What’s the first thought that crosses your mind when you hear about Guerlain? Is it “unparalleled beauty innovations”, “exquisite state-of-the-art perfumery”, “history, artistry and grace”? Or maybe just “Shalimar” and “Meteorites”? Well, just read the lines below – your “inventory” will expand even more and, the next time you’ll find yourself in front of a Guerlain product, you will see it– trust me –with totally different eyes. The eyes of a connoisseur.
The Royal Perfumer
Pierre-Francois-Pascal Guerlain, the founder of the House of Guerlain, in 1828, created a fragrance for the Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon IIIrd. It was 1853 and gained Guerlain the title and prestige of being the Official Supplier of the Court. Perhaps the mere reason that all Guerlain products have had, ever since, that certain “royal” allure. It’s in their blood.
Shalimar: the scent of a legend
Since 1828 until today, Guerlain has created no less than 700 fragrances. One of the emblems remains Shalimar, the first oriental fragrance for women in the history of perfumery. Shalimar honors the love story between the Indian emperor Shah Jahan and his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, for whom he built the famous Shalimar Gardens.
Inspiration and chance
It is said that the creation of Shalimar was a matter of chance and great inspiration. Apparently Jacques Guerlain poured a few drops of synthetic vanilla in the bottle of “Jicky” fragrance just to see what happens. Ernest Beaux, the man behind Chanel No. 5, once said:
“If I had used as much vanilla, I would have only obtained one English cream, while him, Jacques Guerlain, created Shalimar!”
30.000 orchids for Orchidee Imperiale
Orchidee Imperiale line uses only four exceptional orchids, which are selected from amongst 30.000 species based on their anti-aging and longevity qualities. Guerlain has studied and protected orchids in their natural environment for over 12 years in their dedicated research centers in Switzerland, France and China.
15 people for one jar
Orchidee Imperiale Longevity Concentrate is the most complex product in all Guerlain’s portfolio. Known as the ultimate answer to all signs of ageing, this Concentrate has an interesting story. Each and every single jar is so elaborate to fill and assemble that it requires 15 people to get it done from start to finish. Another proof that every single aspect of Guerlain’s work can be easily compared to a piece of art.
Only trained artisans
Meteorites Pearls, the first make-up to feature colored shaped pearls that create luminosity and even out skin tone, are hand-crafted exclusively by trained artisans. Similarly to the creation of a fine whisky, Meteorites Pearls are the result of the artisans’ feel and visual assessment. No wonder that it requires a minimum of six months to train and teach each new artisan. Wow.
In 1984, Guerlain launched another masterpiece: Terracotta Powder. Known as “the irresistible partner of our sunny desires”, Terracotta delivers natural radiance and a wonderful healthy glow. Fun fact: every 20 seconds, a new Terracotta finds its place in a woman’s make-up pouch somewhere in the world.
Released in 1936, Rouge Automatique was a breakthrough in lipstick design. Guerlain artists really understood women’s needs and desires: a modern woman who is always on-the-go must have a lipstick that can be opened even with only one hand. Revolutionary for its mechanism and one-hand gesture, Rouge Automatique remains, even after 80 years, one of the most beloved beauty enhancers.
The New 68 Champs Elysees Boutique was designed by the famous architect Peter Marino. Don’t know who he is? Oh, well, let’s just say he designed Chanel Boutiques in Paris, Singapore, New York, Hong Kong and Osaka, Christian Dior in Los Angeles, Paris, New York and Shanghai, Louis Vuitton in Shanghai, Singapore, Paris and Hong Kong…Are you convinced or should I go on?
Road to success
Last but not least, it is said that, at the very beginnings, monsieur Guerlain was refused by the many of the perfume distributors in Paris. They catalogued his perfumes as worthless. Had he had given up, we probably wouldn’t be enjoying today some of the finest fragrances, exquisite beauty products and fabulous stories about craftsmanship, love and art.