Ever see those polls on perfume blogs that go, “Guerlain or Chanel? And no fair not picking”? I pick Chanel ever. dang. time. (And yes, the Secret Redneck in me is cackling away at the idea of using “Chanel” and “dang” in the same sentence, not to mention throwing the colloquial Appalachian “ever” instead of “every” in there as well.) And do you wonder why the word “Guerlainophile” exists, while nobody ever says “Chanelophile?” There’s even a perfume aficionado who has been known to refer to herself as a “Guerlie Girl.”
But not me.
I was reading Blacknall Allen’s recent post on how few green Guerlain fragrances there are, and she suggested that I might not be a Guerlie-girl for that simple reason, that Guerlain does very few greens.
And I am quite sure that the fact that the offerings of House Guerlain are largely weighted toward the sensual oriental does play pretty heavily into my preference for the elegance of Chanel – well, that and the childhood history of a No. 5-wearing mother. But I was thinking about how many Guerlains I love, and they’re pretty thin on the ground, especially compared to the vaaaaast catalog of fragrances, including limited editions, ever released by this old and prolific house.
So what Guerlains do I love? I checked with Fragrantica’s list of Guerlains, currently numbering 204, to make sure I didn’t leave out one inadvertently.
Shalimar Light – which I love because it’s basically vintage Emeraude with a twist of lemon, even more so than Shalimar (which everybody knows is so similar to Emeraude in structure that it’s suspected Francois Coty sold the formula to Jacques Guerlain). I have this one stockpiled, but if I run out I will just go buy every bottle of vintage Emeraude parfum de toilette I can find on eBay.
Vega – which I love because it’s basically Chanel No. 5 with a Guerlinade base. I have a treasured decant. If it were reasonably priced I’d probably own a bottle.
Metallica (or the tweaked-and-renamed Metalys, I suppose, but I only have a decant of the original Metallica) – which I really only just like a lot, because it is basically carnations, ylang, and vanilla, and we alllll know what a complete Carnation ‘Ho I am.
Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune – which I do like, a lot. It’s basically cat-pee blackcurrant bud, grapefruit, and a mixed floral bouquet so pink that it makes me smile. It’s like rosy pink lemonade. I have three minis, but when they’re gone I will just go back to my similar-but-inexpensive Moschino Funny!, which is built on a like structure except with tea.
Chamade – of course. The lone green floral Guerlain makes, in my opinion. Sure, they make various vetivers and citruses and chypres, but only Chamade is galbanummy, a surefire green that shades into the most gorgeous creamy gold. It is lovely. I have a bottle of vintage EdT and a decant of parfum de toilette, as well as a micromini of parfum; all are wonderful.
Apres l’Ondee – Degas and Monet and Debussy in a bottle; the most perfect example of perfumery impressionism there is, all fuzzy around the edges and shot full of shimmer. It is not something I want to wear very often, but it is stunning and beautiful and there are times when nothing else will do. Nobody else has ever made anything like it, and in my opinion it is unparalleled for dreaminess. I have a decant.
Attrape-Coeur (Guet-Apens) – which I only like very much. It is basically the gorgeous classic Ambre 18 base overlaid with as much YSL Paris plus extra violet and lashings of liqueur as it can support. I killed a 5ml decant, and because it’s discontinued and crazy-spendy when found, I won’t be getting any more.
Idylle eau de toilette – which again, I only like very much. It is basically “Guerlain does Coco Mademoiselle,” except easier to wear and it doesn’t get screechy (whereas the edp is completely unwearable for me due to the double shot of patchouli). I’m a little embarrassed to say that I like it, but I’ve been using up my decant.
Elixir Charnel Floral Romantique – okay, this one I really like, without any good reason, except that it smells like a nice-girl department-store fragrance, except done right. The CEO once commented to me, “I like that because it smells like your skin, only better.” It is, simply, pretty. Not unusual, waaaaaay overpriced, but very very pretty. My two tiny samples are gone gone gone. (sob)
I sort of like Jardins de Bagatelle and Samsara and L’Heure Bleue and Cruel Gardenia, but my affection for them doesn’t go any farther than a polite social sort of “Hi, nice to see you.” I love the first half of Terracotta Voile d’Ete, which is a sort of girly-wirly Old Spice blown up to silver screen proportions, but then it collapses right down to the skin and you can’t smell it any farther away than two inches, and I do NOT know what the point of that development is. It makes me cranky.
That’s only four True Loves, five Really-Likes, and five Indifferents, which I have to say is really poor coverage of my sweet spots, Guerlain.
And some of those Guerlain classics? Shalimar, Jicky, Mitsouko, Sous le Vent? I don’t like them. I absolutely despise Insolence.
So: are you a Guerlainophile, a Guerlie Girl? A fille who loves her Guerlain parfums? Do tell.