Traditionally, the name Guerlinade has become well known as the house accord or "red thread" that ties many Guerlain creations together - a series of notes (vanilla, jasmine, iris and rose) that are used in numerous Guerlain perfumes that serve as the house's own uniquely recognisable fingerprint. Jean Paul's interpretation however, does not follow the same olfactory trajectory. Rather, it is a celebration of flowers that uses a handful of the original components, as well as an abundance of others.
First of all, Guerlinade has a striking opening of bergamot (reportedly Calabrian) over rich florals. The florals are rather dense, and thus the bergamot is lost a little - really only furnishing the perfume with a crispness upon its initial application. Next, one of the featuring notes - and indeed one introduced for the first time by Jean Paul - is lilac. Bushels and bushels of the stuff! Anyone who has ever lifted the tiny star-shaped florets to their nose will instantly appreciate their use here... their perfume is assertive and almost spicy. There is also a feeling of 'rubberiness' that I glean from flowers such as lilac and hyacinth, and that aspect is also at hand in Guerlinade. Here, the lilacs are endearing and sympathetic, suggesting a slightly damp, sun-speckled morning in the springtime.
Perhaps following the traditional Guerlinade formula more closely, I detect an ample use of jasmine and rose, though the latter is possibly used less liberally than one might expect. (The rose facet is blended well, but used more as a supportive strut to underpin the more spirituous florals). There is a dry iris accord that works well, running parallel to a creamy tonka / vanilla base. The vanilla (supposedly sourced from the East-African island of Mayotte), lingers on the skin, carrying the delicious lilac through well into the drydown.
The beautiful Baccarat flacon created by Robert Granai for this 1998 edition was based on the design of a bronze Nepalese vase used in wedding ceremonies. Granai recognised the draped glass contours as being exquisitely feminine.
Guerlinade is an attractive floral oriental that is both sensual and captivating. Whilst it is not the exact same perfume as has been traditionally used to distinguish a Guerlain creation from that of another house, it is very Guerlain in its approach and appeal; an often-overlooked gem. Guerlinade has since been re-released in 2002 for a short time, and again in the Les Parisiennes lineup in 2005 (also now discontinued).
Get it while you can.