Guerlain takes a rare foray into the oriental genre with one of its newest fragrances, Ambre Eternel. It’s an eau de parfum that was released earlier this year, joining Santal Royal as part of a new collection called Les Absolus d’Orient. Like Santal Royal (with which it shares some notes in common), Ambre Eternel is geared primarily towards the Middle Eastern market, and seems to have somewhat limited distribution. (It’s not listed on most of Guerlain’s websites except the Middle Eastern and French ones, but it is available in parts of Europe and at some high-end American department stores.)
Custom naming rights wrapped up in the patina of exclusivity. That’s one way of looking at Guerlain‘s attempt to distinguish Mon Exclusif from the flood of new releases put out each year, not only by other brands but also from the ten to twenty fragrances that it itself issues. Another way of viewing it, though, is as an asinine, childish gimmick that seeks to hide the utterly generic, insipid, and commercial nature of its scent behind the illusion of luxury and exclusivity, with the added benefit of higher prices to boot. This is a fragrance that I think is driven by cynical marketing and market trends rather than the desire to create a original, compelling creation that stands out on an olfactory basis. [Update 1/26/17 — This fragrance has been renamed as Mon Guerlain. It is the exact same formulation and scent as before. Guerlain pulled “Mon Exclusif,” renamed it, removed the option of personalized stickers discussed below, and selected Angelina Jolie as the fragrance’s celebrity face. In essence, it chose a different form of marketing than the stickers it originally had to distinguish this scent. But the perfume itself remains unchanged, so the review on the substance of the scent itself stands. Mon Guerlain will launch in February 2017. ]
I was stunned to wake up this morning to news that LVMH, the parent company of Guerlain, has shut down the Monsieur Guerlain website, as well as his Facebook page, Twitter account, and YouTube account. The news was reported by the perfume blog, PerseFume, in a post on its Facebook page. It states that the action was taken without any notice or prior warning by LVMH to Monsieur Guerlain. The news of the shut-down has been confirmed elsewhere.
A new era is dawning at Parfums de Nicolai, the venerable brand that was one of the pioneers of niche perfumery. Founded and led by the legendary Patricia de Nicolaï, the company recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, changed its name to NICOLAÏ: PARFUMEUR-CRÉATEUR (hereinafter simply referred to as “Nicolai“), and brought in Axel de Nicolaï, Patricia de Nicolaï’s son, as both the General Manager and her collaborator in the perfume-creation process.
It’s a significant step for a few reasons. Axel de Nicolaï was raised in the Nicolai perfume and family tradition, but he also brings a different perspective to the mix after working in the larger mainstream fragrance industry with the big perfume conglomerates of LVMH and InterParfums, and spending time in the Middle East. It was his idea that Nicolai should explore the oud genre, resulting in last year’s Rose Oud and Amber Oud, and his influence also helped to shape the direction of Nicolai’s newest release, Ambre Cashmere Intense. In his main role as the new General Manager, he’s made changes to the company’s marketing direction and sales strategy, but he’s equally determined that marketing should never impact or alter the Nicolai olfactory “DNA.”