Monday, 22 August 2016

Happy Birthday INSOLENCE

It’s hard to believe that it’s ten years since the world was first dominated by Guerlain’s iris and violet fragrance bomb. To some it was a new interpretation of the classic L’Heure Bleue whilst to others it was seen as a link between Guerlain's expanding “travel exclusive” range and the boutique customers. Either way, 2006 marked the launch of a fragrance which took department stores and boutiques by storm. You couldn't escape any beauty hall without being sprayed with Insolence and so it was easier to just succumb to the “overdosed, high-voltage” pink explosion, and once smelled it could never be forgotten.

In 2005 the Guerlain boutique at 68 Champs-Elysées reopened after extensive renovation but a major perfume launch didn’t accompany it. Instead they started the now famous L'art et la Matière range with Cuir Beluga and Rose Barbare. Behind the scenes however Guerlain were gearing up for one of their most important launches for decades. Since the company had been taken over by LVMH the brand had struggled to find its place within an ever-changing market, and so the decision was taken to once again anchor themselves in the “mainstream” whilst also continuing the tradition of the “exclusive”.

The concept of a single perfumer for Guerlain was retired when LVMH released Champs-Elysées in 1996. This was two years after they had acquired the company and chose Olivier Cresp’s perfume submission over that of their own Jean-Paul Guerlain’s. Many fans were unhappy with this “end to the family line”, although most were unsurprised. So, in 2006 the company turned to Maurice Roucel, who was working for Symrise, to create their latest feminine fragrance. They wanted a fruity floral that would appeal to women of all ages, although especially to the younger market.

With Insolence Guerlain claimed to have released the first “olfative spiral” fragrance. What they meant by this was that rather than a traditional top, middle and base arrangement of aromas Maurice had created a structure which literally spiralled and cascaded over itself. As the fragrance developed on the skin you would continue to get glimpses of what had gone before along with what was to come. Interestingly the fragrance was launched as an Eau de Toilette with the Eau de Parfum following two years later.

Insolence opens with violet, violet and violet, but just when you think that you can take no more you start to smell red fruits and a hint of orange blossom. Okay, there’s a touch of “hairspray” as well, but who doesn’t like a little Elnett once in a while? The iris then pushes right up from the base to give a wonderfully powdery quality and seems to drag the sandalwood with it. Unrelenting we then get rose peeping through along with a tonka bean creaminess. At no point does the violet leave but you really do get an impression of a spiral of scents. Luca Turin described it as managing to “antagonise everyone by lacking all social graces” … but I have to admit that I absolutely love it!!

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