Guerlain’s honeyed history… and the origin of that iconic ‘Bee Bottle’

Honey (and bees) are at the heart of the house of Guerlain, and have been since its founding. With much of their skincare imbued with the healing properties of honey, their iconic ‘Bee Bottle’ inspired by beehives, and now, one of their best-selling fragrances, Tobacco Honey, infused with the scent; Guerlain’s history is abuzz with the scent of honey…

 

Guerlain’s Bee-autiful History:

‘The founder of the House, Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain, dedicated a citrus Eau de Cologne to Empress Eugénie to celebrate her marriage to Napoleon III. Naturally, he named it “Eau de Cologne Impériale”. He then entrusted glassmakers Pochet du Courval to create a bottle adorned with his majesty’s coat of arms, the bees, and a festoon pattern, inspired by the Place Vendôme column. The Bee Bottle was born. It would become an icon.

 

 

The Empress was so impressed with this gift, that she named Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain “Supplier to the Empress” (“Fournisseur de l’Impératrice”), which helped to rapidly spread Guerlain’s renown throughout Europe’s great royal courts. A legend was born. Today, the emblematic Bee Bottle is still made in the Pochet du Courval ateliers and now lends itself to colour and personalisation. The perfume bottles can be refilled time and time again in a celebration of how luxury can meet sustainable development as guided by Bees. The “Dames de table” continue to seal and hand decorate this historic bottle, creating some exceptional versions that perpetuate tra-ditional craftsmanship, art and artisanship.’

 

 

 

With bees so central to their heritage, it was only natural for Guerlain to create a buzz for the conservation of bees, because… ‘If bees were no longer to exist,’ Guerlain explain, ‘most fruits, flowers and seeds would disappear forever, taking with them an infinite number of irreplaceable colours, flavours and smells. Across the world, intensive farming, vanishing habitats, climate change and so forth are drastically impacting the health of bees, both wild and domestic.’ Hence why they set up the Guerlain For Bees Conservation Programme.

In order to preserve a future for bees – and for fragrance – Guerlain remind us that ‘It is crucial for us to protect them, but this alone is not enough. We must also raise awareness around the importance of bee conservation for the world of today and tomorrow. This is why Guerlain is committed to teaching children about the cause of bees, thanks to its Bee School. Its programme Women for Bees, in partnership with UNESCO, also aims to train new women beekeepers at UNESCO’s biosphere reserves.’

‘Since 2021, Guerlain has made a symbol of this day initiated by the UN. Each year, the House raises no less than one million euros to donate and accelerate the actions of its “Guerlain for Bees Conservation Programme”. A very special day in which one of the House’s friends, Angelina Jolie, has participated since the beginning.’

 

 

Needing more of Guerlain’s honey-infused heritage? You can read all about the gloriously honey-rich Guerlain Honey Tobacco in our previous exploration of honey fragrances, and the differing ways honey is used to coax particular characters from other perfumery notes. There’s a whole hive of Guerlain’s history to explore in our page dedicated to the founding and development of the house, and did you know there’s even a comic book dedicated to Guerlain’s heritage?

 

 

 

Choose your own Guerlain Bee Bottle, which you my have personalised for a special occasion, or for a gift, in-store or online. You can select any fragrance, then decide on the size and style of bottle, and even choose the cord and seal for the scent – what a way to memorialise a wedding or anniversary – or simply savour your all-time favourite fragrance. And given the current buzz around that Honey Tobacco, we reckon many a bee bottle will be housing that scent for years to come…

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

Guerlain World Bee Day initiative & Bee Bottle art (made by bees!)

Without bees, we’d have no future fragrances to look forward to (or, you know, food, or a planet with vital resources we rely on daily), so with this very much in mind, Guerlain is running a major international campaign for bee protection from 20th May (World Bee Day) to 22nd May (International Day for Biological Diversity) ‘to protect and conserve the bee, the sentinel of the House.’

If bees were no longer to exist,’ Guerlain explain, ‘most fruits, flowers and seeds would disappear forever, taking with them an infinite number of irreplaceable colours, flavours and smells. Across the world, intensive farming, vanishing habitats, climate change and so forth are drastically impacting the
health of bees, both wild and domestic.’

So, for the second year running, Guerlain is raising funds for the Guerlain For Bees Conservation Programme, donating 20% of sales to the programme. To celebrate this, Guerlain has collaborated with artist Tomáš Libertíny to create a never-before-seen creation: the iconic Guerlain Bee Bottle transformed into a work of art – entirely made by bees!

 

 

 

The aim, says Guerlain, is: ‘to gather €1 million within three days to strengthen its “Guerlain for Bees Conservation Programme”. So many natural treasures and resources depend on the skilful handiwork of bees. For the House of Guerlain, making a commitment towards their protection means endeavouring to pass on the wonders of Nature to future generations, while safeguarding their future.’

 

 

 

 

 Guerlain’s Bee-autiful History:

‘The founder of the House, Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain, dedicated a citrus Eau de Cologne to Empress Eugénie to celebrate her marriage to Napoleon III. Naturally, he named it “Eau de Cologne Impériale”. He then entrusted glassmakers Pochet du Courval to create a bottle adorned with his majesty’s coat of arms, the bees, and a festoon pattern, inspired by the Place Vendôme column. The Bee Bottle was born. It would become an icon.The Empress was so impressed with this gift, that she named Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain “Supplier to the Empress” (“Fournisseur de l’Impératrice”), which helped to rapidly spread Guerlain’s renown throughout Europe’s great royal courts. A legend was born. Today, the emblematic Bee Bottle is still made in the Pochet du Courval ateliers and now lends itself to colour and personalisation. The perfume bottles can be refilled time and time again in a celebration of how luxury can meet sustainable development as guided by Bees. The “Dames de table” continue to seal and hand decorate this historic bottle, creating some exceptional versions that perpetuate tra-ditional craftsmanship, art and artisanship.’

 

 

 

 

In order to preserve a future for bees – and for fragrance – Guerlain remind us thatIt is crucial for us to protect them, but this alone is not enough. We must also raise awareness around the importance of bee conservation for the world of today and tomorrow. This is why Guerlain is committed to teaching children about the cause of bees, thanks to its Bee School. Its programme Women for Bees, in partnership with UNESCO, also aims to train new women beekeepers at UNESCO’s biosphere reserves.’

 

Guerlain’s divine Muguet – lily of the valley, the flower of May & our birthday

It’s now a much-anticipated tradition that, on the first of May, Guerlain release their exquisite Muguet – a limited edition, beautuifully Bee-bottled fragrant homage to legends surrounding lily of the valley. Indeed, we were so taken with the traditions of exchanging bouquets for friendship, and the new begginings represented by the flower, that eight years ago, we officially launched The Perfume Society on that date!

Regarded as a lucky charm ever since its first introduction from Japan to Europe in the Middle Ages, lily of the valley has become synonymous with the month of May and ‘the return of happiness’. With so many of us perhaps preparing to travel again – planning trips to see loved ones or simply the joy of a holiday – that happiness is expressed in fragrant form, and just so beautifully bottled. Here, Guerlain explain the many lovely traditions around the world surrounding lily of the valley, and why they, too, are so taken with the delicate flower…

‘According to legend, if its white bells drop their heads on their stems as though they were weeping, it is because they were born from the tears of Eve when she was expelled from the Garden of Eden. For the Greek, it was the god Apollo who scattered the flowers on the thick green grass of Mount Parnassus, so that the Muses wouldn’t hurt their feet. In the forests of Ireland, their bells chime when fairies climb their poetic ladders to weave their iridescent cradles…

“Gentle fairies, hush your singing:
Can you hear my white bells ringing,
Ringing as from far away?
Who can tell me what they say?
Little snowy bells out-springing
From the stem and softly ringing–
Tell they of a country where
Everything is good and fair?”
Cicely Mary BARKER (1895-1973)

A flower of a thousand tales, lily of the valley owes its French name, muguet, derived from musc or muscade (“nutmeg”), a sweetly scented spice, to its delicate, penetrating fragrance. Evocative of springtime, the season of love, muguet gave its name in the 16th century to young swains who spent their time flirting… As for the custom of offering it on May 1st, it was born in 1561, when King Charles IX of France was offered a sprig during a visit to the Dauphiné. He was so charmed that each year, on the same day, he offered lily of the valley to all the ladies of his court.

 

 

 

 

During the Belle Époque, couturiers gave it on May 1st to their seamstresses and clients… Perfumers strove to capture the scent of the fleeting flower. Among the hundreds of tributes inspired by the white bell over the century, one was authored by a young perfumer called Jacques Guerlain. In 1908, he composed the House’s first Muguet, inaugurating a fragrant tradition that has gone on, from spring to spring, for over 110 years. Recreating the lily-of-the-valley fragrance is a genuine olfactory feat as it is known as “mute”. Composed by the Master Perfumer Thierry Wasser, Guerlain’s Muguet takes on green and rosy facets that form a vernal setting for the lush floral materials that enrich his composition: jasmine sambac absolute, rose essence and absolute. At the heart of the bouquet arises the strikingly olfactory illusion of a freshly picked sprig. A true olfactory jewel, to celebrate the rites of spring at its apogee.

It is the most poetic rendez-vous of spring. An encounter of the art of the perfumer and the very best creators flower. The kind of match that only the House of Guerlain could orchestrate. Each year, the new adornment of the iconic Bee Bottle of Muguet is released: the stunning outcome of innovative artistic collaborations. For its 2022 Edition, a delicate sprig of lily-of-the-valley is turned into a jewel, set with glittering crystals by the magicians of the Parisian jewellery studio Atelier Truscelli.

 

 

 

Italian by birth and Parisian by adoption, Francesco Truscelli has been fascinated by jewellery since his childhood. In 2003, he founded his own studio in Paris, where tourmalines, sapphires, turquoises, garnets, aquamarines, pearls are set into shimmering, colourful hand-crafted designs in many different styles. A specialist in one-off pieces and bespoke jewels, Francesco Truscelli still loves, as he did when he first trained, giving a second life to family jewels by redesigning them.

 

 

 

 

May Day and the heralding of Spring is celebrated in many cultures, but we are especially fond of the French custom of presenting your nearest and dearest with a sprig of lily of the valley. For those that want to go several scented steps further, you’d best not delay. These breathtaking bottles are limited edition pieces for collectors of course – this year there are only 5,000 bottles released worldwide, priced at £540 and available at their Covent Garden Boutique, Harrods, and at Guerlain.com.

Guerlain Cherry Blossom 2022 special edition is simply Bee-yootiful!

Fragrance-lovers and collectors the world over look forward with glee to the launch of the latest Guerlain limited edition Bee Bottle perfumes. Working with renowned artists, Guerlain encourage freedom of expression, allowing each artisan to interpret the scent with their unique adornments, turning each bottle into a work of art itself.

For Spring 2022 the Guerlain Cherry Blossom is joyously welcomed in a stunning pink flaçon that’s been individually adorned with miniature flowers, echoing the tender beauty of the scent inside. Let’s take a deep dive into Guerlain’s foucs on this annual fragrance ritual, and – given the numerous outside stresses we’re currently experiencing – enjoy the beauty with renewed bliss. Altogether now: and B-R-E-A-T-H-E the blossoms in…

 

 

Guerlain Cherry Blossom 2022

 

 

Of all the rituals of the Land of the Rising Sun, this is the most poetic. Each spring, the Japanese gather to admire the beauty of cherry blossoms. Guerlain celebrates this annual tradition with an exceptional limited and numbered edition of Cherry Blossom in its iconic Bee Bottle. For the 2022 edition, Guerlain has asked the embroidery studio Kyoko Création founded by the artist Kyoko Sugiura to create the delicate floral adornment of its flacon, crafted by a community of Japanese embroiderers. A unique and poetic artistic collaboration between France and Japan.’ – GUERLAIN

 

 

 

ADMIRING CHERRY BLOSSOMS AT NIGHTFALL

‘Each year in January, the Japanese start following the gradual blossoming of sakuras from the Okinawa Archipelago in the south of the country to Hokkaido Island, in the north, at the end of April. Called “hanami”, which means “flower viewing”, the ritual is observed by people of every age and background. Families and friends gather to wonder at the beauty of cherry trees laden with snowy, pink-tinged corollas… Gazing at sakuras in the moonlight is an especially moving moment in the springtime celebration. As white as the moon that lights them against a backdrop of black branches, ephemeral yet as eternal as the cycle of seasons, cherry blossoms arouse a sentiment that is deeply anchored in the Japanese culture: mono no aware, which could be translated as “a sensitivity to ephemera”. A sensitivity shared by perfumers, whose art also captures the fleeting beauty of flowers.

 

A FRAGRANCE AS TENDER AS A NIGHT IN SPRING

How can the emotion born from hanami be expressed in a bottle? How can a fragrance of eternal spring be invented for flowers so fragile they do not yield their essence? This was the artistic challenge Jean-Paul Guerlain set out to meet in 2000 when he composed Cherry Blossom. A pink-hued eau de toilette, as delicate as a sakura petal, as limpid as a Japanese haiku musing on life’s evanescence. The golden moonlight of spring… Its glow is reflected by radiant bergamot, the olfactory signature of the House of Guerlain. Subtly floral, the precious citrus essence blends with an exquisite green tea accord that evokes another of Japan’s ancient rituals. A white cherry blossom at night… Reinvented by the Master Perfumer, its fragrance is faceted with notes as immaculate as a sakura petal in the moonlight: tender cherry blossom, powdery lilac, jasmine – their scent fills the air at dusk. Featherlight clouds crossing the darkened sky… The diaphanous trail of white musks carries the delicate fragrance, like the breeze carries sakuras, illuminating
the night with countless moon petals.

 

 

 

 

AN ARTIST INFLUENCED BY FRANCE AND JAPAN

Adorned with different ornaments throughout the years, Cherry Blossom has now become an exclusive annual rendez-
vous that celebrates, as much as the Japanese art of living, the peerless know-how of creators invited by Guerlain. A match of cultures, perfume and art that has long been cultivated by the House. For its 2022 Edition, Guerlain has given carte blanche to the Japanese embroidery artist Kyoko Sugiura and her studio Kyoko Création, to create a delicate adornment of sakuras for the iconic Bee Bottle produced by Pochet du Courval, the historic glassmaker of the House since 1853. A new variation on the poetic theme, this edition evokes cherry blossoms at night, in the moonlight, in a precious chiaroscuro of white, black, and gold. And for the first time, it has been created by a Japanese artist who masters the secular know-hows of both her country and France to perfection.

 

 

 

 

A COMMITTED ARTISTIC COLLABORATION

Especially since Kyoko Sugiura worked with a community of 18 Japanese women from very diverse backgrounds –
office workers, teachers, designers… Professional or amateur embroiderers she trained herself, and invited to participate in this unique project, turning it into a human as well as artistic adventure. The gesture was a lovely way to reflect the communion of her compatriots around cherry blossoms in spring… But it also expresses Guerlain’s commitment to the empowerment of women, by celebrating an art elaborated, perpetuated, and practiced by them throughout the centuries. And which expresses itself today with a contemporary artwork that brings together a community of Japanese embroiderers and perfume lovers all over the world…

 

 

 

Guerlain Cherry Blossom 2022, £540 at Guerlain.com and in Harrods.