Yesterday was one of those floating-on-air days even though it was raining cats and dogs and grey as can be in Paris. Richard and I got invited to see all the new changes at 68 Champs-Élysées, Guerlain's flagship store and 4 years in the making. You really must visit if you come to Paris. It's like an aromatherapy treatment from the moment we entered the door.
"Luxe, calme et volupte".
We got a tour from top to bottom
One of the icons of Guerlain is the sun king symbol from Versailles.
The building is heritage designated with at least 17 different marbles represented on the ground floor. This is an original display from the first days of the Guerlain shop in 1828.
A special promotion of make-up sessions for 3 weeks were going on, on the ground floor but next week flowers and a green lawn will come out for Spring.
The wrought iron banisters are original. You have to look at every detail in this building or you'll miss so much beauty.
On the top floor is the very private spa institute.
Bear insisted on coming along and would have liked to take all the massages and custom treatments right then and there.
A giant orchid sculpture is in the private makeup room upstairs. Guerlain has a long history of collaborations with artist like Diego Giacometti and Christian Berard. The salons display both perfumes and many artists works.
The next floor down is the perfume floor totally redone since I last visited. The fabulous American architect/designer Peter Marino was in charge of creating all the changes.
Reflective walls contain niches with a constantly changing display of historic artifacts. Did you know Guerlain's first products were soaps? Jacques Guerlain went to England to learn the art of soap making.
This perfume box illustrates Paris in the early days of Guerlain. Their first shop was on rue de Rivoli, but their factory was by the l'Arc de Triumph in what was then farm land. To make deliveries to the shop they had to pay a tax to enter the city limits!
Each object has a story to tell. This perfume was created as an homage to Diaghilev of the Ballet Russe.
His famous bow tie became the shape of the bottle. Guerlain still has ties to the Bolshoi Ballet.
This doorway was designed by Christian Berard of strips of fabric though from a distance it looks like paint and much like the stage sets he designed for Diaghilev's ballets.
On the same floor a huge perfume room. You choose your perfume and colored ribbons to go on the iconic Napoleonic bee bottle. Guerlain is celebrating the 160th anniversary of le flacon "aux abeilles" released in 1853 and made for Empress Eugenie. Bee hive patterns are subtly incorporated throughout Guerlain's headquarters.
However does one choose?
Many artworks were created for the new renovations like these giant metal bees.
Bear liked the new children's perfume in a bear bottle.
A brand new restaurant/tea salon has opened down on the lower level called The 68 and designed to look like the doorway upstairs by Christian Berard. The teas are blended to match certain perfumes within a seasonal context.
The chef of The 68, Guy Martin has seasonal pastries I thought you'd want to see.
Naturally a special perfume, Parfum du 68 was created for the grand opening by head perfumer, Thierry Wasser. This is the spray and Richard and I were given a bottle. It's absolutely lovely.
'The scent, floral and woody, plays off the contrast between warm and cool spices and harmoniously blends everlasting flower and rose in a unique floral duet. A bouquet of heliotrope and benzoin envelops the fragrance, leaving behind a trail that is irresistibly Guerlain'.
Bear is quite taken with it and refuses to let it out of his sight. If you subscribe today to the sketch letters I'll include souvenir Guerlain paper touchés scented with the new 68 perfume. Your letter will smell out of this world I promise.