Perfume Directory

Eau de Cologne Impériale (1853)
by Guerlain

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Eau de Cologne Impériale information

Year of Launch1853
GenderShared / Unisex
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 282 votes)

People and companies

HouseGuerlain
PerfumerPierre-François-Pascal Guerlain
Parent CompanyLVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton
Parent Company at launchGuerlain

About Eau de Cologne Impériale

Eau de Cologne Impériale is a shared / unisex perfume by Guerlain. The scent was launched in 1853 and the fragrance was created by perfumer Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain

Eau de Cologne Impériale fragrance notes

  1. Top Notes
  2. Heart Notes
  3. Base notes

Reviews of Eau de Cologne Impériale

rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom
Bergamot, neroli and verbena - the classic brightness in the opening splash of an Eau de Cologne - well-made and with the additional spritzes of lemon a whiff of sweet mature orange. Whilst bright in a Cologne way, it is not ultra fresh on my, more a bright and friendly smile than a loud laugh.

This restrained brightness is mellowed by the quick accession of the lavender, which is mixing with the top notes the more the drydown progresses.

The base develops a tonka impression that is not really that sweet, and a woodsy undertone is also present.

I get moderate sillage, limited projection and - in line with what one expects from an Eau de Cologne - two hours of longevity on my skin.

A traditional Cologne, with no surprises but reliable. Less fresh than Creed’s Bois de Cedrat - which is not a typical Eau de Cologne - is reminds me a bit of Fragonard’s Cologne Grand Luxe, which is a bit brighter and textured differently; and there are similarities with the top notes of Versace Versus Uomo on me. The ingredients are of a decent quality. Nice for cooler summer days. 3.25/5
17th February, 2020
Kotori Show all reviews
United States
[b]Eau de Cologne Imperiale by Guerlain[/b]
[b]Category 2:[/b] Eau de Cologne type
[b]Rating: 5/5[/b]
[b]Longevity: 2/5[/b]

There are several excellent cologne offerings from the house of Guerlain. This one is bracing with a tantalizing lemon opening that lasts only 5 to 10 minutes before fading into a warm, lemon-like herbal blend that reminds me a bit of lemon drops. I like the drydown, and it lasts for about 2 hours.
12th January, 2020
Not awful - not outstanding.
A very crisp, lively citrus to start.
Lavender slowly rises into the mix.
Not a screamer, this. It is steady with an even strength. Nothing fancy. Workday appropriate. Some cedar shows up after while. Never over-bearing.
Lasts only about 3 1/2 hours on my skin. Unisex-like.
06th September, 2019
Guerlain Eau de Cologne Imperiale, or just “Imperiale” as some call it, is a very agreeable variant of the “eau de cologne” concept, a bit brighter, with less neroli and more lemon than 4711 but of comparable weight, and that is, to say, it’s quite light and fresh but utterly transparent, a nice wearing of 2-3 hours making it almost disappear. It’s not as modern-smelling as the bergamusk Dior Homme Cologne, nor is it as robust as Colonia (and its many variants) of Acqua di Parma, nor does it hint at a barbershop vibe like Dior Eau Sauvage. However, it fits in nicely as a “lemon opening to light woody dry down” option, so it’s clear why it’s a mainstay of EDCs for more than a century and a half.

It’s unusually lemony clean and is great to help one wake up in the morning or find some peace in the afternoon or evening. I probably wouldn’t use it socially since it lasts for only a few hours on my skin but enjoy it around the house or when I need a stop gap type of scent for just one phase of the day. I can apply it liberally and know that if I want to wear another scent later, I needn’t worry about much conflict.

I’m generally hypercritical of underperforming fragrances but as always, the scent being nice is what counts, first and foremost, with performance as a secondary or tertiary concern. And Imperiale is very pleasant, even if it requires reapplication to sustain it for more than a few hours.

Imperiale is quite affordable, not as cheap as 4711 but still reasonable at $34 for a standard 100ml bottle on FragranceNet as of this day, or $30 for a tester. Certainly not a necessity or the best “eau de cologne” type of scent, since 4711 is probably the cheapest, and Colonia by ADP is among the best, but a nice offering to have in the rotation.

7 out of 10
29th July, 2019
Eau de Cologne was all the rage among the noble courts of the 18th and early to mid 19th century, until the invention of proper lasting perfumes beyond individual-note creations took hold as the 19th century progressed into the 20th. Before these complex compositions afforded by advancing chemistry became the mainstay of the well-to-do, simple bespoke tinctures/infusions/macerations blended together were all there was until the eau de Cologne came along. Every perfumer worth their mettle wanted to make their own take on the style introduced in Köln Germany by Giovanni (later Johann) Maria Farina in 1706. Farina's formula was famously aped by Wilhelm Mülhens in 1792 until a legal battle forced him to remove the Farina name from his product, creating in 1803 the name 4711 Echt Kölnisch Wasser (1792) we all know today and setting the precedent that it was okay to copy the formula of a perfume so long as the name was not the same. By the time 4711 had spread around, eau de cologne had become a genre all its own, albeit a narrowly-defined one, and ubiquitous enough that the stuff was no longer seen as quite the luxury item it once was. Nobles still loved their eau de colognes, but they started wanting their own unique cologne formulas to fight increasing ubiquity, just as they had with simpler commissioned fragrances before that. Creating a unique eau de cologne was a task proving rather difficult due to the very definition of what was considered a cologne water to begin with, but not for Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain. The founder of house Guerlain himself earned the title of Parfumeur Breveté de Sa Majesté with the creation and successful reception of Eau de Cologne Impériale (1853), and was the Royal Perfumer to Her Majesty Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III until his death in 1866. Eau de Cologne Impériale would eventually enter the public domain to be sold alongside other items in the Guerlain catalog over time, as the house moved away from custom creations to boutique-sold perfumes by the 20th century.

Eau de Cologne Impériale distinguishes itself from a lot of other eaux de cologne of the day by simply having a greater focus on a natural-smelling citrus, cutting away a lot of the herbal mish mash found in older iterations like 4711 or Farina's original design. Despite its brevity, Eau de Cologne Impériale was among the first colognes to have a full three-tiered note structure, progressing from the top notes through a middle phase of French lavender, which was a novel twist to the cologne formula at the time, before drying onto a short-lived foundation of cedar and natural tonka before the days of extracted coumarin. The biggest and most pronounced feature of Eau de Cologne Impériale besides this simpler and more-elegant composition was it's trifecta of lifelike citrus lead by bergamot, lemon, and orange. Neroli from the orange blossom surely makes its way into this opening, as does verbena to accompany that lemon note, since Eau de Cologne Impériale wouldn't really be much of a traditional cologne without those. The three citrus blend creates almost a lime-like tart brightness that smells very refreshing after a shower or on a sweltering day, much more convincing than probably any other comparable eau de cologne from this period, giving it a quality befitting its once-imperial status. The lavender smooths out the transition to the dry woodsy heart, and once there was an extra-dry variant of this formula with more bergamot and woods, but less of everything else. There really isn't much else to say about wearing Eau de Cologne Impériale, since it's literally just an hour of lifelike citrus bliss, then a brief dry down for that second hour through dry lavender into a hay-like woody fizzle with traces of the citrus peeking through. Wear this as you'd wear any traditional eau de cologne, mostly to freshen up or even just as something light before bed.

Despite the lofty title, Eau de Cologne Impériale is really about as casual as it gets, but I think it was even meant to be used casually by the very royalty it was made for initially. People who aren't fans of briefly-lived traditional colognes probably won't understand what all the hubbub is about for Eau de Cologne Impériale, and even if you discount all the house-defining and history-making talk, it's still just a cologne in spite of the photo-realism in the citrus. I find that very citrus to be the best part of Eau de Cologne Impériale myself, as many others go down a road with petitgrain or orris in an attempt to strke out in different directions, and a lot of things made after the advent of modern base notes also try to play the "traditional cologne but stronger" game by using oakmoss, musk, or woody aroma chemicals to beef up and extend the wear time. Eau de Cologne Impériale doesn't go that direction, because Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain couldn't have anyway even if he wanted to, since that kind of science was still on its way to fruition during his time as perfumer. Still, there's nothing saying you can't apply and apply again because this stuff is just that lovely if you're a fan of citrus that you may find yourself itching for more of that opening regardless of the wear time. Another interesting thing is the tradition this has set for every house perfumer of Guerlain to make their own signature eau de cologne creation representing their tenure as house perfumer, which was a title held by Guerlain family up until Thierry Wasser took over for Jean-Paul Guerlain. Still, for all intents and purposes, the Guerlain legacy starts here, as this is the fragrance that gave the house any serious clout, and the oldest fragrance from the house still available for sale. As with any traditional eau de cologne, it's a short trip from start to finish, but oh what a wonderful trip it is! Thumbs up!
26th February, 2019
In the style of 4711, lots of sharp, refreshing citrus with a little musk. Smells nice and projects decently while it lasts, maybe an hour on my skin.
12th October, 2018

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