Friday, July 31, 2009

Guerlain Les Secrets de Sophie - Featured Review

I must applaud master perfumer Jean-Paul Guerlain for creating such an exquisite fragrance in the tradition of this great perfume house, by using fine ingredients and composing with these handpicked notes a memorable, impactful beauty with artistry and elegance. Guerlain Les Secrets de Sophie is nothing short of beautiful, in my view absolutely worth its decadent price tag. A rich, sweet, unpretentious Floral fragrance with subtle yet deep Oriental elements, this is the kind of scent I love, and not because it's cutting edge or innovative, but because it smells wonderful and makes me happy. All in all, Les Secrets de Sophie smells more classical than modern to me, its quaint innocence harkening to the time of L'Heure Bleue (1912) or Caron N'Aimez que Moi (1917), pre-Chanel N°5 days. Simply put, Les Secrets de Sophie is my idea of a perfect piece of fleur d'oranger-violet-candied heaven. It's so delicious, nothing should get in the way of this bliss; the perfume smells to me as the perfumer fully intended to feature the most pleasurable part without teasing us in some self-serving, cruel way by masking it under haughty aloofness and abstraction. This is a fragrance to please the wearer, a perfume made for women and girls who love perfume for the sheer joy it brings us.

At first sniff, I get a sweet white floral, perhaps hibiscus or peony mingling with orange blossom and neroli - at this initial stage, the floralcy is intense, a bit perfumey-powdery in an old-fashioned way, along the lines of an E. Courday scent, Jean Paul Gaultier Classique or Lancome Magnifique, but it quickly mellows into a dazzling, emotive heart of the most extravagant jasmine absolute, the kind you might only find in the classic Jean Patou Joy. Soon, it reveals the Guerlain trademark Guerlinade accord and a tender hint of spice, bringing to mind none other than my favorite Guerlain masterpiece, L'Heure Bleue. I detect that round, complex, almond-like yet dark and mossy, gourmand-ish, almost-Chypre-like accord as found in L'Heure Bleue and many other creations (and if you're a Guerlainaholic as I am, you know exactly what I'm talking about). If many of the recent Guerlain launches haven't smelled like a Guerlain perfume, this one surely does.

The only things I would change about it are, that the white musk base is very apparent, disturbing my fantasy time travel back to 2009, complete with the smell of baby wipes, detergents and dryer sheets, and that also, perhaps due to this composition having been built on this "ethereal" white musk, that the scent evaporates rather quickly for a Guerlain. Of course it is an eau de parfum, not pure parfum as I would have wanted a fragrance of this caliber to be, but I find that Sophie has less longevity and sillage compared to many other Guerlain EDPs I own. Nevertheless, this might be what makes this fragrance all the more delicate and charming, never overwhelming, fitting into today's aesthetic for sweet, yet light, wearable scents. Although I can't name a single perfume that smells like it, if one can imagine a cross between L'Heure Bleue, Joy or even 1000, Caron Narcisse Blanc, and one of the trendy niche perfume oils on the scene such as Child, Monyette or Coquette Tropique, you might come close. However, I doubt anyone can recreate Sophie, a seemingly simple, yet utterly Guerlain-esque, sophisticated perfume "made for a jeune fille" worth experiencing - and if you're one of the lucky ones, bringing home one of those gorgeous limited edition bottles to adore forever.

(Image: Guerlain Les Secrets Poudrés de Sophie)


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