Monday, July 16, 2007

Guerlain Jardins de Bagatelle

"A story of white flowers," says the Guerlain site, "an allusion to the wager made between the Count of Artois, the brother of Louis XVI, and Queen Marie-Antoinette, to build a castle on the site of a ruined cottage in the Bois de Boulogne..." Although this scent was made in 1983, it feels a bit ghostly to me.

Note-wise, it's a rather direct scent:
Top: bergamot
Heart: jasmine, gardenia, tuberose, neroli
Base: woody notes
(These notes are from the Guerlain site itself. Interestingly, osMoz lists notes that are almost completely fact, it does not list tuberose, jasmine, or gardenia. Instead, for the heart, it lists narcissus, cassie, iris, and lily of the valley. All I can say is, I don't think so. Some of these notes could be present, but there's no mistaking tuberose--it's there as well. I hate that different sites offer such vastly different notes.)

But scent-wise--it's still direct, but it's also something else. To be honest, I don't care much for Jardins de Bagatelle. I find it sort of...artificial. It has none of the sexy playfulness of a white floral like Fracas, none of the grace and gentility of a white floral like Songes, none of the airy beauty of La Chasse. It's a no-holds-barred power suit of a scent, a scent that gets its way. Quite frankly, taken in the context of the age in which it was created, this scent is Joan Collins. The bergamot at the top feels slightly candied, like a shell around the middle notes where tuberose dominates and is spiced by the jasmine. Neroli adds no relief or sparkle. If you'll pardon the expression, this is balls-to-the-walls white floral. Of course it's well done, but it is decidedly not my cup of tea.

However, as I said, it's also something else. The bet between Marie Antionette and the Comte d'Artois, the world of the French royal family, the artifice, the pomp and circumstance of the royal court--it's all here. Probably I just feel sentimental, because I only read The Journey a few months ago, and I only saw the Sofia Coppola film a few weeks ago, and I'm still astounded by the whole of it, by the opulence and the violence. I think of playful bets, of flowers and buildings like sugary confections sparkling in the's interesting that I like Jardins de Bagatelle the best near its end, where the floral notes are tempered by woods, but still regal nonetheless.

*images from and