Ok so I finally got my bottle of Guerlain Mahora in the mail, so can write about it properly having lived with my sample for a little while. To be honest, I’d only sniffed my sample once or twice, knew I liked it… found a great deal on eBay and snatched up a bottle without a second thought. Oh and I hear this discontinued fragrance has been re-released in the more exclusive Guerlain line-up named Mayotte – old news but worth a mention.
Mahora opens sharly aldehydic, before an intense spice of clove, some green, culinary herbal accords, and maybe cinnamon? – sit atop a loud, sweet tuberose (Fracas style only more syrup – less bubblegum). The spicy tuberose opening is awesome – throwing off random gourmand scents of anise and cherry – an abstract, more floral Rahat Loukoum-esque thing.
After no time at all, the narcotic methyl-benzoate-y, “wintergreen” tuberose top-notes come through loudly. It’s hectic, but cool and mentholated – still spiced and syrupy. It’s pretty epic to be honest.
The tuberose is paired with an ylang-ylang which screeches subtly in the background – I know that sounds like a contradiction, but it doesn’t lead… what part it does play though – is definitely a screech – a good screech.
Frangipani joins in with the tuberose and pretty much dominates – paired with the mentholated aspects of the tuberose it creates this distorted impression of the tropical floral and smells like a hybrid of them both.
In the background there is almond, the merest touch of coconut, a decent dose of indolic jasmine – I say background but it all comes out at once, it just takes a long time to figure it all out.
I love it – and I don’t understand the hate, or even the people who say “Love the drydown but the opening is too much! Wait for it to settle”… The opening is the best bit – and I’m sure it sounds cliché coming from myself, but truly – there is NOTHING wrong or weird about the opening, it’s just fabulous.
It smells like Serge Lutens was back to his old, experimental self and released something called “Frangipani: Elixir de Nocturne”. This is a “nuit”-style tropical floral to me, but I wouldn’t go as far as “noir” It smells like flowers at night – I don’t get the hot sand and suntan lotion others mention, it smells like you’ve crept outside in the tropics (I love stupid blogger-descriptives…), and discovered a flowering plant reeking of this (Mahora). It’s mysterious, tropical, heady and humid, with a bitter/sweet base of Guerlain’s infamous vanilla, a touch of vetiver and sandalwood.
In the late drydown where the vanilla dominates along with a touch of powdery iris, a carnation appears and leads the now-subtle Mahora into a skin scent not too dissimilar to the late drydown of Terracotta Voile D’ete. A lightly spiced floral with a tropical edge (tuber-pani), laid on a fabulous vanilla. What’s not to love? <3
Mahora - Guerlain discontinued but can be found for a great price online (I got my 75ml EDP for £23 including postage).
MMMMMMM! Unexpected love for this opening! I expected a standard Arabian incense, dry and peppered – I got something not too dissimilar to Putain Des Palaces by Etat Libre D’Orange.
I get a tangy, violet-laden aldehyde with a hint of leather underneath – candied sweet and again, not too far from Cuir Amethyste by Armani Prive. There’s just a hint of bright citrus’ up top, like a sugar-coated lemon peel, but quickly the sweet violet and high-pitched orange blossom take over. It has a sherbert-y texture to it, literally fizzy and almost “pink”.
There is incense under there – a light, ever so slightly metallic smoke – blended harmoniously with the now turning resinous violet.
As the violet effect begins to settle a touch, a rose seems to take over. Clean, with just a hint of exotic spice, and a slightly paper-y texture like the roses of Ormonde Jayne’s Ta’if… they are completely different fragrances but the texture of the rose feels the same. Some jasmine – just a hint of rot but as good as clean, ripens the roses and bulks out the floral accord. The florals don’t dominate at all though… what does, is this hint of smoke, a sweet, candied amber-y base, and the leather!
Leather? Well, it’s a super soft suede in the style of Bottega Veneta, or Cuir Ottoman at a push… it’s supple, skin-like and a little salty. This is given a hell of a lot of lift and life by a musky ambergris and civet. The civet adds a plush richness and the ambergris makes the whole fragrance become this translucent-ish, multi-coloured hologram of a composition. Sweet shit, I sound like I love it don’t I? I kind of do.
It’s very nice – sharing similarities with a few fragrances I really love – but for me once the aldehydes burn off and that violet-thing going on at the beginning, it loses it’s buzz just a touch. I love the salty, musky, leathery base (although it’s much lighter and more gentle than I’d have loved to smell it)… still – it’s pretty gorgeous. The rose drying out into the leather, the hint of salt, a little sandalwood, the high pitch incense without a trace of pepper… well done Guerlain – you’ve impressed me.
Bois D’Armenie opens with a bitter myrrh and pink pepper undercut with a potent, creamy vanilla/benzoin mix. A trail of incense smoke quickly comes up front – any harsh, peppered spice and citrus notes smoothed and dissolved by the almost gourmand like notes underneath.
At times during the opening it kind of makes my mouth water, but the resins underneath take it away from being anything edible. A hint of patchouli comes in from the base, paired with the sweet vanilla it gives off a subtle cocoa aroma (in the same way that Angel does but not as sweet and… tacky). The cocoa mirage never gets sweet or cloying, in fact it’s pretty translucent, with the bitterness of incense and myrrh, patchouli and a touch of labdanum counterbalancing the benzoin overload that runs throughout.
As it begins to settle and the fruity peppery notes disappear, what is left is a relatively straightforward benzoin, the incense releasing a slight metallic scent, and a trail of smoke gently underneath. The amber base is a little irritating, and the patchouli comes in and out of focus – I’m never too sure how well it fits in here.
The texture dries down a little powdery (amber/iris?), and the straightforward bitter/sweet/smoky vanilla finishes Bois D’Armenie, relying on the disguised patchouli and a labdanum stain for support - given translucency by a clean musk. It sounds complicated and lush in writing, but it falls pretty flat on my skin very quickly, the top and heart vanishing within minutes and the base taking over for a linear drydown.
It’s nice enough whilst it lasts, but nowhere near complicated, rich or, embarrassingly, powerful enough for me to consider it the masterpiece that so many do.
Bois D’Armenie 75ml Guerlain - £??? Guerlain Boutiques
I’ve not reviewed this one before as I’ve always felt it didn’t really belong on my blog. But, I really enjoy Lys Soleia, and I wore it a ton over summer – I’d almost consider it my 2012 Summer signature fragrance, as I picked it up regularly when I couldn’t decide what else to wear, or if I just wanted to wear something comfortable, and lovely for the day.
The Aqua Allegoria range has a little bit of a cult following really, well, Pampelune being the most popular of course, closely followed by Herba Fresca. This however, I think is the best of the bunch.
Lys Soleia opens with a syrupy lemon, underlayed by the currently hidden white florals that give it a creamy quality similar to limoncello. Within seconds, the bergamot gives it a sharp, mouth-watering kick before the florals come on in full force.
At first there’s a glorious ylang-ylang, banana-ry and tropical, paired with a subtle tuberose that combined give off a slight “suntan lotion” vibe which I really love. Closely following is the lily which over time becomes the main-player. The spicy lily is thick and creamy, a hint of floral spice that’s extremely soft and comfortable. The tropical bunch of flowers all blend in to one lactonic accord that is heady, pollen rich, but with a rounded texture that sits beautifully on the skin.
The base also shows itself quickly in the heart – a rich vanilla, yet again, harmlessly sweet and creamy – nothing boozy or dry or pungent. There is a tropical fruit accord listed, but they merely provide a honeyed sweetness rather than a distinctively recognizable scent. The fragrance is all about the sun drenched lily’s, the banana cream of ylang-ylang and a creamy vanilla. It’s pure sunshine bottled, and whilst undoubtably feminine, has enough room to breathe between the notes that it doesn’t feel heavy and “perfumey”.
The creamy florals last until the end, with the vanilla settling into a smooth whipped cream, and a little bit of musk to keep it attached to your skin far longer than I initially expected.
This was a “buy on first sniff” for me, I just really enjoyed it as soon as I tried it. A harmless scent that’s so easy to wear, hugely comfortable and an instant spray and smile. I’m sure it sounds extremely boring in comparison to my usual taste, but there we go, sometimes things like this fit perfectly amongst the more statement fragrances in a collection and turn out to be just as necessary.
If it sounds appealing – I highly recommend it, and for the price, it’s a bargain! Despite the ugly bottle.
Guerlain Lys Soleia 75ml EDT – £37 houseoffraser.co.uk
Two very different carnation soliflores here. I chose to pair them together, not really to compare and contrast, but rather understand how differently one flower can be presented.
Terracotta Voile d’Ete opens with a lovely candied citrus with a hit of cinnamon spice. It smells like a herbal cough drop, and as the carnation begins to creep in, I actually find this visual image becomes more true to life.
TVdE’s carnation isn’t quite as clove rich as I expected – but the eugonol note is very present. I don’t normally like the clove not when it is “warm”, I prefer mine cool and medicinal. Here however, paired with the heated spice of cinnamon, the clove and the green twang of the carnation flower – create a scent that to me smells very similar to those classical herbal “tablet” sweets that smell (and taste) divine – and a little old-fashioned!
The scent is warm, spicy and rich – but relatively translucent. It feels both classical, and yet extremely modern due to the potent cinnamon note which I find quite unusually placed in this composition. Together, these spices have a ginger-like heat; it creates a scent just like you’d expect from the colour of the juice.
Thankfully, the sharp spice (medicinal at first) is counterbalanced by a warm amber, and subtle vanilla note which runs throughout. There’s also a quiet, bubble-gum style jasmine, and a powdery heliotrope which give this carnation some softer edges; the heliotrope element bringing to mind a warmer L’Heure Bleue vibe.
I see pear is listed in the notes: I wouldn’t have even thought about this until I read a note pyramid but now I’ve read it, I really get that! It has a real spiced fruit vibe – but much cleaner and more translucent than it sounds, this is not an overtly indulgent Lutens’ style creation.
The scent becomes quieter in time until it is a very pale, sweet carnation veil. The warmth always rises from the subtle spices and the vanilla/amber/heliotrope really smooth out what could have been an irritating high pitch from the carnation – what is left is a crystal clear “clove drop” if ever there was one. As you’d hope – at the end of it’s life – it leaves with that heavenly Guerlain vanilla base A charming fragrance.
Holy sweet! Vitriol D’oeillet opens with an intense crack of pink and black pepper – right up the nostrils. A heated spice literally flies off the skin, sharp and dry – not at all like the smooth clarity of spice in TVdE’s opening – that seems tame in comparison. The sharp pepper with its chilli-like spice, persists on the skin for a good five minutes before anything becomes clearer to disect.
The opening is harsh and bitter – but not what I’d consider a challenge – it is not quite the surprise of his famous tuberose, but it’s close. Even with its cayenne heat, it almost lets you know that this is not how it’s staying – a classical bouquet is underneath. This becomes more obvious as the florals begin to emerge – the clove ridden carnation of course, paired with spicy lily, and a clean tea rose.
Just like Tubereuse Criminelle, the attack of the opening calms down relatively quickly. Of course the spice is always there, and it isn’t the rich warmth of the Guerlain, it is still that hit-the-back-of-your-throat pepper, just quieter…
The lily is very prominent amongst the florals, pretty much on par with the carnation, which in a weird way makes Vitriol D’oeillet an easier introduction to carnation than Terracotta Voile d’Ete. The lily is very nice, there’s nothing lactonic or sweet here though, that usually is added to enhance the more tropical vibe of the flower. No, here it is stark, almost bitter with its hard hit of spice – but later on in the development when the heart is in its flow, it’s actually much tamer than I am describing.
The heart of the fragrance is actually quite quiet – classical, almost dandified and dated – the old-fashioned personality of the carnation can’t quite be hidden it seems. That’s not to say it isn’t nice. Vitriol D’oeillet sweetens a little (thankfully), and the pepper completely recedes, leaving behind a clove-y stain, and a translucent bouquet of lily and carnation with the rose (which probably isn’t tea like I mentioned before) now managing to keep up with the other floral’s intense personality’s.
Some woods warm up the floral bouquet (which is much-needed as they begin to smell a bit pale and stale), and I smell a delicate waft of incense and amber in the base. Vitriol D’oeillet becomes very quiet, very tame, and well-behaved on the skin from here-on, probably apologizing for making your nose bleed in the opening. Ok so I’m being a little harsh – all along, Vitriol D’oeillet is not quite as angry as it seems, but yes it has “teeth” as Lutens’ describes – at first – from there on it is a little quiet and stale for my taste, but interesting whilst it’s individuality lasts.
Guerlain Terracotta Voile d’Ete EDT – discontinued but can be found easily online for pretty cheap!
Serge Lutens 50ml EDP Vitriol D’oeillet – 99 Euros sergelutens.com