The Guerlinade

guerlinadeAs you know, I hauled a bunch of my less-common stuff downstairs recently for my perfume party, which allowed me to revisit some of the things I never smell, including my bottle of Guerlinade.  Back before the Earth’s crust cooled, and pterodactyls soared overhead, and Guerlain still made interesting perfumes… I used to call myself a Guerlain fangirl.  I was all over Jicky and Mitsouko, in particular, but had opened my arms wide, embracing the house in general.  Okay, with a couple of exceptions.  But still.

And so I came to realize that if I was going to be true to my Guerlain-ness I obviously needed to own a bottle of the so-called Guerlinade, right?  The heart, the soul, the essence of Guerlain?  The only problem was, the bottles were fancy and pretty and it was a discontinued LE, and I kept getting shut out of the bottles on eBay.  I think for awhile they sold for $200 – $300, which used to seem like real money.  Here, here’s a pic of a bottle that just sold on eBay for $124 and it’s empty.  (Hint: there’s a bottle on there right now, UK eBay – 2 days left, no packaging.  $16.00?  No bids?  Have at it.)

Anyhow, having failed to get a bottle, one day I whined to Patty about my streak of bad luck, and she offered to sell me a partial bottle, which almost got confiscated at the airport when she had to do carry-on (she didn’t bring it at the last minute), and how much would that have hurt?  A lot.  So I got my bottle, and I said:  Oh!  Hey!  So!  That’s the Guerlinade! And that was the end of it, because I thought it smelled boring.  I put the bottle away.

Anyone who is looking for something with the intensity of Mitsouko, or the animalic exoticism of Mouchoir de Monsieur or Jicky, is going to be disappointed.  Conversely, it doesn’t replicate the powdery genteel sweetness of L’Heure Bleue or Apres L’Ondee either.  To me Guerlinade is less about some universal Guerlain base than a higher plane, a lofty realm to which, frankly, I wish Guerlain still aspired.  Notes are bergamot, rose, jasmine, tonka bean, iris, and vanilla.

Guerlinade starts off with a strong hit of bergamot over the florals – I can really pick out the rooty/powdery qualities of the iris – and as the bergamot falls off the rich vanillic aspects of the base rise up, although it never becomes remotely like something you’d call edible.  Although there’s nothing listed in the notes to suggest it, in the middle stretch I get what smells like musk, nothing like the animalic reverb of the Guerlain classics but definitely there on my skin.  There’s something — like hay, or suede – in there that creeps out later as well.  The drydown on my skin is stronger, drier and less sweet than what I’d expect given the list of notes, and the way it smells when I first put it on.

If you haven’t smelled Guerlinade, I personally wouldn’t kill myself getting ahold of a bottle.  And on eBay, anyway, if the outer packaging is there, you’re probably going to be bidding against bottle collectors.  But having worn Guerlinade on and off for several days, I moved the bottle out of its display box and onto the shelf of fragrances I actually reach for and wear.  It smells elegant and expensive without, in fact, boring me.  I have no idea whether Coco Chanel really said elegance is refusal, but something about the luxe yet spare Guerlinade works for me like a single strand of pearls.

This is interesting too!

53 Comments

  1. I’d nearly forgotten Guerlinade. I never could decide if I wanted to own it or not…now of course after reading your review I wish I did. Not going to bid though!

    • If I didn’t own it I’d want it. Once I have the bottle, my interest falls off immediately. One of the curses of perfumery, at least for me. 🙁

  2. When I first started perfumista-ing I was quite sure I had no use for Guerlain. Too perfumey, not interesting, blah blah. Gimme Serge, gimme leathers, gimme gimme but not that.

    And now of course I’m adoring at the Guerlain & most of what’s gorgeous about Guerlain is history, d/c’ed, unattainable.

    Le Sigh.

    It was the Liu that finally did me in. L’Heure Bleu parfum. Then the Mitsy parfum. Once I fell for Liu I knew I it was hopeless. So yeah, someday I do need to sniff me some Guerlinade. And interestinly (to me, anyway) I came to perfume hating, HATING bergamot. And if it smells like earl gray I still do. But then one day I noticed this lovely bitter edge in some Guerlain or other & it was … soooooo …. sexy. So after years of whining I confess.

    I like Guerlain. And bergamot. But only in Guerlain.

    • Ugh, yes, I still know what you mean about the Earl Gray. Shudder. I love tea and I can’t choke that down, it seems so wrong. But bergamot is often great in perfume, it is that bitter edge.

      Liu is spectacular. I wonder if it smells the same as it used to. Probably not.

      • For all the bergamot in perfumery, none of it has reminded me of Earl Grey tea (which I used to like), thank goodness. Funny.

          • I had a friend, a classy gentleman in all other ways, who used to wear bergamot oil. I had a sneezing fit every time he hugged me; didn’t take long before I was highly intolerant of bergamot in any way shape or form.

  3. Previous Guerlain fangirl here too: I gave up when I realised that the release of the expensive Art et Matiere’s series and things put me out of the market. But I still covet Guerlainade and Les Meteorites. Although I won’t actively hunt them on eBay I dream of coming across fully sealed bottles in some dusty drugstore in the UK someday.

    • Well go bid on that UK bottle! Or put it in your searches … I refuse to believe all the “deals” are gone. I still score on eBay. Is Meteorites hard to find? Srsly? I got mine for some pittance. I mean, like, 15 bucks. They were all over the discounters, although this was a few years ago.

      • I’ve been scared off eBay after a couple of bad experiences: once the whole bottle leaked, the seller refused to refund, I left bad feedback and it descended into a slanding match and took a long time for my money to get back to me. Also I’m in Korea at the moment and I don’t quite trust that it’ll make it across the world in in one piece. My philosophy is that if I want it badly enough, I would have got it by now. I know…. it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. :”>

  4. I am the original uber-Guerlain fangirl and adore all of their perfumes pre-Samsara, which I firmly believe was not composed by Jean-Paul Guerlain (that’s the Conspiracy Theory as I’m sure you know). I have several bottles of Guerlinade, including the one in your photo. It doesn’t smell how I EXPECTED it to smell, ie not a distillation of that perfect base in all “proper” Guerlains, but it is still very beautiful.

    Oh, and I’ve been very wicked buying up old Guerlains on e-bay this last week or so……

    • Yeah, I thought it would be the Guerlain base, with that name (because there clearly IS a “guerlinade” or used to be. So I was disappointed until I judged it on its own merits. And good for you on your eBay bender. :)>-

  5. Count me in as a Guerlie girl – but not the newer “muscinade” ones. I’ve never smelled this one, but last week received a 20 ml. decant of 180 Ans. Wow! It is beautiful, smelling like a combination of all of the best of the classic Guerlains.

    • Actually…. I think. Somebody (Perfume Shrine? Helg?) said 180 Ans, which I’ve not smelled, was a reissue of Guerlinade? I might be making that up, though.

      I am so sick of those powdery-heliotrope-vanilla things I can’t tell you. I did buy a bottle of Idylle, though.

      • I haven’t smelled Guerlinade as I said, but this is definitely not powdery-heliotrope-vanilla, which I wouldn’t have liked! It’s much deeper, smokier, with echoes of Shalimar and hints of L’Heure Bleue and Vol de Nuit.

  6. For me it was Parure – it was the first Guerlain in edt that I smelled & liked. Up until then I just didn’t get how people liked this stuff.

    Then I stumbled across L’Heure Bleue in parfum and it was all over – love at first sniff and in the heat of summer no less! Mitsouko & Shalimar in parfum were next. And then I got really lucky and was given a tiny bottle of vintage Shalimar parfum. Oh what the house has sadly lost! 🙁

    Of the recent releases, only L’Art et Matiere Angelique Noire has really hooked me in – for me, it is a glorious wonder!
    So overall, there is still a Guerlain beauty – but there is also much to mourn for the discontinued beauties like Parure and the lost glories of the house classics in parfum. Sigh.

    • Since you’ve discovered the beauty of Guerlain parfum, I highly recommend Vol de Nuit in parfum. Glorious!

      • The parfum is in fact the only way Vol will play nice with me. It’s awfully green and sharp in the EdT for sure.

    • Parure! God that’s gorgeous. That was early on for me, when everything seemed like a fortune, and I bought the UGLIEST bottle on eBay, which is probably why it was a (relative) deal, although I still felt guilty. Dinged cap and everything. Unsniffed. And oh my god it’s gorgeous. I’m so grateful I have it now.

      Mitsouko parfum I love, but I have to say … maybe not the “current” stuff, but even a couple of years ago, I loved the EDP. It’s all loud and rough and I don’t know, I think it’s great.

  7. My best Guerlain experience so far was last year when I was out in Las Vegas at the boutique in the Bellagio. The SA was on her lunch break, so I spritzed paper blotters, took notes, and sniffed to my heart’s content for at least 30 minutes. I was impressed with a lot of things at the time.

    What I’ve actually worn and liked: Mitsouko and Apres L’Ondee. Like the old classics the best. When I sniff the new ones (say Tokyo, New York and Moscow, for instance), I’m always reminded of other, similar, modern scents…they don’t seem very special to me.

    Loved hearing about Guerlinade, March. I won’t be seeking it out actively, but I’d love to sniff it if it crosses my path. 😉

    • “What I’ve actually worn and liked: Mitsouko and Apres L’Ondee. Like the old classics the best. When I sniff the new ones (say Tokyo, New York and Moscow, for instance), I’m always reminded of other, similar, modern scents…they don’t seem very special to me.”

      That’s so true. I mean, I won’t natter on again, but for someone who really loves Guerlain, nothing measures up to that first time you smell Jicky, or Mitsouko, or Apres. The city scents are nicely done but they don’t hold a candle.

  8. As one who might have impulsively pulled the trigger on a ridiculously priced ebay buy, I was soooo grateful that you let us try the mythical Guerlinade. Well, I’m not quite that bad, but almost. I would have joined the hoards of ‘fumey-types with the bottle on my watch list, finger hovering over the keyboard, wondering who nabbed it in the end.

    So, as you might have guessed, the impulse has been killed. It is lovely, but not worth missing a mortgage payment. A car payment, maybe.

    • I’d think that Guerlinade would have been too light on you? And as much as it’s nice to turn someone on to something they like, killing off a lemming isn’t all bad either.

  9. What a beautiful review, March. Sounds like something I would love, perhaps I’ll run across it one day if only to take a little sniff. 🙂

  10. Thanks for the peek into the Guerlinade. It’s one of those things, like you say, that any perfume person who has fallen to a certain depth is going to want to know about. BUT…am soooo glad for the warning that it is not worth all that. Have suspected, but wanted to hear it from a trusted sources. 😡 (As if I have budget for another ml until St. Patrick’s day, lol.)

    • As other people have said up there, it’d be more interesting if it were some sort of universal Guerlain base, but it just isn’t, lovely as it is.

  11. Huh. Who knew? Not me. I am saddened by the precipitous leap off the Cliff of Fabulousness that Guerlain took in recent years. IMO they would be better served to do fewer releases and make them more interesting, a la Malle and the other niches. I can only wear the G-oldies, alas. The others give me a sneezing fit!

    There is some ginormous Guerlain event this coming Sat at NM here in Chicago (well they say it is ginormous- I don’t know exactly what that means). perhaps they will have some squirreled away in the dusty back of beyond. Will ask.

    xoxoxo >-)

    • Ooooh! Have fun at the Guerlain event! I’m a bit jealous. BTW ask if they have 180 Ans, I think that’s supposed to be the same? And let me know what else you smell!

      • It’s pretty late, so I’m sure you’ll ever see this, but 180 Ans was never released for sale. It was only available as gifts at Guerlain’s 180th anniversary party in Paris. Hmm…. my invitation to that must have gotten lost in the mail! Darn U. S. Post Office. 😕

  12. So sad I somehow missed sniffing this the other night.

    I am a confirmed Guerlain girl, even through early iterations of Samsara, and into a few Arts et Matieres launches. Lately, not so much…

    Wearing very vintage L’Heure Bleue today-it’s a bit turned, still magnificent through the hint o’vinegar :d/

  13. HI EVERYONE THIS MORNING HAS BEEN RIDICULOUS. Will be on here shortly, I need to put the thanksgiving groceries away. :)>-

  14. I haven’t yet tried the classic Guerlains (partly because I fear falling in love with formulas that may soon be unobtainable), but I have fallen at first sniff for Plus que Jamais. Is it a gateway drug?

    • PqJ was really powdery on me, so I didn’t feel quite the love that some of the rest of you felt, although it’s certainly quite nice. And I personally feel that the vintage/older supply will hold out for awhile.

      • Interesting– it’s not at all powdery on me, though that wouldn’t necessarily put me off it in any case, since I like many scents that others describe as too powdery. I hope you’re right about the availability of older formulas; I don’t like the hoarding mentality that’s crept up on me.

  15. I’m generally in the Guerlain fanclub, but I think I remember reading early on (Turinchez?) that Guerlinade wasn’t actually THE “guerlinade” (which isn’t as fun as Patty’s big glass of “haterade”, I must admit). You’ve made me curious to smell this, though.

    I recently bought a big decant of No. 68 (Guet-Apens, Attrape Coeur) and that has easily moved into my top three, and certainly more easy to wear than LHB & Mitsouko. I also kind of enjoy that new Idylle thing, though I wouldn’t call it a potential “classic.”

    And of course we all want some of Carter’s Ondees, right?

    • I bought a bottle of Idylle. It does smell like NR/SJP, only as NST points out, it smells BETTER — more expensive. And jebus, the lasting power. It was like 48 hrs on me, almost scary.

      68 is so darn pretty, and very easy to wear, for sure. I personally feel like something called Guerlinade ought to be more of a nod to the classic base, but they didn’t ask me, did they? 🙂

      Yep, Carter and her ondees for sure.

    • Raise your hand if you’re tired of Turinchez (chortle and snark) and the “Guerlainade isn’t Guerlainade” stuff? Gaaah.

      Reminds me of the Monty Python skit the package tour complaint: what’s the point of being treated like sheep. What’s the pointof going abroad if you’re just another tourist carted around in buses surrounded by sweaty mindless oafs from Kettering and Coventry in their cloth caps and their cardigans and their transistor radios and their Sunday Mirrors, complaining about the tea – “Oh they don’t make it properly here, do they, not like at home” – and stopping at Majorcan bodegas selling fish and chips and Watney’s Red Barrel and calamares and two veg and sitting in their cotton frocks squirting Timothy White’s suncream all over their puffy raw swollen purulent flesh ‘cos they “overdid it on the first day.”

      • Hi Kate: I think what I meant was that “Guerlinade”, the packaged fragrance of that name, is a totally separate and different thing than the “guerlinade” base that’s historically been used in some of the famous perfumes from the house. Or maybe you are of a different opinion and are just tired of that theory, which is fine too…

    • Joe, I do love Attrape-Coeur. It’s gorgeous. (Oh, and that Amaranthigh? Really, really nice! No Joy dirty-panties on me.)

      • No dirty panties? Congratulations! I was joking with Daisy about whether it would set off your “Panty Alarm.” We did have a chuckle over that phrase. And see, I do sorta get a slutty, dirty knickers vibe from it somehow. Er…. not that I’m a good judge of that, but I’ll just shuddup now. 😮

        • Oh, I can def. see where someone might get “thigh” out of it, but it didn’t do that Amsterdam hooker-in-the-window full-out slutty thing on me that Joy does.

          Um, not that I’ve smelled any Amsterdam hookers… 😕

  16. Hey Musette..they are different
    Beautiful review March and glad to know you think the vintages will be around for a while…it will stop me from feeling like i NEED to have all of them asap….and i would love to sample guerlainade as well:)

  17. Ooh a perfume party! I’m so jealous and wish I lived closer to where all the parties are at!

    Great post, really enjoyed reading it 🙂

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