According to perfumeprojects.com, Guerlain Eau de Cologne Impériale was created for the Empress Eugénie by perfumer and founder of the House of Guerlain, Pierre-François Guerlain in 1853. According to Wikipedia, the scent was a shared scent for both her and her husband, Napoleon III. Now, perfumistas always hear about Napoleon I's love of citrus (he wore ridiculous amounts of 4711) and his wife Empress Josephine's love of musk (with or without violets which she also notoriously loved). The story of her revenge during their divorce, by permeating their house with musk because Napoleon despised it so much, is a perfume legend. Jumping ahead a few years, in 1870, the House of Creed had also created a perfume in Empress Eugenie's honor - a warm, spicy-ambery musky fragrance, the type of scent Josephine might have enjoyed. Eugenie liked musk; did her husband? Could Eau de Cologne Impériale be the type of scent to be shared by two people with vastly different taste in scent?
As I've shared here before, I like both light, sharp citrus scents and the heavier, often sweeter (though not necessarily) musk scents. Eau de Cologne Impériale by Guerlain is lovely but the type of citrus scent I can't love, because it's too dry and spicy for me. I suspect there's a bit of musk in the base notes as well (tonka appears on some lists of notes). At first, only the citrus is obvious, but upon wear, the musky, spicy aspect becomes overwhelming for me. So, I can see this as a citrus for someone like Empress Eugénie, who I now see as a spice lover. At the same time, the scent is light overall, still belonging in the citrus family. The musk might not be pronounced at all for some wearers. Even if Napoleon III was a strident fresh citrus lover like Napoleon I, it's definitely possible an empress and her musk-averse husband could have found one fragrance they can equally love and /or compromise on for the sake of marital harmony.
To compare, of the Guerlain colognes I'm familiar with, Eau de Guerlain is the spiciest (though it's also heavier, muskier and more wooded), and the sweetest (most like 4711 to me) is probably my favorite, Eau de Fleurs de Cédrat.
The Scent of Empire - June 18, 2012