I spent Saturday in exotic company, my three companions were the Guerlains Rose Nacre du Desert, Songe d’un Bois d’Ete, and Encens Mythique. They were startling to encounter because they all do what Guerlians used to do, namely last, have a sillage, and project an air of luxury. A few posters on line have called this series Guerlain doing Montale, but I bet these three were Guerlain doing Amouage, and possibly doing Amouage better than Amouage does itself.
When I was in New York the other week at Sniffapalooza, it was clear from the state of the tester bottles at the Guerlain boutique, that Songe d’un Bois was the front runner, and I’m not sure that they hadn’t sold out of it at the time. It was the most masculine of these three, if not Lawrence of Arabia, then a young Omar Sharif of a fragrance, heavy on the oud, with a pervasive sweetness to it that threw off my husband. He thought it would have been better if it had been drier, I personally thought it would have been better if it had been on him, but he refuses point blank to wear any scent, except for soap, and so I was left in the dark. But let me say now, that this scent is a superb one for men, extremely lasting, and handsome in a tough and uncompromising way. This is like Yatagan only the quality is better, and there is no distracting celery note half way through.
Rose Nacree du Desert belonged to a family that you have met, or will meet many times, that is the rose/oud/saffron family. It is a very old formula. Indeed it is so old I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Greek matrons were wearing this when Xanthippe heaved a pot at Socrates’ head. It smells, as one poster on Fragrantica put it, ancient. It probably is, but this version has excavated all that was best in the old formula and if you like perfumes similar to Portrait of a Lady, or Coriandre or Diva, then this one is going to be perfect, only remember, this is a Guerlain, and therefore more refined than any of the others I’ve mentioned.
Then there is Encens Mythique which has the most beautiful introduction to any perfume that I have smelled in years, a rush of green aldehydes and orange blossoms. I was floored, and told the Russian SA, “But no one smells like this!” Because to me, no one does, this is elegant and refined to a remarkable degree. It seems like Thierry Wasser’s most lovely perfume so far, but Encens needs the right sort of venue. Maybe Topkapi Palace would do, or one of the more chic arrondissements of Paris would act as a suitably grand environment for Encens, you couldn’t release it into the atmosphere of Brooklyn without being branded a walking one percenter. Kafkaesque did a long and comprehensive review of Encens which see, and she did not quite cotton to the scent, but I love it, and think this the most French and least oriental of this oriental trio, and to my mind the best of them. There were no longevity problems on my skin at all, though I grow tired of overly tenacious fragrances, four to five hours was the usual limit with Encens.
I was left more impressed with these three – especially Encens and Songe – than I have been by many Guerlains recently. The city series (always excepting Shanghai, which is a knock-knock joke featuring Angel as the punch line) and these have been making up for all the more mundane flankers they produce, the point of which is – what, exactly? I’ve still never figured it out. Guerlain is Guerlain, after all, they don’t really need to sweat the small stuff, and as to those younger consumers they are forever courting with candy and flowers, mostly candy, they needn’t over-exert themselves there either. Most folks get to like caviar sooner or later.