Saturday, August 02, 2008

Guerlain Liu

Named for the Chinese character, Liù, in Puccini's famous opera, Turandot (listen to the touching aria, "Nessun Dorma", and you might catch the vibe of this fragrance...after bawling your eyes out), Guerlain Liu is a great Guerlain classic, one of the most beautiful, albeit quiet and often overlooked, compositions ever made. Liu was created in 1929 by Jacques Guerlain. It is said Liu was created for Mamie Eisenhower (sorry, correction: Rose Kennedy - I just checked the celeb user list in Jan Moran's book, Fabulous Fragrances II, in which Ethel Kennedy and Diana Ross are also mentioned as Liu wearers) who loved Chanel No.5 but could not wear it. Liu is an Aldehydic Floral that follows in No.5's powdery, not very flowery but more bergamot-jasmine-woodsy-ambery, abstract leathery tradition - in fact, right now, Liu parfum which I'm wearing reminds me very much of Weil Zibeline (1928), only lighter and more streamlined, delicate, less-is-more chic. Liu is among Guerlain's most ethereal and elegant creations, as delicate perhaps as Après l'Ondée but more full-bodied. Both are subtle blends with powdery iris and sheer heliotropic-vanillic bases, and the Guerlinade comes through beautifully in honeyed fashion. The eau de toilette version of Liu is less full-bodied, and smells to me much more sharply aldehydic, making it resemble No.5 even more so than the parfum which, again, resembles Zibeline the more I study its flapper-era composition. Sandalwood peeks through upon dry down, ever so slightly giving it a musky (yet neither dirty nor animalic), absolutely ladylike ending. The implied gourmand element is ever so subtly sweet on skin, making it a sublimely attractive perfume.

I'd heard some time ago Liu had been reissued after being discontinued, but I don't believe the exquisite parfum is being produced.

Notes: Guerlain Liu (1929)
Top notes: Bergamot, neroli
Heart Notes: Jasmine, May rose, iris
Base Notes: Amber, vanilla, woods