Though it was also a fragrance created in 1921, ‘Guerlinade’ refers to the signature olfactory style that every Guerlain fragrance has possessed since 1828. This mysterious accord is built around six raw materials: vanilla, tonka bean, rose, bergamot, iris, and jasmine. Each ingredient is harvested carefully and only the most exquisite varieties are chosen.
Les Extraits, a new collection of six concentrated perfumes, takes these six raw materials and presents them in their most singular and majestic forms. At a concentration of 30%, each one is long lasting and they all bear a number that connects to the ingredient or harvesting in a specific way.
For example, iris houses its scent not in the bloom itself but in its roots, the rhizomes, and the precious cultivation process takes six years: three years of growing and three years of drying—hence the name Iris Pallida Extrait 6. The drying is required so that the scent grows rich in irones—the molecule that gives it its quality—and the powdery florality comes through. With Rose Centifolia Extrait 1, which uses the famous May rose from Grasse, France, processing must wait a full day after picking them at eight in the morning when its rich, fruity scent is at its peak.
When it comes to Guerlain’s vanilla—which is ambery and woody, thanks to the addition of myrrh and white musk—it’s cold soaked in alcohol for 21 days, rendering it into a tincture. This process is performed by hand at the brand’s factory in Orphin, France and the end result is Vanille Planifolia Extrait 21. Vanilla is also one of Guerlain’s favourite materials, first used in 1925 in arguably their most famous scent, Shalimar—the world’s first ambery perfume.
Harvested for generations by the Capua family in Calabria, Italy at the start of November, the bergamot in Bergamote Fantastico Extrait 11 has an explosive bitterness. Its verdant facets are boosted by the addition of petitgrain, the essence of the bergamot leaf. On the other hand, the tonka bean in Tonka Sarrapia Extrait 75 is harvested from the Sarrapia tree, the seeds of which are known for their natural ‘coumarin,’ a synthetic molecule which gives an almondy note and is available in concentrations up to 75%. Guerlain first used it in 1889, with the creation of the legendary Jicky.
And the jasmine in Jasmin Grandiflorum Extrait 30 is created using a method called ‘communelle,’ which blends ingredients from different sources and harvests—in this case, Calabria and Grass. Lifted by top notes of strawberry and heightened by a base of smooth sandalwood, it’s further enhanced by low temperature CO2 extraction at 30 degrees.