is debatable. Their last major (sort of niche) release was the Desert trio - I find all 3 wonderful & own them, with Songe being the best. Most here on BN & Fragrantica did shower praises on these 3 & rightfully so.
    See? I had to ask these questions. Thanks for your reply!

    Quote Originally Posted by sjg3839 View Post
    Change can lead to better or worse. All depends on an individual's taste.
    True. You can count me in among fragrance aficionados of the OF type.

  6. #6

    Default Re: New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    It's a dated brand with a transient grasp of current trends. They'll survive but by the skin of their teeth.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    Quote Originally Posted by badarun View Post
    If Wasser's efforts pay off, Guerlain cannot be replaced & I really hope it goes this way..
    Agree very much with this point and also hope this proves to be true.
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    Where personal fragrance is concerned, IMO Guerlain is THE house to beat. But like any other businesses, Guerlain has to move with the times. But it recognizes its strengths and seeks to leverage on its heritage (unfortunately by churning out flankers to milk the cow ). Still I think Wasser is doing a pretty decent job balancing these elements, creating new modern classics while keeping the stalwarts EU/IFRA-compliant. Jacques Polge has been rather successful doing something similar at Chanel so I'm hoping Wasser would find similar success at Guerlain too. But there will be hits as there will be misses. A couple of misfires doesn't necessarily mean a house has sold out.

  9. #9

    Default Re: New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    I totally agree with badarun on the desert trio! I really love the exclusives as well and think the brand still rocks. I would love to see Wasser make a new male designer to put on the store shelves.

  10. #10

    Default Re: New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondflame View Post
    Jacques Polge has been rather successful doing something similar at Chanel so I'm hoping Wasser would find similar success at Guerlain too. But there will be hits as there will be misses. A couple of misfires doesn't necessarily mean a house has sold out.
    Chanel has sheldrake and Olivier polge. I expect great things from this house in the future.

  11. #11
    Dependent pluran's Avatar
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    Default Re: New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    As Bertrand Duchaufour stated: "....they need to get back to their roots".

    As Thierry Wasser implied: doing that is impossible given the prohibitive nature of EU/ IFRA regulations on raw materials.
    Last edited by pluran; 20th August 2014 at 03:12 AM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    Somehow, I dont really get Guerlain's logic at discontinuing fragrances.

    Make it very prohibitive or difficult for a fragrance to be bought (i.e sous le vent, vega, the cities line, iris ganache etc costs a kidney for a bottle and only available for sale at boutiques) then discontinue it due to lack of sales. LACK OF SALES. Does anyone here see the logical failure/stump here? discontinuing a fragrance due to lack of sales when the fragrance itself is hard to get in the first place is just....lol. why not make it more widely available? Are sales really that bad, or is is it because the perfumes are kept out of reach from people who really want to buy it? Not all of us have a Guerlain boutique in our country, all we get are paltry counters guided by inaccurate 'market research' (Inaccurate, because we have a friggin Amouage boutique and counter, and they seem to be doing well, and not to mention tons of Arabic perfume shops that sell Oud Attars) reports who thinks that the entire nation will only love aquatics and not the heavy stuff. So in a tropical country, the heavyweights like VdN, L'Heure Bleue, Apres L'ondee, Nahema are missing but we get the aqua allegoria line. We didint even have Habit Rouge at first until i asked for it over a few different Guerlain counters before it appeared.

    how about lowering prices and eliminating exclusivity for more sales? Make it available worldwide?

    The mysterious delay with L'homme ideal's worldwide distribution is kinda odd. AFAIK Ode De La Vanille, Shalimar Parfum Initial, Guerlain Homme and Idylle popped up on local counters rather quickly. LPRN took a few months to reach our shores after its commerical release. but not L'Homme ideal.

    I think Guerlain should try and focus a little more on its classics and current like rather than making flankers of flankers. Guerlain Homme L'eau Boisee is a flanker of a flanker of a flanker. It may work for Chanel, but Guerlain aint a fashion house. Vintage is back in vogue so why not just revive Djedi or Mouchoir de Monsieur (The EDP please. Or a stronger EDT), or adapt classic formula for modern taste, like what Chanel did with Bois de Illes and came up with Egoiste? I guess thats what they mean when they tell Guerlain to return to their roots.

    I posted something smiliar at Mr G's page and the hardcore fans were like, defending TW. lol.
    Last edited by joey86; 20th August 2014 at 03:55 AM.
    seeking mitsouko 50ml's cap....desperately!!

  13. #13

    Default Re: New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    Unfortunately, it's what all brands do. Shelf space is at a premium at dept stores, so they just push what they think will have market appeal (fruity florals, etc). Then they do exclusive line - and then, like tom ford, put out many things and then keep whatever sells. Not that I agree with the strategy. At least, Guerlain had kept many of the masterpieces in decent state, if difficult to find (until IFRA, that is).

    cacio

  14. #14

    Default Re: New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    Irreplaceable to whom? Sure there are Guerlain fans who will buy whatever they sell, but why would that be important to anybody else? People like myself already have the Guerlains we want and aren't likely to use up the bottles in our lifetimes. It sounds like the OP is more concerned with image, and that's fine, but there are a lot of us BNers who are just interested in the smell, and that can mean anything from $5 "cheapos" up to expensive niche. I suggest asking Guerlain fans in particular what they would like to see this "house" do, so that you'd likely get responses that are more relevant to what I think you are asking.

  15. #15

    Default Re: New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    Guerlain still suits me fine - stuff like Les Deserts Trio and the Shalimar Ode Trio as well as some of the classics still in production - good luck to them with the pop stuff (LPRN and L'Homme Ideal etc.) and the ancillaries - if it keeps the wheels turning and allows Wasser to flip out some creative stuff when the accountants aren't looking then cool.

    I think Frederic Malle is a house worth watching, and also Amouage despite a few hits and misses.

    That said - the spirit of Jacques Guerlain is alive and well in Vero Kern - to my mind the most dedicated 'classicist with an irreverent twist' working today. Buy them all - in 50 years they will be compared to Guerlains from a century ago in terms of depth and wonder
    “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”
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  16. #16
    Dependent pluran's Avatar
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    Default Re: New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    Quote Originally Posted by mr. reasonable View Post
    Guerlain still suits me fine - stuff like Les Deserts Trio and the Shalimar Ode Trio as well as some of the classics still in production - good luck to them with the pop stuff (LPRN and L'Homme Ideal etc.) and the ancillaries - if it keeps the wheels turning and allows Wasser to flip out some creative stuff when the accountants aren't looking then cool.....
    Definitely.

    Looking at their complete range, the competent job of maintaining the classics, Guerlain is still the greatest perfume house in the world. Just noticed Sous le Vent was removed from the site. It was a great one.

    Still there:

    Women's fragrances

    Après l'Ondée
    Aqua Allegoria
    Chamade
    Champs-Élysées
    Chant d'Arômes
    Idylle
    Insolence
    Jardins de Bagatelle
    Jicky

    L'Heure Bleue
    L'Instant de Guerlain
    L'Instant Magic
    La Petite Robe Noire
    Mitsouko
    Nahema
    Samsara
    Shalimar
    Vol de Nuit

    Unisex Fragrances

    Les Eaux

    Men's fragrances

    Guerlain Homme
    Habit Rouge
    Héritage
    L'Instant de Guerlain pour Homme
    Mouchoir de Monsieur
    Vétiver


    The Exclusive Collections

    L'Art et la Matière

    Angélique Noire
    Bois d'Arménie
    Cruel Gardénia
    Cuir Beluga
    Myrrhe & Délires
    Rose Barbare
    Spiritueuse Double Vanille
    Tonka Impériale

    Les Élixirs Charnels

    Boisé Torride
    Chypre Fatal
    Floral Romantique
    Gourmand Coquin
    Oriental Brûlant

    Les Parisiennes

    L'Heure de Nuit
    Liu
    Mayotte
    Mon Précieux Nectar
    Nuit d'Amour

    Les Parisiens

    Arsène Lupin
    Arsène Lupin Voyou
    Derby
    L'Âme d'un Héros

    Une Ville, Un Parfum

    London
    Moscow
    New York
    Shanghai
    Tokyo

    Les Déserts d'Orient

    Encens Mythique d'Orient
    Rose Nacrée du Désert
    Songe d'un Bois d'Été

    Exceptional Creations

    Muguet 2014
    La Petite Robe Noire Baccarat
    Shalimar Talisman Byzantin
    L'Heure Bleue Lesage
    L'Heure Bleue Baccarat & Gripoix
    L'Abeille aux Ailes Argent

  17. #17
    Pollux's Avatar
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    Default Re: New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigsly View Post
    Irreplaceable to whom? Sure there are Guerlain fans who will buy whatever they sell, but why would that be important to anybody else? People like myself already have the Guerlains we want and aren't likely to use up the bottles in our lifetimes. It sounds like the OP is more concerned with image, and that's fine, but there are a lot of us BNers who are just interested in the smell, and that can mean anything from $5 "cheapos" up to expensive niche. I suggest asking Guerlain fans in particular what they would like to see this "house" do, so that you'd likely get responses that are more relevant to what I think you are asking.
    Biglsy, you are right, I am worried about the brand's image. However, as someone working in marketing (branding) I know managers know products and brand image are supposed to be related, and judging from latest realeses, I happened to percieve Guerlain was heading the way of "global designers", thus my question.

    From reviews, I realize Guerlain's enthusiasts are happy with the House's classic scents as well as those that are sold in exclusive points of sale. Now, others are ranting. I wanted to know their point of views.

    The information given, so far, was quite illustrative: I know where to head if wanting to sniff new stuff.

  18. #18

    Default Re: New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    In many ways, Guerlain is to a certain extent irreplaceable (at least in my opinion). A fragrance house whose branding and marketing is consistent with the output of non-discontinued and (luckily) minimally or not reformulated classics, while its more modern releases can still, at least partly, cater to more modern demands. Again in my opinion, both the scents on their own and their simultaneously understated yet luxurious marketing are difficult to be replaced and/matched by anything else on the market.

    By the way, the only minor (subjectively perceived) setback about this house is the fact that too many of their historical fragrances are either totally discontinued or shelved/mothballed for an indeterminate period. Sure, their can only keep the bestsellers in their regular output and retail, but even at the risk of these fragrances NOT getting sold or even known outside BN and similar limited fan communities, it would be interesting if they could venture to re-release more of their 19th century assortment (even if just bespoke, on special order, with additional charges etc.).

  19. #19

    Default Re: New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    Well, it really depends on people's expectations... The world is changing, and change, as another poster has written here, is inevitable.

    I love and respect Guerlain above most other houses, they advanced so much in terms of modern perfumery. "Jicky" and "Shalimar" alone have enormous significance on modern perfume making and if there had never been a Guerlain I'm sure most would agree that perfumery as we know it would not look or be the same.

    However, people must realise that things will always change, they can never stay the same, and really it's because of us. More people on this planet, more demand for resources (just take "Mysore" sandalwood alone, and how demand for it damaged it's habitat and availability). You could also argue this with Civet, other types of Musk and Ambergris for which we have had to use synthetics for a very long time now. People complain about Oakmoss being gone, but I don't see anyone saying "I really miss the good old musk from the civet cat they used to use 100 years ago, not this synthetic stuff, I mean the real stuff extracted from the animal".

    Again, I know some people who are purists who refuse to buy any "modern" perfumes or any perfume produced after 2001. People who only use "vintage" and "pre-reformulation" and refuse to buy anything new, and then spend their time complaining about how "boring" and "pedestrian" the world has become.

    It was inevitable that Guerlain had to change if it wanted to survive in this market, in today's world. When Jaques Guerlain or even until Jean-Paul was making perfumes, fragrance itself was still seen as a luxury which few people could afford, and they didn't have to make perfumes targeted to the masses, only for themselves (in Guerlain's case this was up until "Coriolan" and "Mahora" in 1999/2000). Yet they had to compete with Chanel, Dior, YSL, and about three dozen other brands that were taking up the market.

    You will find some people telling you "Guerlain died in 1994 when Jean-Paul sold his shares to LVMH", others will say "2008 when Thierry Wasser came in", others will say "2010 when Jean-Paul was kicked out". But the reality is, it's not just a house like Guerlain which is affected by all this change (economics, profit margins, IFRA etc.), but ALL of them, even so-called "niche" brands like Serge Lutens, "Andy Tauer" and Editions de Parfums - Frederic Malle. Who would have imagined that Serge Lutens, one of the first brands to be called "niche" since the early 1990's, would be forced to reformulate? Or Frederic Malle, a line dedicated to the art of perfume itself, an "anti-designer-anti-profit-anti-marketing" type of company, would be forced to reformulate also? It's inevitable.

    I used to hold up Frederic Malle as the example of a new style of perfume making and marketing, one which is not attached to a design house or winning over customers or pleasing the masses for sake of profits etc. But even he had to admit that he has had to reformulate and discontinue. But he still keeps his original concept and ideals which he founded his line on, and continues to implement them.

    Again with Serge Lutens, I used to love the fact that he made fragrances for himself and no-one else (like Jean-Paul Guerlain did all his life), but even he has been forced to reformulate.

    In this respect, you can say to yourself "niche is the future", and ultimately, you have a point because perfume started out as an exclusive "luxury" hobby for people who had money (think of nobles and aristocrats who had access to only the finest ingredients and perfume oils available to them). But we also know that even an iconic fragrance like "Chanel No. 5" was meant to be mass marketed from the start. As revolutionary as it was, it wasn't ever meant to be "niche" or marketed to the few, yet it is held as a classic and a landmark in modern perfumery.

    Sorry if this rant/argument went on too long. I think my final point is that perfume is NOT dead as some people would claim, it is just in a stage of evolution and I think that ultimately the gap between "niche" and "designer" will grow bigger and bigger. As I said, 100 years ago perfume was something only accessible to the few, and they paid a lot of money for access to exclusive, unattainable ingredients, so maybe the niche craze will bring this back again? In a 360 degree turn?

    Ultimately, if Guerlain wants to survive it HAS to change, and if people like Serge Lutens have been forced to, and Frederic Malle also, then it's just something people have to accept (along with 7 billion people on this planet who all want the best of everything).

    Please excuse the length of this reply and any inconsistency I've written. What I've written is just my opinion.
    Last edited by tempest moon; 22nd August 2014 at 06:10 PM.

  20. #20

    Default Re: New times for Guerlain: better start looking after something new?

    No start-up niche company or individual artisan perfumer has the resources Guerlain can draw on - century-old links in the essential oils trade, the family-owned plantations, the formulas. Even if LVMH plays rough-shod with tradition in the sickening way money grubbing capitalists do, that heritage (or shall I say Héritage) will shine through here and there.
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