Since he joined Guerlain as in-house perfumer in 2008, I've blamed Thierry Wasser for all the new Guerlains that are awash in white musk. I even thought he might not be able to control himself and add some white musk to Mitsouko or Eau de Cologne Impériale or L'Heure Bleue. I imagined him in charge of the installation of an Olympic-size swimming pool under Guerlain headquarters that, upon completion, was filled with white musk. (Guerlain is doing well financially, so white musk works for them and lots of perfume consumers...if not for me.)
I may have been putting too much blame on Wasser's shoulders because his cohort, Sylvaine Delacourte, until recently the Director of Fragrance Evaluation and Development at Guerlain, just launched her own perfume line with a collection of fragrances centered around — white musk. Now I imagine Thierry and Sylvaine cavorting in the Guerlain musc blanc pool, planning their next nose-ache in a bottle.
I've tried all five fragrances in Sylvaine Delacourte's new The Musk Collection (Dovana, Helicriss, Lilylang, Smeraldo and Florentina — the most insufferable of the bunch ) and must report they all smell pretty much the same after a few main notes fade away (white musk is IT in these perfumes). I'll review only one of these fragrances today, just in case another Now Smell This contributor falls in love with a perfume from the collection and wants to write about it. (Do you believe in miracles? I don't.) Helicriss's immortelle fends off white musk better than the floral notes in the other perfumes, so Helicriss is today's subject.
Helicriss is described thusly by Sylvaine Delacourte:
Helicriss, a hero borrowing the botanical name for the immortelle flower, 'Helichryse', has a very classy side, full of strength and charisma. It begins with a citrus tonic of grapefruit and lemon and then come the aromatic notes of cedar leaves and rosemary and sage as momentum gathers. Contrasted with a bouquet of spices and by the immortelle, in its wake comes an intense musk, magnified by the combination of frankincense/benzoin. The serious tone is embodied by patchouli and foam. If Helicriss were a colour it would be grey. A memory of my holidays in Corsica, it makes me think of the very distinctive fragrance of the scrub lands, a warm and welcoming scent.
Ah, the oft-referenced scrub lands of Corsica! (reimagined here as scrub-blands).
I timed Helicriss's development on my skin:
2:38 p.m.: Application of fragrance; synthetic-smelling "citrus."
2:38 p.m.: Almost immediate disappearance of "citrus;" immortelle emerges (this immortelle does not broadcast itself but stays close to the body).
3:11 p.m.: Immortelle, and its "spicy" facet, continues to dominate. Cedar? Rosemary? Sage? Frankincense? Intense musk (or intense anything)? Phantoms — or these ingredients are in such meager amounts as to be undetectable.
4:32 p.m.: the first hint of sweet, vanillic white musk joins the now-mellow immortelle.
6:15 p.m.: White musk encapsulates the immortelle.
7:00 p.m.: Cloying/annoying white musk is triumphant; immortelle suffocated (at which point you could reapply Helicriss, but why bother)? If you want a great immortelle scent, get Annick Goutal Sables.
As you can tell, The Musk Collection does not leave me wanting more from this brand (and I have a suspicion that no matter the subject of a Sylvaine Delacourte collection, white musk will be present).
Sylvaine Delacourte Helicriss is £115 for 100 ml.