It’s a marketing ploy for the most part, but it may also be a way to test out formulas with the public to see what works, and what doesn’t, in which demographic group and for how long?
But then there is the business plan involving high end limited editions and this often seems to come from Guerlain. In recent years, Guerlain’s production has gone up tremendously, and there are all sorts of releases year after year, from Little Black Dresses, to annual Muguets, and those continuing franchises: Habit Rouge, Shalimar and nowadays, L’Heure Bleue.
Of all of them, I’d say the Parisiens/Parisiennes line is the most interesting. Art et Matiere smells too much alike. They are not better than their competition- which is Serge Lutens, of course. You might as well stick with those.
The other expensive series, the Elixirs Charnels, are Guerlain with additional training wheels. Since they already have Guerlain tricycles parked in the Aqua Allegoria lineup, what’s the point? None of the four or so that currently exist are particularly original. I do like the Oriental Brulant (now called Asian) although it is really just Obsession by way of Anne Pliska.
Nope, if you’re going to do limited editions of Guerlains, the way to go has been the Parisiennes, the remakes of classics – Vega, Sous le Vent or the Parfums de Voyage series which capitalizes upon the Guerlain way with gourmand notes by taking food scents from each city and working them in with local fragrances, i.e. green tea and cherry blossom for Tokyo, rhubarb and boiled sweets for London, and so on. It’s a clever cohesive idea, and not surprisingly has been producing some of the best new Guerlain fragrances.
But I digress.
I’ve owned and worn three from from the Parisiennes line, and they are like driving Rolls Royces in a world full of economy cars, as anyone who has ever cherished a decant or bottle will already know. My three were Vetiver Pour Elle which I loved until I discovered that I liked good old Vetiver just about as well, and so bought and wore that instead.
Attrape Coeur was my next purchase until I found that the combination of amber and violet on my skin was as much of a definition of eternity as Alpha superimposed on Omega, and decided that since I was myself finite, so should my perfume be. I sold it, at a comfortable markup.
Then I bought Plus Que Jamais. It was just about irresistible. Jean Paul Guerlain had not done a grand new feminine fragrance for years and here was something that was refined and rarefied, and had a tobacco note. The perfume is indeed elegant. Plus is rather sedate and sultry (which I am not at all being as bouncy as a terrier in pursuit of a rubber ball) but this is my perfume of choice when I pretend that I am dignified and can sit still for half an hour without twitching – which I can’t.
Readers will already be chortling and aware that this bottle will never empty. Plus Que Jamais on me is like civilization on Huck Finn, confining, confoundedly clean, everlastingly un-crumpled, and unlikely to “take”, as Mark Twain would have observed. Wearing it is a tussle between my higher aspirations, to civilized decorum, and the impulse to light out the nearest window, and run heck for leather to the river.
Other people may say what they like, but this may serve as a perfectly good definition of what it is to be born American, as opposed to, say, French. Confined to well-behaved stultification, Chanel would sit there with revenge brewing like bitter tea in her head, for her future world domination of fashion. An English girl would plan a novel as nasty and as apropos as a satiric second skin.
Me, I have to look for an open window. Sometimes elegance is like detention: boring.