Guerlain Muguet (2009) {Perfume Review & Musings} + A Prize Drawing


Each year, Guerlain are in the habit of releasing their anniversary Muguet perfume. The very first one was created in 1840. Later, it was the 1906 benchmark which was used as a point of reference; you can see here the 2006 edition...

Tomorrow on April 30, 2009 you will be able to discover the latest version in the Guerlain boutiques worldwide but for just one day only, officially at least. Guerlain traditionally re-introduce a muguet scent each year in anticipation of the 1st of May when sprigs of muguet are exchanged as charming tokens of spring renewal and good luck in France. Mimicking the ephemeral quality of the fragile muguet scent, which is quite present yet wanes over the days, Guerlain Muguet wants to be a bouquet of lily of the valleys to be purchased for a short span of time, even if reapplied all year long. Subtitled "Un Jour, Un Parfum" (One Day, One Perfume) the single day launch is a sale event charged with both traditional symbolism and luxury marketing acumen

How It Wafts

The opening of Muguet 2009 is quite literally and pleasantly soapy - it smells like a refined soap - almost bubbly like Badedas fizz. It smells fresh, green (grassy) but at the same time there are contrasts with raspy, indolic, almost masculine-feeling jasmine notes.

Soon, a more dramatic sensation of intoxication and langorous abandon of the senses momentarily concludes the opening stage.

This beginning I see as an olfactory shock meant to provoke an emotion in the smeller/wearer. It is a way of telling you, "see what I am capable of," but the perfume soon calms down.

Le Muguet by Guerlain appears to be a stylized yet natural-smelling muguet.The stylization effect rests upon both exaggerated traits and invented ones. There is an enhanced indolic accord of honeyed lilac and muguet mingling with softer green and white floral notes, but also more angular, sharper leather and nail-polish notes surfacing from the base then overtaking the stage. This tempest in a bottle soon abates while the underlying, heavier floral notes remain of a raw, raspy and bold nature. One can catch a more impolite facet of muguet but rather fleetingly.

In Guerlain Muguet, a stylization effect is created through the significant showcasing of an olfactory moment that you might have noticed only for a brief moment.

The whole of the composition is blanketed by a creamy-white cashmere-like texture punctuated by lemon-scented dots an added-on facet and a sensation evocative of chinchilla, angora, things fluffy and white. This reference to a snowy-white impression is not completely arbitrary to my nose as muguet in its natural state offers a pure and icy-cold freshness, as I underlined previously. The base of the perfume is creamy, white but also animalic/indolic at the same time.

Muguet by Guerlain is more like a crème de muguet than a crystal clear fountain as the old Diorissimo (1956) used to be thanks to Hedione.

The perfume offers affinities with Cruel Gardenia by Guerlain and Beige by Chanel in that soft creamy white floral quality which betrays a note of privileged comfort suggestive of a silk cocoon. A final touch of dewy floralcy in the longer drydown evokes the white aqueous floralcy of Fleur de Liane. The velvety facet even takes on a doughy, almost edible quality.

It is not too long before the vision of a white chocolate ganache appears and one could easily imagine a shiny white chocolate bar scented with bergamot essence, iris, cacao, lilac and muguet which would taste the way it smells here to the nose. The gustatory quality however appears in filigree rather than as a literal statement like the beginning of the impression of a bite or bouchée.

A clearer, more head-note-like greener, more dewy muguet accord emerges from the folds of whiteness after a while. Thanks to its modern-perfume persona, the base of the scent is lifted by lighter, spring-like notes anew instead of sinking down for good. The muguet becomes all-natural smelling after having taken a detour through clothing material and subliminal gustatory textures especially in its sillage effect, further away from the skin. It just smells of fresh muguet, like a green, dewy aura.

Muguet Eau de Toilette by Guerlain is all in all delightful, especially when it releases its lily-of-the-valley spirit fully. It is also a very expensive little thing. A 60 ml bottle is priced at 250 Euros. You also pay for the privilege of obtaining a very-limited edition perfume issued at only 785 copies. It is first and foremost a collector's item.

One can see a potential tension arising between the tastes of lovers of the modest lily of the valley scent and the luxurious, theatrical Guerlain staging of Muguet. Yet if you remember that Christian Dior made muguet a sign of haute-couture luxury and that his perfume Diorissimo was a symbol of elegance for decades, then through this thread of cultural symbols perhaps the scent of muguet can be convincingly construed as exclusive. Certainly the spiritual lightness of lily of the valley note which has deserted somewhat the new Diorissimo can still be felt here but as if covered up in part by a warm white fur stole, à la Guerlain, a house known for their championing of rich perfumery textures.

The composition however is more polite than original. The flacon is probably the most striking and luxurious part of the equation.

Notes listed are: bergamot, lilac, muguet, jasmine, rose.

You can leave a comment to be entered in a prize drawing for two samples of Muguet by Guerlain (2009). Two winners will be selected by a random number generator (once I receive my decanting supplies!)

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44 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. I'm curious about this...anything by Guerlain is a must-try. I love that you say it's "delightful"!!!

    • Yes, it is lighthearted and delightful. I'd say that "delightful" is underrated, but a very nice aesthetic emotion to experience with a perfume. I think that the natural scent of muguet is delightful, like the laughter of a child.

      Chant Wagner
  2. I have been sticking my nose in every lily of the valley I come across for the past week so I suppose I am craving something just like this. Although, as you say, an expensive little thing.

    • JAntoinette,

      Definitely, an expensive, precious little thing. It has very good diffusion and lasts into the next day despite the fact that it is billed as an eau de toilette. So, definitely also a good quality muguet. The Diorissimo is less expensive but does not last very well, in its new incarnation.

      Chant Wagner
  3. Lol is one of my favorite white flowers and this sounds so lovely. Please enter me in the draw. Thanks!!!

    • ChantillyLace,

      Isn't it lovely? I will have to back-track on what I said about the scent of muguet being unique...just smelled some peonies that smelled a little like LOV!

      Chant Wagner
  4. I just recently discovered that muguet and lily of the valley were indeed the same thing. I think limited editions can be fun but this one is a bit too expensive for my taste.

    • madic,

      Yes, it can be confusing...everyone is entitled to think that they represent slightly different local species ;)

      This limited edition is a little bit like Christmas in the middle of spring. I think that you pay quite a bit for it being constructed as an object of luxury: 1-day happening, luxurious packaging, above average quality for a muguet perfume (it is not fleeting).

      Chant Wagner
  5. If I were in Paris...but I am not. Would love an opportunity to sample the Guerlain muguet.

    • ScentSelf,

      You're in! I was told it is available in other cities than Paris, abroad. But I only saw the names of capital cities. In France, people who live outside of Paris have to call the flagship store to order.

      Chant Wagner


      I'm pretty sure it does not smell like the 1999 version because the 2009 version smells very trendy. It is muguet plus the white mellow base that appears in cruel gardénia, l'instant magic and a number of white furry florals these days.

      Chant Wagner
  7. Your description makes me wish I could buy it on the spot. Like Karin said, anything from Guerlain is a must-try.

    • Ssy,

      If you are addicted to lily of the valley, I could see you spring for this one. I am very glad I had the opportunity to try this one myself.

      Chant Wagner
  8. I feel incredibly greedy asking to be entered in another draw (if my browser cooperated I just entered the Hilary Duff draw), but this year's edition of Muguet sounds so breathtakingly beautiful that I am compelled to ask that I be entered in the draw.

    Ninara Poll

    • Ninara Poll,

      Not a problem, don't be shy! These drawings are open to all and everyone as many times as you wish to take the time to enter them!

      Chant Wagner
  9. This sounds very intereting. I would really like to try it. I adore Chanel Beige and am interested on how they compare, but 250 euro...WOW. I guess I'll just have to hope I win the drawing. Your description of lily of the valley covered in a warm white fur stole is wonderful! Thanks

    • tara,

      You're welcome! To me it was interesting to test the Guerlain take on Muguet. I think you can see the house's touch in this warm-cold contrast.

      I keep meaning to publish my review of Beige. I have it on paper, which has delayed me from transferring the whole thing to the blog, although I've had the perfume since last fall!!!

      Chant Wagner
  10. This sound beautiful and perfect for the windy spring days we are having.
    Please enter me in the draw.

    Janet in CA
    • Janet in CA,

      I think that this is the kind of scent that leaves room for a woman to express her own aura. What I mean by that is that it does not say "masterpiece", but as the right complement to a person's style, it could be very lovely.

      I have been struck more and more lately by how a perfume smells so much better when it blends in effortlessly with the style and demeanor of a person.

      Chant Wagner
  11. THANKS for your very precise description , the fragrance each year is the same, but not the bottle !
    the muguet 2009 bottle , it is really superb

    • Mrs. Delacourte,

      Thank you for your comment and for dropping by. The perfume feels so up-to-date that I, as I said earlier on, I thought it felt like it had benefited from the latest perfumery reworkings. I didn't know that Guerlain felt they had to offer *exactly* the same muguet perfume each year! I see now that it is not supposed to be a vintage but, in principle, a well-tested and controlled formulation.

      Many thanks for the precision.

      Chant Wagner
  12. That's why I read this blog-- who knew that there are perfumes that come out for a single day?! I'd love to be entered in the drawing. What a treat to have a treasure like that!


    • I know, it's crazy luxury, but luxury is bit crazy anyway. It always wants to defy gravity, common-sense and such things. That's why it's so compelling and makes people pay attention!

      Chant Wagner
  13. I've always loved lily of the valley. I remember finding it in my yard in the spring (a late Chicago spring) when I was growing up. Sadly, now I have a flat and no yard. Please enter me in the drawing.


    • You're in! On May the 1st in France, lily of the valley literally grows on the sidewalks :)

      Chant Wagner
  14. I'd love to be included in the draw! :)

    • You're in! :)

      Chant Wagner
  15. This sounds lovely and would be an elegant addition to display on your dresser what a stunning bottle.


    • Absolutely! The bottle looks even handsomer and more imposing in real life!

      Chant Wagner
  16. Oh, I would love to try this!

    • You're in!

      Chant Wagner
  17. Please include me in the draw...I wonder if Bergdorfs has it today ?


    • I don't know now anymore if they mentioned New York city but and I don't know how strictly they stick to the 1-day rule. Best thing is to call them I guess.

      Chant Wagner
  18. I forgot to mention-- please enter me too!! :)

  19. I would love to be entered into the drawing.


  20. Please include me too! It sounds absolutely lovely.

  21. Is this still open? I'd love to be included in the contest too! Thanks,
    Laura M

    Laura Morris
  22. The fleeting beauty of Lily of the Valley! It grows in a patch of woods near my cottage but if I miss the week or so it's there, I have to wait all year.

  23. I grow lily of the valley and would like to be entered into the drawing, too.

  24. Dear Marie- Helene,
    As always , your writing is a pleasure . Please enter me in the draw .
    I wore Diorissimo - with gay abandon in the 70's notably in 1974 - while a nursing student @Syracuse University . It was during my Maternity Nursing - rotation - in the spring.
    I came to associate the joyful anticipation of the arrival of newborn babies with the arrival of Spring - . Spring, rebirth , renewa, Diorissimo .
    I am deeply disappointed with its current formulation- courtesy of Saks 5th Avenue. It was verdant, sparkling, effervescent , floral with a powerful , musky drydown.
    Now it is metallic, and awkward.
    Guerlain's Muguet as you so eloquently discuss- sounds tempting - even for the price.


    • Dear Madelyn,

      Thank you for your kind words. I have been putting together an article about Diorissimo and will get back to it. You're in!

      Chant Wagner
  25. I love muguet and would like to be entered in the drawing. Thank you

  26. I adore muguet, and I would love to be in the draw! I would like to see how this stuff stacks up against my personal favorite, Caron's Muguet de Bonheur.


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