When Guerlain launched the first three perfumes in their Elixir Charnel series I had to get over over the pink juice and pinker marketing prose that accompanied them before I realized that I really liked Oriental Brulant and didn't mind the other two. Then came Boise Torride that I also enjoy. So I was willing to accept the Elixirs on their weird market positioning and see them as legitimate Guerlain perfumes.
Floral Romantique, though, is a Guerlain bastard. It's one thing to find Idylle and its endless spawn or L'Instant (ditto) in the mainstream line and price range. But a so-called exclusive Elixir Charnel needs at least to smell like an upscale Guerlain perfume. Floral Romantique smells straight out of an average department store counter. It's a musky floral, very heavy on the lily with just a hint of peppery carnation that's trying to raise its head before the lily beats it into an abstract potpourri.
We've all smelled it before and didn't have to pay an arm and a leg for the dubious pleasure. I don't know what's worse: having Guerlin's in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser create something so far removed from everything that's still good at Guerlain, or have the Powers That Be slap an atrocious price tag on this creation. Both, I guess. As well as the complete lack of originality and inspiration. It's not that Floral Romantique is necessarily a horrible perfume, even if I personally find it barely tolerable. It's the pretentious label on something so banal and lacking that gets to me.
A funny thing: Last week I was planning to wear it one last time before writing this review. I accidentally sprayed it soon after applying a L'Occitane hand cream from their newish Délice des Fruits range. It's a very foody and concentrated scent, heavy on candied fruit zest. This heavier aroma actually improved Floral Romantique and gave it a more interesting base than its whatever musk. I repeated the experiment today, just to make sure, and yes. apparently this Elixir Charnel was missing not just a sense of humor but also the quality and gravitas of a L'Occitane hand cream. It made the perfume smell less cheap.
Earlier today, Elena from Perfume Shrine posted a rant about all that's wrong with perfume nowadays. You can add Guerlain Elixir Charnel Floral Romantique to the list. Other reviews of this perfume can be found on Bois de Jasmin and 1000 Fragrances.
Notes: mandarin, orange, jasmine, ylang-ylang, tiaré flower, carnation, lily, cedar, chestnut, ambrette, maté.
Guerlain Elixir Charnel Floral Romantique ($255, 2.5oz EDP) is available from Bergdorf Goodman and Saks 5th Avenue.