Which and which fragrance enthusiasts does she not know, these wow moments that occur every now and then. Barely sprayed on, it goes through you like lightning: Wow, what a scent!
One of my deepest and most lasting wow experiences many years ago was the old version of 'Dioressence'.
I first saw 'LUI' about two years ago. The beautiful bottle alone gave me the chance to grab it, but this time nothing happened. No wow, nowhere. Instead, I sniffed my wrist a little at a loss.
A Guerlain? Where was that typical DNA? What is so special about this fragrance?
I found no answer, and classified 'LUI' under: boring, chumming up modern, leathery Oriental, smelled x times, without depth and special development.
How to be wrong sometimes after all!
If 'LUI' wasn't in this strikingly beautiful art deco bottle, I probably would have avoided it with such labels. But that's how he kept drawing me back. Could it be that there really was such a boring and banal fragrance in such a pretty bottle?
Yeah, it could be. At least that is what the following tests showed.
Then, a few weeks ago, suddenly everything was different, for whatever reason.
Actually I just wanted to see if the new 'Bois Mysterieux' still smells the same as my old 'Songe d'un Bois d'Été', but there was no tester available. Instead there was this seductively beautiful 'LUI' again. Rather bored and actually assuming that I had already discarded the scent often enough as uninteresting, I took it up again.
What was that? Suddenly, a seductive aroma escaped from the pretty boy!
What had happened?
Nothing, really. The scent was clearly the same, but somehow a switch seemed to be flipped. What I had previously found banal and boring was suddenly interesting and exciting: a wonderfully aromatic powdery clove aroma, combined with something subtly fruity, lay over a smoothed, civilized leather note that was lolling on a bed of resinous-balsamic benzoin - great!
But: so far, so unspectacular. It really wasn't the first benzoin leather scent. But suddenly I had an 'open nose' for the real strength of this fragrance: its quality.
LUI' does not score with originality, does not throw itself at any niche oud, saffron or immortelle hype, but does not offer itself to any contemporary mainstream synthetics either.
No, 'LUI' is basically - that's how I experienced him the first times - an inconspicuous guy whose advantages, even elegance, don't really want to show to advantage. Fortunately, however, he is wearing this chic outfit - rarely has a bottle been such an eye-catcher.
But now that my nose has opened for this fragrance, so to speak, I actually no longer feel any discrepancy between beauty on the one hand and inconspicuousness on the other. Both, inside and outside, actually fit together quite well: This bottle jewel actually contains a fragrance jewel. One that does not immediately appeal to the inclined consumer, but rather wants to be discovered.
Reading reviews and comments on 'LUI', the question keeps coming up as to what on earth this fragrance has to do with its sister fragrance 'LIU', the decade-old aldehyde bomb once contained in a very similar art deco bottle. In 1929 Guerlain launched this fragrance, reminiscent of Chanel's 'No 5', inspired by a character from Puccini's last opera, 'Turandot', which was very popular at the time. Liu, the slave, resists all torture and chooses suicide rather than reveal her secret. It is this strength, this courage, that melts the ice shield of Princess Turandot.
Aldehyde-pregnant fragrances like 'LIU', but especially Chanel's 'No 5', launched 8 years earlier, were very popular with women wearing garçonne fashion. Flapper-look and short-hair hairstyles contributed to the rather boyish appearance of the garçonne.
Guerlain's 'LIU' came quite late though. Again.
As with 'Mitsouko', 'Shalimar' and later 'Vetiver', Guerlain showed that you don't have to constantly tap into your creative potential to reinvent the wheel again and again. Sometimes it was just more advisable to demonstrate that one simply knew one's craft better than the others.
What was achieved with the three fragrances mentioned above, however, could not be repeated with 'LIU'. Chanel's 'No 5' remained unmatched, no matter how popular the opera character whose name was borrowed and how beautiful the bottle. LIU' did not become one of the great Guerlain legends, but nevertheless remained permanently in the Guerlain catalogue, probably because of its undeniable qualities.
LUI it is.
No aldehydes, no rose, no jasmine and no iris, but vanilla and woody notes, which can be found in the wide range of scents of benzoic resin. Here, 'LUI' docks on 'LIU' and expands this spectrum with lots of resinous and balsamic facets, adds leathery, powdery, aromatic and discreetly fruity ones, thus shifting the clearly feminine fragrance cosmos of 'LIU' in a much more masculine direction. LUI' thus becomes the male counterpart of 'LIU', but does not break the bridge to the feminine language of fragrance with benzoin, carnation and pear.
If a garçonne of the 20s and 30s may have chosen Chanel's 'No 5' or 'LIU', a garçonne of the present time would certainly prefer 'LUI'. In my opinion, 'LUI' is indeed a modern garçonne fragrance, even if it refuses to follow fashion trends and synthetics. Its modernity consists rather in adapting a nearly one hundred year old fragrance concept to today's habits and preferences. Women have long since begun to capture the woody, leathery and spicy scents of their partners, to adopt them for themselves - a 'LUI' is not really necessary.
But 'LUI' works a little differently, it is not an unambiguous men's fragrance, just as it is far away from an unambiguous women's fragrance.
But it's not unisex in the true sense of the word either, because I find its basic tendency to be more masculine: a masculine fragrance with an open side to the feminine. Just as 'lui' in French usually means 'for him', but not always: it can also mean 'her'. Je lui dis' can be 'I tell him', or 'I tell her', depending on the context
Of course, 'LUI' does not offer a novel fragrance concept with these qualities. There are countless similar fragrances that elude the platitudinous unisex label and play much more cleverly with homme/femme attribution. And yet with 'LUI', Guerlain has succeeded after a long time in doing something for which this house has long stood, namely not completely reinventing things, but simply making them better.
LUI' has a fantastic durability with moderate projection. Here again the rather masculine basic tendency is revealed: according to classical understanding the gentleman does not have to outrun the lady olfactorically. She may blow up the room in a fragrant way. He prefers to convince through unobtrusive persistence.
Just like LUI