Cats and Dogs

Please welcome back our guest poster, Anita/Musette!


Chicago.  Perfume.  Howling winds and rain.  Must be a trend…

I slithered down Michigan Avenue into a couple of my regular haunts to dry off and see what’s new.

Guerlain had me hyperventilating;  at Neiman-Marcus there is an absolutely exquisite display of some stunning scents, many part of  Les Parisiennes collection, some of which are reissues of scents older than me (and that’s saying something!)

No, Djedi is not one of them.  Sorry.  Go getcha grave-dirt someplace else, you weirdos.

What is available is showcased in classic elegance, worthy of Guerlain and Neiman-Marcus’s hefty price tags:  three tiers of underlit glass, hosting a gorgeous array of those pretty gilded-cage bottles .   It’s like a little bit of 68 Champs-E, come to Chicago.  If you buy, though, be sure to ditch the bulb atomizer – it will drive you mad.

I didn’t get a chance to sample them all – there’s, like, a gazillion of them and I could barely keep my wits about me:  All those gorgeous little caged bottles, NOT holding Acqua Allegoria!  Names from another era  – Liu, Philtre d’Amour, Sous les Vent, Mayotte (Mahora)…..  Missy (Guerlain) and Douglas (N-M) were exceedingly gracious, allowing me to make off with a little bit of a couple of the juices so I could review at my leisure.   Since I don’t know what the hell I’m doing I decided to just tell you what they smell like to my untrained, alien nose.

Liu – This is the one created for Rose Kennedy, who was said to love Chanel No 5 but couldn’t wear it.  My research came after I sampled it and boy am I glad to know I have not lost my mind! I thought I’d picked up No 5 by mistake!  To me, there’s nothing Guerlinade about it though other, way more knowledgeable perfumistas say it is quintessential Guerlain.   I got bombs of powder and sparkly aldehyde at first and I was afraid it would be unwearable…..then it settled down to a Meyer lemon zesty gin cocktail thingy – yum.  If Chanel is East 80s  Liu is the same folks, just at a couture-casual dinner in the Hamptons.  Give it a minute to get itself organized on your skin.

Mayotte (Mahora) – Where Liu is tough to ‘get’ at first hit, Mayotte is easy-pease to understand – but don’t let that fool you.  This is YSL Paris’s imperious mother-in-law. Mayotte was wearing Louboutins before Christian was born and has stroked the knee of her younger son’s roommate…and his girlfriend.  And the sloe-eyed pool-boy.  She ate the 80s’ lunch and is still going strong.  I think I’m going to wear this one to bed tonight.

Philtre d’Amour – Confusing at first.  Obviously Guerlain but I suspect somebody slept with Dior.   Shut up!  Try it and tell me what you think.  Very lemon/green.  I am thinking  I like it – a lot.  …simply gorgeous drydown.  You know how I absolutely HATE that Raid accord?  Well, Philtre has it – but a really teeny bit and<gulp> it actually boosts the interest here.  If you tell anybody I said this I will have to kill you.

Vega – I have sampled it three times and I still don’t know what to make of it.  I could try to fake it but I just find it baffling.  I am smelling a hint of rubber erasers and while  that’s intriguing, somehow that just doesn’t sound right, does it?

There are lots more, including Sous le Vent, which I could kick myself for missing …next time.

By the way, don’t bother going on either the NM or the Guerlain website for any info.  I think these scents are in Witness Protection.  Really.  But the SAs are really nice (the Guerlain ‘expert’ not so much) so don’t hesitate to call there for more info.

Met the lovely Vida for sniffage at the new Barney’s.  Fragrances are in the basement, which is really disconcerting at first (you get over it) but they have those Malle hooters – you know, those booths!  I adore the Malles, I really do but……..what’s wrong with just spritzing the stuff on your wrist?  If you go in the booth, doesn’t it get all over your clothes?  What if you hate the scent more than taxes?  Then what? Doesn’t it get in your hair and your shoes and all?  Do they get a cleaning service in when they want to change the scent?  Are you supposed to go in or just stick your head in…..obviously I need to research this further…

Back on Earth…  they have a staggering array of Le Labo (complete with a charming lab-coated ‘createur’ (I just made that up – I think they call her a ‘mixer’).  TDC – Vida and I fell in love with Sublime Balkiss – it’s definitely decant-worthy, possibly full bottle, with citrus and berries and salt. I don’t recall ever falling for berries before but this one is just lovely.  And I think Heeley Selmarine, with its salty goodness (and a touch of not-pink pepper), might be my August-in-Hell scent.  March will hiss at me because it’s both aquatic AND melon!  Maybe I can bribe her with an apron or something… but I wouldn’t bet on it!

image: Guerlain Les Parisiennes,

  • Flora says:

    What a treat to try all those Guerlains! I love Mahora/Mayotte a LOT, more than I ever thought I would like a Guerlain, and I have learned to appreciate several of the other less mainstream Guerlains too. Your assessment of Mahora’s charms is spot-on! 😀

  • Musette says:

    I was hoping the NM folks would send me their lineup before I posted this (I wasn’t thinking Posse when I slithered into Neiman’s – sorry). I’ll be in Chicago probably next week – if Shelley’s kids are well enough perhaps she can leave them and join me down there -we’ll do some further sniffage and I’ll get the whole lineup then.

    btw – I confess to Djedi love, too (remember my ‘squee’ of delight, Kathleen, when I got my precious 5ml?) That is some freakified goodness, for sure!

  • Elle says:

    What a great way to spend a stormy day! Rubber erasers in Vega? Have to say that I think that sounds oddly appealing. I get demure powdery amber and floral notes and it’s one of those rare scents that seems to work w/ my skin chemistry once every couple of months when the planets are all aligned in some Vega friendly way, but the rest of the time I’m put off by it. I’m also in that minority of people who love both Mayotte and Mahora equally. Crave both of them all summer long. Definitely need to resniff Philtre.

  • mals86 says:

    Thanks so much for the report! I often wish I lived in a big city with access to perfume sniffage (and art galleries, and restaurants, and opera, and you get the point)… and often I’m happy with no rush hour traffic and small-town courtesy and the cows in the field behind the house, so I guess it works out.

    Now I have even more “must-try” Guerlains to add to my test list. Isn’t Ode supposed to be rereleased at some point?

    • Musette says:

      Babe, come sit by me. I am living Mrs Haney’s life, minus the peignoir and the pig. It’s just bizarre. Luckily I’m only about 2 hrs from Chicago by train and I still do enough biz in the City to justify getting the hockey sticks out of here. It is lovely and peaceful, etc etc…but it gets a bit………


  • violetnoir says:

    Ooh, thank you for your report.

    I had the “privilege” of being sprayed all over by the Guerlain representative visiting my local NM back in November. Once she figured out I knew more about the line than she did, she pretty much tuned out and then sprayed me again for extra measure! Needless to say, I did not make a purchase that day!

    I love Mayotte (Mahora), but to avoid the big price, I simply purchased a bottle of Mahora from an on-line seller.

    Hey, am I the only one out there who loves Mahora?


    • Shelley says:

      I have a gift for you…. 🙂

    • sweetlife says:

      Violetnoir, how glad I am to hear you like Mahora! I confessed to my bottle on NST’s shame-fume thread just a week or so ago. I bought it blind, because it had so many of the same notes as Songes, and wore it for quite awhile, finding it not at all like Songes, but a creamy, salty, white flower thing, with a bit of vetiver dirt at the bottom. Oh, and a buttered popcorn note for a few minutes (the tuberose, I assume) part of the way through. Later I found it was a) universally reviled and b) supposed to be a huge sillage monster. But that is not my experience. (Really missing those emoticons right now…)

      • sweetlife says:

        P.S. Having said all that, I suppose I should also say that I don’t exactly reach for my bottle on a regular basis. But it had its moment with me, for sure.

        • violetnoir says:

          I don’t wear it that much either, but as we get into summer, I know I will grab it more.

          Thanks for your Mahora-love!

          • gwyneth says:

            I one of the rare ones who loves Mahora. Go Figure….
            On my skin it is a soft tropical floral that doesn’t scream ‘tuberose’. On a summer evening it is stunningly beautiful.
            The wonders of skin chemistry never cease to amaze me. 🙂

  • Kim says:

    ditto on the Djedi love and on where the blame lies – would insert finger pointing emoticon but it is busy helping me clean up after drooling over such a display of Guerlain in one place. sigh.

    I really like Liu, even though I stil live and die by No 5 parfum. Vega is wonderful but I prefer Liu for Guerlain aldehydes.

    definitely go try Sous Le Vent – on me it is a bit herbal but still a lovely chypre, kind of like Paloma-light with added herbs. Really a lovely chypre and I do love a good chypre! It is one that I didn’t get at all until I wore it in the heat of the summer and whamo! it was wonderful!

  • Jarvis says:

    Sounds like you had a fun time, A. Thanks for the reviews! I wonder if they had any Plus Que Jamais? It’s one of my favourites, although it doesn’t seem to get as much love on the blogs/boards. And apparently has now been discontinued. I keep getting the urge to acquire a backup bottle…

    • Musette says:

      It’s on my list, along with SlV and anything else I missed. It was so crazy that day – they were in the throes of opening up that display and they had actual appointments! for folks to spritz, I guess. And I got involved with a customer who was trying to decide between No68 and L’Ame du Heros (something tells me I just mangled that – sorry)…No.68 just smelled weird on him – and I told him so. Made him buy Heros, which amped up on him and smelled delish. Between that and the visual overload I probably missed half the offerings. I’ll be back in next week and will do it justice then.


  • kathleen says:

    But I love Djedi…and who’s fault is that?! Nice post, A.

    I have a small decant of Liu, must try again. The Sous Le Vent took me a few tries, but I get it now. It has that addictive quality that I get from chypres. I’m coming to the end of my decant, so if ever you decide…
    Did you get a whiff of Parure? I’m curious about this one.

    • Kim says:

      Parure is another one of my favourite Guerlains. A wonderful plummy chypre, kind of a similar plum note to Feminite de Bois but much more chypre like Mitsouko – definitely bottle worthy but is it discontinued?

      • kathleen says:

        I believe that it is discontinued, but there are decants available on Wiki

        • carmencanada says:

          It *is* discontinued. Jean-Paul Guerlain has been working on a reformulation (he told me himself last year, and it was confirmed a month ago by Sylvaine Delacourte), but they still haven’t found a way to make it smell like Parure while being IFRA-compliant.

          Oh, and BTW, Nahema is in the throes of being reformulated (IFRA again): nab that extrait NOW.

          • Flora says:

            NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO – reformulate Nahema? Sacrilege! It’s my favorite Guerlain by far (I forgot to add that when I posted about Mahora), will they stop at nothing?!

  • Rappleyea says:

    Great review Musette! I actually wore the Les Parisiennes version of Liu yesterday – on me it stays fairly sweet and powdery. The old edt version had a much better jasmine/sandalwood drydown. I suppose it fell victim to reformulation when it entered Les Parisiennes.

    I have a FB of Philtre and love it. Much less lemon Pledge than the older version, March, and on me at least, more indolic neroli, which I love. Unfortunately, I have to be careful as in hot weather, the lemon eats my skin.

    I only have a decant of Mayotte, and think it is beautiful. However, I’ve learned something about myself wearing it: I love to SNIFF tuberose; think it is gorgeous. But then I want to walk away. When I wear it and smell it continuously, it becomes too much.

    • Shelley says:

      I know what you mean about tuberose…I think that’s a great way to put it. It’s a wonderful thing to get a whiff of, or to control a huff on, but to get caught inside with no escape…

  • Shelley says:

    I love your reporting. Remember, never apologize for sniffer…just be honest. Which you of course offer in spades. 🙂

    I haz issues with Mahora. And a full bottle, so there are plenty of rounds left for us to battle. I am going to get you some, so you can at some point compare and provide your own thoughts on the Mayotte reissue/rename/reformulation.

    Why did I not know this? Do you think DCFS will come after me if I leave the sick kids at home and take one teeny-weensy little trip downtown… ????

    • Musette says:

      that was your migraine day, remember? we’ll have a do-over asap. Would love to try Mahora v. Mayotte. Mayotte brought back the 80s! I was thinking of teasing my hair and throwing on some serious cheap-bling earrings!

      And the heavy blush! Mustn’t forget the heavy blush!!!


      ps. hope the kids are not SICKsick…just sick?

      • Shelley says:

        Musette, Vida,

        1) Kids are sick…not mentioning anything porcine, though it travels these parts…not mentioning, because in the end, the symptoms and intensity are the same as ye olde garden variety flue…

        2) I just didn’t know about the Guerlain display at N-M. My house is in da house. Zoiks! With the oldies!! Must. go. (I have a small decant of Attrape-Coeur…lust after others.)

        3) I think that for me, Mahora does not = Mayotte. There is something dirty in a not interesting way in Mahora. I’ve written about it. But now that it’s gone across my brain three times this morning, methinks maybe it’s time for us to take another turn on the dance floor…I dunno…I’ve certainly had turn-arounds before. And it’s not dirty bad skanky girl, or dirty inside of a garden pot, it’s just…fetid semi-vegetal semi-excrement. Do I exaggerate? Off to the dance…

        Missed y’all, too!!

    • Vidalicious says:

      Shelley, honey, you were sorely missed!
      Ok, the Sublime Balkiss is lovely candied grapefruit slices on me, and would love love love it on a hot breezy day with a Sea Breeze in my hand…
      Mayotte I’m loving, but she is not as dirty as you make her out to be…or does that make me a dirty girl too?

  • March says:

    I love that ol’ Philtre d’Amour — I have the old lay-down bottle that looks like a … well, never mind. 🙂 It smells like the universe’s finest lemon drop candy to me, and the hint of Raid is just a bonus.

    • Musette says:

      I know! Can you believe that I Embraced the Raid!? Usually that has me running for a Vicodin and a shower.


  • Melissa says:

    Perfect timing, since I will be off a-sniffing with the DC bunch tomorrow too. I think that I will take CC’s advice and re-try Attrape-Coeur. I went through a small decant of it some time ago and I haven’t thought about it since.

    Of the four that you mentioned, I only wear Liu and I adore it. I don’t find it tough at all, but then I love No 5 and almost any decent floral aldehyde fragrance that you spray in my direction. It took me some years before I could wear No 5, but Liu was an instant love. Go figure!

    • Musette says:

      Oh, no, I totally get how you would love Liu. It is gorgeous, in my opinion. Had I done my homework before walking into this collection I wouldn’t have been so surprised at its composition.(again, Observant Musette walked past not one but TWO 7′ stand-alone displays touting the collection. I only found it because I was skirting around, looking for my makeup artist and the little caged bottles caught my eye).

      Btw – I love No5 too, though only in the perfume, whereas I think I could wear Liu in any iteration.


    • carter says:

      What are zeese “caged bottles”? Not the bee bottles? Are they the purse sprayers in the gold metal cases? I so confused!

      • Musette says:

        I’m probably not describing it accurately – they’re the same shape as the regular Guerlain bee bottles but they have gold filigree on them (I think – like I said, this was, essentially, a flyover-turned-post)…names embossed, gold on gold.


  • Louise says:

    Ain’t you had fun???

    Fabulous reporting, M.

    The Guerlain trunk show is visiting the area here now, and I have a perfume-girlfriends date tomorrow to try some rarities, and several that are just not available here. Hey-did you know that DC is a small back-water town? The buyers at all the fancy stores all got that memo ; (

    We’ll then hit Hermes, and see if we can do more damage on the new frags there.

    Weather be damned, I’m psyched! Come along???

    • Musette says:


      You devil! Do me a favor: when you go into Hermes, hiss at them for me (I’m down on the whole corporate entity, figuring that bad manners are only allowed if corporate countenances it. Were I M. Hermes-Dumas (Dumas-Hermes? whatever) I would fire everybody, save 4 people, in the Chicago boutique then scour the place of all pretension and hose it down with bleach before starting over. In my opinion, pretension is the opposite of true elegance.

      Of course I would, were I him, send me all the Birkins and luggage before doing so….

      … well, that was fun! okay, I’m back here on Earth. 😀


      • Louise says:

        Hey Musette!

        HAHAHA! The Hermes boutique here was a De-Lite! We had two very fragrance savvy SAs, and couldn’t have gotten better service. The two new EdTs were very fleeting on most of us gals (we were 4), but pleasant. We spent a very long time bothering them over the Hermessence series, and ended up just splitting a 4-way travel set, with no ‘tude at all from the SAs. I’ll be a return customer.

        So next time you need some Hermes, just come on by!


  • carmencanada says:

    Musette, I really enjoyed your lively write-up, but…. you need to go back there, because the ones really worth testing in Les Parisiennes are Attrape-Coeur (formerly Guet-Apens)and Derby (if they still make it); in the Il était une fois Guerlain, which comprises only Vega and Sous le Vent (I’ve been pestering the Guerlain artistic director, Sylvaine Delacourte, to revive the collection with new addition), it is Sous le Vent that’s the winner.

    About Liu: the official story is that Jacques Guerlain caught his wife wearing N°5, which wouldn’t do at all, so he composed Liu for her.

    The Frédéric Malle cabins are just for sticking your head it — they don’t spray you, they’re just meant to give the effect of the sillage, and of course you can skin test afterwards. I find their cardboard strips smell a bit too cardboardy, so that’s not the best option.

    • Melissa says:

      Love the scent cabins! So very Malle. They’re great for a first sniff and to rule out the ones that you don’t want to test on skin.

      But I think that Musette is on to something. We should each have a personal scent cabin. You spray your fragrance in it in the morning, step in, and voila! Perfect, even scent coverage. No more overspritzed cleavage.

      • Musette says:

        Wouldn’t that be fun? Like a scented bari-whatchamajiggit chamber (it’s early and my head is focused on a ton of steel and French toast)


      • mals86 says:

        Hey hey hey! What’s wrong with overspritzed cleavage??

        Kidding. I’m a wrists-base of the throat dabber, usually.

    • Musette says:

      See, this is why I stink at reportage. I didn’t review the A-C and Derby because I have both, love both! I only chose the ones that I’d never sampled before (I wasn’t thinking ‘blog’ when I did it).

      Thanks for the 411 on the booths! LOL! I had NO idea. It was late and nobody was over at the Malles and I was actually busy looking at lipliners – walked past those booths, TWICE!, if you can believe it. So observant, our Musette!

      D, can I come spend a day with you @ Guerlain? Oooh, baby! I remember back in my Marshall Field’s days (I was the Adv. Manager) when I got yelled at for going to Paris and NOT letting my people know so they could hook me up at the Great Houses. I was so young, soooo stupid.


      ps. can you talk to the unwashed (me) about Vega? I swear I Just. Don’t. Get. It.


      • carmencanada says:

        If you already have Attrape-coeur and Derby, all is forgiven!
        I can’t really talk to you about Vega. On me, it’s aldehydic, and soapy, and then I don’t remember. So I guess I don’t get it either. I’m so sore at them for giving up on that series, when they’ve already redone (but not produced), say, Cachet Jaune which is a lovely cinnamon/benzoin/vanilla oriental that’s just screaming for skin…
        And you’re welcome to a tour of the Paris Guerlain with me anytime!