Fragrance X
First in Fragrance
My Photo
Location: New York, NY
© Copyright 2005-2011 Perfume-Smellin' Things
All rights reserved
Custom Search

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

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 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, 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, 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


Blogger Caitlin Shortell said...

Wow. I feared as much about Insolence. Just wanted to say I am sooo bummed that my workplace has blocked all employees from blogs as of today so it really limits my misbehavior. Thanks for this review. I still wanna try it, as mediocre and confounding as it may be.

10:51 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

How dare they block you from blogging!! Hrmph!

You must absolutely try Insolence and tell us what you think!

10:56 PM EDT  
Blogger Victoria said...

Well I like it, I think the violet is very nicely done, but then we differ in opinions often.

Because it is not as fruity sweet as most expect, I think it will win people over. Aside from the perfume blog world, the campaign should do well among the masses. I felt a something genuine from the stories I read of the launch party. That is partly why I feel even more strongly about its success.

I hope you consider testing it properly when it comes out. I feel maybe the tiny drops of the remains were inadequate for proper testing, or else I am just an optimistic dreamer.

11:17 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much again for sharing this with me! I do hope that it does well and is popular. As I sad I love Guerlain and wish them all the best...I know for sure though that Insolence is sadly not for me :-(
But you are very right when you say that it is not as fruity as one might think reading the list of notes. I almost wish there were more fruits and less violets.

11:24 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Gosh, I hope no one at Guerlain ever reads this :-) (not that they would) It makes me uneasy and very self-conscious to think that actual makers of scents might read my ramblings, especially not very positive ones.

PS. I have huge hopes for Bois d'Armenie...with that name, how can it not be great? :-)

11:42 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What idiocy on Guerlain's part. I think of young, edgy scents as something Mark Buxton creates for CdG or Colette. Guerlain clearly doesn't dare to go for something really edgy, but is opting for edgy words w/ no substance to bear them out. I can't blame M. Roucel - clearly he was given certain parameters to work w/in. At least the bottle design is interesting.

7:40 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

I love it when a review of yours doesn't make me reach for my credit card. It happens so rarely!

I generally dislike (modern) fruity florals in any case. Even ones that are well-liked tend to make me feel queasy.

8:34 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Cait - they blocked you from blogging?!?! WTF?!?! I mean, it's not like you're sitting there all day playing Cubis. I know how hard you work. B@stards.

Marina -- this one had Crap written all over it, from the first time I read those evil fruity-floral notes and "younger audience." Yo, Guerlain -- who the hell do you think is paying stupid money for things like Sous le Vent and PQJ? You can kiss my ... well never mind. So -- now that I know I'll hate it, tell me, Colombina -- is it as wretched as the pink stuff they keep sticking in their other entry-level Guerlain bottles? It can't be THAT bad if Roucel did it? Right? Help me out here...

9:20 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm somewhat relieved. Didn't expect much of this anyway. Bois d'Armenie, on the other hand, better be stunning. Now that I know my scent twin didn't like this, I can relax. ;)

9:51 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Of course it is isn't M. Rpucel's fault! :-) A perfumer does as he told. He was told to make a daring scent that would also be inoffensive at the same time...that is how I imagine it happened...:-)

PS. I actually don't liek the bottle. Especially the color. As Victoria O. pointed in her review, the juice isn't all that "pink". The bottle should have been purple-ish.

9:52 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

This one is not "you". It's not "me" either, so my judgement should be taken with a grain of salt. Now, if I were to make a scent called Insolence, it would have definitely had elather. That would have been edgy. Leather and Sounds good to me!

9:54 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

It might work! I would love to know what you think about it. Victoria O. likes it a lot. I am rooting for Insolence despite what I think about it, because it is Roucel's child.

9:55 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Here I am, starting to be as diplomatic as I am, making disclaimers and pronoucing eternal love...and there you go, calling them names LOL!!
I'd say it is more or less on the level of Colours of Love and such. I don't know how made those, it might also be great names following an impossible brief from the boardroom.

9:57 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I didn't dislike, but I didn't like it either, if that makes any scent. I found it hard to feel any emotion, because it is so neutral. You never know, you might like it a lot! You like POTL after all :-P

I am all aflutter about Bois d'Armenie!

9:59 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG. Just went and saw the bottle on Victoria O's site. NOOO! Horrible. Makes sign of cross and backs away from ugly thing. I had no idea it was pink and even the shape somehow looks different in that picture.
Yep. Definitely not Maurice's fault. Poor man.

10:17 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

LOL, my sentiments exactly.

10:24 AM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Interesting how your description of the fragrance so perfectly matches what you'd expect from the ad -- in which they've managed to remove the life & soul from an actual human and make her look like plastic...

2:46 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Good point! Great point...

4:09 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having obtained a sample at work, yesterday, I googled to get some kind of "clarification" on this scent. I was so confused! It seemed that something was missing to combine the two types of notes - floral and fruit. It was pleasant enough for me to try (floral scents make me nauseous), but lacked that substance that I find sandalwood and vanilla scents bring. Insolence doesn't last long either. Your blog provided the explanation I was searching for (I knew I wasn't crazy). Thanks.

10:53 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

That's how felt too. There was violet and there was "red berry" and the too just didn't mix together.

10:57 PM EDT  
Blogger Magic said...

Thanks for your review. I just discovered your blog; I'm thrilled to find your critques, as well as this community of perfume connoisseurs! In any case, I knew there was something wrong with Insolence. After a Google search for reviews I discovered you blog and my suspicions were confirmed. My mom and I have been Guerlain lovers for years; thanks your passion about this house.

4:22 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Dear Magic,
Thank you very much for your comment. I tried and I tried to like Insolence, but it just does not work :-(

8:38 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

I actually find Insolence to be quite pleasant. The hype and the bottle and Airbrushed Swank aside, I like it because it gives a strange creamy quality to violet and iris, a hint of sweetness from the red berries that I found actually works very well with my body chemistry. The intial (10 min) drydown is a little sharp and what I would expect from those cool florals, but it really warms up after a bit and it works well on me. I can definitely see this being dependent on chemistry because it teeters around as it dries down (the 'spiral' effect seems more like a balanced diffusion of the notes to me). I dig it, and although it's not 'racy' or 'edgy,' I would say that it has uniqueness without being in-your-face. Starts out floral and herbal, with berries dancing in and out, and the tonka bean intensifies throughout (relatively intensifies, as this scent certainly isn't intense). I agree that this is not pink, they should have gone with a deep ruby or warm royal purple color. Great blog, I love reading your reviews!

2:23 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you for your kind words!
I am so glad Insolence works for you so well. I wanted to love too.

3:09 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I LOVE Insolence!! I've never gotten so many compliments on a fragrance, from both male and female co-workers! It's different, not overpowering, feminine. . .Several other women at work have asked me for the name and picked it up since I've been wearing it.
No offense, but I don't get it at all. . .This is a beautiful fragrance.

11:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well,I love Insolence,andI am very difficult to please,and a total perfume addict.It is edgy,differentI love the violets,and it is not as strong as say Jean Patou 1000.Its sexy and a little rude,just wanna get down and dirty with it,and I am middle aged!!

11:10 AM EDT  
Blogger Sunny said...

I have not worn fragrance for over 15 years due to chemical sensitivity and last month I finally felt ready to hit the perfume counter (an area I have avoided like the plague for so long) to ask for samples. Since spraying myself with floor samples was not really an option for me, the woman who helped me loaded a little bag with samples of about a dozen scents, all of which she said were "light." Her version of light and mine are obviously very different, but there was one out of the lot that I not only could tolerate, I could wear and enjoy on an almost daily basis, and Insolence was the one. I'm not as discriminating as many of you, since I can't even get near most fragrances without ending up with a migraine, but I wanted to mention how much I have been enjoying Insolence. I am neither young, nor edgy, at being a 40 year old mom, so maybe they missed the mark there, but they have helped me feel a little more feminine and sexy. I have missed wearing fragrance all of these years.

I have even been very limited in what hair products I have been able to use- only fruity fragrances, and some other "foody" ones, like vanilla or coconut. It seems difficult to find perfumes that don't temper their fruityness with things I can't handle, like sandalwood, lavender or my least tolerated of all, patchouli.

I wish more companies offered vial samples. Now that I have started again, I want more, more!

3:34 AM EDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home