In a brightly lit corner of Bergdorf Goodman’s beauty level, an in-house Guerlain boutique showcases the legendary Parisian company’s luxe skincare, its richly colored cosmetics in gleaming golden cases, but above all, its fragrance line. Or perhaps we should say fragrance lines, plural, since the offerings fall into several distinct groups.
In one area of the boutique’s display, the complete L’Art et La Matière series stands in a row; in another, the new Aqua Allegoria scents wait to be tried. Reintroduced fragrances from Guerlain’s archives, including Véga, Sous Le Vent, and Le Mouchoir de Monsieur, rub shoulders with the Parfum versions of classics that never went away, such as L’Heure Bleue, Vol de Nuit, and Nahéma. The hard-to-find Après L’Ondée is there (only in its Eau de Toilette formulation, since the Parfum has been discontinued, alas!), and so are newly created beauties like Plus Que Jamais and Quand Vient La Pluie; the latter fragrance is covetable for its sculptural crystal bottle alone. And speaking of bottles, this boutique is the place to pick up some timeless Jicky in a “bee bottle,” a stoppered glass bottle decorated with bumblebees. The bee was a symbol of the Bonaparte family, and here it serves as a reminder of an important early Guerlain client: Eugénie, the wife of Napoléon III, who brought imperial patronage to the perfume house in the mid-nineteenth century. (Somewhat incongruously, present-day fragrances like Insolence are also available in “bee bottles.”)
All in all, Bergdorf’s Guerlain boutique has the feeling of an art gallery or an antique shop where every object is unique and deserves unhurried contemplation. It’s unfortunate that the customer service for the boutique’s fragrance area, which tends to range from aggressive to dismissive, doesn’t match the elegance of the fragrances themselves. However, other than a trip to Paris, this is the best way to experience Guerlain’s limited editions and all its rare creations, both old and new.
Details: 754 Fifth Avenue (at 58th Street), New York, NY 10019; 212-872-2734; (website).
See also: Perfume shopping in New York
— Report and images filed by Jessica M.