Tag Archives: Guerlain

Which ‘ladies’ scent’ will this gent wear come Christmas? The Perfumed Dandy’s Yuletide Hit Parade

Dearest Festive Fairies and Fellows

The Dandy adores Christmas.

I’m sorry, but I do, and over the next week or two I shall be devoting these pages to my own particular form of celebration… details of which to follow anon.

Apologies to the ‘bah humbugs’ among you, but The Dandy says ‘bah humbug’ to your ‘bah humbug’ and that’s enough humbugs to fill a sweet shop with. Now, to kick things off… A Very Special and Seasonal Hit Parade.

I have selected twelve perfumes, one for each day of Christmas, that have never made it to the top of our little chart (though they may appear on it currently).

You, my Santa’s elves, have between now and The Big Day to decide which scent will next my skin come 25th December 2013. So, all you have to do is pick from the sumptuous list below and cast your…

… wait for it…

… 12 Special Time of Year Votes for your favourite or favourites. Here goes, the big list…

French Can Can by Caron

Yresse (formerly known as Champagne) by Yves Saint Laurent

Phul-Nana by Grossmith

Visa by Robert Piguet

Joy by Jean Patou

Rouge (formerly known as Parfum d’Hermes) by Hermes

Diorling by Dior

Tom Ford Black Orchid by Estee Lauder

Chantilly by Houbigant

Louve by Serge Lutens

Parure by Guerlain

Mandragore by Annick Goutal

Well, twelve festive belles there if I may say so. Now The Dandy’s Noel aroma is in your hands… … do spread a little cheer in this direction!

Yours ever festively

The Perfumed Dandy. The Perfumed Dandy

Post Script

Don’t forget that’s 12 votes each, to be dispensed and dispersed as you see fit… use them wisely.

Voting closes at a moment before midnight GMT on Christmas Eve, the winner will be announced when The Dandy’s done opening presents!


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Fanfare for the uncommon man… Coriolan by Guerlain The Perfumed Dandy’s Sunday Scent


Sour, spare, spicy and indefatigably cerebral.

‘Male’ chypres are almost without exception contrary and intriguing creations.

Jean-Paul Guerlain‘s short-lived Coriolan does not disappoint: it is as conflicted and elusive as it is possible for a perfume to be.

Like Coriolanus, the warrior turned putative Consul unprepared to accept the will of the proletariat, from whom it takes its name, this is a difficult and daunting character.

The flacon with its fair approximation of mediaeval armoured headgear signals from the start that this is a fragrance without use for fun.

Classic bergamot-bought sharpness is brought to the point of a lethal blade by generous amounts of petit grain and a metallic sage at the opening.

The transition through to the spicy centre is uncomfortable, anxious and unsteady, like a journey into battle across blood sodden fields.

Nutmeg, coriander and fennel seed are never truly freed of the earth for it is the oak moss underscoring them that is the indisputable signature of the scent.

With time a fine vetiver and polished leather accord, again recalling an imaginary knight’s equipage, comes to the fore, slightly sweetened by benzoin then in the next instant made bitter by resurgent moss, supported with patchouli.

If the description sounds complicated, a series of checks and balances, then it should be made clear that in fact the sum of the parts is much less complex than the whole.

This is a mass of contradictions held perpetually in tension, conceived entirely without complacency or the desire to simply please.

Coriolan is a masterwork of stand-offish olfactory mixology.

A Renaissance Prince of a perfume based on an idea of an ideal of classical proportion.

Its high, honourable ambition and discernible hauteur were undoubtedly its undoing in the common market place, but should recommend it to fragrance heroes everywhere.

This is no perfume for the common man (or, indeed, woman…).

This is a fragrance for the uncommon man.

The Dandy, is in raptures and enrapt with Coriolan today as it guards him against blustery Autumn’s intruding winds and insidious rain.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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Of peacocks, palaces and pagodas… Incredible Kew Gardens The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Day Out: Part II


Dearest All

As you may well know by now, The Dandy was at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew on Sunday, trying his best to ignore the winter weather and concentrate on the wonderful feast for the senses these 300 acres afford.

Today, some more images that left a lasting impression on me and the fragrant thoughts they inspired…

1. Hydrangea Failing to Hide in The Gloom


Its Impure White Will Out

2. Cedar Above The Torrents


Comforting Against Black Clouds

3. A Strawberry Tree?


Who knew such fruity fantasies existed?

4. Temple of Remembrance


Private Reflection


The Dandy has considered Estee Lauder’s Private Collection before.

5. Better…



Find out more about The Dandy’s thoughts on Mitsouko and this connection.

6. Glacial Beauty


Containing Continents

Why does Ma Griffe make The Dandy think of icy botanists? The review tells all.

7. Unusual Grasses


Flowering For Many Seasons

8. The Pagoda


A Chinese Pavilion All Her Own

Discover a schoolteacher’s Beijing adventure in Cinnabar’s Story.

That’s all from magical Kew for now.

We return to the real world tomorrow, well almost.. we’re off to the opera!

I almost forgot, don’t you forget to take a peak at Part I of the visit.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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All tomorrow’s parties… Shalimar by Guerlain The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

“Really, I don’t understand why some people have such a problem with parties.”

“I do believe I was born to the sound of a champagne cork and I tell you I am determined to spend what little time I have on this Earth having the best possible time this planet can provide.”

A certain slyness in her eyes says there’s more to it.

Darkness flashes beneath the surface like a sea serpent in shallow water.

There’s danger here.

Best appreciated on her own, away from her set, she’s an incredible jewel of a thing.

Intricate and simple, worldy and naïve, sexy but oh so straight laced.

Happy, happy, happy all the time, but oh so inconsolably sad.

You see her at parties across the room, sipping fizz or gem stone cocktails, making small talk with big men, opening her eyes a little too wide when she smiles, throwing her head back a little too far, too fast when she laughs too wildly at another “too funny” unfunny joke.

And in the daylight?

Mostly her make up is too heavy, too sweet.

Her leather boots too high and her dresses too low on top, too short down below.

She looks always like an actress between scenes.

She smokes frankincense cigarettes through a filter three feet long, pours vanilla syrup in her coffee and always takes cream when everyone else settles for milk.


She insists on irises all year round to fill the rooms she shares with no one.

She’s too, too much for the real world.

For the real world was too, too much for her once.

She rolled in honey harvest time hay with a swell in uniform smelling of polished army boots and wood smoke cologne.

He promised her they were only “going across The Pond to finish things off”.

And they were, except he got finished off first.

The Roman Catholic funeral mass helped, but not much.

Not as much as a brace of Manhattan’s made with Canadian whiskey.

So now she settles for this life of extremes, for a pot bellied pig on a lead for a pet, for singing in Speakeasies for fun and smoking hashish for the giggles.

For flirting with everyone and sleeping with some. For forgetting half the time and never loving, no one except “the one”.

For staying out of the sunlight and hogging the limelight.

For being a star not a woman, though that’s all she ever wanted to be.

Except, occasionally, on a Winter’s day, when the light is thin and she can wrap up in furs without being the first thing they see.

Then she’ll go out without the makeup, the filter, the fans and even the pig.

And then she really is a woman, living in a real world, just one who really can’t help but be a star.

A lone star.

To talk of Shalimar merely as a party perfume is a little like dismissing Proust as a man who wrote about miniature cakes.

The original of the modern Oriental, it is both the most magnificent of going out scents and so much more besides.

Like those other great Guerlain’s of the period Mitsouko and l’Heure Bleue it is impossible to divorce from history.

If they are the perfumes of remembrance and contemplation respectively then this is fragrance of forced forgetfulness.

To understand the 1920s, the wild parties and wilful self-destruction it is perhaps necessary to consider the mass destruction and wide, seemingly endless pain of The Great War.

To comprehend Shalimar one must be aware of all the memories this ray of glamour sought to bleach out of millions of minds.

Yet at the same time it is new found wealth and extravagance, it is fresh pressed myths and the magic of the movies.

It is the olfactory equivalent of a Busby Berkeley Broadway show or the silent movie spectacle of Ben Hur.

It seeks to entice, amuse, enthral and amaze.

It seeks to be the ultimate diversion.

In all of this it is very nearly succeeds, for it is a joyous explosion of the senses, a smell synonymous with dressing up and going off down town.

But at once, in the thick saving face maquilage of powdery iris, the soothing crème-brulee-of-the-soul vanilla, in the taught leather gloves of motor sport drivers’ victory waves and army officers’ good bye salutes, in the high mass smoke and balsam of incense and bezoin, in all of this it is a record of all that has gone before.

Shalimar is darkness and light, pleasure and pain, hope and despair.

Shalimar is legend.

Forgive me for not talking too specifically of notes so far as Shalimar is concerned… it seems superfluous, there are so many and blended much as they might be in a symphony.

And like a symphony, or perhaps more aptly an opera, Shalimar is a work of art not a collection of crotchets and minims, A and B flats.

Needless to say The Dandy wears Shalimar as much as any other single perfume in his collection.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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The Wailing Wall… l’Heure Bleue by Guerlain The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

If sadness has a smell this may be it.

Not an ending unhappiness, you understand, nor mere momentary melancholy, this is an emotion, an experience profoundly and long felt that changes a life, perhaps millions of lives.

The first pain of loss comes quick, sharp and spicy. Coriander and anise compete in an anti-septic scratch that pierces the skin, just briefly, but leaves a scar.

Then a funereal majesty, the floral ceremonial heart of the fragrance.

A moving wall of irises, carnations, heliotrope and rose and more and more.

Favourite flowers of the deceased, the family, other mourners and florist adjutants pile up on top of one and other, wreaths placed on a royal catafalque.

As the procession passes by, a pocket square, scented with powder: sweet, resinous, vanilla-ed , is pressed into your hand by a stranger who wants to help you staunch your tears.

But still they flow.

The handkerchief, un-returned, is what you retain now.

Its silken regularity and honeyed smell transformed by grief to both momento and momento mori.

The reminder of a living love and the promise of otherworldly reunion.

That Jacques Guerlain should have known in 1912 that the sun was about to set on the bright days of the Edwardian age is inconceivable.

Yet, that his masterwork L’heure bleue for Guerlain, literally ‘The Blue Hour’ captures the faltering twilight between the bright and hopeful dawn of the twentieth century and the dark, dark night of the carnage of The Great War is equally unquestionable.

There is an opening of improvised antibacterials, of coriander and anise long known for their medicinal qualities.

What follows is not floral but floricultural.

Not a bouquet or even wreath but a field, fields of flowers a presentiment of Flanders’ poppies.


And then powder, that is more like fine fragrant dust.

The dust that settles on carefully stored away mourning clothes. Clothes that will see more use than is right in the years ahead, in dignified response to unspeakable, as yet unforeseeable, loss .

It is that preservative smell; bezoin, clove, vanilla, a solitary scent of certainty, that will come through familiarity to breed comfort rather than contempt, that will come to make L’heure bleue the ultimate smell of solace.

Just like grief, and the consoling memories of the departed’s life, this is an emotion that sits as easily yet uncomfortably on men and women, young and old.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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All the fun of the fair… Last of the Summer Scents Part II An Essay in Fragrances and Photographs


A public holiday in London today… the last one of the Summer.

The last one in fact until Winter is with us and we celebrate Christmas.

So what better way to go out than with a bang, a whoop, a scream, a whirl and a whoosh of steam?

The whoosh in fact of Carter’s Steam Fair which took up it’s customary place on ‘the East End’s lungs’: Victoria Park today.

Do enjoy the colours, and a few perfumed proposals, some serious, some just fragrant fun… just like the fair itself.

The Swing Carousel


The Spitfire


The Motorcycle Carousel


The Dodgems


Ice Cream Van


The Octopus


Candy Floss?


The Shooting Gallery


The Motorcar Carousel


Cuddly Toy Prizes


The Coconut Shy


The Grand Carousel


So there we have it… a few scented snaps.

I wonder whether all the connections are evident?

Perhaps some are a little puzzling.

But then The Dandy does like a riddle…

“Why is a raven like a writing desk?”

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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The Perfumed Dandy mourns the departed… RIP dear IT


It is with a heavy heart that The Dandy must announce that his old friend and close companion of many a moon his cherished computer has finally retired to the great big bucket shop in the sky!

After the appropriate period of mourning this morning (and some frantic attempts at file storing) I shall be on the hunt for a new Very Significant e-Object.

I therefore beseach you to bear with my as communications may be a little delayed or even erratic over the next day or two…

However, a death in the family is no excuse for forgoing fragrance and I shall be wearing the suitably funereal Chamade by Guerlain until further notice.

So, for the meantime, imagine if you will The Dandy bedecked in grief and galbanum in almost equal measure.

A vision in black on a grey suposed to be Summer’s day…

In memoriam.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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The Perfumed Dandy’s Surprise Scent Aqua Allegoria Nerolia Bianca by Guerlain


Aren’t surprises the very best thing?

Today The Dandy was about his affairs, readying some scenes from the Americas for your delectation, when there came a ring at the door.

And who should it be but a gentleman bearing flowers… it was a delivery man not an admirer I should add… but nevertheless this unbidden bouquet has quite made my day.

The arrangements of pinks and greens has assumed a pride of place in my sitting room, and I thought I should accompany it with the last gift I received…

An hefty spray from a generous flacon of Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Nerolia Bianca.

Indeed, all this seems quite appropriate as the Aqua Allegorias are proving to be something of a summertime surprise, nay revelation, to The Dandy.

Much that one reads about Guerlain‘s fragrant waters declares them simple and fleeting and natural as though all of these were self evidently self defeating qualities.

Yet, to The Dandy‘s way of thinking there’s a time and place for perfumes that are all three of these things.

Quite besides, not all of the allegories are all or any of these things, at least not at once.

Take the latest, my Nerolia Bianca, it is a wonderful rendition of the bitter orange tree entire, not just the fruit, but the flowers, the leaves, the trunk, the wood and the soil surrounding it too.

It is a complete and precisely painted portrait of a complex plant.

Opening as tart juice, it passes through a mildy astringent but very green heart to a warm and floral arboreal conclusion.

The perfume’s quiet progression goes unnoticed by some and the scent is mistakenly thought to be linear. Simplistic. It isn’t.

As I am increasingly discovering Thierry Wasser’s work at Guerlain, Aquas Allegoria included, demands more attention than it seems currently to receive.

Beyond flat as glass surfaces of apparently straightforward ideas lie depths of subtlety and fractions of intelligent tenderness.

I think I may be hooked.

Perhaps dear readers one day you will recommend a preferred Aqua Allegoria for my full consideration, only Laurier Reglisse so far features among the five hundred fragrances you have put forward for my perusal.

Until that time they must remain a private pleasure for high days and holidays.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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Come fly with me… Jardins de Bagatelle by Guerlain The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

One blast on the burner and with a bright blue flame the balloon begins to rise.

There is the faintest chemical fragrance as liquid fuel gasifies before being turned almost instantly to fire.

The ascending heat mixes with sunlight and suddenly unobstructed views.

This is the very scent and sense of space.

Below the ground becomes an imperfect patchwork.

Its lawns of late April violets are purple squares.

Yellow flowers that from this distance seem but cannot be narcissi glimmer like cloth of gold.

Having left behind the highest flying bees at one hundred feet, you notice pollen still trails in the air on the very edge of invisibility.

You imagine an aerial fantasia of flowers, garlands of jasmine and tuberose suspended from lotus blossom clouds.

Looking down at the heart of the park a little way from the chateau, the shape of the rose gardens can only now be perceived in their true purpose.

Every bed is a petal and the dozen or so varieties each in their own divan together form a magnificent corolla.

This is the masterly centrepiece, rendered in damask silks and satins, woven onto nature’s quilt.

From here a filigree of white flowers made silver by separation from the eye radiate outward across the estate’s expanse.

Though surrounded by a near surfeit of air, the day is almost entirely without a breeze.

You remain, hanging on a nothing, in a moment apparently eternal, yourself in essence weightless.

Time passes.

The moment to descend arrives and for the first time you become aware of the cradle that contains you and the ground entreating your return.

On landing, the basket grazes the grass, releasing a greenness and some of its own wicker woodiness.

The Earth embraces you as you tumble out of your temporary travels.

Standing, shaking the dust free, you stare above at where you were.

Stretching arms skyward, you remember the atmosphere filled with unseen bouquets.

All now out of reach.

Until the next time.

Jardins de Bagatelle is human flight made fragrance.

With industry and engineering it raises the floral perfume above its normal terrestrial terrain.

True, some will not like the fact that to be transported thus requires propane, metal moving parts and an indelicate amount of heat.

So be it. To experience the sensation of being suspended as though on a floral cloud, peering down on manicured parkland, this seems a very small price to pay.

Aldehydes unquestionably own the opening.

A little softened by violet they provide the massive lift required to raise the burgeoning flower stuffed envelope of a scent off the ground.

Soon enough it becomes apparent that our basket’s cargo is primarily of white flowers, jasmine and tuberose principally, though there is blossom too and to my nose narcisse and not a little rose.

A complex and highly wrought affair there is an earthiness underneath,

A little vetiver and fir here perhaps, something that hints a return to the ground will always be necessary.

The overall effect is one of a rather beautiful but very much last-century-moderne bouquet wrapped in sparkling cellophane.

It is unfathomably fashionable to dislike this fragrance.

In truth it is an invention out of its time: a hot balloon in an age of jet liners and supersonic aeroplanes.

So much the better for it.

Let others be squashed into their sausage shaped and winged sardine cans.

I will always opt to fly open air.

There can be no more elegant means to ascend florally up, up and away.

On the last occasion I checked balloon flights were available to all, but few gentlemen these days seem to have the Montgolfiers’ courage.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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