L’Ame D’un Heros was an exciting discovery for me last year when by chance I stumbled across Guerlain’s Les Parisiennes collection at Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong. This exclusive line of classic Guerlain re-editions is unfortunately not sold here in Australia. L’Ame D’un Heros (the soul of a hero) is a re-working of the lesser-known Guerlain men’s fragrance, Coriolan, named after the legendary Roman general Coriolanus. It was launched in 1998 with little success and discontinued a few years later. L’Ame D’un Heros has had a minor facelift in the floral department but otherwise it remains the same. Some differences should be expected given the price tag that accompanies this 2008 release at around five times the price of Coriolan. Not only is the fragrance a masterpiece, the bottle is also a work of art. Presented in Guerlain’s signature bee bottle enhances the honey colour of the perfume juice. A traditional atomizer adds to the drama of the design. This type of bottle is not travel friendly however it adds a touch of old world charm to any gentleman’s bathroom cabinet. As the number of niche perfume brands increase with consumer appeal it’s easy to overlook Guerlain as another major commercial player in the fragrance industry. However their place in perfume history is not easily replicated. I hope they continue to re-launch more of their historic back catalogue as fragrances like L’Ame D’un Heros are near impossible to find amongst the fragrances of today.
In order to write this review I decided to do this with two scent cards. One contains Coriolan and the other L’Ame D’un Heros. If you can imagine two lines doing continual figure eights, at points they overlap and other times they are moving away from each other. This is how these two fragrances could be compared. At times they are almost identical, at other times they are quite different. Please bare in mind I am talking very small differences, as really there is not much difference between the two. I say this for the benefit of those who were fans of Coriolan and are wondering whether or not to try and find a bottle of L’Ame D’un Heros. I doubt you will be disappointed. But it is an interesting exercise for those who own both to do a detailed comparison. The point where I find these two almost identical twins are most different is in the first few seconds of application. L’Ame D’un Heros has a more refined floral accord. It is lighter; the neroli is more natural. Rose and jasmine are more relied upon in L’Ame D’un Heros with Hedione being the key molecule to add its light and creamy personality to the fragrance, an area where Coriolan is weighty and flat. Once the floral notes begin to evaporate the two fragrances begin to share their similarities. Mediterranean notes of basil and cypress shape the green spicy juniper berry. Balsams, moss, amber and wood round off this invigorating fragrance.
If you have ever said, “they don’t make perfume like they used to”, then L’Ame D’un Heros could be a fragrance for you. It is a fragrance for men who like complexity and tradition. I like to wear it on weekends as a casual fragrance. The contradiction of casual dress with something that smells so formal is something that interests me. It does smell ‘old fashioned’ so I can understand it will not appeal to everyone but for those who feel like stepping back in time, L’Ame D’un Heros provides you with a very stylish time machine.
Perfumer: Jean-Paul Guerlain
Bottle designer: Guerlain studio
Release date: 2008 (1998 – Coriolan)
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Mossy Woods