Guerlain My Insolence ~ fragrance review

Guerlain My Insolence perfume advert with Hilary Swank

My Insolence is Guerlain's first flanker release for 2006's Insolence scent, and is advertised as "a softer, fruitier fragrance". I liked the original Insolence. I didn't adore it wildly, and I never bought it, but I liked it, and I appreciated its "Guerlain-ness", something that was lacking from the undoubtedly more popular L'Instant.

The original Insolence was already a fairly soft and fruity scent once you waited through the rather harsh top notes, which have been compared to everything from nail polish remover (that was my take) to Aqua Net. Not surprisingly, the rough opening, which undoubtedly put off many consumers, is entirely absent in My Insolence, which starts off much sweeter and fruitier — lots of raspberry lollipop cut with a trace of tart citrus. Right about the time that Insolence starts to move into its very Guerlain-ish blend of woods, vanilla, iris and violet, My Insolence veers off in another direction entirely, amping up the foody sweetness with a floral blend centered on almond blossom.

Eventually, My Insolence warms up to something closer to the original Insolence, but it never quite gets there. I don't know that Insolence really lived up to its name, but this one is even farther from the mark, being considerably tamer and more girly-pretty. If you liked the original, My Insolence may strike you as dumbed down for mass appeal; if you didn't, you may find it a huge improvement. I would guess that I'm predictable enough that anyone who reads Now Smell This regularly already knows what I think.

Guerlain My Insolence is available in 50 or 100 ml Eau de Toilette. (quote in first paragraph via

A side note: obviously, Now Smell This has been having technical difficulties over the past couple of weeks, and I want to apologize to everyone who has had trouble commenting, or even just loading articles. Supposedly the problems will be fixed this weekend.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    A couple weeks ago, my Sunday LA Times had inserts of My Insolence, Stefani's L, and something by Givenchy (Absolutely?). Though publication inserts aren't the best way to test anything, I have to say that My Insolence was the only one that struck me as remotely interesting or with any complexity, and was the most pleasant of the three. I can't remember much about it now though.

    I also thought Hilary Swank looked just fine (though definitely “unglam”), which surprised me after comments I had read here about the ads. I still think she's more interesting than most “spokesmodels” or “spokescelebrities” used to promote scents lately.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I mostly thought HS didn't look like herself, although she looked a far sight better than she did in the original Insolence ads, where she looked like a virtual avatar or something else not quite human.

    Don't know the Givenchy, but if forced at gunpoint to pick between L and My Insolence, I might end up dead ;-)

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oh, I dunno, R. I like to guess what you think because sometimes I'm just wrong!
    Insolence (stupid name, top notes and bottle aside) seemed more Guerlain-ish to me than a number of their recent status releases, all of which seem to be made from the same vat of benzoin-vanilla-heliotrope. (Your description of the Guerlain-ish blend is spot on). I enjoyed smelling Insolence more than most other things wafting past me at the mall. This doesn't sound like an improvement but it could be worse.
    But the most interesting thing (apropos of our discussion the other day on the flood of fragrances) — here they are ONE YEAR later releasing a flanker! At this rate, every new fragrance will have its own army of clones in no time. Where will they put them all?

  4. Anonymous says:

    By my count, we are going to get way more than the 800 fragrances we thought we were going to get this year. If that keeps up, and if every new scent gets 2 flankers, it will become unreal, no? I keep thinking of the quote I used in a review of Poison — Maurice Roger of Christian Dior saying of the 60-some releases that year “That's a lot of noise. You have to be exceptional to break through that wall.” I mean, wow, what does that say about the pace of new releases now? I really think it explains a lot about the kind of advertising we are seeing now from Tom Ford & such.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I'm sure numbers on this might be fairly easy to find (or maybe not), but I'm curious if the huge amount of product flooding onto the market is increasing gross fragrance sales (even incrementally), or if the amount of money spent is just cannibalized (i.e., a relatively static amount of sales are just divided up among more and more product).

    I imagine the trend line of fragrance sales (as with apparel) has shown a general increase over decades, but I think you recently mentioned an article here, R., that showed US sales down compared to Europe. Interesting, all of this….

  6. Anonymous says:

    Numbers not so easy to find, actually — best count I know of is from Michael Edwards, but there are lots of fragrances from smaller companies that he doesn't include.

    That article was for last year, and I'm afraid I don't know a darned thing about the more long term rise/fall in spending. Can only assume that there is a wall past which more product simply can't cause more spending. I imagine that is why so many companies are aggressively pursuing new markets (Asia, Latin America, etc).

  7. Anonymous says:

    LOL at “I might end up dead”! I thought the original Insolence was very nice once the harsh fruity top notes faded, but doubt that I'll go out of my way to try the flanker.

    I think Hugo Boss is now officially king of the clones. They've just released the 4th (!) flanker in the vile In Motion series, not to mention they've been putting out, like, 5 fragrances yearly in the past couple years. I couldn't be bothered to try it. Blah!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hugo Boss is in the running, but can't believe anyone can beat YSL. The number of summer flankers they put out is truly astonishing, and then they do it all again near Xmas.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hello Robin, I hope to read your review of L'Instant Magic, Guerlain very soon. I tried it here in Prague, CZ last week and didn't know what to think of it. Never tried Insolence nor My Insolence, but I will now. I love your reviews. Debuts of new fragrances are sometimes in different times of the year in Europe and the US.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I just got some myself, so will review it next week or the week after. Are you a fan of the original L'Instant?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Definitely, but L'Instant Magic confuses me. Where is the magic?

  12. Anonymous says:

    LOL — that I can't tell you ;-)

  13. Anonymous says:

    I received a small pink fan sprayed with My Insolence from a Guerlain SA, and put it in my bathroom in place of potpourri (it was strong). It was SO strong that the strawberry note nearly made me sick. Unfortunately, throwing it in the garbage was not an option, since the stupid fan would still come in contact with the air in my apartment. I had to throw it, wrapped in a plastic bag, down the garbage chute. That is what I think of My Insolence.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I'm always losing scented cards in my purse, and then stinking up the whole house — or worse yet, they fall under the seat in the car. Ugh!

  15. Anonymous says:

    I hate when that happens. In this case, I was testing a whole bunch of Guerlains all at once. The others ranged from decent to fabulous, but this one made me physically sick. It's so. much. strawberry.

    I liked L'Instant on paper, but I wonder what it's like on the skin? I also wonder if I judged too harshly by smelling this only on paper (unlikely, but just to be fair).

  16. Anonymous says:

    I am not a fan of smelling on paper myself — Insolence, for instance, I hated on paper but liked on my skin. My Insolence I didn't like on paper OR skin :-)

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