Perfumer Thierry Wasser.
So, what is the recipe for a big-budget, got-to-be-successful, no-room-for-error, if-you-build-it-they-will-come perfume? To judge by Guerlain’s approach: Mix equal parts imitation, predictability and risk aversion in a large bowl. Bake in a lukewarm focus-group until stale. Sprinkle with olfactory least common denominators. Serve in a bottle replete with historical Awethenticity™. Buon appetito.
Am I cynical? Clearly, but I can’t hold a candle to Guerlain.
With Mon Guerlain Thierry Wasser proves he isn’t so much the successor to Jean-Paul Guerlain as he is the heir to Jacques Guerlain. Jacques was known for nicking someone else’s ideas (namely, François Coty’s) and making them better. Wasser attempts a Jacques Guerlain with two perfumes: Lancome’s end-of -the-world-as-we-know-it lollipop, La Vie Est Belle, and Mugler’s iconic poison-apple, Angel. The drag is that Mon Guerlain drowns in the syrup of the former but forgets the atonal war-cry of the latter. Angling between these two perfumes Guerlain casts its net as wide as possible, hoping for a hit that would break all box-office records.
The complication is that Guerlain looks to two perfumes that, though they both got a whole lotta ethylmaltol going on, are diametrically opposed. Angel might have launched two decades of straight-faced gourmand perfumes but it did so inadvertently. It was anything but straight. Angel’s cotton-candy is counterbalanced by an enormous inedible chemo-floral note and an earthy patchouli. It smells sweet, but it’s pure venom. La Vie Est Belle has no nuance, no subtext. It’s pure candy. Wasser’s Mon Guerlain looks for an easy reconciliation of the two perfumes because they are both overdosed with ethylmaltol. He misses the point that Angel, twenty five years later, is still a motherfucking monster. La Vie Est Belle on the other hand is the most vanillla of Disney fairy princesses.
Wasser uses lavender to twist Mon Guerlain into a taffy fougère. Pouring it into a version of the brand’s historical quadrilobe bottle is an attempt to draw a connection to Guerlain’s classic, sweet fougère Jicky, but don’t believe the hype. Despite the deception a list of notes provides, Mon Guerlain has no relationship to Jicky.
Sample provided by Saks Fifth Avenue.
(image Strange Fiction)