GIRL ON A SWING: : : CHANT D’AROMES by GUERLAIN ( 1962 )

 

 

 

 

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My bottle of Chant D’Arômes, taken this morning :

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Notes: mirabelle, honeysuckle, aldehydes, jasmine, ylang ylang, heliotrope, cloves, oliban, vetiver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chant d’Arômes. ‘Song of scents’. … a rare and precious perfume that is so melodious: sweet, heartlifting, unique.

 

 

 

There is no other scent that really smells like Chant D’Arômes. It seems to sing in its own inimitable register. The nearest comparison I can think of to this lesser known classic in the Guerlain stable, if you are not familiar with it, would possibly be Lanvin Arpège, or Caron Infini, while it also, in some aspects, has some of the suave, spiced, peachness of Rochas Femme, though it has to be said none of these more deep and comparatively masculine perfumes can match its vivacity; its floral, carefree sonority.

 

 

While Chant d’Arômes has the textural, velvet lushness of Arpège, its plush mosses and smoothness, the coloratura is in a much higher key. Arpège, one of the very best perfumes ever made in my book, is sage, violincello, and beautiful – self contained, pensive – though her name, ‘arpeggio’, I never thought entirely apt. Arpège is a deep, sonorous piece of music, possibly in E flat major: mellow, emotive, but not really possessing the rippling aspect that the word ‘arpège’ implies ( I am thinking, specifically, of the vintage parfum).

 

 

 

Chant d’Arômes, a fruity, flowering scent, is far more vivaciously musical than the Lanvin, cascading up effortlessly through the ascending tra la la of her scales in E major (there are definitely a lot of F and G sharps in this scent); so very brimming over with the real or imaginary joys of spring that her cup doth threaten to spill over; a young girl in June, swinging from a pear blossom tree, prosecco in hand, the bubbles from her cool, giddy drink moistening her glad, sweet perfume as the birds in the trees around come out from their leaf-twittering hideouts to join her, willingly, in song.

 

 

 

She is not entirely of this world, this creature, and she knows it. And she is glad for it. When the initial, truly lovely, irrepressible exuberance of the jammy, fruity top notes of the perfume begin to fade like dappling spring sunlight softening to evening, Chant D’Arômes then begins to somewhat resemble the sensual, fleuri boisé balm of the gorgeous vintage Infini in its heart notes and base. But where Caron perfumes always have that compressed quality about them – smooth, woody concentrates of liquor –  this, ladies and gentlemen, is a Guerlain, with all the lift, and Jean-Paul Guerlain-ish deftness that the name still hopefully implies; the complexity, the skilfulness, the roundedness…

 

 

 

 

 

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She is a brilliant anomaly, Chant d’Arômes. Somewhat set apart from her Champs Elysées siblings, she is less urbane, disinhibitedly joyous: she just cannot restrain herself, yearning, always, for the green, sylvan richesses of nature: woods, streams, and flowers, a place where she can be free, always, to express her gentle, and beautiful, soul.

33 Comments

Filed under Flowers

33 responses to “GIRL ON A SWING: : : CHANT D’AROMES by GUERLAIN ( 1962 )

  1. Boveney

    If I ever start wearing scent again, it will be because you’ve shown how it has the power to transport one into a dream world. Thank you.

    • Really? I have been waiting like a loser all day for someone to say something.

      • Holly

        Aw, it’s funny you should say that. I’ve often wondered how bloggers feel when that happens and I’m guilty of lurking in the grotto on most occasions. I’m an avid fan and look forward to every post. Perhaps we’re all just starstruck!

      • Uh, I don’t think so.

        But if you haven’t done it yourself, it is definitely a strange experience. I have just this second been having a conversation with a performance artist who is staying with us, and the whole idea of not compromising your language (otherwise, what actually is the point? you are just a media whore and I know I can’t do that).

        I am pathetically child-like in my enthusiasms in some ways: rushing out into the garden this morning and photographing a Guerlain bottle within a peony flower and writing this, but the thing is, mean every word, and it is 100% genuine, embarrassingly earnest though it may seem).

        And then you ‘publish it’ and get on with other things (I have a MAMMOTH thing that I am going to assault the world with in the next few days), but you can’t help yourself checking…..but then again in some ways that is no different from Facebook.

        This is the world we live in. And I choose to try and capture, as best as I can, even if it is completely ridiculous, a moment or two of genuine beauty. And if even one person responds to it, then I feel intensely gratified.

        But I have been sitting here WAY too long with my wine and this is so self-absorbed. Thanks for reading, anyway, and have a great day/night wherever you are. I appreciate it.

      • Holly

        Sweet dreams. I’ll natter on and you’ll see it in the morning.

  2. Holly

    A charming review worthy of this charming perfume. Your writing is truly so stunningly beautiful and evocative that it is transforming. Your choice of simply illustrating Chant d’Aromes in its darling little bottle is sublime.

    A dream world, indeed…

    I hope one day you will grace us all with a book. I can see it in my mind’s eye…

    • Please tell me, then, what form it would take, so I can show it to my agent.

      • Holly

        Oh dear, is my dream your nightmare? I actually think that what you’ve done reads like a book already, and your photos are gorgeous. It’s your story, and your heart and soul are always evident. Your perfume reviews illuminate your story and vice versa.

        An agent would perhaps like to see this formatted in the way that certain cookbooks or magical novels involving food (Like Water for Chocolate; Mistress of Spices) have been. A story followed by or including a recipe. In your case, your story followed by or including a perfume review. Magic!

      • That’s why I can’t bear to do it. A recipe: a FORMAT
        ..

      • And no, it is definitely not a nightmare: I LOVE it.

      • Holly

        You CAN bear to do it, as you actually already have. It’s all right here, Neil.

  3. Olivia

    Dear N,
    A nice bit of serendipity – thank-you for writing a piece about my very favourite of all perfumeries (you know I chase the Guerlain like a little scented dragon) on my birthday (or D-Day, given it’s one of those with a nought attached – ugh.) The photos are gorgeous, I’ve always loved the curves of the Chant d’Aromes bottle; as with everything Guerlain, it seems designed with the boudoir aesthete in mind (I need it.) It always appealed more to me than Chamade (with which it’s always been inexplicably linked for me) somehow, although I can’t quite explain why – perhaps its the fruitiness? (tho’ Chamade is gorgeous too, obviously.) Perhaps it’s a little softer? Anyway – something I know more about: putting yourself, in the form of letters or pictures or whatever it is, ‘out there’ is a scary thing. Even when you believe the thing is good, you’ve enjoyed making it, you believe in its sincerity, its emotive authenticity – publishing it to the unseen eyes of the internet is somehow palpitating. Why there is always this nuance of jitteriness about publicity, I’m not sure (perhaps we’re all a little insecure deep down? Perhaps the endorsement is reassuring..) but pressing send or publish always has me running back to check too. Whatever the contents of your book, I know it will be full of fire and feeling, and with your verbosity it cannot be wrong. Just please make sure you include your images/collages too, they’re just as visceral and affective, and add just that important element of you (and the way you see things.) Back to Guerlain: I’ve put together a parcel of my bestest, and will send it this week, sorry it’s taken so long! Glad to hear you’re on the wines, I’ll share a birthday *clink* with you x

    • Beautifully put as always, and an excellent examination of the weirdness of ‘giving birth’ every time you publish a post

      ( and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, by the way ).

      I am intrigued by your thoughts on Chamade vs Chant D’Aromes, because I was also thinking about that yesterday as I was writing this. I rave about Chamade, because it has something just so utterly beautiful in that hyacinth note, and yet there IS something spiky (bitchy, even?) when you compare it to CdA, which is somehow more benevolent if you get my drift. The bottle, though……..so beautiful. And yes, boudoir.

  4. Oh Neil, that is a gorgeous bottle of Chant d’Arômes… for me, it is indubitably Guerlain. It possesses a candour and joie de vivre that I find immensely uplifting. And oh, you are a master poet of scent indeed.

  5. Beautiful photos, beautiful piece and all about one of the most beautiful Guerlain scents ever created. What more could one want. Chant d’Aromes and Parure are two of the most glorious Guerlain scents ever created.

    • Parure!

      I have both Parure and Chant D’Aromes in the current re-editions and can’t get excited about them, but I do remember the miniature parfum I had of the former and it was amazing. Pruney, taloney, and dark. Gorgeous!

      Chant D’Aromes doesn’t get much talked about which is why I suddenly felt like writing about it yesterday when I saw it standing there on the dresser. It is just so mellifluous and has a beautiful, inner calm stasis.

      • Sadly you are correct. People are so crazed over the much older Guerlains that Chant d’Aromes becomes quite overlooked. So nice to see it receive the love it deserves. It really is such a tranquil and pretty scent.
        Parure is also a truly a magical scent. I never purchased the re-edition of it, it seemed to disappear before I was are, but I adore the older EdT. I once had a sample of the extrait and that was a heavenly delight.

  6. Nancysg

    Between my love of peonies and the gorgeous bottle, I was enthralled by the picture before reading a word of your thoughts on the fragrance. Is this a Guerlain that is still made or do I need to find a vintage bottle to smell it’s own “inimitable register”?

    • I’m afraid so. The current edt, though relatively hard to find, is a harsh, brash approximation of the original, which is ineffably soft and caressing. It is perfectly nice, in a pear drop effervescent kind of way, but I am afraid it just won’t do. It must be vintage. I wonder what is available on e-bay…

  7. carole macleod

    I spent the day with a man who worked for Guerlain, and Roja Dove. Can you imagine? Here, in this backwater little province. He inspired me to try my favorite fragrances again-I have Jasmal on one wrist, and Fantasia des Fleurs on the other. It’s a lot of scent.

    Now i am reading my favorite fume websites, and here is more Guerlain! With peonies! i love peonies-mu house is old, complete with loads of old peonies. All those ruffled pink and cream and orange beauties, bent double by the weight of their beautiful heads. The smell is unbelievable-i think I can even smell the sap in the stems. They bloom every year and i pray for no heavy rain-towards the end of June there is always a storm that does them in. I imagine this is what Chat d’Aromes smells like.

    Some time when you have time, let’s discuss Irisia in minutae. It’s so full of oakmoss it’s not even made anymore, and it never got the love it deserves. Have a great evening, and thank you for the excellent read!
    Carole

    • Your welcome, and thank you for the gorgeous images of peonies.

      Chant D’Aromes doesn’t smell anything like them, though – I just put them there in a sudden whim of ‘fashion shoot’ in the front garden with my Guerlain bottle (the local English eccentric). I did like how it looked, I must say…..thrillingly ornate and frou from.

  8. Martha

    The fact that you are 100% earnest is the reason why I continue to visit this blog. I am always refreshed or amused or touched by something you have written here. I have a sample of vintage Chant D’Aromes and I just dabbed it all over the back of my right hand. It really is otherworldly, and by the way, the sample was sent to me by a lovely person who is a reader of and frequent visitor to this blog. One meets the nicest people here.

  9. Just beauteous. Some time ago I was indulging in my mania of estate sale-ing and found a gi-normous donut bottle – sealed no less – of DdA Eau de Cologne in the basement. The basement! Among the ancient Christmas ornaments, gallons of bleach and unidentifiable tools, there it sat. I literally almost cried. I carried it up the stairs and into the light of day almost expecting the choral of heavenly angles to burst forth. When I got it home I had a whole conversation with myself – to break the seal or not? What if it had “gone off”? Or even worse – what if it was a dreaded factice? It must be at least 8oz. Telling myself I would only lose $5 (!!!) either way, I did it. I’d smelled CdP in parfum form before and was bowled over – your description, of course, was absolutely spot on. While the EDC is surely a lighter version, it was/is positively otherworldly. Gentle and caressing – I can imagine Titiania wearing this as she flits about the garden. I’ll have to have the immortality of a fairy – I have enough in this bottle to last several lifetimes!

    You are quite right – older Guerlains such as these seem to remain in the basement shadows of the blog world – I too would love to see more appreciation of them. Liu, Atuana and Sous le Vent are all favs of mine.
    And I second Holly – you *are* doing it right here. All that needs to be done is stitch things together in a binding. You wont have to compromise who you are – just put a wrapping around it.

  10. Can I say how incredibly *right* the photograph of the bottle surrounded by those purple blossoms looks? Something about the sympathy between the green velvet/leather collar on the bottle and the green of the stems.

    Until ten seconds ago- I also thought that Mirabelle plum (which is what some people call the fruit note in it) was a purple fruit like regular plums- so to me, in my mind, Chant d’Aromes was always a pastel purple and green fragrance! You can hardly imagine my disappointment when I found out after some doing some Google searches that Mirabelle plums are golden – not purple.

    This is doing my head in…. there is a part of me that is going “but but but… it’s supposed to be purple and green – not golden and green- that’s Chamade…”

    • I was actually really pleased with that photo – I just went out into the garden on the Saturday morning and took a picture of it with some wisteria, but for some reason the computer wouldn’t let me make it as big as I wanted. Although ultimately I have to say that for me, Chant D’Aromes is not so purple. somehow – I do find it quite a golden elixir. Such a divine perfume.

  11. Pythia

    How lucky are we to have the soul of scent be given voice through you. I am so happy to have discovered your blog! I came upon it looking for guidance on one particular perfume – Antonia’s Flowers – and I am here to stay. Your writing is other-worldly, transcendent and true. Scent – perfume – is poetry and power. Your reviews give life to that which we turn to to transport us out of the mundane and the ignoble. Every spring, I am awakened to perfumes afresh, as if the sensual me had been asleep for months… It seems that right after the Vernal Equinox, I am ready to dance, laugh commune, and enshroud myself with some kind of mystery. Perfume opens that door. Your writing captures that mystical element we evoke when that gorgeous veil descends.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

    • It’s hard to know how to reply to such stunning compliments, but if you think I sometimes manage to capture the soul of a perfume on occasion then my aim has been achieved, seriously. THank you.

  12. Elizabeth

    Beautiful in every way, as always. Many thanks.

  13. Christine Garabedian

    Yes, a book. You write so beautifully. You are so gifted and inspiring. You have such a clear and distinctive voice. You could write your own deeply personal journey to find the perfect most sublime scent of all, much like what you do in this blog. You could restructure what you have written. Think of it as a stream of consciousness voyage, much like what you do already, a quest to find what you will inevitably never find. Therein will lie something else, the ‘rosebud’ (Citizen Kane, the ending), that secret hidden somewhere in your soul, the thing that drives you to write. It will be good, even if you don’t find it, but I think you will.

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