Side by side

Last week was trying. Sold former car and managed to feel guilty about saying goodbye to it. Picked up new car which drives really nicely, but dog is flummoxed by jumping in/out of the back of a two door. He gets in ok but getting out take 5 minutes (I think I’m actually going to have to get in the back with him and show him what to do). I did something to the outside of my left foot so it’s slightly sore and it is also affecting my calf muscle. So, just to see if things would get worse or better, on Saturday, my plan was to walk to the farm shop for ice cream after lunch (it has an artisanal chocolate and ice cream counter – see pic).

I was so focused on the car comings and goings late last week that I didn’t put on any fragrance Wed-Fri. Finally managed to focus on Saturday morning and realised I hadn’t yet tried my Guerlain sample of Embruns d’Ylang. So, popped on and it then occurred to me (because I hadn’t come up with anything for a post this week) that it would be fun to do a side by side of this with my beloved Le Labo Ylang 49. So I did.

The weather has improved significantly here and heady florals sit very well. It’s not hugely hot – just really nice – and it’s been sunny for days. The garden has done a bump up in growth.

So, the two ylangs. I’ll start with the Guerlain (a lot of Guerlain on Posse recently).


(ylang flowers from Pexels)

Embruns d’Ylang (embruns means embrace – so I guess being embraced by ylang?) is part of the l’Art et La Metier line and was released in 2019. The nose is Thierry Wasser. Per the Guerlain site, this is a “solar flower with salt coated petals”. And straight off I have to say it is. Before I read the notes list I thought there was something marine/ozonic, but don’t be put off if that’s not your thing – it’s not mine either. This sings because of it. The florals are actually beautifully offset by the salt. Notes list includes salt, bergamot, ylang, jasmine sambac, cloves, vanilla, patchouli and iris. On me, it’s salt, heady florals and cloves until the drydown, when it the vanilla emerges and boy, is it nice. Salty vanilla? Salt water toffee? By the salt is still there and there’s something … juicy? … going on, which doesn’t make sense as the citrus bits should theoretically come in the opening. Who knows. (Here, it’s £280 for 100ml.)

On to Le Labo Ylang 49, which Patty and Tom reviewed in 2013. This is interesting because when I looked up the year of release on Fragrantica it said 2015 – and I think I commented on that weird anomaly when I last wrote about it in a post.

The Le Labo (the nose is Frank Voelkl, who I had to look up) is labelled a floral chypre and notes include ylang, patchouli, gardenia, oakmoss, vetiver, benzoin and sandalwood. This is a much heavier fragrance than the Guerlain, though the vetiver and oakmoss are astringent enough to mimic a saltiness. But I don’t think that was the point.

I get ylang and I think gardenia in the opening, vanilla and something similar to clove but not. There is green under the flowers as this opens up (which I guess is the vetiver – oakmoss isn’t really green on me; rather, that astringent thing I mentioned above). And I get a tiny bit of vanilla, like essence (I wonder what this would have been like if the nose had a dumped a load of vanilla into it). The drydown remains floral and gets a bit woody. Soft woody, not like something with a lot of cedar. I’ve stated before that I appreciate LL offering smaller bottles. I continue to think it’s something all houses should do.

I hadn’t done a side by side in a long while and it was actually a lot of fun going from wrist to wrist. The LL is far more unctuous, and it actually feels more floral to me (ie, rather than ‘composed’, which is how the Guerlain feels). It’s a very heady perfume, quite voluptuous and diva-ish.

In the end, very different takes. The Guerlain is more ‘austere’ but not terribly austere given it’s based around ylang. It’s less in your face than the LL but I actually think it’s a more interesting fragrance. That’s not to say I don’t still love Ylang 49 – just that, well, the Embruns is a Guerlain after all.

Will I buy the Guerlain? No. I’ll enjoy my sample but I just don’t feel the need for a full bottle or even a decant (I think that might be because I just bought a car…).

Just to close, on Saturday, gave up on a healthy lunch and had ice cream (only had one scoop and wish I’d had two). Salad for dinner – it’s all how you balance things out …

(pastries next to the ice cream — which look far prettier)

  • March says:

    Ooooooh, I love side by sides! Your review makes sense, I can see the Guerlain feeling far more composed. NOT a fan of anything “marine” but can see how it’d be less of an issue here and more just a salty counterpoint. Hehe I did the opposite recently — salad for lunch, pastry for dinner…

    • cinnamon says:

      My thinking on ice cream for lunch rather than tea is I’ll work it off rest of day. Unless eating out, sugar ingested before 4 pm.

  • Dina C. says:

    Very interesting reading, Cinnamon. I haven’t sniffed either one and the list of their notes makes me curious. The bakery and ice cream items would certainly tempt me out of my chair and out the door. I can remember so many times watching TGBBS when I would crave whatever dessert they were making. All things in moderation, right?!?!

    • cinnamon says:

      Tx. The bakery items just looked gorgeous but I was really after the ice cream. Oh, ach, on gbbo — I stopped watching when Mary left but sometimes the desserts were just mind-bending.

  • Portia says:

    So weird Cinnamon,
    I’ve not tried either of these.
    They both sound like I need to investigate.
    I never understood loving a car till my last one which I absolutely adored for 19 years. I’m still kicking myself for letting it go. It fit me like a glove.
    Portia xx

    • cinnamon says:

      I think we might have had this convo on the LL before. It really is worth a go. Sigh on cars. I am hoping I start to warm to this one soon. Trying to recall if it took me a bit to warm to last one.

  • Tom says:

    Looking at this reminded me that I never circled back to LL Ylang. Might have to fix that..

    Isn’t it funny how we invest personality in cars? I used to get terribly upset when we’d get rid of one. It was like losing a family dog.

    I second having the ice cream. Everything in moderation, including moderation.

    • cinnamon says:

      As I said in last week’s post, my mother anthropomorphised ‘things’ (particularly cars) which all got names and were spoken to. I picked it up. I think she was a more realistic human however and I don’t recall her ever dwelling on cars that disappeared.

      Ah, ice cream. The best I’ve ever had came/comes from Ample Hills in Brooklyn (which went belly up and was purchased by, I think, some PE guy). But yes really good ice cream and outstanding chocolates. I figure if I’m only having a little it should be outstanding. Much more satisfying that way.

    • Maya says:

      ” Everything in moderation, including moderation” got me laughing since there are more than a few people who describe me that way. They are wrong of course. 😉

  • Musette says:

    Even the most pedestrian of the Guerlains are composed, imo. The LLs are more of a crapshoot (again imo)

    Again, my opinion but! Life is Uncertain. Eat the ice cream. Both scoops (says the woman with an eating disorder but I try to work with/around it). Just go for a walk later – or whatever.


    • cinnamon says:

      When I was a young one in suburban New York we were asked once to write about what melting pot meant and was soup or tossed salad a better metaphor for lots of different peoples living together. I believe I went with tossed salad.

      In any case LL is definitely more soup vs Guerlain being salad.

      Indeed life is uncertain and while I’ve come to believe that as I age I really do need to be more careful about what I eat on a regular basis, leaving out small simple pleasures is unhealthy psychologically and, frankly, counter-productive.

  • Alityke says:

    Cinnamon, you sent me scurrying to read other reviews on the Embruns & on Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia also by Wasser. Why Lys Soleia? It is one of my favourite Guerlains, now discontinued. It never fitted into the AA aesthetic of light fruities or light florals, all pretty, all fleeting. Yet Lys Soleia was a shape changer, in cool weather a salty lily with a vanilla amber dry down. In the warm it blooms as a salty banana Ylang with real longevity and a bucketload of vanilla in the base.

    I never understood why it was an AA or why it was d/ced. Reading your thoughts I now wonder if Wasser wanted to develop the idea further. Some of the reviews also compare Embruns to Mahora

    • Musette says:

      oooh! a ‘salty lily’! That sounds intriguing!


    • cinnamon says:

      Banana Ylang. Did you sample Amaranthine when it was available? I know I’ve sampled Mahora but it would have been 15-20 years ago?

      • Alityke says:

        Cinnamon I did try Amaranthine, I was gifted a bottle. It had the “condensed milk” note that I also got in Havana Vanille. I passed it along. Not for me.
        I think Lys Soleia’s ability to shapeshift means the vanilla only blooms on my skin in warm conditions. The vanilla isn’t the deep smokey/sweet vanilla of Shalimar but more like the vanilla of Jicky. Somehow lifted by the other players.
        She’s very beautiful but an aromateaser in that you can never tell what mood she’ll want to play.

  • Tara C says:

    Embruns is actually sea mist, which refers to the salty aquatic aspect of the Guerlain. I quite enjoy it, as well as the Le Labo, although they are very different. Both bloom wonderfully in the heat.