Fragrance

By Michelyn Camen

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There are two types of women in Manhattan; Bergdorf Goodman shoppers and women who love fragrance who will become Bergdorf Goddman devotees. While the store’s wonderful and expensive array of fashion and accessories may not be in the budget this week, everyone, and I mean everyone must own at least one fragrance from the House of Guerlain. And, the only full scale Guerlain Boutique within 800 miles of New York City is nestled in its own home on the LL level of BG.

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The Guerlain Boutique at Bergdorf Goodman Stocks Hard To Find, Exclusive and Classic Guerlain Fragrances

With over 400 Guerlain fragrances in stock, the boutique is home to all of the classic fragrances (such as Habit Rouge, Shalimar, Mitsouko, Jicky, L’Heure Bleu, Nuit D’Amour, Vetiver and Chamade), the more commercial Insolence collection and (‘Guerlain for beginners’ ) the Aqua Allegorias, as well as Guerlain’s anser to the niche fragrances revolution, L’Art et La Matière; all in all a veritable treasure trove of vintage and contemporary fragrances are at your disposal. There is ONE (or four) that you will fall in love with.

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Habit Rouge was Created by Master Perfumer Jean Paul Guerlain in 1965

There have been four generations of Guerlains, including Pierre-Franà§ois Pascal Guerlain, Aimé Guerlain (whose great composition Jicky was created in 1889 and still reigns as one of the three best selling fragrances at the boutique), Jacques Guerlain who created L’Heure Blue and the well known Shalimar between 1912 and 1924 (the other two top sellers) and Jean-Paul Guerlain, who is currently the House’s master perfumer. He created Guerlain’s classic men’s fragrances Vétiver (1959) and Habit Rouge (1965); the latter is considered by many to be the first male oriental fragrance. He also created Nahéma (1979), Jardins de Bagatelle (1983), and Samsara (1989) All thirty of Jean Paul Guerlain’s fragrances are housed in the boutique.

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Eau de Cologne Impériale was created for Napoleon II in 1853

According to Sonia Ciliberti, Business Manager for the Guerlain Boutique at Bergdorf Goodman, the oldest fragrance is Guerlain’s Eau de Cologne Impériale, created in 1853.
It was created by Pierre-Francois-Pascal Guerlain for Napoleon III and his wife Empress Eugenie. They were so impressed by his refined fragrances that the Empress bestowed him with the title of “Her Majesty’s Official Perfumer,” the official supplier to the Imperial Court. Guerlain’s latest offerings are Cruel Gardenia and Aqua Allegoria Figue-Iris (reviewed in Beauty News New and NOTEWORTHY: March Musings).

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The Ultra Rare Candide Effluve, Guerlain’s Gold Bee Bottles and Les Parisiennes

Exclusively at The Guerlain Boutique are the gold bee bottles, in all sizes, from 17 ounces to 32 ounces (they retail for $1,300). In addition, you may find the vintage fragrance Candide Effluve, a beautiful floral oriental created by Jacques Guerlain in 1922. It is a limited and numbered re-edition of Candide Effluve in its historical bottle, the rare black Baccarat crystal bottle. There are only 97 numbered bottles, which had a single production run in 1933. The number engraved on each bottle is also rare and original. At the time of this writing there was only one left at Bergdorf Goodman, and it retails for $2,600. While at the Guerlain boutique, be sure to check out Les Parisiennes, a re-edition collection that brings vintage fragrances back into the spotlight, and includes Purple Fantasy, Quand Vient, L’Ete and Metalys.

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Samsara and Apres L’Ondee

While Shalimar, Jicky and L’Heure Bleue are the boutiques best sellers, it is the nostalgic (my first Guerlain was Samsara) the vintage (I fell in love with Apres L’Ondee, which smells like a spring day bathed in sunshine after the rain, and the undiscovered, such as Cuir Beluga from the L’Art et le Matière collection, (developed by Sylvaine Delacourte, Creative Director Of Fragrance at Guerlain in collaboration with some of the world’s best noses), that create new fragrance passions.

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Ms. Sylvaine Delacourte, Creative Director of Fragrance for Guerlain

Of the Matière line of fragrances (a departure from all other Guerlain’s offerings), Ms. Delacourte explains, “This collection celebrates Guerlain’s passion for the world’s most precious raw materials; what sets this collection apart is using luxurious ingredients to capture the essence of Guerlain in a completely modern way.”

Cuir Beluga was a new discovery for me. Admittedly, it will not be to evryone’s liking; it has been praised, but more often panned by many ‘enlightened’ bloggers and critics (including the admirable Luca Turin) as uninspiring, but on my skin Cuir Beluga is a wonderfully soft, multi-faceted heliotropic fragrance. With notes of mandarin orange, immortelle flower, leather, amber, heliotrope and vanilla, it opens with a sweet but mild citrus, and dries down to creamy vanilla suede. I do not detect more than a moment of the immortelle, but the heliotrope shines at the heart. It is on my ‘to buy’ list. Editor’s Note: While Fragrance Critics and informed Bloggers are offering much needed information and expertise to the industry, always buy what you love.

Sylvaine Delacourte reflects, “In this role as Creative Director of Fragrance, I must be very demanding. I have many challenges but they really motivate and fuel my passion. The creation is the most difficult part but it is also the most gratifying for me! It is the essence of my life.” She is quick to note that Guerlain is a brand that has had real perfumers for the past five generations and there has Guerlain fragrances have been part of five generations of many men and women’s lives.

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Although you can order the most popular and the more commercial of the Guerlain fragrances online at www.bergdorfgoodman.com, Beauty News encourages you to spend an hour or three (carry wipes and wear a sleeveless top for maximum spritz space) at the Guerlain boutique. The best time to stop by is when the store opens at 10:00 or during the late afternoon. Sonia Ciliberti and Jason Beers are available for complimentary consultations and can be reached at 212-872-2734.

The Guerlain Boutique at Bergdorf Goodman
754 Fifth Avenue
LL Level
New York NY. 10019

Originally published May 2008
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