Here's something for the dog days of summer: a classic Guerlain eau. Eau de Fleur de Cedrat was originally launched in 1920, a year after Mitsouko and five years before Shalimar. I wish I knew what it smelled like back then. Guerlain already had a "proper" eau de cologne on their shelves, Eau de Cologne Imperiale (1853), so I'm curious to know what exactly was in Jacques Guerlain's composition. My own bottle of Eau de Fleur de Cedrat is an eau de toilette and dates from 1997. That's post-LVMH but pre-IFRA and all the shenanigans of the last decade, which is why I labeled this review as "vintage perfume"
Cedrat means citron (Citrus Medica), the rather elusive relative of lemon that us Jews know as "etrog", the fruit used in the Sukkot holiday ritual. I have no idea if and how citron blossom differs from lemon or lime flower. I assume Jacques Guerlain knew what he was doing, and perhaps in his days this perfume was more floral. what I smell is a high quality sharp citrus. It's very rindy and lemony, slightly laced with abstract green leaves that just barely soften the punch. The opening of Eau de Fleur de Cedrat is what perfume bloggers like to call "bracing", and this is exactly what one needs this time of the year.
Eau de Fleur de Cedrat might not have much of an emotional depth, at least in the 1997 and later versions I've smelled, but it's not flat or boring. The hint of dusty rough wood that holds the base together is bordering on cuminy. It's not as marvelously animalic as Eau de Cologne du Coq (1894), but just subversive enough to keep things fun if you spray heavily enough (you really should), and pay attention to things that happen on skin level. While I can't say that there is a late dry-down, two hours after application you can still smell the relative complexity of what at first sniff seemed like nothing more than a fresh and pointy bright lemon. Then it's time to spritz again and complain about the weather.
Guerlain- Eau de Fleur de Cedrat ($104, 100ml eau de toilette) is available from major Guelain counters and online.
Image: Maria Sibylla Merian, Citron with a Moth and a Harlequin Beetle c. 1701-2, Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II