Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Are you a fan of Shalimar?
Or Guerlain perfumes?
Over at Peter's Paris I spotted a story on the 68 Champs Elysées flagship store and I had to share with you. (These are Peter's photos of the facades by the way...)
The Champs Elysées is a natural home to what was a family owned business for 5 generations from 1828. Only in 1994 did Guerlain become a subsidiary of the luxury group LVMH. The founder, Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain, initially studied chemistry in London. And in many ways the uniform apothecary-style presentations stayed true to the foundation of the business as a perfumeur vinaigrier (perfume and vinegar maker).
(The text is Peter's too)
I got a mad urge to paint Guerlain's facade...
Elfie at Guerlain, original watercolor, 9" x 11"
And Peter's daughter has a pup, Elfie, in dire need of a portrait at Guerlain. She's a frequent shopper...
By the way Peter stole this lovely shot inside Guerlain...shhhh
After breaking the bank at Sonia, I headed over to Bloomies to take a look at their Guerlains. No one seemed to mind my shooting or testing a few out.
I'm still deep in Chandler Burr's The Perfect Scent and there's quite a bit about this perfume house. This is a "touche" - those white paper strips salesgirls aggressively wave at you, as you try to mind your own business. It's a way to sample the perf, but is it the same effect as spritzing your wrist? Qui sait. Still there has to be some way you can test these things without smelling yourself up like a floral hothouse!
Getting back to The Perfect Scent, I shall quote Chandler ver batim because there's not a snowball's chance in hell I can say it as well except to mention that people are obsessed with anything natural and organic these days. Yet,
"The natural creates a much greater allergy potential...and naturals (we're talking perfume ingredients here) pose a sourcing challange. What all-natural people don't realize is that synthetics are better ecologically.
The sandalwood forests of India are being destroyed at a terrible rate, literally disappearing (!) and the price of sandalwood is skyrocketing. Most perfumers I know...refuse to support them and it's a purely eco question...
...The idea that synthetics (in perfumes) are "modern" and "American" and naturals are "classic" and "French" IS COMPLETELY WRONG (my caps) There's no Frenchier house than Guerlain, no more classic collection of perfumes, and not only were Guerlain perfumers at the forefront of the synthetic revolution with the 1889 Jicky...
Guerlain's classic L'Heure Bleue (1912) derives its beauty from methyl anthranilate, its elegant Mitsouko (1919) uses the very elegant synthetic aldehyde C-14 (which smells deliciously of delicate, ripe peach) and the immortal Shalimar (1925) has quinolines...
If you really want to understand about perfume and The French (because the French and perfume are synonymous are they not?)
read this book.
And if you're wondering what l'heure bleue is...?
This is it!
And thanks to Laura for these excellent perfume links:


  1. have Shalimar in my bathroom...find it a bit strong for everyday but it certainly is a no 5 and shalimar are my two faves...

  2. Thanks for introducing me to The Perfect Scent which I just finished. This book wakes you up to remember to use all your senses. Inspired, I visited a local store to try some of the perfumes he raves about in the book, including Comme des Garcon's Incense Avignon and The Different Company's Sel de Vetiver FYI has great perfume reviews and will sell you sample sizes of just about anything available.

  3. Oh, I'm going to have to jot down all these wonderful sites online to check out. I'm still on the perfect quest. haven't found it your watercolor Carol!

  4. We spent a magical interlude in Guerlain. It is just gorgeous inside. Until then, I didn't know that vanilla was from an orchid!

  5. Shalimar was my mother's favorite. L'Heure Bleu is mine, along with Chanel #5 and Hermes, 24 FAUBOURG. Great watercolor as always, whimsical and sophisticated all at once.

  6. WHOA
    Thanks Laura for the perfume links.
    Yes, THE PERFECT SCENT has sent me venturing into perfume departments fearlessly and I hope to continue in Paris as well.
    Bois de Jasmin
    The Perfume Court

  7. I remember having a Guerlain perfume back in the 80's that my mom bought for me. I don't remember the exact name. I was just a teenager and all I knew was that it smelled great and I loved that it was French.

    I had no idea that there were even sandalwood forests, but they must smell amazing. It's horrible that they're being destroyed.

    There definitely is truth to the idea that naturals have great allergy potential. I've tried using Origins skin care products specifically because they're natural, but I break out and just gave up using them.

  8. Love the matte gold tiles inside the Guerlain store in the elevator lobby -- they're simply divine!

  9. My Mother wore Shalimar, but I always prefered Coco by Chanel. It is a bit to heavy in fragrance for me now. I switched to Gloria Vanderbilt because it was a nice light fragrance & I loved it but that got discontinued. I guess Ivory soap is my perfume now. lol

  10. Misha in Paris11:13 AM

    I can't wear perfume because of the alcool , my allergy breaks out from the parfume and than you smells only alcool.
    Yes it's possible !
    and the perfume without alcool vanish after 5 minutes.

  11. Definitely associate Shalimar with my mother. She wore it out in the evenings, sometimes during the day. So instantly when I catch a whiff (not so often these days) somewhere & I'm out, I think my mother is around. It wouldn't be so great, she's better on the phone.:) Anyway, I gave the book to a French friend in town for Xmas & she loves it. Thanks for all the links. ciao

    PS: More snow & icky weather on the way down here. I could scream. But I won't. How uncool.

  12. Thank you so much for this post. I am a huge Guerlain fan. I bought my first bottle of Mitsouko in my teens (30 years ago) and I still love it as a fragrance. I find I can wear Champs Elysees now I am older (it was too sweet when I was young).

  13. Lovely to read about perfumes - and that's a great watercolour!

  14. J'adore l'Heure Bleue! (But the time of evening.....) I will be an opinionated commenter. I just can't agree with synthetics. I don't think they last as well on the skin.

    But a wonderful post. Who wouldn't want to live in a room filled with those perfume bottles?

  15. Had a sample of Vol de Nuit as a teen and loved it, but sadly could never find it as an adult. Never thought to look while in Paris. Maybe next time ;)

  16. Great photos, Carol (and Peter)- those "blue hour" shots and the interior close ups are excellent.

  17. Sincere thanks for quoting my blog ... and of course especially for the wonderful portrait of my daughter's little Boston Terrier!

  18. my dad used to always give my mom
    'shalimar' for Christmas.

    such a an exquisite scent.

    thank you for the fun perfume

  19. Will go to bed thinking of smelling like a "flowal hothouse" ! :-)

    I love Guerlain's perfume bottles, also some of their fragrances, alas, my skin does not play along. I can wear Annick Goutal's without problems, though, thank goodness.

    That storefront with the sweet doggie turned out beautifully!

  20. Sharon5:59 PM

    thank-you for your wonderful website.
    I visit everyday, usually after work.
    I truly appreciated the photos and write up on the House of Guerlain. I have worn Shalimar as my "signature" fragrance for most of my life. How feminine I feel when wearing it and it drives men wild!!! I am so tired of Shalimar being labeled as an "old lady's" perfume. It stops men in their tracks!!!! Its subtle scent is so alluring-men always notice!
    Thanks (Merci) again,

  21. Beautiful!
    Thank you.

  22. Anonymous8:48 AM

    My girlfriend just broke up with me...but maybe if I get her some Shalimar, she will reconsider..?

  23. I'm not a huge Chandler Burr fan, although he does know his stuff. Better perfume writing is out there -- try Perfumes: The Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez. If you want a more in-depth look at perfume and the sense of smell, Luca wrote a brilliant book called The Secret of Scent that will tell you more about fragrance than you knew you didn't know. And don't miss the blog Grain de Musc -- Denyse's perfume writing is some of the best on the web.

    (In case you're wondering, there are about 50 different perfumes in my wardrobe -- I spend a lot of time & money on this stuff!)

  24. Anonymous11:08 AM

    I've been a Shalimar gal since working at the perfume counter in high school (50's) and still love it today.

  25. How odd that one person's business did both perfume and vinegar! You would think the vinegar smell would trump the perfume and leave the smeller....senseless?

  26. Your drawings are amazing !!!
    I'm a big fan of Guerlain... wore "Chamade" for 5 years when I was younger and married a man which perfume was Habit Rouge and now is L'Homme de Guerlain.
    But I made a discovery in Paris lately, in the "jardins du Palais Royal"... The Little Salons of Serge Lutens... He is the most incredible and chic of all the french perfume designers.
    All the journalists in Paris are wearing his perfumes but refuse to say it, in order to be unique.
    Wanna see the boutique ?
    It's really beautiful and magical...
    Anne, from Paris with love !

  27. Thanks for pointing your fans to "The Perfect Scent" I'm enjoying it now!


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