The story of Guerlain is the tale of a true family business. An amazing five generations of Guerlains have led the timeless and beautiful beauty company over the years, each leaving their own indelible mark. The brand dates back to 1828, when it started life as a small perfume business in Paris under Pierre-François Pascal Guerlain. Guerlain was a master perfumer, creating fragrances for the rich and famous - Napoléon III and Queen Victoria amongst the many who flocked to him for their signature scents.
Pierre-François Pascal passed his skills on to his son Aimé, who in turn taught his nephew Jacques (the latter being responsible for Guerlain's signature Shalimar scent). Years later, Jacques handed down the family secrets to his grandson Jean-Paul, which is where the buck stopped. In 1994, Jean-Paul sold the company to the multinational LMVH, but its dedication to creating the unique and the beautiful has never stopped.
In the 189 years since its inception, Guerlain has created more than 325 different fragrances and still holds its own in the luxury perfume market. Its latest release is the soon-to-be-iconic Mon Guerlain, a thoroughly modern fragrance for the times with one of the world’s most famous beauties as its face.
“I am always filled with an imperious thirst for distant lands, the desire to go ever farther, in search of new scents,” says Thierry Wasser, Guerlain master perfumer and the creator of the newly released Mon Guerlain.
For five generations the Guerlain perfumer has embraced the history of perfumery heart and soul, whilst also taking the time to invent new “accords” and develop an amazing 1,100 new fragrances. Wasser says that it is “impossible to define a Guerlain fragrance as a mere formula that unites accords and combines rare raw materials in secret concentrations,” adding that history and emotion are equally as important when it comes to the end result.
The starting point behind the composition work of Mon Guerlain is vanilla, a favourite raw material inseparable from any Guerlain masterpiece and also present in legendary Guerlain releases Shalimar, Habit Rouge and Jicky.
This powerful and what Wasser likes to call “sensual” Tahitensis vanilla is joined by an exceptional and rare lavender, which comes with the unique olfactory properties that would satisfy the expectations of the perfumer. “This new accord invites us to move beyond the divide and ambiguity of masculine and feminine, because it works to reconcile genres,” says Delphine Jelk, who co-created the fragrance. “This is exactly what gives Mon Guerlain its power and modernity.” Sambac jasmine, gathered at sunrise, connects vanilla to lavender, whilst sandalwood adds an earthy depth to its femininity.
This quadrilobe bottle that contains the fragrance was reportedly originally dreamt up by Gabriel Guerlain and crafted by Baccarat in 1908. Year after year, it has earned its position as one of the iconic bottles of Guerlain, inspiring numerous artists and designers who reinterpret it with each of their creations.
Understated, simple and graphic, it recalls an alchemist’s bottle and owes the name “quadrilobe” to its stopper, which is formed from a solid piece to obtain a shape resembling four lobes. Today it encases Mon Guerlain, in a marriage that couldn’t be more perfect.
For the creation of Mon Guerlain, Master Perfumer Wasser says he was inspired wholly and utterly by its face, Angelina Jolie. Its creation also includes a glance to the past, as the company wanted the fragrance to incorporate a nod to Jolie’s memory of her mother wearing Guerlain powder. Scented with iris and violet, Jolie recalls its association with quality, elegance and femininity.
Recognised all over the world, Jolie is an actress, filmmaker, director and Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. She and spokespeople from the Guerlain brand first met in Cambodia over a year ago, where she was directing her fourth feature film, First They Killed My Father, about a child’s memory of war and loss. There a partnership began, with the intention of creating a new fragrance bringing together the brand’s legacy of beauty and craftsmanship and the “values, ideals and aspirations of modern femininity”.
The dedicated humanitarian also used her new role with Guerlain as a way to further her charitable endeavours; according to Guerlain, Jolie has donated her entire paycheck from this project to charity. There are no further details on which organisations received the funds or how much they received, but it was likely a sizeable amount and under the watchful eye of Jolie, will be carefully used.
“We create perfumes for women we admire,” Jacques Guerlain has stated, and there are few immediately recognisable, modern women more admirable than Jolie.