Creative Beauty, Obsessive Perfection

- By Andrea Mestrovic -

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In the luxury cosmetics and perfume industry, which generates an estimated annual turnover of US$170 billion worldwide, it is incontestably the history, heritage, and market longevity that decree a champ.  After all, the options are endless, results vary, and marketers are getting superfluously ingenious with unique selling propositions – but the true testament to quality lies in permanence.  Consequently, prior to choosing any product-to-skin contact, whether it be the latest night cream with Imperial Orchid Molecular Extract or Bergamot based essential oil perfume – and before I yet again shell out my hundreds on “the new very best” – I like to be acquainted with the history of the brand.  The outcome is always a winning combination, and learning about the product at hand becomes secondary.
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Four years ago, when I decided that Guerlain will be my go-to brand for skincare, their Terracotta Bronzing Powder (shown right) in 01, 02, and 03 (shade is season dependent) is my unmodified staple, I took the time to read about their beginnings.   And once I did, I got a glimpse into the life of “a musician of scents”, the creator, chemist, and preferred perfumer for all the courts in Europe in the 1800s – Pierre Francois Pascal Guerlain; I envisage his 1828 “Parfumeur Vinaigrier”, Guerlain’s first boutique at 42 Rue de Rivoli in Paris; I discovered that he had quite the royal following: Empress Eugenie (wife of Napoleon III), Queen Victoria of England, Queen Isabelle of Spain, and the unforgettable Empress of Austria, Sissi.  Pierre Francois Pascal Guerlain personally created Impérial, a rosemary-lavender-citrus based fragrance for Empress Eugenie; the fragrance is still on the market today and continues to be one of Guerlain’s most notable products.
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Left: Pierre Francois Pascal Guerlain. Right: Thierry Wasser, current Guerlain in-house perfumer (or 'Nose')

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For over 175 years, Guerlain has been the purveyor of luxury fragrance, skincare, and makeup, consistently defining—and redefining— the principles of beauty. Since 1828 their fragrance house has created over 700 perfumes, many of which are considered masterpieces by some of the “greatest noses” of the 21st century.  The company has also piloted their costumers through a remarkable series of industry firsts – such as the very first lipstick, mascara, eyeliner, and finally skincare that was defined by and based on pure scientific research and compound chemistry.  In the late 1830s, ladies of leisure cherished and prized Guerlain’s Baume de la Ferte (shown right), first lip balm of its kind to contain Bordeaux tannins, which naturally did wonder for lips.
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Although it is no longer in the hands of the Guerlain family – the company was sold to the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH in 1994 – Guerlain continues to be an enduring symbol of elegance and originality.  I can’t even imagine the monotony of life before lipstick – or my underwhelming lack of iridescent glow prior to Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder.
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Andrea Mestrovic is a multi-lingual, multi-talented, but modest multi-tasker who has lived on both sides of the Atlantic. Andrea has a sure-footed instinct for discovering magnificent finds all over the globe. You can follow her on twitter @AndreaMestrovic or read all her posts on oliviapalermo.com/author/andrea
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Andrea Mestrovic is a multi-lingual, multi-talented, but modest multi-tasker who has lived on both sides of the Atlantic. Andrea has a sure-footed instinct for discovering magnificent finds all over the globe. You can follow her on twitter @AndreaMestrovic or read all her posts on http://oliviapalermo.com/author/andrea

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