A “parure” is a set of jewelry, such as a necklace, earrings, and bracelet, or even a tiara and matching earrings. Guerlain Parure has the “complete” feeling and attention to detail of a fine jewelry parure, but it isn’t as flashy as rubies and diamonds. Instead, Parure comes off as constructed to lend an air of Ritz suite elegance without drawing attention to itself.
Jean-Paul Guerlain created Parure, and its notes include plum, bergamot, greens, fruits, hesperides, lily of the valley, rose, orris, plum, lilac, jasmine, jonquil, narcissus, oakmoss, spices, amber, leather and patchouli. Parure was released in 1975, but you know that Ritz suite I just mentioned? I see it in the early 1960s, with a woman crushing out her cigarette before reaching for wrist-length white gloves and a crisp-edged handbag that snaps shut with a click.
In a few words, Parure is a dry rose chypre with hints of leather and plum. My bottle of Eau de Cologne is at least 25 years old. Its top has dulled, and it has undoubtedly lost some of its sparkle. Still, Parure’s heart smells like a potpourri of dry rose petals, cold plum skin, jasmine, a pinch of baking spice, and the fusty mineral-like scent of moss and leather that blends so well with cigarette ash. Despite this, the fragrance exudes a clean, expensive feel. Parure doesn’t sweeten on my skin, even as it wears down. Its sillage stays a few hands’ width from my skin and never intrudes.
Despite the plum and flowers, no one could call Parure a fruity floral. Unlike Guerlain Nahéma, Parure’s rose isn’t exuberant, and unlike another Guerlain rose, Chant d’Arômes, there’s nothing particularly tender about it, either. Parure smells tailor-made for a self-possessed cabinet minister’s wife in the age of glossy chignons and pumps that click-clack across the floor. Her espresso cup wears a kiss of dark pink lipstick, and you’ll never break her habit of the occasional cigarette. She has great taste — no doubt about that — but her photo won’t show up in the tabloids anytime soon.
Parure isn’t me, and I’m not even sure I’d want to be her, but she fascinates me all the same. I admire her Vivier pumps and firm grip of protocol. Secretly, I think I have more fun, but that might be envy talking.
Guerlain Parure is discontinued.