Guerlain Muguet Millésime 2024 – excuse us while we swoon…

Every year in the month of May, Guerlain releases their much-anticipated Muguet – a limited edition, Bee-bottled fragrant homage to the the spring season, and artistically referencing legends surrounding lily of the valley…

 

Only available on guerlain.com and in Guerlain boutiques, this annual exquisite collectors piece represents Guerlain’s olfactive ode to their heritage – utilising a beloved floral symbol which we happen to adore at The Perfume Society, too, lily of the valley being the emblem we chose for its fragrant folklore meanings (and because we began ten years ago on May 1st, when bouquets of lily of the valley, or muguet in French, are traditionally bequeathed to loved ones.

Guerlain Says: ‘Like every year, the House of Guerlain celebrates the arrival of spring with its emblematic Muguet in a limited, numbered pieces edition. For this long-awaited and exclusive lucky rendezvous, Guerlain reaffirms its commitment to arts and crafts by collaborating with Anne Lopez.’

 

 

 

 

‘On the iconic Bee Bottle, the sculptor brings to life subtle bells fashioned in stucco and enhanced with 22-carat fine gold, turning the 2024 Millésime into a singular sculptural work. A trail, which freshness reminisces of a freshly-picked sprig of lily of the valley.’

Artist Anne Lopez was chosen to design the precious flaçon this year, and Guerlain explains that ‘The adornment of lucky bell-shaped flowers was born from her delicate sketches, drafts that create a singular vision. Fashioned in stucco, a coating made of marble powder, the twenty-four bell-shaped flowers illuminated with gold and the two green leaves are sculpted by Anne Lopez directly on the glass. Just like a delicate necklace, the lily-of-the-valley sprig composition unfolds in a considered way around the bottle’s curves : plump bell-shaped flowers at the top, then gradually refining into an utterly graceful string.’

 

 

 

 

Although each year the bottle design and embellishments change depending on the artist Guerlain is collaborating with, the stunning scent remains – gracefully, gratefully – unchanged. ‘It is to Guerlain’s Master Perfumer that we owe the feat of reproducing the fragrance of lily of the valley.’ And Guerlain reminds us that the this flower is one of the trickiest to translate in fragrant form. ‘Described as “mute”, its natural essence is impossible to extract. Guerlain’s Muguet, composed since 2016 by Thierry Wasser, captures as faithfully as possible the scent of the lucky sprigs. In a burst of freshness, the green notes meeting the floral preciousness of jasmine and rose adorn this emblematic trail with soft and pearly green and rosy facets. At the heart of this bouquet, the olfactory illusion of a freshly picked sprig of lily of the valley emerges.’

Of course this is a dream piece – these are collected, and beloved all over the world. But how wonderful that such artistry can still be found, and admired (even in simply gasping at pictures of the work, or watching the bottle spin in the film found on Guerlain’s website). Drink in the artistry of the images, and (we urge you) do go and smell the scent in-store, and allow yourself to be awed awhile by something beautiful. It’s good for the soul…

 

 

 

Guerlain Muguet Millésime 2024 (4885 limited and numbered collection pieces), £675 for 100ml Bee Bottle + 30ml Spray Bottle guerlain.com

 

By Suzy Nightingale

Oh honey, honey…

Rich, warm, luxurious and comforting, honey works wonderfully in fragrances to emphasise floral notes, or add touches of amberiness.  And with the profusion of gourmand fragrances out there, honey-lovers can easily find themselves in sweet heaven. We love what the nose Christine Nagel has to say about this ingredient:

‘Honey has two facets – half devil, half angel. In Ambrée structures, it has a sweet, comforting effect, taking you back to childhood. But a small touch in a feminine structure can be extremely sexy…’

Are you already a honey-lover…?  Then you’ll know that honey comes in so many different varieties, each taking their smell (and colour) from the flowers on which the bees that produce it have feasted.  Orange blossom honey.  Eucalyptus honey.  Acacia honey:  the variations are almost limitless, sometimes woody, flowery, herbal or even tobacco-y.  The ancient Arab perfumers were the first to capture honey’s sweetness in perfumery, but today the honey featured is generally a synthetic note – one that’s drizzled sensually over quite a few fragrances in the past few years.

It’s over 15,000 years since man first harnessed bees’ busy-ness to produce this natural sweetener. (According to cave paintings in Valencia in Spain, anyway.)  Symbolically, honey stands for ‘the sweet life’, prosperity, even immortality;  the word itself comes from the ancient Hebrew word for ‘enchant’…  When man and bee teamed together, it turned out to be a win-win situation:  bees got a safe place to live (and a reliable food source, in the form of flowering crops) – and we got to harvest honey and beeswax in unbelievably impressive quantities:  a single beehive can produce up to 200 kilos of honey each season.

Guerlain are known for their love of bees of course, featured in their utterly exquisite and iconic Guerlain Bee Bottles, which have been… ‘An icon for nearly 170 years: timeless, the Bee Bottle is more than a bottle, it’s a statement: a precious Guerlain signature and a craft symbol between tradition and modernity.’ What’s more, apart from using honey in their skincare and as a note in fragrances, Guerlain also fund a number of Bee loving projects to ensure the future of bees (and, therefore, crops – and humankind! For without the bees we are truly lost).

 

 

 

 

Guerlain explains: ‘First founded in 2018 and launched globally in  2021, Guerlain’s Bee School initiative was founded as a result of the brand’s ongoing mission to teach children about bees and how they positively affect our environment. Nearly 6,000 children in over ten countries have been able to learn about the various issues facing bees and biodiversity conservation. After discussions, question-and-answer sessions, workshops, and games to test their knowledge, each child receives a Bee School certificate at the end of the session. The programme encompasses meaningful initiatives and partnerships…’

With World Bee Day having been celebrated recently around the globe, and with summer scents in mind (now the weather finally seems to be playing ball), what better time to explore honey fragrances, with scents that evoke both the flirty innocent sweetness and the deeper, more ‘devilish’ side of honey’s character, as Christine Nagel so beautifully put it…?

 

 

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Nettare Di Sole

A deliciously unusual icy floral honey absolute that sings of summertime, the magnolia, rose and Sambac jasmine bathed in honey, as if infused with the sun itself, and rippled with that deliciously cool note evoking dappled shade in a courtyard. Glorious to wear at any time, I especially adore wearing this when the heat properly simmers.

£89 for 75ml eau de toilette guerlain.com

 

 

Floris Honey Oud

A really good introduction to how oudh can be used in a nuanced way – almost as a seasoning instead of the main flavour – this one is actually delicious (as in, if it came in a jar, I’d want to slather it on buttered toast and guzzle it, or perhaps slather myself in it and roll on a meadow). The dark, spiced honeyed note deepens as the oudh kicks in. Intensely nuzzle-able, there’s nothing whatever to frighten the horses, here.

From £22 for 10ml eau de parfum florislondon.com 

[NB: Also available to sample as part of the Floris Private Collection set, for only £35, and including some of their most iconic scents].

 

 

 

Manos Gerakinis Methexis

The name ‘MEΘEXIS’ derives from ancient Greek, translating as ‘the communication between the divine and the human’. A feast for the senses, cocoa and honey luxuriously swathe fig, while blackcurrant ensures the perfect balance of sweetness, swirled into the reassuring woodiness of cedar. A sprinkle of cinnamon ensures this so-sophisticated, intoxicating indulgence of a scent is seasoned to perfection. Divine!

From £50 for 10ml eau de parfum shymimosa.com

[NB: Try samples of the rest of the collection in the Manos Gerakinis Discovery Set, where for £35 you can explore his other scents].

 

 

 

Sarah Baker Charade 

An absolute stunner of a scent, there’s a mellifluous segue between hypnotic floral notes of tuberose and ylang ylang, generously drizzled with honey that brings forth their headiness and makes them swoon into the dry, grassiness of vetiver and tea. Nestled in the base are deeper notes of leather, amber-y warmth and resins resting on smooth sandalwood and snuggly moss. Completely beguiling…

£145 for 50ml extrait de parfum in our shop

 

Marc Jacobs Honey

Created by master ‘noses’ Annie Buzantian and Ann Gottlieb, the sunny fragrance opens with a refreshing bouquet of green pear, juicy, ripe mandarin and a cool, fruity punch. Then at the floral heart you’ll find a composition of orange blossom, peach nectar and honeysuckle, followed by a warming base of that gloriously golden honey, creamy vanilla and silky woods. Scrumptious!

Currently £39.99 for 100ml eau de parfum at theperfumeshop.com

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Guerlain Sakura Cherry Blossom Limited Edition – ‘When spring is reborn’

Since the year 2000, every spring the limited edition Guerlain Sakura Cherry Blossom is a breathtaking moment to pause and immerse ourselves in beauty, and oh how welcome that chance can be. Just as Japanese rituals around cherry blossom have taken place for centuries, Guerlain’s annual celebration of scent, exquisite artisan craftsmanship and nature combine in the most breathtaking way…

Says Guerlain: ‘For the House, this is the perfect opportunity to combine original artistic collaboration with the most virtuosic creators of artistic crafts. This year is an especially outstanding occasion, as it marks the 170th anniversary of the iconic Bee Bottle.

For its precious 2023 Millésime, Guerlain has asked the Ateliers Vermont, a prestigious Parisian embroidery house, to create the magical adornment of its Bee Bottle. A delicate cherry tree branch in blossom, nestled on a grosgrain bow, which expresses both the peerless expertise of French Haute Couture and the timeless poetry of the most moving of Japanese traditions.

 

 

To celebrate a poetic ritual the Japanese call hanami (literally “flower viewing”), friends and families get together to admire sakuras. Under the cherry trees, the delicate blooms fall without wilting, “flower rafts” float on streams, and petals flutter in the breeze like delicate butterflies.’

The bottles are snapped up by collectors, each of them hand-adorned and art pieces to treasure forever, and each year we think: oh, this is the most beautiful version yet! Of course, the fragrance itself must reflect the ethereal, life-affirming beauty of the cherry blossom spectacle itself:

‘Perfumers must therefore invent a fragrance which can express both the infinite grace of its flower-laden branches and the emotion of those who gaze at them,’ Guerlain explain.

 

 

‘First, bergamot, an olfactory signature of the House, sheds its golden light on the fragrance. A fresh, subtle green tea accord recalls another of Japan’s ancient rituals, while threading the luminous overture with the heart of the fragrance through its floral tones. In the heart notes, the Guerlain Perfumers, artisans of the sublime, have embroidered the delicate petals of the sakura blossom one by one onto the precious olfactory materials of their palette… Tender facets of almond, cherry, and powdery lilac, enhanced by a pearl-white jasmine, conjure their airy corollas. Carried by a breeze of white musks, these flowers fluttering on slender branches herald the rebirth of spring with the most delicate of fragrances.’

 

Guerlain Sakura Cherry Blossoms is priced at €700 in Guerlain boutiques

 

Guerlain reveals their Exceptional Piece for 2022: ‘Le Secret de la Reine’

Every year, Guerlain reveals their ‘Exceptional Piece’ – a creation in collaboration with an artisan which truly showcases scent itself as a work of art. For 2022 get ready to gasp at Le Secret de la Reine, created by jeweller Laurenz Bäumer – a wearable brooch with a fragrant trail…

While utterly exquisite, this piece might not exactly end up on our Christmas lists (particularly as there are only two in the whole world!) but we are doing a bit of pretty perfume pieces window shopping, here, and wanted to sigh at the scented delight of the piece all the same. Guerlain says:

‘Designed to be worn as a brooch or pendant with a fragrant trail, the diamond set Queen Bee hides a magic secret in its heart. Gently apply pressure on the pear-shaped diamond adorning its body, and its wings open to reveal a delicate lace of gold in a honeycomb pattern. These alveoli form a precious olfactory material which can hold one of Guerlain’s perfumes.’

 

 

 

 

Says jeweller Lorenz Bäumer:

‘With Le Secret de la Reine, I have made a very old fantasy come true.

That of adding another sense to jewellery, which is about sight and touch: the sense of smell.

Thanks to Guerlain, I was able to achieve this idea and to create the first perfumed jewel of High Jewellery.’

 

 

 

 

Echoing his sentiments, and describing their decision to use their iconic bee emblem as a ‘messenger of happiness’ symbol for the piece, Guerlain explains:

‘Exalting the Bee, the quintessence of the Guerlain spirit since it landed in 1853 on the Eau de Cologne Impériale bottle, this precious piece glittering with diamonds, in Onyx and white gold, creates the perfect collaboration between High Jewellery and Fragrance…’

 

 

Melding art and fragrance, how we hope more collaborations between artisans and fragrance creators allow us to wear our love for perfume in fragrant jewellery form!

 

 

Enchanted and looking for more gorgeous scented snippets? You can read the history of Guerlain’s bee symbolism and the fascinating story of how the fragrance house began in our brand page dedicated to Guerlain. Happy scented sighing!

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.

 

 

Celebrating 100 years of Shalimar (and why we still love it)

It’s really quite incredible to think that Shalimar is 100 years old – having been first launched in 1921 – and that Guerlain‘s most romantic fragrance is still worn and adored to this day. If you’re already a fan of the fragrance you’ll know how special it is, but if you’ve never tried it… oh, you’re in for in a treat!

 

Jacques Guerlain – Guerlain Perfumer 1890-1955

‘A good perfume is one whose scent corresponds to an initial dream.’

 

 

The History: The most prolific of the Guerlain perfumers, Jacques’ rein lasted for an astonishing 65 years. He took over from his uncle Aimé in 1890 and was responsible for creating the ultimate signature of Guerlain, the ‘Guerlianade’: an accord which blends vanilla, bergamot, balsams, tonka bean, iris, rose and jasmine, and has been at the heart of (almost) every fragrance since the early 1920s. His most celebrated creations include L’Heure Bleu, Mitsouko and of course, the astonishing Shalimar, launched in 1921, which remains one of the bestselling fragrances in the world.

 

 

 

The flacon for Shalimar is almost as fascinating as the fragrance inside. Sometimes described as the ‘bat’ bottle (we hadn’t until now quite realised it resembled outstretched wings!), it is also said to resemble a basin that could be admired in the Mughal gardens in India, and was designed by another talented Guerlain, Raymond, with a dark blue stopper chosen to evoke Indian starry nights. The bottle won first prize at the Exhibition of Decorative Arts and Modern Industry in 1925.

 

 

Why perfumers love Shalimar: When we interview perfumers, we often ask which classic fragrance they wish they’d created or most admire. One of the most frequent answers? Shalimar, of course. Carlos Benaïm told us, ‘My grandmother used to wear Shalimar. It is magnificent, absolutely wonderful, with that mossiness – not just oakmoss, but the other mosses which we’re restricted from using so much these days…’ And Alberto Morillas – another nose often cited as one of the most talented perfumers working today – explained, ‘If you ask me what is the greatest fragrance ever created, I’d say Guerlain Shalimar. Some might imagine it’s old-fashioned but it’s also very modern. There are all sorts of contrasts inside it – but it works so well.’

 

Guerlain Shalimar £83 for 50ml eau de parfum selfridges.com

Why we love wearing Shalimar: Imagine a silky pair of 1920s pyjamas worn as daywear (or with heels, to a cocktail party) as uplifting lemon and bergamot swirl with honeyed, night-blooming flowers of heliotrope and jasmine. Beautifully rounded by powdery iris and cocooned in a comforting, vanilla-plumped base of patchouli, benzoin, ambergris, tonka bean, incense, vetiver, sandalwood and musk. To wear Shalimar is still the ultimate gesture of olfactive romance.

Quite simply, it’s a masterpiece that’s effortlessly glam. And it’s one of those perfumes that people will still be wearing and talking about in another 100 years, we reckon.

Many Happy Returns, Shalimar!

By Suzy Nightingale

 

Guerlain Muguet 2021 – legendary lily of the valley

Every year on the first of May, Guerlain release their much-anticipated 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 of the flower that seven 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’. This year, that return has been particularly significant as the easing of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions and rollout of vaccines in many countries has, for we lucky some, meant the ability to meet up with loved ones and see family members missed for so long. But let’s allow Guerlain to walk us through 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!’

 

 

The stunning bottle for 2021’s Muguet Millésime, Guerlain turned to the talents of Lucie Touré, a young Parisian paper and textile designer who won the 2019 Eiffel Tower Design Prize. ‘To reinterpret Muguet, I created a delicate adornment in a fresh, Haute Couture spirit’, she explains.

 

 

Guerlain says: ‘After studying embroidery and textile design, Lucie Touré trained for six years in Parisian embroidery and textile printing studios, collaborating with the most prestigious ready-to-wear and Haute Couture houses. She founded her own studio in 2018, with an initial two-year residency in the Ateliers de Paris. By associating paper with finishing techniques drawn from textile and jewelry, she glorifies the ephemeral material by cutting, weaving, or embroidering it. For this edition, she has imagined a modern, customised 3-D adornment, entirely hand-made in Paris: a stylised representation of sprigs of lily-of-the-valley in full blossom unfurling gracefully onto the dome of the Bee Bottle.’

 

Guerlain Muguet 2021 £450 [4,500 pieces worldwide]

By Suzy Nightingale

Fragrant Reads – Guerlain The Prince of Perfume

Our ever-growing bookshelf of Fragrant Reads just got its first graphic novel – a unique take on telling the scented story of Pierre-Francois-Pascal Guerlain…

We’ve never seen a perfume house’s history played out in comic-book format before, and as a potted perfume biography of founder Pierre-François-Pascal; Guerlain – The Prince of Perfume, by Pierre-Roland Saint-Dizier is a delightful (if rather surprising) presentation.

Written with the help of Laurent Boillot, Guerlain President and CEO, Élisabeth Sirot and Hélène Schney, this is no mere child’s book (though we feel it would be an ideal gift for a younger reader interested in the history of fragrance). It’s well-researched and gives an historical overview of the French Revolution, as a backdrop to Pierre-François-Pascal’s story along the way.

 

 

 

We see him first in 1807 as he falls in love with smelling vanilla, herbs and spices in his father’s shop – memorising the way they smell. Later, Pierre leaves for Paris to work for Briard – already, then, an historic French perfume house – and, as his ambitions grow, learning soap and cosmetic-making, travelling the world as a salesman and working for various perfume and soap houses. As the back of the book’s blurb explains, ‘This young man, who will eventually become known as “Prince of Perfume” and the official perfumer of the European Royal Courts, does not yet realise that he will conquer the world of perfumes and pave the way for a dynasty of perfumers to come.’

 

 

Of course, given the format, it can never be the full story; but as a book of scented snapshots, its a charming and evocative portrait of not only the man who began the Guerlain family empire, but of the birth of modern perfumery, the political climate in France at the time, and a history of our changing tastes in perfume – and the way we shopped for them.

 

 

It can be difficult to find an English translation copy of the book, which we found on an online auction site, but a Kindle version is also available in the original French. Indeed, it may be best to pick up a French copy if you’re able to translate yourself – a great way to encourage French language development in someone interested in perfumery – as the English translation isn’t always perfect, here.

However, it’s a lovely thing to own, charmingly illustrated by artist Li-An throughout, and includes a written appendix detailing the hidtory more thoroughly, and explaining how the author was granted access to the extensive Guerlain archives (including original family letters) in the research. Over all, a fascinating addition to any perfume-lover’s bookshelf!

Buy it on Kindle [French edition] (Glénat) – Also available from second-hand book-sellers.

Want to know more? We suggest starting with our page dedicated to the history of Guerlain, and then exploring the History of Perfumery sections…

By Suzy Nightingale