Stepsisters – Guerlain Mahora (2000) and Jardins de Bagatelle (1983)

Luca Turin’s most hated Guerlain until Champs Elyssees and Mahora came along was apparently Jardins de Bagatelle (1983). Whilst calling Mayotte (renamed 2nd version of Mahora) ‘dreadful’ and a ‘nasty floral’, by the time he came around to writing The Guide, he deemed Jardins de Bagatelle ‘the best of a lousy lot’.

It might look like it’s hard being Cinderella, but if we turn our attention to the stepsisters for a moment; they clearly have a terrible mother, the ultimate anti-role model, telling them that only materialistic things are worth pursuing, playing them out against each other to get the prince (not for love but for the mother’s ambition of social-climbing), even letting them self-harm, self-mutilate in fact, to reach that goal. How misunderstood these sisters are…

Take our two stepsisters, white florals Mahora and Jardins de Bagatelle. They have heard it all, been shamed and despised but they are still here* (one went to the numerologist, but if it helps?)

Mahora, the younger of the two, is a loudish, creamy white floral. And although you won’t find the famed guerlinade here, the vanilla/ ylang combo still feels so trés Guerlain. Created in 2000 by Jean-Paul Guerlain, Mahora was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The anorexic juices of the 90s still casting their goth-like shadows, Mahora was just not trendy. It’s a big bold sunny perfume with an easy digestible tuberose at its heart, a tropical ylang-ylang with a touch of coconut. The added sugarcane sweetness from a triumvirate of orange blossom, vanilla and sandalwood, makes Mahora a sweet hedonistic dream under a tropical sun.

Given as an option to wear for a night out, a friend (who would normally wear Hermessence, and who didn’t know Mahora in advance) chose this one, and called it sunny and sexy. Just saying…

Donatella Versace, as sported by J. Lo, gets loud and glamour on us, 2000 with a hint of 80s?

Jardins de Bagatelles EdT (Jean-Paul Guerlain) opens on a mixture of bright pearly aldehydes and neroli, giving it an edgy vintage vibe. After that there’s an ‘every white flower under the sky’ with a wink at the 80’s perfume feeling, which ingeniously is actually almost subtle, certainly if compared to its ‘death by silliage’- contemporaries. It never stings your nose, or delights in indoles or rubber, but stays a glamour filter photo as it folds out its fan of flowers; gardenia, rose, orange blossom, tuberose, magnolia, ylang-ylang, orchid, lily-of-the-valley and narcissus. The flowers are kept in check by bits of metallic sheen. Surprisingly the woody base shows signs of nectar and adds extra depth at the end. Although both Mahora and JdB share the parentage and the white florals, they are two completely different characters. I would call JdB sunny too, but there’s no tropical heat, JdB is a temperate day with little bursts of sunshine. JdB has a mixture of retro and wannabe 80s pop idol about it. It shouldn’t work, but it does.

1960s phenomenon goes 80s in the Screwball Comedy in Desperately Seeking Susan

If you are into retro or white florals in general don’t miss out on these too, in my opinion they are both more innovative and have more heart than many new ones in the genre even if they might at the time of their release not have lived up to the expectations of the Guerlain classics; L’Heure Bleue, Shalimar, Mitzy etc.

In the end, I believe that little by little perfumistas who have perhaps never read Mr Turin’s damning review, or who smell them by chance, open their hearts to their beauty, perhaps after all these years of misunderstanding, finally the sisters know themselves, and are happy with themselves, they are not trying to be their amazing stepsister Cinderella in the castle, they just want to be loved for what they are, and guess what? I for one am ready to embrace them.

Do you have a secret stepsister love? How do you rate the two Guerlains, if you know them?

Winners of my little birthday draw: I chose to do two drawings as you can see from my Random lists; and the winners are Esperanza who chose decants and Tara a print. Thank you very much all for taking part 🙂







*At least they were when I started writing, according to M Guerlain blog, Mayotte is now DCed, if you, like me, happen to like it, grab a bottle while you can.

Celebrate Good Times – Chanel Sycomore (2008) and Nez à Nez Marron Chic (2010)

I was going to publish a post on some Guerlains today, but given the ’Monsieur-Guerlain Bloggate*’ I decided to wait with that one for next time.

Today is my birthday, the day where it’s even better than usual to have a lot of lovely friends older than yourself, being able to tell you that 40 is indeed the best time of your life, the new 30, the new black, the cat’s pyjamas etc. and who am I to argue with wise words of people who have lived longer than I.

I decided that it’s also a time in your life, where you happen to have accumulated a lot of the things already, so my wish list was for 2nd hand and homemade items, which worked out a treat, people coming up with all sorts of lovely things. Recently, I have even realised that I’ll probably not need back up perfumes of anything, save perhaps one or two favourites, and this together with my special occasion made me decide to do a little draw today, see the bottom of the post for this.

I had hoped to wear a special second-hand item on the eve of the party, but alas, it arrived late. I have had a complete crush on Sycomore of late, and this was the item I purchased from a ’wunderbar’ German perfume enthusiast.

Chanel’s Sycomore (perfumers Jacques Polge and Christopher Sheldrake) is that rare thing for me; a tough rather than masculine vetiver. I do love vetiver, but all too often it ends up smelling too much like after shave on me. This is a general issue with very dry and woody fragrances, they won’t really warm up and bloom on my skin, so finding one that does, a fragrance to embrace (what the h… – channel even) your inner Dietrich/ K. Hepburn/ S. Weaver et al. is rare for me. Perhaps it’s not least due to Sycomore’s floating quality, that it never becomes harsh. Its mixture of green woodiness, autumnal forests and camp fires just swirls around and becomes your fragrant aura, more than an actual perfume. What a turn-heads perfume for both males and females. The published notes are; vetiver, sandalwood, aldehydes, tobacco and violet. And let’s ad a signature song, for fun and straight out of my b-day playlist; Talking heads- Take me to the river, ultra cool and timeless.

sycomore marron


What I actually wore is a trusted go-to special occasion perfume of mine, and it never fails to deliver a certain ‘ooh-la-la’ –effect, or a feeling of a constant inner purr if you will. It’s the now DC’ed Nez à Nez perfume Marron Chic (Karine Chevallier). The regular reader of The Sounds of Scent will have one guess as to its main note. However, it isn’t as easy as that. Kumquat crosses wires with iris and chocolate and it’s not entirely pleasant, in fact had it not been for the look on the SA’s eyes when he sniffed it on me, it would probably not have gone home with me at that point. Like most of my best-loved perfumes, Marron Chic needed to ‘click’. The gourmand flair is something I am not always easy with, but here it’s not something you gluttonously eat, it’s something you crave and desire. The resins and labdanum ease the transition from the iris heart, and a subtle vetiver in the base creates a bit of an antipole to the ‘thickness’ of the other notes. Notes; kumquat, orange blossom, hesperidic notes, iris, cacao, karo-karounde, violet, benzoe, labdanum, vetiver. The purring soundtrack: Postmodern jukebox; All about that Bass.

And the little B-day draw: Draw closed there will be one winner, but since in so many countries you can no longer send or receive perfume you can choose between either a decant of my two birthday fragrances OR a personal drawing of your favourite perfume (or favourite 2 perfumes, depending on which you choose) – yes, done by me in the style seen here:boadicca, micallef sergeserge bas de soie

All you need to do is answer the following question in the comments and tell me which price you’d prefer to win. Make sure you comment from an e-mail address that I can contact.

What are your favourite special occasion fragrances?

*Read more here

Read Suzanne’s beautiful review of Marron Chic here

Pictures are mine.