Thursday 3 September 2015

Guerlain's Sexual Scents

When Guerlain introduced the Elixir Charnel range in 2008 there were quite a few raised eyebrows at the news that this prestigious house had entered the controversial arena of "sexual" scents. With a collection aimed quite clearly at women with very distinct and adventurous sexual styles, it blew the lid off the most famous and respected historical perfumery. Sex has always sold, that is the undisputed law of retail, but what would Aimé Guerlain have thought? I hope that he would see it as a bold move to modernise a traditional style, and maybe even chuckle at the same time. So what exactly is "Elixir Charnel"?

Every woman has, or pretends to have, a particular sexual attitude. Be it the romantic, the seductress, the femme fatale, the playful or the passionate, Guerlain wanted to express each of these as a fragrance. Romance was nothing new for Guerlain, but the darker, more predatory side of sex certainly was. Enter Sylvaine Delacourte and Christine Nagel with their menu of sexual styles.

Some people confused the range with a simple attempt to release one perfume from each fragrance family, but what was actually happening was the pairing of a sexual style to a fragrance style. Maybe it wasn't explained fully at the launch, but once you see the links it is startlingly clear. Also, as the range is all about romance, in one form or another, it uses visible and invisible rose in every fragrance. Quite simply in some of the scents the rose is prominent, but in others it is resigned to the background to offer delicate support and as such is unlisted.

The first three releases saw the overtly provocative, the girly mischievousness and the seductress in the form of Oriental Brûlant, Gourmand Coquin and Chypre Fatale. The key elements of these were, in order, a resinously sexual labdanum, a flirtatious chocolate rum and an enticing peach mixed with oakmoss. They were joined in 2009 by the unconventional lover, Boise Torride, a challenging marshmallow cedar which unfortunately has now been discontinued.

It would be two years before the range extended to include Thierry Wasser’s Floral Romantique, a scent for the true romantic. It used a traditional Guerlain flower blend along with smokey tea to add an element of wistfulness. The final addition, so far, was French Kiss, an ode to the sensual kiss. Again by Thierry, it appeared in 2014 and was designed to replicate the scent of a brand new lipstick. With lichee, heliotrope and a proud rose it created an olfactory "glossy" effect.

So you see, the Elixir Charnel range can take you from playful innocence to sexual seducer, and everything in between. It truly is a set of sexual potions, and one that you really do need to experience if you haven't already.

Whilst they are clearly designed for females, Chypre Fatale and Oriental Brûlant also work wonderfully on men. You could describe them as a modern Mitsouko and a dirty Chamade, but what you can not describe them as is "safe". So, pick up a potion and be the sexual animal that you always wanted to be.


  1. I fell in love with French Kiss last year....I may have to cave in!

    1. French Kiss has a beautiful heliotrope ... A great afternoon scent