Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fuzz Factor

Mathilde Laurent’s Guet-Apens (1999), rechristened Attrape-Coeur (2005) in Guerlain’s Les Parisiennes collection, occupies a high place among the hundreds of bottles in my private collection. More Renoir than Moreau, it is a pastel sketch done in shades of cream, mauve, blue and gold, a sketch that appears to radiate a soft light from within. A quintessential Guerlain fragrance of the contemporary school, it nods back at the house’s historic penchant for confiserie-style creations, without sacrificing any sophistication (viz. Les Élixirs Charnels). When I put it on the blotter, suddenly all the angles in the room seem to go fuzzy. And I think, Ah, no one but a French could have created such a little marvel.

But this is not to say that it is a chic scent. Rather, this a French channeling a much-earlier perfumer – perchance a court perfumer – and modernizing, abstracting the lessons learned in the past. Much the way Renoir channeled the early 19th century boudoir school - retaining his very French frivolité - while remaining firmly in the camp of post-Impressionism. Some may say that this detracts from the finished product, much the way an insipid chorus can emasculate an opera by Gounod; but I would argue that the French have an abiding fidelity to established forms (e.g., the rocaille becoming the slender curve of a Louis Quinze arm chair, in turn, becoming the silhouette of a Dior “New Look” dress). In Attrape-Coeur, the classical rose-violet-iris triad is played at higher and higher frequency until everything is bathed in an almost raucous amber-vanilla glow.

It doesn’t hurt to want to see the world through French eyes every so often, does it?


Blogger indieperfumes said...

So beautifully written, I am mentally wearing the perfume myself, now...

October 29, 2008 at 4:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been reading your beautifully poised writing on this blog for a little while now but it has taken a gorgeous review of one of my favourite perfumes to propel me into leaving a comment. I think you capture Guet Apens curves and radiance very well. That Mathilde Laurent is pretty talented isn't she with the rather lovely original Shalimar Light also to her name. Donanicola

October 29, 2008 at 6:48 AM  
Blogger carmencanada /Grain de Musc said...

Guet-Apens/Attrape-Coeur caught my heart belatedly, a few months ago -- it does have a hint of that Renoir "plaisir de peindre les fesses": tender, lusty, edible. It's just on the side of gourmand that holds back from being cloying, which is very Guerlain. Have I said I loved it?

October 29, 2008 at 7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am wearing that beautiful fragrance today, as it happens. It took me awhile to really warm up to it but it 'ambushed' me, in the way it's original name suggests, with its warmth and slightly soft edges, not-quite-gourmand (thank the stars!) reminding me of Debussy. I now love it and wear it when I want something whose skirts blur the line between womanly and ladylike.

October 29, 2008 at 8:04 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

L., Thanks. I love the concept of mentally wearing perfume. This happens to me when I've smelled something marvelous for a few moments and then want to recapture the experience without the actual thing present. This also happens with wine quite a bit. How much of our acquisitiveness comes from wanting to rediscover the lost object!

October 29, 2008 at 8:17 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

D., I am happy our tastes coincided. I wish it to happen again soon. ML has Aqua Allégoria Pamplelune (1999), Guet-Apens (1999), No. 68 (2002) and Shalimar Eau Légère (2003) to her name. No 68 is another favorite of mine - I'm always surprised it's such a polarizing scent. Perfect harmony of yin and yang.

October 29, 2008 at 8:20 AM  
Blogger Aimée L'Ondée said...

I have a decant of this, and you've nailed it! I can only wear it in the depths of winter (such as it is in Texas) because otherwise it's too sweet for me, but it is indeed a fuzzily beautiful thing. As in angora sweater fuzzy!

October 29, 2008 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Denyse- Better late than never. I've been caught for a year or so. I wish I could be this enthusiastic about some of their offerings of late, but a truly great perfume comes about as often as Hailey's comet. We must always challenge the great houses (and younger perfumers) to create new classics!

October 29, 2008 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Musette. Great last sentence. Skirts are definitely a factor in Attrape-Coeur. Is it funny that I have it right next to Derby in my collection? Just another day at the races...

October 29, 2008 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger carmencanada /Grain de Musc said...

Yessss! Derby and Attrape-Coeur would make perfect yin-yang, his'n'hers (though in my case, because they're both mine, hers'n'hers) fragrances. Oh, and Aimée, I've actually worn AC here in summer, both in Paris and in Tunis, and somehow it's perfect as well. There's a ripe banana touch in there somewhere that matches the heat -- instead of fighting it.

October 29, 2008 at 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Timely post, as I had bought this about 2 weeks ago while in Montreal.

A friend had met me in Montreal and took me the Institut Guerlain, where I sniffed and sampled evertything in the Les Parisiennes collection.

It was the Attape-Couer that "trapped" my heart so to speak. Of all the fragrances on my skin that afternoon, it was the AC that just blossomed and stood out among the rest.

A bottle came home with me. :)

I love this part from your blog entry:

"In Attrape-Coeur, the classical rose-violet-iris triad is played at higher and higher frequency until everything is bathed in an almost raucous amber-vanilla glow."

That is very right on!


October 29, 2008 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Perfumeshrine said...

A thing of beauty is a joy forever...GA/AC has captured me ever since it was re-issued...But most of all the flou artistique of your picture treatment speaks of your sensitive eye. Merci!

October 29, 2008 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Dawn, How prescient of me then! I like how, just when you think it's living close to the skin, you get a compliment. They may not hear the triad or know what it is, but they feel the glow.

October 29, 2008 at 2:28 PM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

E., Thanks. I enjoyed tinkering with Photoshop to create this effect. There are days when I wish more distinctions were blurred or, at least, fuzzed up a bit.

October 29, 2008 at 2:29 PM  

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