Thursday 6 April 2017

The Inspiration for ORIENTAL BRÛLANT

It is strange that at a time when many “niche” perfume companies are experimenting with animalic fragrances one of France’s most respected, Guerlain, chose to discontinue one of theirs. Oriental Brûlant was part of the Elixir Charnel range and arrived on the scene in 2008. It made no excuses for its overtly provocative nature and labdanum lovers were in their element with large doses of this highly sexual ingredient. Designed around women’s actual and desired sexual styles, the Elixir Charnel range was a difficult one to market but, out of the original three, where did the inspiration for Oriental Brûlant actually come from?

I met with Sylvaine Delacourte at Guerlain’s Champs-Elysées boutique and, during the course of our interview, we talked about the Elixir Charnel range. Originally created in collaboration with Christine Nagel, it covered the whole spectrum of playful innocence through to sexual seducer but Oriental Brûlant turned out to be a favourite for both of us. As we were talking she suddenly remembered where the inspiration for the perfume had originally come from. So, after nine years, the history of Oriental Brûlant is finally revealed.

Sylvaine said that she had gone to see her doctor and he told her that he had the most beautiful perfume. He had smelled it on a woman in Africa and had managed to persuade the lady to give him a few drops of the fragrance in a small bottle. Sylvaine was used to being talked to about perfume and so politely asked whether he had any of the scent on him. He didn’t but agreed that he would bring it in. Sylvaine said that because he had spoken so enthusiastically about it she felt that she had to go back on another day to smell it. So, back she went and was greeted with literally a few drops of fragrance in the bottom of a bottle.

Sylvaine smelled the scent and said that she was hit by just how animalic it actually was, but it was something that she immediately found very interesting. She asked whether she could have a sample or even just borrow the bottle for a day so that she could take it to the laboratory. His answer was a definite no. So, the only choice was to dip the blotter in the bottle and then wrap it in aluminum foil. She took the paper straight to Christine Nagel and asked her to smell it. As Sylvaine remembered, “it was wide, it was spicy, it was really something aphrodisiac. It needed to be less animalic but it was the inspiration to create Oriental Brûlant.”

The fragrance is no longer available to buy online in the original bottle or the later quadrilobe but the Guerlain boutiques may still have some stock. If you have never smelled Oriental Brûlant then I would suggest that you do because it really is a sexual potion that will allow you to be the seductress that you always wanted to be.


  1. I wonder if Mme Delacourte might have encountered Bint El Sudan? It is an extraordinary Perfume, which despite being quite popular across most of sub-Saharan Africa is almost unknown outside the region. While even the attenuated red cap version is such a powerfully animalic musk-based fragrance I find it difficult to square with even the most carnal of Guerlain's current - or recently discontinued - offerings, it is one her physician might very well have encountered and certainly fits the description.

  2. Hello Nicholas, thank you for the message. I haven't smelled Bint El Sudan for years! So, I've ordered some new bottles on your recommendation. Is it one that you wear? Best, Stephan