Perfume Review: Guerlain Insolence
I interrupt The Iris Week to review Guerlain’s new fragrance, Insolence. Many thanks to the very generous Victoria O. for sharing with me her sample!
I would like to preface this post by saying that I love the House of Guerlain and worship Maurice Roucel. That disclaimer aside, I could sum up my impression of Insolence with one interjection- Huh? That utterance of confusion can be interpreted as “I can’t believe this is Roucel’s creation. I can’t believe this is a finished product. And I can’t believe they are actually marketing it in the way they are marketing it.”
According to the official description, the fragrance “does not conform to the traditional olfactive pyramid” having instead a “spiral” composition. It “offers a modern, edgier interpretation of Guerlain values”, aiming “to attract women who like Guerlain, but don’t feel ready for it yet, which translates into a younger target”. (From cosmeticnews.com) What all this comes down to is that Insolence, this supposedly audacious, “modern”, “edgy” scent with notes of “red fruits”, violet, iris, orange blossom, rose and tonka bean is meant to achieve what all the pink limited editions with “love” in their titles perhaps failed to do, namely catch the attention of the young, hip audience.
My feeling is that the attention of that youthful customer so dear to Guerlain’s heart will be lost somewhere after the top notes (or whatever that stage is called in a “spiral” blend). Insolence starts with the promised “red fruits”; I could not tell exactly what fruits these are (perhaps raspberry, red currants, red apple), but the accord does succeed in evoking an image of a generic Red Fruit. It does not have an irritating sparkling, saccharine undertone of so many fruity fragrances and is in fact quite appealing (especially to a hypothetical “younger target”)…And then the violet enters the scene…The pairing of red fruits/berries and violets seemed strange to me when I first heard about the fragrance. I do concede, however, that such a blend might indeed have an “edgy’, funky quality. Unfortunately, this is not the case with Insolence. Instead of smelling “young” and “daring”, violets and fruits smell just wrong together. The violet note of Insolence is in fact rather unattractive. It lacks the delicate loveliness the note so often has and its usually pleasant powderiness feels “dusty” here. This pale, rather boring note seems out of place in a perfume called Insolence. The best part of the scent is the drydown (or the very end of the “spiral”), with its very pleasant tonka bean note. It is smooth, creamy, almost a little smoky and smells like a weaker version of Patricia Nicolai’s Vanille Tonka.
I did not dislike Insolence. I believe that it is actually impossible to dislike this very neutral, inoffensive fragrance. I am however surprised that this hyped-up, celebrity-fronted, supposedly daring scent smells so dull, so innocuous. Unlike many of my favorite Roucel’s creations, so well blended, so full of character and life, Insolence seems to lack some sort of a finishing touch, some crucial ingredient perhaps mistakenly left behind by the perfumer’s apprentice…In one word, it lacks soul. According to Guerlain (via cosmeticnews.com), with Insolence, the company hopes to ”reach the level of popularity of L’Instant in Europe and have a much bigger track in the US”. Moreover, in Guerlain’s opinion, Insolence could be bigger than L’Instant…Painful as it is for me not to agree with such an optimistic prognosis for a Guerlain/Roucel creation, I must regretfully say that I do not anticipate this unexciting scent being a big success. I will be very happy to be proved wrong.
Please read Victoria O’s much more positive review of Insolence here!
It is said that Insolence will be available at Saks in the very near future. According to cosmeticnews.com, the price range is €41.50-€90.00.
Tomorrow, a review of one of Roucel’s most stunning perfumes, Iris Silver Mist.
*The image is from cosmeticnews.com.