Pierre Guillaume, who’s got both Parfumerie Générale and Huitième Art to play with on top of his collaborations with Phaedon and Laboratorio Olfattivo, has been known to try out different expressions of his accords in different projects. Most recently, the verbena note that popped up simultaneously Phaedon Verveine Figuier and Parfumerie Générale Corps et Ames Eau de toilette apaisante (which means “soothing”).
The latter is a variation on the 2006 floral chypre of the same name, which will be maintained in the collection. The immortelle and leather lining has been ripped out, as well as the enigmatic “Melati wood” note (which must refer to jasmine sambac, known as “melati putih” in Indonesia, Wikipedia helpfully explains).
This tweaked Corps et Ames sharpens the bright/dark contrast of the original version, with a twist on the chypre template: the citrus top note is verbena – not the tea but the fresh leaves, boosting the mint and citronella facets of geranium, another leaf. In turn, the rosy facets of geranium, so strong they actually smell like the flower at times, are set against a velvety background of patchouli coeur (a fractioned distillation that eliminates the camphoraceous, moldy aspects of the oil).
A trio of leaves then since patchouli is also extracted from them, slightly feminized by the green animalic lushness of jasmine sambac, floating on a huge cloud of Serenolide, the fruity-tinged Givaudan musk Daniela Andrier used in overdose in Martin Margiela Untitled. An inspired pick for a scent that boasts “aromatic benefits” thanks to the soothing properties of verbena…Even the musk is zen.
Despite this claim, the scent doesn’t wimp out on the broodiness that haunts the chypre family line. It is a splash of sunshine heating a somber mossy bed, drawing out penetrating aromatic and floral notes, with a slight underlying bitterness.
With Corps et Ames 2012, Pierre Guillaume demonstrates that when a perfumer second-guesses himself at a stage where his skills and outlook have matured, the variation can be even better than the original. But also that it’s still possible to compose a true chypre with today’s palette, as fiercely chic as its forebears yet totally modern.
To share the love, I am doing a draw for a 2ml spray sample of Corps et Ames Eau de toilette apaisante: just drop a comment about your favorite Pierre Guillaume and why you love it – or if you don’t actually own any, which one intrigues you most.
Illustration: Promenade by Andy Julia