It seemed as though Guerlain got a little bit lost at the turn of this century. Unsure of it’s positioning in today’s perfume market they recently found their way having begun a campaign promoting the house’s historic importance and lineage of family perfumers. Guerlain still likes to compete with the big brands with fragrances like Idylle, whose focus is more about moving units and increasing market share. Complimenting this strategy they have begun various advertising campaigns to tell the story of Guerlain. Jean-Paul Guerlain is still heavily involved in the company continuing the legacy his great, great grandfather, Pierre Francois Pascal Guerlain created in 1828. Recently Guerlain relaunched a collection of heritage perfumes called Les Parisiennes. The three masculine scents that have been revived are Derby, Chamade Pour Homme and L’Ame d’un Heros. Fans of the iconic Guerlain bee bottle should get in quick as the masculine Les Parisiennes will change to Arsene Lupin packaging so consumers can easily differentiate the masculine and feminine scents in this exclusive collection. L’Ame d’un Heros is a recreation of a more recent Guerlain fragrance, Coriolan of 1998. Coriolan was a bit of a fizzer in its time and was discontinued due to poor sales performance. By the late 90s this type of fourgere had exhausted the market, which was ready to move on to Cool Water and L’Eau de Issey. Ironically this is a contributing factor to its successful revival, as men have now grown tired of the 1000 cool water impersonators that have flooded the men’s market. Coriolan takes its name from the 5th century Roman general, Gaius Marcus Coriolanus. The bottle, designed by Robert Granai is not his best work for Guerlain. Jean-Paul Guerlain is the perfumer behind this gladiator fragrance.
With the launch of L’Ame d’un Heros in 2008 it is common for perfume enthusiasts to debate these two formulas. In terms of theme, they are the same fragrance. Only the orchestration is different. Coriolan is loud, more floral, more aromatic, more musk. L’ame d’un Heros is more refined, contemporary and shifts gears between notes much more smoothly. Coriolan smells more 1990 than 1998. And this may not be a bad thing. Beauty, as always, is in the eye of the beholder no? Coriolan begins with citrus and fruit. Classic green notes and sharp pine-like juniper accompany this. The loud floral composition is an abstract mix of everything from green muguet, to salicylates and rose. Once this evaporates you get closer to L’Ame d’un Heros. Spicy nutmeg and coriander begin to appear through the floral haze. Immortelle and oakmoss are used to fix this fougere. Although dated, it is not just another 90’s fougere and has warranted it’s place in my collection. Unfortunately for me, Les Parisiennes is not available in Australia. I always make a point of stopping by Harvey Nichols department store when I go to Hong Kong for work and refreshing my olfactory memory of the range. I’m there next month and think I might be returning with either L’ame d’un Heros or Chamade Pour Homme, both works of art.
Coriolan is one of those scents you could smell on a dated man and think, “Wow, someone needs to tell that man to update his cologne. But actually, I really quite like it”. Today it is best used in a small enough dose so that it is perceptible, but does not overtake a room. It has great retro appeal. Due to its commercial failure most people don’t associate memory with the smell. Unlike Dolce & Gabanna Pour Homme, which although brilliant, makes me feel like I have time travelled back to a mid 90s nightclub dancefloor every time I get a wiff of it. Coriolan is for a man who is classic, strong and intelligent. For the single man, check what cologne your date’s father wears first. If the outing goes down hill it may be because all they think of is their father every time you move in closer at the dinner table.
Guerlain Chamade Pour Homme, Yves Saint Laurent Pour Homme Haute Concentration, New West Skin Scent Spray For Him, Shiseido Basala, Christian Dior Eau Noire, Maitre Parfumeur Et Ganiter George Sand, Guerlain L’Ame D’un Heros
Perfumer: Jean-Paul Guerlain
Bottle designer: Robert Granai
Release date: 1998
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Mossy Woods