Guerlain is among the oldest perfume houses in the world. It has a large and loyal customer following, and is held in high esteem in the perfume industry. Perfumes by Guerlain are often said to be inspired by the scent of confections, as a result of a common vanilla and amber accord in many of their fragrances. This unique attribute is often referred to as the “Guerlinade”. A perfume by the same name was launched by Guerlain in 1921.
The House of Guerlain was owned and managed by members of the Guerlain family from 1828 to 1994. It was acquired in 1994 by the LVMH group, a multinational investment corporation specializing in luxury brands.
The House of Guerlain was founded in 1828, when Pierre-François Pascal Guerlain opened his perfume store on 42, rue de Rivoli in Paris. As both the founder and first perfumer of the house, Pierre-François composed and manufactured custom fragrances with the help of his two sons, Aimé and Gabriel. Through continued success and the patronage of members in high society, Guerlain opened its flagship store at 15, rue de la Paix in 1840, and put its mark on the Parisian fashion scene.
The success of the house under Pierre-François peaked in 1853 with the creation of Eau de Cologne Impériale. This perfume earned Pierre-François the prestigious title of being His Majesty’s Official Perfumer (France), which lead him to create perfumes for Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Queen Isabella II of Spain, among other royalty.
Jicky (1889): Said to be named after the nicknameAimé Guerlain gave to his nephew, Jacques, or after a girl who broke Aimé’s heart as a student in England; Jicky proved to be a great success in its time of creation, and remained popular ever since. Widely heralded as the first “modern” perfume, Jicky was among the first perfumes to incorporate synthetic odorants (vanillin and coumarin) in its composition, and is described by some as being the “ultimate” fougère. Although marketed by Guerlain as a women’s fragrance, it has proven popular with men.
Après L’Ondée (1906): Meaning “After the Heavy (Summer) Shower”, Après L’Ondée is reminiscent of bitter almonds. Its composition includes violet, rose, hawthorn and hesperidic notes.
L’Heure Bleue (1912): Meaning “The Blue Hour”, L’Heure Bleue is perfume with the dusky scent of candies and almond cake bought in an old world apothecary. Although much akin to Après L’Ondée in its pastry and almonds core, L’Heure Bleue is much less bright and more melancholic.
Mitsouko (1919): Named after the heroine of the novel “La Bataille” by Claude Farrère, Mitsouko is said to herald the ending of World War I. Since it uses a similarly styled bottle as L’Heure Bleue, Mitsouko was likely composed as warm counterpart to the cool L’Heure Bleue. Mitsouko has the sweet smell of peach preserves and glazed danishes.
Shalimar (1925): Named after the garden in Lahore, built by Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Shalimar is one of the first perfumes to successfully incorporate large amounts of vanillin in its composition. The scent of Shalimar is deep and velvetly black with the scent of lemon hinted medicinal vanilla. This is the flagship perfume of the House of Guerlain.