There are a few of the major perfume brands which have just lost me over the past few years. They’ve gone in a direction where I don’t care to follow. It bothers me that the perfume houses which sparked my passion have lost my interest. The grandest perfume maison of them all, Guerlain, kind of fits this description. Except my irritation with them is a torrent of mediocre product every year. My negative feelings also increase because every year there is one of those voluminous releases which reminds me why I love Guerlain. This year’s model is Guerlain Embruns d’Ylang.
Embruns d’Ylang is part of the L’Art et la Matiere collection. This has been one of the best group of perfumes within Guerlain over the past few years. One reason for that is this seems to be the one place left within Guerlain where they are willing to take a step outside of the very comfortable boundaries, they usually produce perfume within.
In-house perfumer Thierry Wasser wanted to place his ylang-ylang keynote on a beach just as a squall line approaches. The sense of the wind blowing through the flowers as the storm nears with the hint of crackle in the air. This is what Embruns d’Ylang captures.
Embruns d’Ylang opens with a remarkable aquatic accord M. Wasser calls a “salt crystal note”. All perfume lovers are familiar with the common suite of ozonic notes which usually make up the sea breeze. This accord is much more compact, and perversely, dry. If you’ve ever stood on a beach watching a line of thunderstorms approach you will know there is this moment when the air goes dry and the wind in front of the storm intensifies as it rushes towards the shore. It carries a deeper brininess. This is what this “salt crystal note” reminds me of. M. Wasser takes that and lets it crash into a fleshy ylang-ylang. It is a gorgeous duet of contrasts as the desiccated gale off the water dives into a deep sweet floralcy. M. Wasser adds a spicy frisson as clove acts as St Elmo’s Fire around the ylang and salt accord. As the storm passes a soft floral accord of iris and jasmine join the ylang on top of a rich earthy patchouli.
Embruns d’Ylang has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
I am as enthralled with Embruns d’Ylang because it is so different than everything else Guerlain has released this year. I’m learning to live with the notion that once a year Guerlain will remind me why it is still a grand maison de parfum. For 2019 that will be Embruns d’Ylang.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Guerlain.