You’ll be hard-pressed to find a beauty house with the level of mastery that Maison Guerlain holds. Founded in 1828, the beauty company was even bestowed the title of a “Living Heritage Company” by the French Ministry of the Economy.
And the house continues to prove why it deserves its reputation when Guerlain Haute Parfumerie launched its L’Art & La Matière line in 2005. The pioneering collection was one of the first of its kind that offered exclusive scents that truly elevated fragrances into art by using the finest raw materials used in perfumery.
Led by Guerlain’s master perfumer, Thierry Wasser, the collection draws its inspiration from the two sources that gave the line its name: Art and the artists that inspire them, as well as materials—the sumptuous ingredients that are crafted to reveal unexpected surprises.
Guerlain: Masters of haute parfumerie
The L’Art & La Matière is truly a space that allows Guerlain perfumers to draw from the endless depths of their creativity and artistic emotion. In essence, it is a love song created by artists to express their passion for beauty and fragrance that has driven the House throughout its 194 years.
Each scent is crafted with savoir-faire by an Artist-Perfumer to create compositions that contravene conventional interpretations. They are born from an artistic emotion aroused by a work of art that has left an indelible mark on the memories of Guerlain perfumers. It is an emotion that is translated into a scent.
The evolution of an icon
Committed to constantly reinventing and refining its craft, Guerlain revamped its L’Art & La Matière line with a new bottle design that could be customised, refilled and even reused. This was a nod to the house’s commitment to sustainability.
“As a brand deeply committed towards the environment, Guerlain chooses its artisans based on their shared vision of what should be luxury,” shared Ann-Caroline Prazan, Guerlain’s director of art, culture and heritage. “It is part of our heritage. Luxury demands time, precision, perfection. Biodiversity is at the heart of our creations.”
Today, the L’Art & La Matière collection is celebrating the first anniversary of its relaunch with three new fragrances that showcases and exalts the unsuspected shades of a multifaceted black material: Oud Wood.
Each fragrance of L’Art & La Matière is a story of love between the Guerlain perfumers and a beautiful material. As artists, they are at liberty to shape their chosen ingredient according to their unique vision. Black by nature, oud wood is one of the most mysterious materials of perfumery. In the hands of Guerlain Perfumers, the complex, powerful trail of the ingredient reveals an unexpected palette of olfactory colours, resulting in the creation of three new icons: Oud Nude and Cherry Oud which are available at Guerlain boutiques here in Singapore.
Shades of Oud
The precious material owes its potent scent to a resin contained in the heartwood of the Aquilaria, a subfamily of Asian trees that secretes resin to protect itself. The oud wood selected by Guerlain perfumers comes from the forests of Bangladesh, at the border of Assam. Sustainably sourced, each time a tree is cut down, twenty more are planted for future generations.
The precious wood is harvested manually according to an ancestral technique. Cut into chips, it is steam-distilled to yield the black resin, resulting in a unique essence called Oud Assam that has elegantly woody, ambery facets with leathery tones. From this one ingredient, Guerlain was able to create three distinctly unique, sumptuous scents.
Oud Nude, priced from $520 for 100ml eau de parfum, is a luminous, sensual and skin-soft scent. “I composed this fragrance like a fairy tale whose fragrances express the sensuality of bodies,” said Guerlain perfumer, Delphine Jelk. A woody-ambery, warm and spicy fragrance, it opens with the smoothness of white almond, tinged with the sensuality of cumin. In the heart notes, a raspberry accord brings out the blondness of sumptuous Atlas cedarwood.
Illuminated by this cedar, oud wood unveils itself, softened by the milky sap of sandalwood and the quintessential Guerlain signature of Madagascan vanilla tincture. In Oud Nude, the wood and leather facets of vanilla tincture magnifies the sensual accents of oud wood.
If you prefer something playful and enigmatic, you will adore Cherry Oud, from $520 for 100ml eau de parfum. Shaken up by the Guerlain Perfumer, oud wood takes on the lacquered shine of a cherry red note and transforms into a fruity floral wood with mysterious accents.
A bold, vibrant fragrance, the intriguing clash of spices—burning cinnamon and cool cardamom—reveals the fruity intensity of the scent’s cherry accord. This unexpected olfactory colour is exalted by the duo of roses that blooms at the heart of the fragrance: a honeyed Turkish rose absolute and a fruity Bulgarian rose essence. Brushed with a dusky leather accord, the rose notes grows darker and descends into the brooding charm of oud wood.
This trilogy celebrating oud wood has given Guerlain the opportunity for a new artistic collaboration, reasserting the French luxury house’s continuing commitment to contemporary creation. Ghizlane Agzenaï, a young Moroccan artist, was invited to create a unique work of art around these three new fragrances.
The outcome is a visual delight of abstract graphic and chromatic motifs that reveal the olfactory colours of oud wood. This abstract pattern not only adorns the bottles of L’Art & La Matière, but can also be seen on the windows of the most beautiful Guerlain boutiques around the world. With these three new creations, the L’Art & La Matière collection now offers twenty-one exceptional fragrances.
A force to Bee reckoned with
When Emperor Napoleon III married Eugénie of Montijo in 1853, Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain celebrated the event by dedicating a citrusy Eau de Cologne to her.
The making of the fragrance bottle was entrusted to the Pochet du Courval glassmakers who use a cylindrical domed design embellished with a festoon pattern inspired by the Vendôme column. Bees, an imperial symbol in France, were embossed around the rim. Impressed by the creation, Empress Eugénie gave Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain the title of “Supplier to the Empress” and the Guerlain House’s success and renown rapidly spread throughout Europe.
Today, the famous Bee Bottles are still manufactured by Pochet du Courval glassmakers. And in recent years, the legendary Bee Bottle has been revisited and metamorphosed via artistic encounters and collaborations, resulting in limited numbered pieces aptly named Exceptional Editions.
This holiday season, Guerlain is launching the exceptional piece: Imagine Bee Bottle for the festive season, $1,070. The Imagine bottle is adorned with a sumptuous jewel, hand-set with glittering crystals and trimmed with a trail of shining stars by Parisian jeweller L’Atelier Truscelli. A true work of art, it is sure to have a place of pride in the most beautiful of homes.
Book a complimentary personalised fragrance discovery at Guerlain’s ION Orchard boutique at 6509 3922 or Raffles City boutique at 6252 5419 from November 10, 2022 onwards.