Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Guerlain Oeillet 000-Review

Crappy picture from the Internet.
Several months ago, I purchased a very small sample of Guerlain Oeillet 000 from the Perfumed Court. I was skeptical that a fragrance more than a century old would have much to offer other than some turned base notes. Ten dollars for .4 ml is expensive, but I've spent more than that on a slice of cake at a posh tearoom, and I prefer perfume to cake most days.

I've never experienced a perfume that made me weep-until this one. It is so beautiful, and so different, that smelling it on my person became an emotional experience-and I'm so not an emotional person, at all. Danny stood there trying it with me, and though he didn't burst into tears, he did get very quiet before retreating to another room to experience it privately.

I have no idea what Oeillet 000 (the triple zeros are for a triple concentration of the carnation) would have smelled like when it was new, and there aren't any official notes available. To my nose, there's something else there as it is sweeter than you'd expect a carnation to be. In fact, there's hardly anything of the spiciness I love so much in carnation scents (I mourned a bit when Roger and Gallet stopped selling the soap in the US). I could swear I smell vanilla (or Tonka) but I admit that might just be me imposing Guerlain on Guerlain.  This is different. Mr. ETB pointed out that I'm wearing a perfume from before the World Wars, and that it suggests a time so far gone it is hard to approach. I suppose there might be something to that but honestly, I wasn't thinking of the history when I opened the bottle-I was thinking of smelling a Holy Grail Guerlain (I joined the Cult of Guerlain so long ago I'm practically a Cultist Emeritus). What's the magic ingredient here? Who know. Perhaps, age?

I ignored Mr. ETB's urging to go secure a few more decants before it is gone forever as I can't see myself wearing Oeillet 000. There's something too awful about witnessing the extinction of something be it a white rhinoceros, and Ivory Billed Woodpecker, an aged bottle of brandy, or a rare, vintage perfume. Sure there might still be a few bottles left in the wild but for practical purposes, it is gone. I may well change my mind by morning and buy as much as they'll permit, but I doubt it. Who wants that sort of emotional baggage with a perfume? What if it went off in my care? I don't want that responsibility.

There are still decants available if you're interested in smelling a nearly extinct Guerlain from over a century ago. I can promise you it is beautiful, but I can't promise you won't fall apart when you try it. I guess that is part of the experience. I do recommend trying it when you can be alone to spend some time with it . I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience Oeillet 000, and I have enough left for a few more wears (a little goes a long way with this one) but I don't see that happening soon. I've never felt as uncomfortable with a perfume as I was with this one.

Do you have a Holy Grail fragrance you've been searching years for?


Bibi said...

Carnations remind me of funerals. Actually most 'white flower' scents do. Funny, because one of the perfume training courses I took when I worked the fragrance counter at Nordstrom's taught that 'white flower' scents are the sexiest.
Sexy funerals? Maybe for the Addams family or Munsters I suppose.
My HG is in a small purple bottle with a clear cut crystal stopper that is shaped much like the Guerlain Oeillet 000 pictured on your post. Glued to the bottle is a handwritten label in black ink that simply says 'Violette'. I bought it in Berlin at an antique/flea market type fair for about $40, the stopper was stuck. I only bought it because I liked the bottle. About a year after buying it I gently unstuck the stopper & sniffed it's contents. It was (and is) the most gorgeous violet scent ever. It smells like fresh violets with perhaps some heliotrope & vanilla? Nothing like the powdery, cloying candy-like sweet, or harsh soapy 'old lady type' violets I was previously familiar with. Whenever I wear it I get compliments, & people remark how 'soft' & beautiful it smells. I've heard there are places you can have scents replicated?

Goody said...


Fresh violets never smelled of anything to me, and I always assumed there was some chemical component to the note. That changed last week when I candied some violets from my garden. The heating them in the dehydrator (at a very low 100 degrees F.) was just enough, and concentrated in one place to release the scent. I've been eyeing the three pots of violets now wondering if I could turn them into a concentrated syrup to mix with soda water. Wouldn't a jar of violet syrup be an interesting Christmas gift? Anyway, a week ago I wouldn't have known what you meant about the violets, but now I get it-and I envy your bottle of perfume ;)

I don't know about replicating perfumes-even if you could get hold of the ingredients, it would be difficult to reconstruct the effects of age. Sure, you can clone a sheep, but can you (wait for it) clone a *chypre*?

Mim said...

I'm trying not to sniff too many unobtainable things as it just gets gloom-making. I've got a few vintage Patous that have recently been rereleased and I don't know whether to try the new versions as it risks disappointment. A lot of notes simply can't be used any more, including a lot of the spicier notes, hence Caron's discontinuation of Bellodgia and Coup de Fouet. I've got a couple of bottles of Bellodgia's lasst iteration - thankfully cheap from a discounter as the spicy notes had been all but removed by that point anyhow.

I'm off to Paris in the Autumn and have told my husband that the one place I really want to go is the Guerlain boutique!

Goody said...


I think they still do guided tours by appointment if you want the full perfume-nerd experience.

Sometimes the reformulations are okay, or they give it a couple tries until it gets better. You wouldn't think oak moss would be so difficult to duplicate, but I guess it is. I have respect for companies that will discontinue a fragrance rather than sell something bearing a name but little else resembling the original product. There's so much money tied up in the nostalgia around perfumes it must be a difficult business decision to make.