ScentFan's Blog
5 years ago - 02.05.2018
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A Genius, A Prince and A Soirée in Versailles

This is the kind of story that makes me wonder if invisible genies are orchestrating our lives.


It began as I prepared for my still only partially-written Guerlain Sniff Fest in our Forum. Slowly I'd been collecting Guerlain samples until the fated day, March 27, 2016. I know because it's the day before I posted my review of Jardins de Bagatelle. With this and other beauties recently in hand, I—a still somewhat green perfumista—had fallen madly, hopelessly in love with Jean-Paul Guerlain's extraordinary gifts with which he'd designed legendary perfumes.

Onto the Internet I went. What was this French genius doing now? Become a ChevalIer of France, no doubt. From screeching headlines I discovered that the last family master perfumer of the House of Guerlain—creator of not just Jardins de Bagatelle but Vetiver, Chant d'Arôme, Chamade, Nahema, Derby, Samsara, Heritage, Habit Rouge, etc., names that will live forever in the annals of perfume—had been prosecuted for a mere slip of the tongue on French TV and booted as a consultant from the firm his own family started. I, freshly in love, sat at my computer and cried.


Yes, in France racist speech is against the law, but I am a person of mixed heritage. I've said stuff I shouldn't, too! I do not feel vindicated or defended to know France would trade hatred of blacks for hatred of Jean-Paul Guerlain, a man of senior years who has lived an insulated life (by privilege, but nonetheless), who has contributed so much to his profession and his country and ought to be honored, or at least excused for his faux pas, instead of reviled in awful headlines.

I can't remember on what day I read that he had joined with a new firm, My Exclusive Collection, and in spite of all was starting again—creating new perfumes, reaching once more for the stars. I said, "Go get 'em Jean-Paul" and cheered to my empty room, then searched and searched for announcement of the samples promised for November.

November came and went. I focused on other things.


This part was so sudden, I nearly hyperventilated. It was March 11, 2017 almost a year later. On impulse, I searched the Internet for My Exclusive Collection news. There it was. The samples would be unveiled in Versailles on March 21, just ten days away,

Talk about breathless excitement. I searched for and wrote to the general email address, to whit (translated from French):

Good day, ladies and gentlemen. I beg your pardon that I don't speak French well. I am a big fan of Jean-Paul Guerlain. I live in Houston but is there a way for me to try his new perfumes?

Back came a reply.

Would you come to France on March 21st in Versailles to discover the new exclusive collection of perfumes created by Jean-Paul Guerlain? We would be very happy to count you among the guests.

I might have passed out, can't remember. Then I asked a miliion questions because, in my joyful haste, I hadn't actually read the whole announcement and seen the word Soirée. Simon Ghraichy would be playing? OMG! I grew up under our piano with my doll, listening to my older brother play. Faint!

Did I go? No. Hubby agreed that I make a hotel reservation, book a flight. I did. My luggage went. However, when I myself got on the flight and sat in my seat, illness swept over horrified me to such an extent I was allowed off the flight even though the doors were closing and it was too late to fetch my bag. Daughter ran to meet me, greatly relieved. She said as I boarded she had a premonition she'd never see me again. Silly girl. I wasn't afraid of death, only of not being in Versailles on the appointed night.

Are there words?

"When in disgrace with fortune . . . I all alone beweep my outcast state . . . And look upon myself, and curse my fate," Too dramatic?

Gradually, I recovered from missing the chance to personally tell Jean-Paul how wonderful I think his work is, smell his new perfumes, see if I could get under Ghraichy's piano, and shake hands with the Saudi prince who has since locked all the other princes up in the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh for a time. I call it Prince Prison. He has a place in Versailles, too. (No, I'm not really star struck. Somewhere there's a photo of me and Nancy Kissinger vampily lounging near each other by a fountain in the lush Pan American Union in D.C. Wearing similarly long, skinny gowns—hers brown and by a designer, mine black—we pretended we didn't notice photographers snapping us together. (I was back in engineering school and had sewn my gown myself. Ah, the good ole days.)

Still, the prince does have a certain penache, yes? I absolutely hated missing that Soirée.


Recently an email came. Would madam like to receive samples of Monsieur Guerlain's new collection in the mail?

Indeed madam would. The samples just arrived. I haven't opened them. I feel reluctant to find them anything but magical. I so want Jean-Paul to send one more comet to the stars. He and I are less than 10 years apart in age. I'd like one more comet, too. So if they aren't beautiful, I will not post this blog. We will remain as we are in my imagination. He, the great perfumer. I, his adoring perfumista fan.

All right, let's get on with it. Darn, I am crying. Can't help it. Stop, ScentFan because tears interfere with smelling, you know.

The Yellow One - Acapulco
My goodness, they're not labelled! The scent is almost gone! But it's beautiful, it's beautiful! Oh, I found a link: and they're already in our database.

Simple ingredients NEVER smelled so good. It's labelled a male scent. Ha! If necessary, I'd paint on a moustache to get this creamy (vanilla in top, tonka in base) clove, almond, orange blossom, rich and sophisticated gorgeousness.

The Aqua One - Aqua Vallis

A heaven of citrus followed by a perfect blend of the listed notes. This slightly peppery one is unisex.

The Brown One - Bouquet de Palmyre
Okay, moaning going on. I can even smell the French hay, much less the Frankincense, the Rose, the Labdanum. This one says it's for women

The Pink One - Calice des Fleurs

A lovely slightly powdery floral melange rises from one corner of this one, also for women—Marigold, Jasmine, Mimosa, Rose, Ylang ylang.

Quality, quality, quality! Each is different. Together the collection is spectacular. You've done it, Jean-Paul! And you've inspired me. Back to finishing my latest novel.

How much are they? 480 € each? About $575. Times 4 is $2300. Okay, yes, I own 403 FBs. I want 4 more. Let's see. I could sell something. I could cut back on wine and cheese and orange juice. Better not.

For now I'll be Micawber and leave it to the universe, trusting something will turn up. Ccing hubby in case it's him.

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