Going to the Chapel: L’Homme Idéal Cologne by Guerlain review

     I fell in love with Guerlain the way you fall asleep; slowly, and then all at once.

     My not-so-secret affair with this iconic French brand began last April when I was invited to spend a day in their Toronto boutique located in the extravagant Bloor Street. Amidst exclusive colognes and $600 face creams I learned about the rich history of the house, and left with a desire for more. I began sniffing out star Guerlain fragrances like Shalimar and the many editions of La Petite Robe Noire whenever I passed a counter, and by the time Elena Vosnaki of Perfume Shrine wrote about Quand Vient La Pluie in May I was truly infatuated with everything Guerlain. I wanted more of their decadent scents on my skin, more of their art-museum-worthy bottles on my shelves, and more passionate reviews for their company on my blog to share with you.

     Therefore the PR email for L’Homme Idéal Cologne in June couldn’t have come at a better time, and represented the crescendo of my affection for the organization. I immediately put in a request to sample it and here we are today, faced with a paradox: the world’s classiest brand of perfume and their interpretation of the modern man. It was bound to be interesting.

     Furthermore, the advertizing slogan for the launch nearly had me reaching for the tattoo machine: “The idéal man is a myth. His fragrance, a reality1.” Whoever came up with that is due for a promotion!

     The press images for L’Homme Idéal Cologne involve over 160 of the company’s 3,0002 employees dressed up as though headed for the altar, chasing a handsome man representing the fragrance as they fling bouquets into the air. Whether or not this story works with the smell is coming up, but as I write this (beginning of July) we are riding the colorful coattails of Pride Toronto and it brought a smile to my face seeing a few male grooms in the festive stampede, too. It seems their idéal man is open minded (and in the terms of my generation, perhaps a tad heteroflexible), and proves Guerlain has certainly made a 180 from its 2010 ordeal3 and is now a historic company with a vision for the future.

     And would you believe that they even developed an iOS game for the fragrance4? And that the box it comes in has a code to enter a “digital universe5”? It would seem that whoever is currently seated in at the helm of this LVMH subsidiary is forward thinking, indeed!

     The nose behind this and all Guerlain fragrances since Jean-Paul Guerlain’s retirement is the Swiss Thierry Wasser, the appointed exclusive perfumer to the company. Many in the industry revere the 54 years old as heir to the legendary throne, and for good reason; Dior Addict, Lancôme Hypnose, and CK Truth are just a few of his works prior to his big Guerlain gig. He is a hard worker with a passion for quality materials and an uncompromising respect for the 187-years-old formulas of the house. His former hits for the label include the Russian-favored Idylle2, Shalimar Parfum Initial, and the aforementioned runaway success La Petite Robe Noire.

© Gil Segev 2015

© Gil Segev 2015

     In the words of Wasser, the original L’Homme Idéal was created to release a man’s full potential, and be unforgettable6. This iteration took a different turn in my opinion, and aims to be a subtle cologne for the casual man instead of a memorable statement. Four notes truly stand out here, starting with an opening accord of sweet lemon and bitter orange, then a woodsy almond that combines with the citruses for a really light masculine smell, and a light sweet cherry note to liven it up. There is something sharp to it, like the whole thing is submerged in liqueur. Yet it is in fact not one of the formidable and intimidating creations that we’re used to from the company with the bee emblem. It reads like a relaxed afternoon wear instead, and certainly presents a different idea of the idéal man, who is younger and more carefree. A good city or office scent, but I don’t know that it is formal enough for the tux and tie occasion in the marketing.

     Verdict: I found L’Homme Idéal Cologne to be fresh in a truly unusual way. Many fragrance makers, especially those with a focus on body care or home fragrance, tend to use musk to bring airiness to a fragrance, and Thierry really focused instead on the effect each ingredient brings to create a refreshing juice. I love that each of the simple notes shines in the light composition, and although I believe the marketing is cute it might be a little bit of a misrepresentation of the youthful nature of Cologne. Instead, imagine a mid-20s man in chinos and a sweater in spring, summer or autumn – that’s the true l’homme idéal for L’Homme Idéal, and he is exactly who I want to be a few years from now. Appropriately, my love saga with Guerlain’s perfumes continues…

1Fragrantica: Guerlain L’Homme Idéal Cologne

2Basenotes: The Shoe Fits – an interview with Thierry Wasser

3Daily Mail: Perfume maker Guerlain, 75, convicted of making racist remark with use of ‘n******’ word on French TV

4iTunes: Guerlain – L’Homme Idéal’s Adventures

5Guerlain: L’Homme Idéal Cologne

6Guerlain: L’Homme Idéal by Thierry Wasser – GUERLAIN

You can check out Guerlain at www.Guerlain.com or follow them on Twitter at twitter.com/Guerlain

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