Guerlain

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Interesting Facts

Guerlain is one of the oldest and largest among international producers of high-quality beauty products.
The chemist Pierre-Francois-Pascal Guerlain could hardly have dreamed of this when he opened the first Guerlain House on the first floor of the Hotel Meurice at 42 rue de Rivoli in Paris in 1828.

In his early days, he sold soaps based on spermaceti, perfumed with natural essences, and other cosmetic items such as creams and lipsticks.
At the same time, with his sons Gabriel and Aimé, he devoted himself to the creation of new fragrances, which gradually won him an ever-growing clientele.
He was said to be able to capture the personality of a person or a mood in a fragrance. Honoré de Balzac himself ordered fragrances from him.
Guerlain's reputation grew and soon royalty and nobility were among his clientele. Even Queen Victoria and the Russian Tsar, as well as Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary, also known as Sissi, ordered from him. She was particularly taken with the moisturizing cream made from strawberries, so she ordered it by the case.
With increasing success, the house moved to Rue de la Paix in the early 1940s. Guerlain's greatest success was the creation of the "Eau de Cologne Impériale", which he developed for Empress Eugénie on the occasion of her marriage to Napoleon III. This earned him the title of "Official Perfume Supplier to the Imperial Court."

After his father died in 1864, the company was taken over by his two sons. Gabriel took care of the business side, while Aimé, who had inherited his father's creative talent, was responsible for the creation of new fragrances as a chief perfumer.
Just like his father, he had studied chemistry. His knowledge in this field, as well as the experience he had gained in working with his father, were the basis of his work.
His first works still followed the spirit of the times, in that they aimed at recreating a floral scent.
In 1889, he developed what is probably his most famous perfume, the fragrance Jicky. It went down in history as the first modern perfume, because in it, for the first time, natural and synthetic essences entered into a harmonious union.

In the third generation, the house was continued by Jacques and Pierre Guerlain, Gabriel's sons. While Pierre took over the management, Jacques took care of the development of new fragrances as a chief perfumer. He was considered a child prodigy, creating his first fragrance at the age of 16.
The great classics such as "Mitsouko" (1919), "Vol de Nuit" (1933 as a tribute to his friend Antoine de Saint-Exupéry) can be traced back to him, just like the still popular "Shalimar", which was launched in 1925.
Its oriental-tinged vanilla-based character with top notes of bergamot and lemon was in keeping with the prevailing zeitgeist, which loved playing with exotic elements. Moreover, the crystal bottle in which it was presented in 1925 won first prize at the Decorative Arts Exhibition in Paris.
Today, the perfume is still partly sold in the original bottle with the fan-shaped blue cap.
Shalimar leaped across the pond and was the basis for the success of the house of Guerlain in the USA as well.

Jean-Paul Guerlain, nicknamed Le Nez (the nose), represents the fourth and last generation of in-house perfumers. He created the fragrances "Vétivier" (1959), "Nahéma" (1979), and "Samsara" (1989), among others.
In 1994, the Guerlain company was sold to the LVMH group, for which Jean-Paul Guerlain was henceforth a consultant. In 2002, he retired from the business at the age of 65, and the company has since been run by non-family hands.
Since 2008, Thierry Wasser has been the new "nose" at Guerlain. "La petite Robe Noire" can be traced back to him.
Research and text by ParfumoParfumo