Vintages Bouquet de Faunes Guerlain

Bouquet de Faunes Guerlain

04/20/15 16:18:43 (7 comments)

by: Sergey Borisov


Each passionate perfume lover has his/her own Holy Grail. A perfume from the top of the wish-list. A perfume that causes goose bumps just by the desire to own it. A perfume unimaginably beautiful. Constantly slipping out of our hands. Legendary. Unique. Rare. Discontinued. A perfume that appears in your dreams.

My Holy Grail is named Guerlain Bouquet de Faunes (1922); it has topped my list of desired perfumes for more than 15 years. I have come across nothing but empty frosted crystal Lalique vases, in leather coffrets, offered at auctions for indecent money. Nary a sample nor a drop of the perfume!

Everything was changed by a lucky chance not so long ago in Moscow. One nimble Moscow beauty journalist did not hesitate at a meeting with Guerlain in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser to ask a question about this fragrance. “What was its fate? And is it possible that Guerlain will revive Jacques Guerlain's Bouquet de Faunes?” The perfumer`s answer was not very encouraging, “I'll see what we can do.” A tepid answer with uncertain results, as in-house perfumers have enough urgent work to do.

However, a few months later the beauty journalist was struck by surprise! The first bottle of the revived Bouquet de Faunes was presented to her with a kind thank-you letter for being a “catalyst for the revival” of Guerlain's unknown treasures. Well, you'll understand why I could not resist. I asked to try it and ... begged for a half sample of the perfume. Actually, it was the basis for this review.

Surprisingly, Bouquet de Faunes initially smells almost non-Guerlain. From the first inhalations, I imagined it as vintage mirages of Caron and Jean Patou, Worth and Chanel. Each perfumista has had his/her own white door to the vintage world, and each one has its own path which gradually became wider or quickly led to the exit from the vintage world to regular perfumery. The flowery-aldehydic start of Bouquet de Faunes, with a fluffy flower-iris powder and persistent old-fashioned roses of a beige shade, hinted at some Caron or Chanel perfumes—I would say that if there had been no labels, that's what my personal experience would have told me.

There is no contradiction of the perfume with its name—there's a grand bouquet in the perfume, a huge bouquet of many different flowers, smells and colors. The already-mentioned powdery roses are the main characters of the bouquet, but also I noticed bright and sweet fruity ylang-ylang and jasmine voices at the very beginning of the perfume's development; jasmine and iris support the perfume's heart and humble carnations with iris provide a powdery prolongation of the flowery theme.

L'après-midi d'un faune, drawing by Édouard Manet

In the story of Guerlain Bouquet de Faunes the goat-legged faun is hidden deep and far—being the second or third layer, behind the bouquet of flowers and after the cosmetic powdery-woody notes of sweetness. The first time the faun theme smells like the rose's warmth. Rose is warmed by the breath of a faun—civet breath. Then the animalics appear as hairy and unwashed animal fur. It's costus—the clear animal reference. A hint of animal fur quickly hides again behind the powdery musks and something of lilacs, to reappear soon. Greasy unwashed hair—and a cute sweet almond smile of heliotrope. This game of hide and seek in a powdery cloud takes one's attention and it's not easy to notice immediately the entry of the amber. It remains in a lower, darker layer of the powdery cloud. Rough leather breathing in a dark amber resin shade is perceptible even later, and here's another surprise: in the “Faun” sillage I can easily recall some subtle reflection of Caron Tabac Blond's sweet balsamic leather.

And this can lead us to another conclusion. Works of titanic effort like these of Thierry and Frederick are needed not just for Guerlain or Guerlainophiles. The restoration of historic vintage fragrances made by perfume houses is needed to reveal the indivisible single canvas of perfumery's history, which everyone could see, smell and understand. After all, there were wonderful perfumes in Guerlain's history even before Jicky was born. Chanel № 5, Jean Patou Joy and Guerlain Shalimar were not born in a vacuum—they were surrounded by dozens of other perfumes. Perfumers competed with each other, sometimes picking up and improving other people's ideas and there were always some connections between perfumes in any period of time. Let's count: the similar technologies for production of perfume raw materials; a similar palette of raw materials, from single natural and synthetic materials to perfume bases; similar tastes and similar perfume experiences of customers.

It's amazing how its poetic name from the past differs, for example, from the mundane modern names such as Cuir Gardenia, Rose Ambre or Cuir Pleine Fleur. Isn't it also a sign of the modern style in perfumery: the exact denotation instead of a poetic expression of feelings?

And now, some good outcomes for this story. In February 2014, after visiting the museum of old Guerlain flacons in the renovated Maison Guerlain, Thierry Wasser decided to complement it with historical perfumes. The idea was so logical. Archival research and painstaking work of the perfumer, along with his assistant Frederick Sacone, have led to the creation of 16 vintage perfumes. Among them are such rare perfumes as Pao Rosa (1877), À Travers Champs (1898), Fleur Qui Meurt (1901), Sillage (1907), Candide Effluve (1922), Djedi (1926), Cuir de Russie (1935), Coque d'Or (1937) and others.

A little later, in April 2014, a great surprise was waiting for chosen and devoted Guerlain fans. Thierry Wasser invited some French bloggers to Maison Guerlain and presented the whole collection of 25 restored heritage perfumes of the Guerlain legacy. Among apparently rare fragrances there were also Shalimar, Après l`Ondée and Jicky perfumes, recreated from handwritten archival formulas, to demonstrate to everyone how the modern versions are both similar and different from the originals. Each blogger was gifted with the collection of original perfumes in mini bottles—the object of burning envy by each and every Guerlainophile in the world.

Now, the vintage Guerlain collection continues to grow: archival rarities were recently added, such as Kriss (1942), the perfume of the Russian Emperor Alexander II, Parfum Imperial Russe (1880), and the first fragrance by Jacques Guerlain, Le Jardin de Mon Cure (1895). The collection, which now contains 29 perfumes, is one more argument for preserving the historical perfume heritage which continually disappears under IFRA's pressure. None of these "vintage" fragrances can be put on the market without changing the formulas to comply with the new requirements. None of these scents harmed anyone (there's no evidence documented) and people wore the perfumes for decades until the bureaucracy decided to ban them. Now, reformulation will be done to every vintage perfume, which means there will be new perfumes under the old names.

Anything from the “Guerlain vintage perfumes collection” cannot be bought or sold, because they do not meet the standards of IFRA, but you can try them in Paris and Versailles! For a while it was free, but now the smell session costs 130 euros. Maison Guerlain holds the sessions in its flagship store on the Champs-Elysées on a monthly basis for all interested. Reservations may be made by email to [email protected]. Also, you can smell the reconstructed Guerlain vintage perfumes in L'Osmothèque in Versailles.

(Great thanks to MonsieurGuerlain, who does a terrific job for Guerlain, as always)

 

BOUQUET DE FAUNES

Head notes: Neroli, Suede, Jasmin;
Heart notes: Bouvardia base, Orris, Marjoram, Lavender, Rose, Amber, Carnation;
Base notes: Musks, Costus, Leather, Amber, Tonka beans, Vanilla, Tobacco, Civet, Castoreum Vetiver, Patchouli.

(Bouvardia is the base made of Ylang-ylang and Neroli oil, Jasmine absolute, Geraniol, Beta-ionone, Bois de Rose, etc.)

 

 

Serguey Borisov

Serguey Borisov has been known in the Internet world of perfume under the nickname moon_fish for more than 10 years. Now he writes about perfumes for GQ.ru and Vogue.ru, and contributes on the subject for glossy magazines.

 

 

 

 



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mikemuscles21
mikemuscles21

Down with IFRA and those big chemical companies trying to control the fragrance industry, they should be ashamed of themselves. They are not keeping anyone safe they are just fattening their wallets. Givaudan, Firmenich, IFF, etc etc, are suffocating the true artists in this industry. They are pigs!,
and I can't help but wonder if they are the root cause of why so many mass produced perfumes on the market smell exactly the same, have similar silage, and longevity. Im sure it's because perfume houses are forced to use their ingredients instead of their own. I am sure this is why the industry will suffer. It's boring, old and Tyyy-Yerd honey. It's tired. Tired and boring fragrances in your local department store. It's communism in a bad way. I can understand them wanting to sell their ingredients but for them to suffocate the perfume houses with IFRA is annoying.
Perfume houses should have a choice, not be forced to use their ingredients. Or have these companies dictate how things work. Lately when I find out that a synthetic, trademarked ingredient from a chemical company like this have been used, I feel like not buying that brand. In my opinion it cheapens the brand. But I guess its almost impossible to get away from now since these companies have everyone by the throat and Im sure their synthetics are in virtually every perfume now. I would just rather not know. And if I find out I will avoid the brand. I dislike Givaudan and others like it,... although I do like some of their noses.

Apr
21
2015
mylancome
mylancome

Oh my god, look at the glass bottle!!

Apr
21
2015
Bajar
Bajar

Thank you so much for this article, Serguey! In fact I was hoping to read something like this for a number of reasons. First of all because Bouquet de Faunes was my HG too since I entered the world of vintage perfumes. Its rarity, the very few reviews about it and the idea of an incredible animalic composition that resembles to nothing ordinary made me dreaming of this fume quite often. The second reason is not its revival from Mr. Wasser whom I respect very much but the feelings that someone has when the desire becomes reality. I had the chance to order a tiny sample of this from one of the "online perfume decants shops" (I think that there are not any samples of this anymore) and I remember myself count down the days until I have this precious gem in my hands. And then I smelled it. And yes, it was not ordinary but I was expecting something else. More faune than bouquet but still not so animalic and definitely not so me. It was just the opposite feeling that I had with Djedi (which is now my next HG). But I don't regret for this purchase of course. At least I'm happy that a dream came true.

Apr
21
2015
ComfyCat
ComfyCat

I enjoyed your personal experience on meeting your holy grail very much, thank you Serguey.

Finally catching a fragrant unicorn is so - how shall I put it? - risky? The scents of our dreams seldom meet the real life ones, but the good thing is: the next candidat for the holy grail treasure hunt is usually waiting around the next corner :-)

Apr
21
2015
moonfish67
moonfish67

Yes, it was a little disappointment, definitely.
I would prefer more Faune and less Bouquet in the perfume :)

I really appreciate the efforts of Thierry and Frederic, they does so great, but my expectations were much more, and in totally different direction. So I could say that I fooled myself with my high expectations of the perfume.
(while Cuir de Russie by Guerlain was even more than I can think of)

So, for now, I`d love to try the true vintage Jicky, Sous le Vent and Chypre de Paris. But it`s not a HG craving any more.

Apr
20
2015
jeca
jeca

Good question! Do you have now another perfume you need to have in your mind?

Apr
20
2015
borninamerica
borninamerica

Serguey, were you disappointed when you finally had your Holy Grail in your hands...upon your skin? How did it meet with your expectations?

Apr
20
2015

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