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A new perfume from Guerlain is always a source of great anticipation. For their first masculine perfume in six years, the Parisian institution has dealt a very heavy blow, so let us be blunt : L'Homme Ideal is a great success.
A pity then, that the packaging is of such dubious taste ; the box with its QR code-like slogan seems to me like a weird attempt at conveying a "modern" look, which feels slightly too forced and out of place to work.
However, and more importantly, the bottle itself is sublime : a streamlined, uncluttered, and very elegant classic with a twist piece of work that harkens back to the original bottle design of 1965's Habit Rouge. The slogan "No need to be L'Homme Ideal anymore, you have your fragrance" appears again at the back of the sticker, which you can read through the juice, in a discreet and this time fairly convincing wink to the box art.
But enough about this, on to the perfume itself.
L'Homme Ideal opens with those acidic citrus accords Guerlain is known for, as fresh and pleasant as ever, accompanied by a little bit of dried rosemary for what amounts to a nicely aromatic and well balanced opening. Once the most volatile notes evaporate, the almond/tonka alliance starts to shine, providing a welcome counterpoint to the opening notes.
The almond, underlined by the tonka, is very deep and dark, and slightly bitter too --- one could almost catch a whiff of a beautifully dosed Amaretto Sour at times, served in one of those contemporary speakeasy bars, with some sweet and powdery vanilla sprinkled over the rim of the glass to soften the accord.
The woody notes reveal themselves as the perfume starts to dry down, in a paradoxically discreet grand finale, and then L'Homme Ideal ages gracefully ; the almond caramelizes and gains in bitterness, the vanilla gets rounder and rounder, and the wood gets more prevalent, wrapping the other notes in a somewhat slightly smoky grasp.
L'Homme Ideal, despite its name, doesn't strike me as overly masculine. In fact, you could even say that L'Homme Ideal is as masculine as legendary Jicky is feminine – it is one of those perfumes that plays with the conventions and expectations of gender stereotypes in perfumery.
No aggressivity to be found here ; L'Homme Ideal is a powerful fragrance but of admirable restraint. It leaves behind a small but noticeable trail, and boasts a very nice longevity, particularly when sprayed on fabric.
L'Homme Ideal is not unlike a nicely cut suit. It has that little something so obvious, but at the same time so hard to grasp that it might elude the layman's eyes (and nose). However, the perfume afficionado will recognize Guerlain's undeniable savoir-faire (now spanning nearly two centuries) behind what is undoubtedly a very sophisticated scent.
An old soul with a contemporary sensitivity makes L'Homme Ideal the closest thing to a modern masculine classic that Guerlain has offered in years. A very refined fragrance indeed, discreetly elegant and full of charm ; a perfume conceived to please, but that in the end proves to be much more than the sum of its parts.
Hats off to Mr. Wasser, as it would seem that the Guerlain Family has found their rightful heir.
L'Homme Ideal will be available in Guerlain's stores and retailers in France from the 24th of June.