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Encens Mythique d’Orient – Guerlinade.2 - October 4, 2013

Image - Wikipedia - Detail of Guerlain store, Paris, by Moonik, 04/08/2012

Mention the word “perfume” and I think of France.

Say “France” and I hear “Paris”.

Say “Paris’ and I see Guerlain – the flagship store on the Champs Elysée.

Say “Guerlain” and I immediately smell the inside of that famous store.

I call this the Guerlinade effect.The “Guerlinade” is famous in Perfumeland. According to Elena at Perfumeshrine, whose historical and technical knowledge of perfumes is a rich resource for all perfumistas, the secret Guerlinade accord was attributed to two family noses, Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain and Jacques Guerlain. It’s thought to be a “blend of bergamot, jasmine, rose - especially the Bulgarian version rather than the Turkish one -  orange blossom, iris, possibly vetiver, tonka bean, and vanilla”, plus other very secret ingredients. This blend forms the unmistakable, characteristic nuance in the classic Guerlain Orientals, such as Shalimar, L’Heure Bleue, Vol de Nuit, and to a lesser degree in Mitsouko, oh she of the haunting oakmoss and silky peach notes!

“Like a silky veil, the Guerlinade softens any sharp angles and smothers the composition in the purple hues of twilight. Its feel is polished, bergamot fusing its elegant freshness with rose and vanilla and the tonka bean gives a vague sense of hay, powder and tobacco. But its perfume-y ambience can also feel somehow retro which is why sometimes modern tastes run antithetical to its rich, textured feel.” Perfumeshrine.com

Enter Thierry Wasser , the creative director heading up Guerlain after its purchase by LVMH. How does he maintain the great traditions of Guerlain, found in their Oriental classic scents, and yet also climb on the current perfume bandwagon which features new and different, exotic and unique notes, like smoky leathers and woods, rich gourmands, and dark resinous ouds? He repositions some of the classics, launching successful flankers like Shalimar Parfum Initial, brings out limited editions of archived scents updated with modern notes, like 180 Ans de Création, and releases new collections targeted to specific markets, like Les Déserts d’Orient collection, which was created for the Arabian market and is available only in the Middle East, and the Paris store…and now in the beautiful new Guerlain boutique in Toronto.

Which is where I bought Encens Mythique d’Orient. The Les Déserts d’Orient collection is inspired by the age-old perfumed scents of Arabia and focuses on three distinctive Middle Eastern notes – rose, oud, and incense. There are three scents, Rose Nacrée, an intense Persian rose, Songe d’Un Bois d’Eté, a deep leather with oud, and Encens Mythique, the incense that stole my heart at first sniff.

Out of the bottle are sparkly aldehydes with neroli (orange blossom)  and a sweet ‘n snappy rose, rich but bright, which soon softens with hints of dusty, musty saffron. This rose accord segues into a lightly smoked frankincense as it dries down, a very un-churchy incense mixed with a very subdued resinous oud note as it moves into the heart. This mix smells very alive – incense in the daylight – and its beautiful! The rose is still there, and with the incense/oud accord, the rose creates an almost sultry mood as ambergris comes into the mix, stirring the animalic fires.

Encens Mythique quickly moves into very interesting scented territory – salty, buttery, the musky aroma of aroused skin, the same animalic nuances that define Shalimar and L’Heure Bleue, but interpreted in a new modern way. A Lutens-like richness develops as it dries down into the base, with dark powdery patchouli notes and the lovely dry greenness of vetiver grass, so that Encens Mythique finishes with a delicious aromatic woody aura. Happily, the sexy factor created by the ambergris mixed with smoky incense and peppery rose maintains to the end, so that Encens Mythique enters the Guerlain pantheon, only this time it’s a new tradition - Guerlinade.2

If you’re expecting a typically Middle Eastern powerhouse scent, Encens Mythique is not the one you should choose. But if you want a perfume made from exceptional ingredients which is a heavenly union of Arab and French traditions, a perfume that makes an elegant statement but which also purrs smoothly in the background, then you will love Encens Mythique. Rose, incense, and oud have never smelled like this, or smelled this good!

Encens Mythique d’Orient is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $8.00 for 1 ml.