Thursday 23 June 2016

GUERLAIN - The King Of Colognes

It's a rite of passage, a marker of acceptance, an honour above all others. It's a very select club which currently only has five members. A company which became famous for a very special Eau de Cologne continues that tradition by asking each of its perfumers to create their own cologne to sit alongside previous generations. I am of course talking about Guerlain. Each perfumer through its history has contributed their own interpretation to this exquisite collection. With a span of one hundred and fifty seven years from the first to the last you know that you're going to run the whole gamut. So let's take a look at the Perfumers' Collection.

The journey "officially" begins in 1853 with the release of Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain's Eau de Cologne Impériale. History tells us that it was created in honour of Empress Eugénie, the wife of Napoleon III, and secured a reputation for the house of Guerlain. Other sources place its release as 1850 and after presentation to the Empress the name was changed. The perfect blend of bergamot, lemon, neroli and petitgrain provide a refreshing pick-me-up, but in true cologne tradition its life is fleeting. Interestingly this cologne was used as an "ingredient" in the 1889 Jicky by Aimé Guerlain. It was seen as the perfect blend of citrus notes, so he utilised his father's brilliance.

The second entry in the collection comes in the form of Aimé Guerlain's 1894 Eau de Cologne du Coq. It was described as a "hymn to France" and always had the cockerel, or rooster, as its logo. The cockerel as an emblem reemerged around the time of the French Revolution and has remained, somewhat quieter, to the present day. In this cologne you have an engaging lavender and rosemary which hints at an earthy undertone. This herbal quality always brings Jicky to my mind, and worn together they compliment each other perfectly.

We've reached the roaring twenties and an age of excess. Eau de Fleurs de Cédrat by Jacques Guerlain arrived in 1920 and ushered in a new age. Inspired by his time in the South of France, Jacques wanted to create the essence of the region. With such beautiful coastline it is unsurprising the direction he took. Lemon, citron and vervain join perfectly to portray a champagne sherbet experience. Close your eyes, reach for the wine glass and let the relaxing breeze wash over you. This is a must for every traveller.

A big jump now to 1974 and Jean-Paul Guerlain's Eau de Guerlain. Now this is a mischievous beast. It's technically an Eau de Toilette, in the modern sense of the word, but its opening freshness can't be ignored. Again inspired by Provence, this time we move inland, there's an almost sun-scorched oakmoss dryness to this fragrance which fits perfectly with a hay-like coumarin. The citrus in here is very sharp, but that is what links perfectly to the base. Quite simply it's another Jean-Paul Guerlain masterpiece.

Our final stop is Cologne du Parfumeur by Thierry Wasser, which was added to the collection in 2010. Thierry's inspiration came from the orange blossom, but one with a green edge to it. The idea was to create a continuing softness throughout the fragrance which would be evident even amongst the opening galbanum. A muted lavender along with a delicate white musk seem to guide you through the scent before landing on a distant cedarwood. A very worthy addition to a very exclusive club.

If you haven't tried all of these then I really suggest that you do. Guerlain were responsible for some of the greatest perfumes of our time, and this collection celebrates the perfumers behind them.

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