Guerlain :: Perfume Houses

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Perfume house founded in 1828 by Pierre-François Pascal Guerlain. Guerlain at first sold imported toiletry products; eventually, he began to develop his own fragrances and to create custom perfumes for his clients. He soon became the official supplier to many of the crowned heads of Europe. Eau de Cologne Impériale (1853) was created for Empress Eugenie, and introduced the now iconic "bee bottle" decorated with the golden bees of the Napoleonic crest.

After his death, his son Aimé Guerlain became the house perfumer. His best known fragrance, Jicky, was created in 1889 and is widely considered to be the first "modern" perfume. Aimé was also said to have developed the famous "Guerlinade" base used in many of the iconic fragrances from the House of Guerlain.

His nephew Jacques Guerlain took over as perfumer and launched Apres L'Ondee in 1906. He went on to create many of the masterpieces which established the modern reputation of Guerlain, including L'Heure Bleue (1912), Mitsouko (1919) and Vol de Nuit (1933). Shalimar, possibly the house's best known fragrance even today, was introduced in 1925. Its creation was said to have been an accident: "while examining a sample of vanillin, Jacques Guerlain suddenly poured the entire contents into a nearby bottle of Jicky, just to see what would happen."1

Jean-Paul Guerlain is the grandson of Jacques Guerlain, and was said to have assisted in the creation of Ode (1956); his first solo perfume effort was Vetiver, in 1959. Other well known fragrances by Jean-Paul Guerlain include Habit Rouge (1965), Chamade (1969), Eau de Guerlain (1974), Parure (1975), Nahéma (1979), Derby (1985), Samsara (1989).

Guerlain remained family-owned until 1994, when it was acquired by Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy. Jean-Paul Guerlain retired in 2002, but has continued to develop fragrances for the house. In 2008, it was announced that Thierry Wasser had been appointed Guerlain's house perfumer.

Recent fragrances from Guerlain

2003: Shalimar Eau Légère, L'Instant, Crazy Cherry Blossom

2004: L'Instant Pour Homme, Glittering Cherry Blossom, Precious Heart

2005: Shalimar Light, Shiny Cherry Blossom, Plus Que Jamais Guerlain

2006: Lovely Cherry Blossom Gold Sparkles, Colours of Love, Insolence, Cologne du 68, Lights of Champs Elysees, Nuit d'Amour

2007: Cherry Blossom Fruity, L'Instant de Guerlain Fleur de Mandarine & L'Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme Critaux d'Agrumes, Guerlain Vetiver Extreme, Huiles de Parfum Garden Sensuel & Oud Sensuel, L'Instant Magic, Quand Vient La Pluie, Vol de Nuit Evasion, My Insolence, Spiritueuse Double Vanille

2008: Cherry Blossom Delight, Eau de Shalimar, Habit Rouge Habit de Metal, Guerlain Homme, Insolence Eau de Parfum, Les Elixirs Charnels, Habit Rouge L'Extrait

2009: La Petit Robe Noire, Habit Rouge Sport, Insolence Eau Glacee, Shalimar Fleur de Shalimar, Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus, Guerlain Idylle, Moscow, Tokyo & New York, Guerlain Homme Intense, Les Secrets de Sophie, Boise Torride

2010: Insolence Blooming, Homme L'Eau, Cologne du Parfumeur, Shalimar Ode à la Vanille, Arsène Lupin Dandy & Arsène Lupin Voyou

2011: Idylle Duet, Shalimar Parfum Initial, Petite Robe Noire 2, Floral Romantique, Le Bolshoi La Traviata (Moscow exclusive), Idylle Extrait, Idylle Eau Sublime, Habit Rouge L'Eau, London.

2012: Guerlain Homme L’Eau Boisée, Shalimar Parfum Initial L’Eau, Idylle Duet Jasmin-Lilas, La Petite Robe Noire (new version), Les Déserts D’Orient, Shanghai, L'Heure Bleue Le Zénith, L'Heure Bleue L'Aurore, L'Heure Bleue Le Crépuscule, Shalimar Ode à la Vanille Sur la Route de Madagascar, L'Heure de Nuit

2013: Eau de Lingerie, Shalimar Ode à la Vanille Sur la Route du Mexique, Cour des Senteurs Versailles, Place Rouge, Parfum du 68

2014: La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Parfum Couture, Royal Extract (Harrods only, limited edition, said to be reissue of Guet Apens/Attrape Coeur), Muguet 2014, Eau de Cashmere, Terracotta Le Parfum, L'Homme Ideal, Santal Royal, Shalimar Souffle de Parfum, French Kiss, Idylle Love Blossom, Le Bolshoi Black Swan (Moscow exclusive)

2015: La Petite Robe Noire Eau Fraîche, Muguet 2015, Le Bouquet de la Mariée, L'Homme Idéal Cologne, Shalimar Cologne, Mon Exclusif, Habit Rouge Dress Code, Carmen Le Bolshoï, Ne m’Oubliez Pas

2016: Ambre Éternel, Muguet 2016, La Petite Robe Noire Intense, Un Dimanche à la Campagne

Special series from Guerlain

The Aqua Allegoria range

In 1999, Guerlain introduced the Aqua Allegoria range with 5 fragrances: Herba Fresca, Pamplelune, Rosa Magnifica, Lavande Velours and Ylang & Vanille. The line is meant to "showcase nature", and the scents are lighter and more youthful than the "regular" Guerlain issues. They add to the line every year; they also discontinue the scents quickly if they don't do well. See reviews/notices for Anisia Bella (2004), Mentafollia (2004), Orange Magnifica & Pivoine Magnifica (2005), Tutti Kiwi (2006), Grosellina (2006), Angelique Lilas & Mandarine Basilic (2007), Figue Iris & Laurier Reglisse (2008), Tiare-Mimosa and Cherry Blossom (2009), Flora Nymphea (2010), Bouquet Numéro 1 (2010), Jasminora (2011), Rosa Blanca (2011), Lys Soleia (2012), Bouquet de Mai (2012), Nerolia Bianca (2013), Flora Rosa (2013), Limon Verde (2014), Teazzurra (2015), Rosa Pop (2016), Pera Granita (2016).

Les Parisiennes (Reissues)

In 2005, Guerlain completed a major renovation of its flagship store in Paris, and at that time, announced a program to reissue selected fragrances from the back catalog as limited editions under the Les Parisiennes, Heritage and Legacy collections. Reissues to date include Kadine, Sous Le Vent, Djedi, Mouchoir de Monsieur, Voilette de Madame, Vega, Mayotte (originally Mahora), Liu, Purple Fantasy, Attrape-Coeur (originally Guet Apens), Derby, Ode, Vetiver Pour Elle, Philtre d'Amour, Chamade Pour Homme, Candide Effluve, L'Ame d'un Heros (originally Coriolan).

Recent additions include Mon Précieux Nectar (2012), Cherry Blossom (2014), Mademoiselle Guerlain (2014), Promenade des Anglais (2016).

L'Art et la Matière

The L'Art et la Matière line features the work of well-known perfumers, and are meant to "freely express passion for an original, precious raw material". The initial release, in 2005, included Cuir Beluga, Rose Barbare and Angelique Noire

Bois d'Armenie joined the collection in 2006, Iris Ganache in 2007, Cruel Gardenia in 2008, Tonka Imperiale in 2010, Myrrhe et Délires in 2012, Néroli Outrenoir  in 2016.

Where to buy

The major releases can be found at department stores and online fragrance discounters.

If you're looking for one of the more obscure fragrances, try the Guerlain boutiques at Bergdorf Goodman or Saks Fifth Avenue in New York (see shopping report for Guerlain at Bergdorf Goodman), at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, at the Palazzo in Las Vegas, at the Regent Bal Harbour in Florida, in "France" at Epcot (Disney World, Orlando), or at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco.



Further reading

See all articles on Now Smell This tagged Guerlain, or take a look at our collection of Guerlain videos.


1. Elisabeth Barillé, Guerlain p. 11.

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