I always enjoy watching Sylvaine Delacourte, Guerlain’s head of fragrance development, in action; I have no idea if she would be fun to work with or for, but she always appears vivacious and flirtatious in Guerlain film clips. Watching Delacourte and Thierry Wasser, Guerlain’s exclusive house perfumer, discuss Guerlain Homme on the Guerlain Homme website is amusing. Delacourte, sitting next to Wasser and staring straight at the camera, claims the idea for Guerlain Homme came to her six years ago as she drank a thirst-quenching mojito in Cuba at the Hemingway Bar. Wasser, upon hearing this pronouncement, lowers his head, laughs and gives Delacourte a look that reads: “Oh, NO she didn’t!” Wasser then says HE’S been working on a mojito accord (rum, mint and lime) “on my own”. (It’s really too bad there’s not a Liz Smith of the perfume world; let’s just say Delacourte and Wasser collaborated on Guerlain Homme.)
Guerlain is marketing Guerlain Homme as a new type of fragrance — a new type of ‘freshness’ in perfumery; Wasser calls it “inimitable”. The Guerlain Homme film ad is set in a jungle, where a well-groomed, half-naked, modern-day ‘Tarzan’ drinks at a watering hole alongside wild animals. I like the goofy ad but there is nothing really new, wild or animalic about Guerlain Homme. As I wear Guerlain Homme, I don’t think “Tarzan” or “jungle” — I imagine a Lacoste-clad guy on a Caribbean veranda sipping a mojito alongside Delacourte. But just because Guerlain Homme is not wild, or wildly original, does not mean it’s bad; in fact, this is the first new mainstream Guerlain fragrance I’ve liked in a long time (excepting a few of the Aqua Allegoria fragrances).
Guerlain Homme contains bergamot, lime, pelargonium, green tea, mint, rhubarb, vetiver, cedar, rum, and sugar cane. Guerlain Homme opens “fresh”, with vibrant rum, followed by a sweet-sour lime note, mint and citrus. As the scent develops, I also smell crisp green tea and a tart-fruity note (the rhubarb?) One of the most interesting notes in Guerlain Homme smells like dark brown sugar. Guerlain Homme goes from bright, fresh “alcoholic” notes to warm, soft ones; it wears down to a vetiver and barely there cedar accord that retains a hint of lime — not fresh pulpy lime, but powdery lime (the lime-powder element in Guerlain Homme reminds me of the dearly departed Floris London Limes talcum powder I used to wear during hot L.A. summers).
I love the lime in Guerlain Homme, and lovers of Guerlain fragrances will notice a Guerlain vibe in Guerlain Homme’s base notes and dry-down. The most interesting notes and accords in Guerlain Homme are best savored up close after a light application of the fragrance (three sprays were all I needed to scent my skin for over 10 hours). Guerlain Homme’s fresh-warm character makes it a good year-round fragrance and it’s the perfect scent to wear when you want to smell good, but don’t want to make a “statement” with your cologne (and that’s not a polite way of saying it’s boring either — I like Guerlain Homme). Guerlain Homme wears like an Eau de Parfum and has excellent sillage.
During the Guerlain Homme website interview, after Delacourte’s Cuba-mojito connection is presented and Wasser claims to have worked on the mojito accord of Guerlain Homme on his own, Delacourte abruptly calls a halt to all such discussion and does what she is hired to do — returns the focus to her company; as the musical score pulsates, she says dramatically: “We are going to create a Guerlain perfume….” But where’s the Guerlain in Guerlain these days? Jean Paul Guerlain chose Wasser as his successor and in homage to his fellow perfumer, Wasser added vetiver to Guerlain Homme as “a nod to Jean Paul Guerlain and his first ever perfume, Vetiver”. Jean Paul Guerlain, though ‘retired,’ was unable to resist adding a little something to Guerlain Homme as well; he suggested including the rhubarb note to prolong and echo Guerlain Homme’s fresh opening accord — a pleasing coda to Guerlain Homme’s creation.
Guerlain Homme is available in 30, 50 and 80 ml Eau de Toilette and in matching grooming products.
Note: image of Thierry Wasser and Jean Paul Guerlain via guerlainhomme.