A bristling citrus: PHILTRE D’AMOUR by GUERLAIN (2000)



With so many perfume houses releasing limited editions that are released, fanfared and then disappeared without trace, it becomes easy to equate their brevity on the market with similar levels of imagination. Neverthless, occasionally, the spontaneity and lack of expectation placed on limited editions can produce bursts of creativity that lead to more singular, less market-tested and common-denominator fragrances; scents that pop up unexpectedly like crocus-bulbs in spring and enchant you with  their fresh-breathed joie de vivre.

For a while at the beginning of the 2000’s, Guerlain would release limited perfumes that were not flankers to their main-line-up perfumes, but separate work, released in a prolific spirit of productivity that yielded such well-regarded treasures as Guet Apens and Gentiana.

In a spirit of mercy to these more inspired saplings that were culled before their prime, some of them were given a reprieve, a chance to star again, however briefly, on the billboard of ‘Les Parisiennes’, a kind of Guerlain Golden Hall of Fame for discontinued classics and limited releases that stubbornly refused to die a death, and Philtre D’Amour, a wonderful, moody citrus, is one of them.

I found my bottle at the flea market and bought it unsniffed, expecting, as the name would suggest, something sultry and floral. Spraying the scent was thus a total shock. Philtre D’Amour is a sour, concentrated, and very natural accord of verbena, myrtle and lemon-leaves layered delicately over a sharp, fantastically dark patchouli: a mysterious and lovely, almost powdery citrus chypre that leaves an intriguing and surprisingly nuanced trail in its wake.

She is a delicate thing, this Philtre; treat her carefully, don’t rub her up the wrong way or step on her emotions, and she will yield; show you through the ivy-covered doors of her secret garden to the other side: her neroli’d, fresh air garden petals of jasmine diced with petitgrain: gentle walks around the topiaries, the April skies opening up and bestowing newness, vitality and Spring as the lemons shine youthfully and you sigh gratefully that someone out there still knows how to make a modern, yet classically structured, perfume.

Vistas and groves open up when I smell Philtre D’Amour: it is slight, it is curious, but it is something I would wear all the time if I had more of it:  the delicate, little 30ml cylinder you see in the picture is kept for special, precious use.



Filed under Chypre, Citrus, Lemon, Patchouli, Verbena

16 responses to “A bristling citrus: PHILTRE D’AMOUR by GUERLAIN (2000)

  1. serafinarose

    Lovely review Neil. I adore lemon verbena in any fragrance. It’s such a beautiful herb. Must try this one.x

    • ginzaintherain

      I actually think you might love it. It is quite odd, that sour verbena top note, especially when coupled with the powdery patchouli, but I think it is quite a brilliant perfume in a way. It makes me feel alive, like today!

  2. ginzaintherain

    And also Duncan, when he came back from the Saint Etienne concert the other night, gave me a boxed set of Terracuore perfumes, one of which was a vividly fresh verbena that I can’t wait to try in spring. Might even combine it with this. Bless him!

    • Bless him indeed. What a lovely thing to do, given you’d missed the concert. You have a kind and considerate man there. Verbena is perfect for Spring. Looking forward to the review! xx

  3. brie

    My comment mysteriously disappeared…so if it shows up twice I apologize!
    As I once stated I am immensely jealous as hubby wouldn’t dream of buying me perfume!
    But Philitre sounds like a lovely scent (I have been craving citrus and herbs lately as it is bitter cold here- below one degree this morning). How do you have such luck stumbling upon these things as I have never heard of it!

    Enjoy your Terracuore and I hope you share with Duncan!

  4. I second Brie! You are a very lucky man indeed and Duncan sounds like a true gentleman.

    Philtre sounds lovely . . . and also very familiar, so much so that I am almost certain that I have smelled it before. Is it discontinued? Like all the Guerlains that I fall in love with?

    • ginzaintherain

      I’m not entirely sure, actually, as those Parisiennes are anything but permanent, and when they are put in those new gold flacons there is no guarantee that the formula will be identical. When I smelled it at the boutique, it still smelled like a great verbena chypre, but in the bottle you see in the picture, there is a lovely, Aromatics Elixir-ish quality to the base notes that I like very much.

      If you like that kind of scent, then put your faith in me – it is definitely a great perfume IF you don’t mind that sourish opening. Quite unique I would say. Keep an eye out for it on e-bay etc.

  5. Reblogged this on The Black Narcissus and commented:

    It’s freezing and raining today…..ugh, bring on the Springtime

  6. This was a post I truly enjoyed for the egotistical reason of having a bottle exactly like yours myself.
    The Parisienne release (which more people probably got to try) is so much tamer than this little tube. This one is tart, and I was beginning to think my bottle had turned, but your post makes me think that this is simply Philtre’s nature. Mine takes a good half hour just to “sit down” on skin.

    • Your thoughts mirror my own as well: I was convinced that the Parisienne edition was like a lobotomized version of the original, which is sour, tart, uncompromising, and extremely natural, I would say. You can really sense the essences in this one. The gold bottle I smelled at the Marounochi boutique in Tokyo had the essential code of the perfume but none of the top-life, which is genuinely quite weird.

      I like it when my own instincts are confirmed by someone else- thank you very much for commenting.

  7. I absolutely love this scent. The Parisiennes edition does not come close to the wild character of the original. A true gem from Guerlain.

  8. A wonderful review and Philtre sounds lovely…enjoy it!

    • I must admit there is not quite enough left now to really enjoy. I suppose I will have to have a few springtime splurges with it and then that will be it. A very unusual scent, though (and how often can we say that now?)

  9. A really lovely piece. I was never a huge fan but reading about it again is making me reach for my bottle. Thankyou for reminding me.

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