Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Guerlain Héritage (Eau de Parfum)

The original (pre-reformulation) EDT version of Guerlain's 1992 Héritage is often hailed as a modern masculine classic for the formal and elegant gentleman. I find it ironic that it's a product of the same year that brought us L'eau d'Issey and all its watery fresh clones as well as hurricane Angel. Then again,  1992 also saw the launch of Sublime (Jean Patou), Minotaure (Paloma Picasso), Dolce & Gabbana (the original with the red cap), not to mention Feminite du Bois and the birth of Uncle Serge's Bois series. There must have been something good in the air and water that year to inspire the creation of these beauties.

But back to Guerlain and Héritage. I haven't been moved enough by the current EDT (insert the obligatory cursing and fist shaking at IFRA) to actually own a bottle and neither has the husband. Every time we sniffed and tested it on skin it was mostly pale lavender and dry wood over the typical but diluted Guerlain base, and since I already have Jicky, Habit Rouge and enough Shalimar in every concentration to fill a bath tub, I can't see the point. But the eau de parfum is a different story.

Luca Turin's Héritage review in the Guide doesn't specify vintage nor concentration. But he labels it as a woody ambery scent and sees the masculine label as quite arbitrary. I think it applies perfectly to the EDP. Other than the opening that might scare away women who have an aversion to lavender, Héritage could have easily re-bottled, labeled and marketed as a feminine fragrance. I happen to enjoy lavender and the way the opening with its herbal accords morphs into a delicate spice-floral-wood phase that lures you in. There's a certain sophistication in this process because it doesn't use the typical "hit you on the head with pastry" Guerlain technique- not that I mind the pastry and I admit I fall for it every time, from Cuir Beluga through Elixirs Charnel to Tonka Imperial. But there's something about Heritage that is almost restrained (at least in comparison) and makes me stop and remind myself what I'm wearing as I catch whiffs of it throughout the day.

The drydown is still very much Guerlain with the familiar ambery base of vanilla, tonka bean and warm sandalwood. But Héritage never crosses the line into the realms of yummy and remains dry enough to appeal to both men and women.

It seams like at least here in the US, the EDT is the only widely available version ($93, 3.4 oz in most department stores from Bloomingdale's and up). The EDP (as well as better prices) can be found with some help from Google or a trip overseas.

Images: Ads for Guerlain Héritage from 1992 and 1996- couleurparfum.com

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