Perfumer Jean-Paul Guerlain, the last nose of the Guerlain family, will be facing the court on Thursday February 9th 2012 for a racial incident that was broadcast on television on October 15th 2010. He interjected some remarks using the N word and was furthermore deprecatory of slavery wondering whether slaves had been that much hard at work in an implicit comparison with his own work at Guerlain. It was all delivered in a perfectly suave - albeit frail tone - and probably motivated further by a certain old-school desire to be gallant with the woman journalist interviewing him. He was using French stock phrases of the colonial era which only served to show how deeply entrenched racist worldviews are when they are uttered in a perfectly ordinary, conversational tone to just do small talk...
The backlash was swift. Jean-Paul Guerlain apologized saying that his words did not reflect his innermost thoughts.
An American delegation led by Al Sharpton came to Paris to support the counter action making the point that all this wafted less of the colonial era than of the very current situation as a recent report from the ONU noted that racism was on the rise in France.
Guerlain boutiques were momentarily closed in the climate created by public outrage.
According to AFP citing one of his lawyers Maître Basile Ader, the perfumer will be present at the Tribunal Correctionnel de Paris on Thursday.