One Thousand Scents

Friday, February 13, 2009

Good Taste: Guerlain Gourmand Coquin

A partial list of things that Gourmand Coquin (the bottle in the middle up there) smells like would include L'Artisan Parfumeur Vanilia, Gendarme Excess, Aquolina Pink Sugar, Demeter Black Pepper and Demeter Caramel, CSP Amour de Cacao, any of the five Maison de la Vanille scents singly or in combination, and, well, basically every sweet-vanilla gourmand that's ever come down the pike. It's staggeringly unoriginal.

It's nice, though. Don't get me wrong. It starts out with a little burst of black pepper atop a caramelized-sugar crust, proceeds through an increasingly vanillic bakery scent, and stays saturated with vanilla until the very end. (There's rose in here? Yes, according to the company, but not according to my nose.) It's a straight-up gourmand, and very appealing.

But it would be more impressive if so many other gourmands hadn't preceded it, making it feel like an afterthought, a bandwagon scent. All the scents I mentioned above are pleasant enough in their way, and some of them achieve greatness; by copying them in sundry ways, Gourmand Coquin copies their attractive qualities. But the price! The line of Guerlain's Elixirs Charnels ("carnal elixirs"), which also includes Chypre Fatal and Oriental Brûlant, costs 165 Euros each, which is (right now) $264 Cdn, $212 U.S., and in the case of Gourmand Coquin that is an insane amount of money for something which is a duplicate of many other scents. (Excess has been discontinued, but you'd have a hard time distinguishing it from Gourmand Coquin, and it cost about $20 for a one-ounce bottle.)

Here's what it boils down to, I think. Guerlain has spent a lot of money on high-quality ingredients which give an effect of cheapness, creating a very expensive perfume to be worn by people who want to spend a lot of money smelling cheap. I don't really understand it, but it's probably a workable strategy. Someone who would never be caught dead wearing something as downmarket as Pink Sugar can spend eight times the money to achieve exactly the same effect.

Over on my other blog I have an explanation of the name "Gourmand Coquin", if you're interested. It's very interesting.

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