It’s finally here. The much hyped, much talked about new fragrance from Guerlain. Angelina Jolie makes such a perfect spokesmodel that you can’t help but wonder at the fact that this is her first fragrance campaign. Understandably, most of the campaigns that keep her busy have more altruistic ends, although she is donating her full fee to charity, which again, does not surprise me.
In some ways, Mon Guerlain was a pleasant surprise and in other ways, it was a disappointment.
The pleasant surprise is the audacious use of lavender. This is a prominent note, even in the TV advert, where bunches of lavender are placed strategically around the pristine French country manor that an ethereal Jolie wanders around whilst wistfully smiling. It’s clearly not her real house as white walls and white sofas don’t exist when you have six children or teenagers.
Lavender has had an unfair press and is often written off as *shudder* “old lady”. I always eschew such terms. In fact, lavender has been used in gentleman’s colognes since the very early days of scent, and has been in use for pomanders since Elizabethan times. There’s nothing old fashioned about lavender. Old lady? NO. Classic and traditional- YES.
In Mon Guerlain the lavender lights up the top notes and makes it beautifully airy and lilac-like (lilacky?). I love how feminine it is. It has a cleanness and a purity that fits in with the floaty white dress Jolie is drifting about in during the advert. The bergamot and lavender combo that introduces Mon Guerlain was my favourite part.
The middle phase is fairly generic: the combo of jasmine sambac and vanilla has been done beyond cliché now, but if Guerlain are going mainstream, then that’s where they have to go I suppose.
However, (and if this were a personal appraisal, my tone of voice might indicate that you failed your probation), the lavender was not big enough to save this, at least for me.
I cannot argue with sales figures. I cannot deny that gourmands, especially of the caramel type, are not a raging success. La Vie est Belle is practically ubiquitous now and the tide shows no sign of being stemmed.
Mon Guerlain, is admittedly, an understated gourmand, but a gourmand it is. In fact, I’m confused. Lavender and food doesn’t really “go”. Even the Lavender Cupcakes made by my shero Nigella don’t really make my mouth water. In the last stages of wearing Mon Guerlain, what I got was pipe smoke. You know the smell of dried cherry tobacco in a tobacconist? You might not if you’re younger than middle aged me. It reminded me of unsmoked, unrolled rolling tobacco, with lavender and toffees in it.
So what’s my verdict? I think that Angelina will attract buyers, the lavender may repel or confuse younger palates, and the gourmand finish will attract them back if the lavender didn’t put them off. So, a bit of a hybrid, really.
Also: longevity- not good. Usually a 2ml sample lasts me around three days, but this went in 12 hours. Every drop has gone. this is probbaly because II kept having to reapply. It disappeared within about forty minutes.
I wanted to like this. I was open minded, but I just don’t. I hope it marks a fashion for a lavender come back, but other than that, I won’t be getting a full bottle.
Incidentally, although I happened upon a sales assistant opening the box of Mon Guerlain samples on 28th Feb, I saw no trace of this in my local House of Fraser today. Granted, it’s a small branch, but hmm. Naughty HOF.