Just over three years ago, I wrote a less-than-lukewarm review of Idylle, a wan floral composition by Guerlain in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser. I knew little about Wasser except that his 2008 appointment (which ended four unbroken generations of Guerlain family stewardship) created a conspicuous stir. Apparently, so entrenched was Guerlain's misogyny that they would sooner hand the reins to a outsider (albeit one with a penis!) than to their own kinswoman, the fully-qualified and divinely talented Patricia de Nicolaï.
Being accustomed to such misogyny, de Nicolaï merely shrugged it off-- but I did not. My indignation unconsciously chilled my perception of Idylle-- and thereafter, I always felt a little bit guilty about it. Had I unfairly rejected Mr. Wasser out of hand? Should I have given him more of a chance? I have since found the answer to these questions in Cologne du Parfumeur.
Every Guerlain nose, from founder Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain (we'll call him PFP for short) to Wasser, has contributed a signature eau de cologne to the house collection. PFP created Eau de Cologne Impériale for Empress Eugenie in 1853; his son and successor Aimé Guerlain composed Eau de Cologne du Coq in 1894. Eau de Fleurs de Cedrat -- composed by Aimé's nephew, the great Jacques Guerlain -- followed in 1920. The world had to wait over five decades for the next installment in the series, Jean-Paul Guerlain's 1974 Eau de Guerlain; after this, another three decades would pass until Wasser signed off on his own eau. About it, he stated: “Originally, I created (Cologne du Parfumeur) for myself... it was my way of taking time out. I wanted a cologne that would perpetuate the classic heritage, but with a modern twist."
Having sincerely adored Guerlain's earlier eaux, I was disposed to greet this one with similar enthusiasm. Yet within the first minute of wear, I felt an instinctive revulsion which would be neither ignored nor denied. I scrubbed, and scrubbed fast-- and then looked up Cologne du Perfumeur online. At the sight of Monsieur Wasser's arrogant mug staring back at me, I knew that he had succeeded in encapsulating himself in a scent-- and I wanted nothing to do with it.
Have you ever extended your hand to a smiling stranger only to find your fingers nearly broken in a deliberately sadistic grip? That's how Cologne du Parfumeur presents itself from the get-go. Even my knowledge of orange blossom's furtive skunky quality did not prepare me for the full-on note of garbage which stretches out interminably over this fragrance's opening phase. (Lest I have not been sufficiently clear, by garbage I mean the rank, wet, decaying stuff that you park in a can at the curb for weekly pickup.) The dandified musk which follows adds insult to injury, invoking the vision of some insufferable nastyboy decked out in a trendy slim-cut suit. He regards himself as naturally superior to you, an opinion reflected in every smug look and condescending word. While willing to honor you with the priceless gift of his presence, he retains the right to mock and belittle you at will. This is what passes for flirtation in his mindset. Do you really want to spend another five minutes with this guy? I didn't think so.
Just to be fair, I wore Cologne du Parfumeur once more and found it just as hateful the second time. There won't be a third-- and that extends to Thierry Wasser, as well. After this and Idylle, I do believe I've learned my lesson.
Scent Elements: Hesperides, Amalfi lemon, orange blossom, peppermint, rosemary, lavender