Any story about Guerlain fragrances must always begin with the story of a woman. As Jacques Guerlain, the house’s third and arguably most famous perfumer once said: “We always create for a woman we love and admire”.
This incredibly romantic tradition began early on in the fragrance company’s existence. As far back as 1889, head perfumer Aimé Guerlain created Jicky for a young woman he fell in love with as a student. Mitsouko (1919) was named for the heroine of the French novel La Bataille; for Shalimar (1925), it was an Indian princess, while Nahéma (1979), was inspired by Catherine Deneuve’s character in the film Benjamin.
The tradition continues all the way to 2017, with the release of the house’s new scent, Mon Guerlain. The female pivot for this particular fragrance: Angelina Jolie, who collaborated on the perfume’s advertising campaign (which was filmed in her own Provençal home), as well as being its face.
Speaking exclusively to Myer Emporium, Guerlain’s in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser reveals: “When Laurent Boillot, Guerlain CEO, met Angelina Jolie in Cambodia while she was directing her new film First They Killed My Father, the creation of fragrance was already finished. Luckily, she immediately loved the scent of Mon Guerlain and she said yes [to being the face]! It was unbelievable. Therefore she participated in the creation of the movie and brought a real contribution to the choice of visuals for the campaign of Mon Guerlain.”
For Jolie, the opportunity to work with Guerlain was also a special one, as the house’s library of fragrances reminded her of her own mother, who wore and loved a particular scented powder from the brand throughout Jolie’s childhood. It’s not surprising that she made the connection: at the heart of most Guerlain fragrances is what is known as the Guerlinade, a blend of six key ingredients: vanilla, jasmine, tonka bean, iris, rose and bergamot, all used in varying amounts.
As Wasser notes, “We try to innovate without forgetting the traditional know-how to create a fragrance. We focus on the past and on the future to respect Guerlain’s incredible legacy while appealing new or younger customers. For instance, I constantly get inspiration from my predecessors’ creations to help me conceive never-seen juices.”
With Mon Guerlain, he continues, “there is no doubt that Jicky was an inspiration for this fragrance. When you smell it, you find references to Jicky, thanks to lavender and vanilla.”
There’s also a youthful quality about the sweet, feminine juice, which is in keeping with the story of Jicky. But perhaps more than any other Guerlain narrative, the latest fragrance also channels the spirit of strong femininity that will go down as a defining feature of 2017. As Thierry Wasser says, “The central role of women in society is what inspired me for Mon Guerlain.”