Fashion (Canada) - - Beauty Fragrance - —Sarah Ban­croft

“When I first started at Guer­lain, I smelled my mother ev­ery­where,” says Is­abelle Ar­tus, ed­i­to­rial di­rec­tor at GUER­LAIN. She is mak­ing a ref­er­ence to the 90-year-old Shal­i­mar, the iconic fra­grance that lib­er­ated women wore in the 1960s and ’70s. At Guer­lain’s per­fume fac­tory 40 min­utes out­side of Paris, the com­pany is un­veil­ing Mon Guer­lain ($119), which the brand hopes will have the same kind of im­pact. The spokesper­son for Mon Guer­lain is An­gelina Jolie, and she re­mem­bers her late mother wear­ing a “fancy” Guer­lain pow­der. The com­pany sent Jolie every pow­der it made, which she in­haled un­til she found “the one” and al­legedly broke into a huge smile. It’s not a flight of fancy that per­fume can trans­port us through time and space: Smell is the only sense that has a di­rect pas­sage­way to the lim­bic sys­tem of the brain, where mem­ory and emo­tions are stored. The new per­fume’s quadrilobe bot­tle, adapted from one in the ar­chives from 1908, is fire pol­ished in Burma so that it gleams. The scent seems to say “I’ve ar­rived,” in both the phys­i­cal and metaphor­i­cal sense.

Per­fume can­not be dig­i­tized be­cause it is too rit­u­al­is­tic, too per­sonal, says Thierry Wasser, Guer­lain’s mas­ter per­fumer. The name Mon Guer­lain was cho­sen for this rea­son. He sees the scent’s for­mula as a por­trait of a wo­man, as the pil­lar of so­ci­ety, fight­ing for her con­vic­tions and balanc­ing her roles. The laven­der rep­re­sents her em­pa­thy and truth, vanilla her gen­er­ous and ma­ter­nal side, jas­mine her pas­sion and san­dal­wood her strength and re­silience. “There are a thousand dif­fer­ent ways of wear­ing per­fume and a mil­lion mo­ti­va­tions,” he con­tin­ues, and chief among them is self-ex­pres­sion. “Per­fume is a so­cial medium. It’s how a wo­man com­mu­ni­cates with her en­vi­ron­ment.” And what might this new scent say? “Women fought to be equal,” says Wasser. “It says ‘We’re go­ing to fight for it.’”


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