This post is a second installment to Now and Then series of reviews in which I compare different versions (in terms of age) of the same perfume. So far I only talked about Chanel Antaeus in this sort of way. In 1998 the house of Guerlain launched Coriolan, a woody chypre fragrance, taking its name from a legendary Roman general – Coriolanus. Obviously the scent was leaning towards masculine perfume audience. After a couple of years the fragrance was discontinued, however, in 2008, 10 years after Coriolan launched, Guerlain introduced “reorchestrated” (read: reformulated) version under the name of L’Ame d’Un Heros (eng. Soul of a Hero).
Guerlain Coriolan starts with the aromatic edge thanks to the vetiver accord. It smells dry and woody with the earthy feeling in the background. It creates a really big scented veil around the wearer for the first 20-30 minutes. After that time you can smell the sour and tart bergamot combined with lemon. There’s something juicy about these two notes but the aroma they give is mostly from their rinds. Citral and limonene seem to be providing the aroma.
After a couple of minutes those citric tones evolve and become muted, with the dusty feeling growing stronger and stronger. The oakmoss accord used in Guerlain Coriolan is exactly like that. It has this musty vibe that is somewhere in between dusted and powdered sensations. Nutmeg causes the oakmoss to be even more prominent, as nutmeg smells dry and spicy here. Sage introduces herbal elements to the composition but they never get strong. The herbacious vibe remains in the background, oakmoss and spices play the main role in this perfume.
The leather accord confirms the masculine character of Coriolan as it smells raw and dirty, a little bit like a horse saddle. There’s also a sweaty feeling to this note, the odour of a man’s body. Another dry spice – coriander recreates the earthy feeling of this perfume, making it even closer to the wilderness it represents. There’s also a bit of fennel which in my opinion adds a weird curry-like aroma to the composition. The petitgrain accord also smells dusty but also a tag green, just a little bit. Patchouli in the drydown adds the scent of damp earth, some rotting leaves on the ground.
Hints of benzoin introduce some balmy elements to the drydown, together with patchouli they build dimension and depth of Guerlain Coriolan. The overall feeling of this perfume is that is smells dry, musty and masculine. It’s built like a traditional chypre fragrance. Oakmoss plays the most significant role in it, together with vetiver and dry spices. The rest is slightly less important.
Some time after the launch of L’Ame d’Un Heros in 2008, when perfume lovers already made an observation that the fragrance is similar to earlier discontinued Coriolan, the house of Guerlain admitted to the fact that L’Ame d’Un Heros is “reorchestrated” Coriolan. Reformulation literally castrated the fragrance from what Coriolan had best to offer – the oakmoss. The fragrance starts with tart and brisky bergamot with a paper dry woody finish provided by vetiver.
The aromatic opening is continued with the colder and metallic aroma of juniper berries, that also brigh the elegant spicides of moderate levels. Soon L’Ame d’Un Heros becomes more citrusy. You can smell some juicy lemon and the rind, as well as some floral and creamy tonalties given by ylang-ylang accord. The scent of hyacint brings slightly more dominating chypre vibe to the composition. At this point you clearly can smell that this fragrance lacks the dusty, raw and dusky feeling that oakmoss was providing in Guerlain Coriolan. Too bad it’s no longer there.
After around 1,5 hours L’Ame d’Un Heros starts to smell woody and earthy with a patchouli note being especially noticeable at the moment. There’s also some piquancy and warmth from the black pepper, which spices up the blend. Immortelle adds this slightly dusty and syrupy impression but it’s not any close to oakmoss. For the next couple of hours the fragrance smells rather linear on me, effusing the woody-spicy combination with some citrus in the background.
I find the drydown of this fragrance to be a bit herbal and green. There’s a bunch of sage bushes dried by the sun and I think some galbanum, however this note is not mentioned anywhere. Benzoin brings the slight balsamic and a little bit cloying feeling. L’Ame d’Un Heros is a part of Guerlain Les Parisiens – the exclusive line available in the boutiques. It’s housed in 125ml bottle with a wooden frame. EdT concentration.
Guerlain Corional and L’Ame d’Un Heros are not like twins. They are like sibilings. They share some similarities but they are not identical fragrances. In my opinion Coriolan is way better for the couple of reasons. If you do care for a good, manly chypre, I suggest picking Coriolan instead of the other one. However it’s been discontinued years ago, it’s still possible to get for a reasonable price from online stores. And it’s few times cheaper than the exclusive L’Ame d’Un Heros.