Blog post by Gwen

Eau de Cologne Impériale – graceful and elegant and refined

Photo: Courtesy of Guerlain

When Prince Louis Napoléon first met María Eugenia Ignacia Agustina de Palafox y Kirkpatrick at a reception at the Élysée Palace in April 1849, he was so taken with her, that he asked: "What is the road to your heart?". And so, after becoming emperor in 1852, he announced his engagement to María Eugenia Ignacia Agustina de Palafox y Kirkpatrick on January 22, 1853, saying, "I have preferred a woman whom I love and respect to a woman unknown to me…".  They married on 29 January 1853 and were known as Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie de Montijo.

Sounds like the romantic beginning to a real love story, but there were a couple of bumps early on. Eugenie suffered terribly from migraines. She also found sex with her husband to be 'disgusting.' Could this have been the birth of the phrase 'Not tonight dear, I have a migraine,' I wonder? Who knows? What we do know is that Eugenie sought various treatments to help treat her headaches. After all, the emperor wanted heirs. So, in 1853 Eugenie turned to Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain to create a cologne that might ease her migraines. He created Eau de Cologne Impériale, especially for Eugenie. It must have worked because she made Pierre-François His Majesty's Official Perfumer. This is the fragrance that started it all for the house of Guerlain.

I rarely have had a migraine, so I can't speak to the curative properties of Eau de Cologne Impériale, but I can speak to the beauty of this often-overlooked gem.

Uncomplicated, refreshing and light, colognes are an invigorating pick-me-up on hot, sticky days and have become a beauty classic for men and women in Europe.

Colognes follow a very simple formula: alcohol that contains a mixture of citrus oils, herbs and/or flowers, with a light base of woods or musk, and Eau de Cologne Impériale interprets this formula beautifully. It opens with tart bergamot that's delicate and fine, not sharp or tear-inducing. It's flanked by neroli that's light, floral and herbal. Verbena is fresh but gently so and bolsters the neroli with its herbal facets. Lemon adds a brightness to the top, and orange adds a lovely citrusy sweetness. The citruses set the tone for the fragrance: graceful, elegant and refined. As the cologne settles, a soothing, calming note of lavender joins the citruses, softening their brightness. The interplay between the lavender and the citrus deepens as it gets to the base of cedarwood, where Tonka bean adds warmth and creaminess to the cologne.

The drydown is smooth and elegant, and I can smell the quality of the ingredients. Being a cologne, Eau de Cologne Impériale wasn't designed to be long-lasting, but on me, it lingers, and when I catch a whiff of Eau de Cologne Impériale on my wrist, I can't help but smile.

Napoleon III, Empress Eugénie and Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain are all gone, but Eau de Cologne Impériale endures. Now that's a real love story.

Check out Eau de Cologne Impériale in our Shop.