A prunish, stern enigma, Parure sings solitary in the vast Guerlain pantheon as the lone, patchouli chypre. Almost shrewish in her isolation – all saturnine, Mitsouko moss and spiced narcissus,  lilac, and crumbling,fusted roses;  cypress, styrax and bitter green clary sage wrapped sagely in leather – the deep, plum-rich, savoir faire of this full-bodied and very cultivated perfume is rapt, stately, and simultaneously held tight. While almost dark and gloomy, even foresty and witch-like when viewed from some angles (particularly for a Guerlain, usually the house of more simple and immediate sensualities), this curiously beautiful, but slightly passive-aggressive, perfume nevertheless has a great deal of elegance and detachment. There is a dignity here, a plushness. Parure, never quite ahead enough of her times and secretly lost in romantic daydreams of the past, holds back initially, as she conceitedly displays her conspicuously fine-bred taste that keeps you at a comfortable, amethyst-brooch-clasped distance; but then, once warmed through, lets fly those romantic notions – tender, firm, and gravely sensual – that you can tell have always been embedded at the centre of her being. While the reformulated eau de toilette I have in my collection somehow fails to completely make its ingredients gel in perfect fruition – it is not bad but a touch humourless and dank –  the miniature vintage 1ml parfum I once had (found tossed in a box at the Tokyo fleamarket) was a lilting, damascene elixir of deep set roses, patchouli and liquorous, woodland plum that concisely encapsulated the theme set by the perfume’s name – Parure : meaning jewel.




For me there was always something quite nineteenth-century about this creation:  all bustles, cloaks, and fine, thickly upholstered fabric. And perhaps this is not a coincidence. The perfume’s creator, Jean Paul Guerlain, was consciously revisiting, when making Parure, the classic Mitsouko template (created back in 1918 by his father, Jacques), substituting plum for peach, and a more difficult, guarded heart, but still created quite nostalgically with the same inimitable aura of Parisian refinement. Thus inspired by and created for his mother –  Madame Guerlain –  who would actually have lived through that era, his ‘new’ Guerlain chypre perfume, though clearly also influenced by other contemporary patchouli-centred creations of the period including Aromatics Elixir and Givenchy III, nevertheless seems to share none of their interests or 1970’s preoccupations. Instead, Parure remains forever an outsider and from another time: the handsome but diffident, velvet-clad duchess, eyes fixed on the past, her perfume  – and she would never even consider wearing anything else, not even for a moment  – a very real, and quite convincing, Portrait Of A Lady.




Filed under chypres, Flowers

15 responses to “GUERLAIN PARURE (1975 )

  1. I realize that some of you Parure lovers out there will probably disagree with this take on your beloved, discontinued perfume – and I can completely imagine how rather than the images I have bestowed upon her above, this scent, so leathery, patchouli clad and mysterious, could be seen, on the right person, as much more of a prowling, sexual tiger (I would never deny its obvious eroticism).

    Still, for me personally, what I have written above kind of captures my ultimate feelings on this scent which I have found often eludes analysis. There was always something not quite right about it, something just so damn depressing and moody, which is why, I imagine, it got phased out while the ‘Great Mitsouko’ continues to be revered even into the twenty first century. Parure has some strange bitterness in her heart I find, locked and the key thrown away. She is trapped within herself. Alone.

    I would love to hear different takes on your Parure though if you are reading this.

  2. I own that large butterfly flacon with the Parure extrait as well as the edt version in a newer 80’ies conical bottle with a yellow and orange label. (Both ebay finds …). I actually think you are spot on with your descrption. There really is a distanced, nearly forbidding quality to Parure, very solitary. It is also incredibly upper class, very old school fashion, not very welcoming. Yet it is very beguiling at the same time.
    A bit strange as I detest those nearly aristocratic airs “I am far superior to you, so kindly go away”.
    So, I like to wear it when I go to sport: nothing like a sweaty workout clad in Parure …!

  3. You understand Parure exactly. I’ve never met anyone who can get inside a perfume’s head the way you can. You’ve captured her attitude. “Come here and admire me; go away: you’re beneath me.” Wearing some now, applied mid-article, I’m somehow reminded of vintage Infini. I’m almost itching for a pair of short white gloves.

    Now I have a huge lemming for the extrait. It sounds narcotic. I only have the EdT described by OnWingsofSaffron, which is in excellent shape, but it seems only pure parfum really gets to the emotional heart of a composition.

  4. By short white gloves, I mean that both Infini and Parure seem uptight, throwbacks to a more sexually withholding time relative to their release dates: ironically for Infini especially, which was supposed to be very space-age-y and futuristic. Happy to have you disagree, though!

    • To me, Infini is extremely animalic once it gets going in vintage parfum – I find it loose and very sensual in a way but I do know what you mean. It wasn’t remotely cutting edge or futuristic but actually very classical for that time. Parure was equally anachronistic.

      • You’re absolutely right about that animalic thing going on, actually. I get it strongly in this vintage PdT, which incredibly is yellow and bordering on oily, it’s so intense. And yes, animal = sexual. I guess, hmm . . . maybe it’s the hardness to the edges overall, or some kind of icy green metallic chill – the hyacinth? – which seems a bit bitchy? Nothing says you can’t be bitchy and sexy, come to think. Maybe that’s what Infini is? I’m so suggestible. I can see a composition so many different ways, depending. . . Must apply some Infini and compare.
        Yes, loose and sensual and hard and sexy-nasty in a good way, and still classical. Wow.
        Always so much fun to explore this stuff.

  5. Why this appeals to me I don’t know. Maybe the chypre part and patchouli as the great unknown and unsmelled. I like your description, somehow it appeals to my present humeur, a bit darker than mood. I’ll go and check it out somewhere in the scented universe. Such a pity that the old and bygone parfums are so rare and so costly. Sometimes I feel like living in an almost phantom world, where ghosts come out and call to me in a forgotten language. Sorry to sound so gloomy, I definitely am in need of a perfume pick-me-up!!

    • Well I hope you feel better soon. This time of year IS gloomy, but sometimes, as with music – if I am miserable I want miserable music and vice versa- a more moody scent can be a form of succour. Parure isn’t depressing, by any means, but it’s definitely distancing. And with the way the world is at the moment (and if it’s cold, foggy weather to boot) a form of perfumed armour can be quite comforting.

  6. Once again you have captured the essence of a fragrance, no pun intended. I just wore Parure yesterday and it is definitely a 70’s homage to the past. This is a fragrance that is well aware of its “age of Aquarius” contemporaries, yet wants nothing to do with them. She is far too sophisticated to have been a hippy and she really does not know what to make of bell bottomed pants, yet she takes it all in while wearing her perfectly matched outfit adorning herself with her finest jewels. Yet at the same time her heart aches to really understand what all the free love during the 60’s was all about, she could never let down her guard enough to have experienced that. That is why she has this touch of bitterness that comes across, yes Parure does have some bitter notes in her, just very nicely hidden under a polished veneer. She is a beauty that longs to be wanted and ravaged, but she just cannot let herself go enough for that to happen; she truly is a reserved creature, but she has a hidden sensuousness.
    This truly is a fragrance that screams ” take me now” but at the same time accusingly asks “what do you think you are doing?”

  7. Lilybelle

    I love this post. I don’t know Parure, and from the tone if things I don’t think she’d care for me (I have a sunnier disposition most days), but I can see myself admiring her from a distance.

    • Then we would probably react in similar fashion. A woman walking by in this would certainly get your attention (and admiration for her choice of scent if it suited her). The whole thing might just feel a bit RESTRICTING though somehow. She’s certainly not easy going!

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