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!)