Saturday, May 8, 2010

Review: Idylle eau de parfum by Guerlain (2009)

When Idylle hit the shelves late in 2009, the response from Guerlain acolytes was muted. The realm of the soft-focus floral was, they felt, best reserved for flash-in-the-pan celebrity fragrances, not for one of the most revered perfume houses of all time. But Idylle isn't necessarily the sell-out some have claimed it to be and it deserves a second spray.

With astonishing diffusiveness, the scent plunges you headlong into the middle of a lush flower garden, where you can barely catch your breath long enough to take in the indolic notes that surround you. Jasmine, geranium, lily of the valley, ylang ylang. They all waft into view, managing to be both fresh and intoxicating, after which the real star emerges: a rounded rose, white and enticing, balanced by the faintest suggestion of delicate, petitgrain-like woods in the background. But it's at this point that Idylle almost collapses: the floral overload threatens to become headache-inducing; the heart yearns for a touch of something intriguing. Paradoxically, this is also the very moment when Thierry Wasser's effort demands a little more patience from our noses than most modern scents dare.

It stands to reason that an idyllic garden is a place where time is frozen. Sure enough, if you wait a tiny bit longer, the almost garish middle section of this scent finally softens and, more importantly, becomes drier. Guerlain have stated that Idylle displays a "chypre sensuality" - notice they haven't claimed it's an outright chypre - and you can feel the evidence in the drydown. Although the basic territory is still floral, the closing act - which seemingly lasts for ever - is arid and musky in a manner that may not exactly be elegant but is eminently wearable.

Although it's suitably multi-dimensional, Idylle is no masterpiece. It does not display the refinement or innovation of Guerlain's classics. But if you want to exploit its potential, treat it as a masculine. Gaultier can pull it off with Fleur Du Male - and trendy European guys can douse themselves with Anaïs Anaïs - so there's no reason why Idylle can't have the same impact.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum obtained in 2010; fragrance tested on skin.]


  1. I really like Idylle. I only smelled the EDP recently in Abu Dhabi airport at 2am in the morning, but decided I liked it and bought it on my return to the UK. I have struggled to find reviewers that like this scent, which I find surprising, so I am pleased you have not dismissed it out of hand. I do love a floral and a chypre. I find it Idylle really intoxicating, powdery and not at all sickly and I love the dry-down. Its a hit with me if no-one else!

    1. Sophiafh, thanks for stopping by. I still think Idylle is underrated. I'm glad you enjoy it. Guerlain's publicity machine has now turned its attention to La Petite Robe Noire, so perhaps this'll give Idylle some room to find fans in a more 'organic' way.

  2. I got sample of Idylle 3 years ago in the winter. It's love at first scent. Soft floral comes through, not overpowering which I like. Personally it's perfect as winter perfume cos in the summer, this scent is just not 'sunny' enough for me. I like it alot for being a signature scent that almost nobody has.

    1. Anon, thanks for stopping by. I've always thought that Idylle works extremely well on many people. I'm glad you're a fan :-)


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