In the early days of autumn, I like to retain a memory of summer – and summer is captured best in a bottle of cologne. At its simplest, cologne is a refreshing blend of citrus notes anchored with herbs and woods, and while modern iterations can include fruit, flowers and spices, this classic style of perfumery is best explored, I find, via its iconic versions. Take this trio by Guerlain: Eau de Cologne du Coq, Eau de Fleurs de Cédrat and Eau de Guerlain (all from £75 for 100ml). They offer a range of styles, and give an overview of how the house’s signature has evolved over time.
Eau de Cologne du Coq is the doyenne of the collection. Created in 1894 by Aimé Guerlain, it’s the most bracing and refreshing of the three. The citrus is deliciously bitter, with the emphasis on bergamot and lemon, and the zesty sharpness is accented by the herbes de Provence accord, which includes lavender and rosemary. It’s an elegant everyday cologne that’s discreet enough to be worn to work.
Perfumer Jacques Guerlain represents the third generation of the house’s perfumers. Renowned for his technical mastery, his creations – Shalimar, Mitsouko, L’Heure Bleue – have stood the test of time. Eau de Fleurs de Cédrat was created in 1920, and has Jacques’s vibrant signature. All the elements of the composition are bright and clear. If Eau de Fleurs de Cédrat were a colour, it would be pop-art yellow. Despite the name, it’s not a floral scent, but rather a lemony explosion. It’s a scent that can be worn all year round for its clean and crisp effect, and its ability to evoke summer days.
Eau de Guerlain, meanwhile, is abstract and impressionistic. By 1974, the year this perfume was launched, Jean-Paul Guerlain had already created two masterpieces: Chamade and Habit Rouge. In composing Eau de Guerlain he strove for classical polish and yet created a modern luminous fragrance. The components echo Eau de Cologne du Coq – bitter bergamot, aromatic herbs, cool verbena – but the effect is dazzling and bold. The drydown hides a seductive twist of musk, making it a cologne for anyone who enjoys surprises.
Victoria Frolova has been writing her perfume blog boisdejasmin.com since 2005. Her explorations of fragrance touch upon all elements that make this subject rich and complex: science, art, literature, history and culture. Frolova is a recipient of three prestigious Fragrance Foundation FiFi Awards for Editorial Excellence and, since receiving her professional perfumery training, has also been working as a fragrance consultant and researcher. @boisdejasmin.