Thursday, October 22, 2015

I Give Up: Pierre Guillaume

It is funny when you realize a perfumer's aesthetic just does not work for you. I mean it is rather bizarre to realize you have over the years sampled many of their fragrances and yet you have not fallen for one once, yet that is what has happened between me and the nose Pierre Guillaume aka the absurdly handsome perfumer. The funny thing, is that his perfumes have not done incredible acts of smelling awful on me, but rather none have ever caused me to have a perfume swoon. I have at least admired one but recognized the composition is just not me. I think it does tell you about a perfumer's signature in the scents they create and that it does exist. So the question is have I have tried enough of Guillaume's work to be able to say this? I think so if you take a look at the list.

In the Huitieme Art Parfums collection:
Ambre Ceruleen oh did I want this too work, but alas this was an intense root beer amber on me that just never melded.
Poudre de Riz, seems like a no brainer but sadly ended up smelling similar to What We Do In Paris Is Secret but even lighter, I suspect the problem is the musk used in it. Really wanted that rice note.

From the Parfumerie Generale collection:
Cadjmere, once again a scent that disappeared on my skin. For a moment I get a lovely piney sandalwood coconut scent akin almost to Kheer in a weird way.
Corps et Ames, not sure I can blame this on Guillaume considering I notoriously do not wear chypres well.
PGO5 L'eau de Circe, perfectly nice but it didn't really capture me.
PG13 Brulure de Roses, a delicious rose jam opening but then it sort of goes blah.
PG14 Iris Taizo, mainly a whole lot of intense spiced amber, once again doesn't really meld.
PG21 Felanilla, a modernized furrier Shalimar that once again proves that Shalimar just does not work on me.
L'Ombre Fauve, the closest to almost swoon, this animalic amber is quite good, but I can recognize that as much as I like this scent it is just not me.

So what does this all mean? Mainly that I think I will probably stop spending money on samples of Guillaume's perfumes. He is loved by others and I can see that he does interesting work but whatever his signature is in his fragrances it just does not work well on me.

On the other hand as I was writing this post this morning it occurred to me how it is so hard to apply the "true" critical eye to a perfume. Now some might suggest to be truly critical you can only smell it on paper thus the skin does not interact with the scent, but I think that defeats the purpose of perfume which is meant to be worn on the skin.

Still over time I have wondered now what causes me to praise one thing but not the other? Is there qualities that will make me more lenient towards a composition or not?  Frankly here the guidelines I follow in my head when it comes down to review:

1) I'll be the first to admit I'm easier on the little guy, for true indie perfumers if I'm not in love with a scent or fact find myself disliking it, I won't review it. The frank truth is the world is unfair and the bigger piece of the market you have the better you do, for an up and coming indie perfumer I just don't have the heart to write a really negative review. They just aren't playing on level ground.
2) I will not attack the perfumer of the composition in any personal way, in the era of troll and massive negativity when someone does anything I refuse to contribute. I will talk about the composition, discuss why it does not work for me, but beyond that nope.
3) The one caveat, the up-pricing of compositions that obviously come from a cheaper source. I'm looking at you Penhaligon's with Empressa, that is a ridiculous joke being played on consumers. I will discuss marketing and mass market perfumes and how I frequently think it is shooting itself in the foot.

So these are just a bit of my musings.


marzipan said...

Love your musings! The only PG I have ever tried was Praline et Santal ...bought a fb from another at a good price but ended up giving it to my Dad...the way I feel about PG is similar to the way I feel about Killian...way too overpriced and hyped up and I refuse to support them (although numerous Killian samples have come my way and I tried them all but fell in love with none).

Like you I prefer to support indie companies long as they don't go overboard on the prices (I am looking at you Mandy Aftel!! one of the reasons I started blending was a heck of lot cheaper than buying her stuff!). I like Laurie Erickson's work (although her prices have drastically creeped up over the years), some of Ineke and all of Jessica September Buchanan of 1000 Flowers. I have also recently discovered Dame Perfumery....I have thus far purchased five full bottles for myself and family members as gifts and will continue to do so for future presents . His work is not only lovely (I am wearing Black Flower today layered over Pacifica's Tibetan Mountain Temple) it is highly affordable with the 10% discounts and he is incredibly generous with the samples!

Jennifer Koth said...

Dame is a wonderful perfumer and really does offer excellent prices to go with his scents. In all honestly though price has gone up but I'm not sure I am ready to say Indie Perfumers are just jacking it up for the hell of it. I mean Aftel has always been fairly expensive and as for Erickson well she deals in a lot of natural materials and in all honesty sitting here in California I can't help but think that is probably for environmental reasons (materials are just becoming more expensive) and the market for buying those materials from overseas is probably far more volatile. On the other hand if I were to discuss Serge Lutens that is another story. I mean I remember when his bottles sold at $80.00. Still inflation is a real thing.

marzipan said...

You're right in all that you said and I guess as the consumer I can choose not to purchase from companies that are charging too much. I know what the cost of high quality essential oils are as I purchase many of them myself.

SL however, can be bought on fragrancenet...with a coupon I have seen bottles as low as $60. Too bad the indies don't sell at discount online stores :)

Jennifer Koth said...

It's funny how cheap you can find SL if you look hard enough. On the other hand with the Indies I am willing to pay full price and frequently they do understand that perfume lovers want smaller sizes and will sell that, so full price for them when they are so small is okay by me. I know the quality of ingredients is usually far better and the personal investment far greater.