Guerlain makes perfumes since 1828. That means that length of their activity is 7 times longer than my current age, which probably makes me the worst person to talk about the brand. Yet sometimes I want to do that. Let’s make it clear from the start – I value Guerlain for their heritage, for all those old fragrances of almost mythical status. But I’m somehow indifferent to their novel offerings. Yet I wanted to try their latest fragrance, I searched for sample & swapped with someone to get it.
Guerlain Lui (meaning “him” in both French and Italian) is marketed as a perfume of a new genre. It is inspired by a generation of those who refuse to be viewed through the prism of gender & stereotypes connected to them. The brand says “neither totally feminine nor truly masculine, it is both at once”. The brand clearly changes their mind quickly because just few months ago we celebrated ultra femininity with Mon Guerlain, and now we’re all about refusing being defined by gender norms. You gotta be flexible if you want to cover the broad spectrum of a market, I guess?
You know what? I’ll do what I always do. I will forget about marketing chit-chat and tell you about Guerlain Lui as if it was any other perfume I decided to review. The opening of Lui brings forward a sheer smokiness that progressively puts on weight in the next couple of minutes. Even though it becomes more substantive I still consider it light, it’s like a gray-tinted veil of smoky goodness. Right behind a front facet of smoke I detect a burning aroma of myrrh, it’s faint but it’s there. It has a little bit of that melting plastic vibe on my skin but I find it to be mostly spicy with a hint of woods.
It doesn’t take much time longer until Lui warms up with a delightful clove accord. This note is a marriage of warm and spicy elements that entwine together in a beautiful way. This warmth is embracing, soft & sensual. As the perfume accommodates on the skin it starts to unleash the sweetly vanilla-scented zephyr. It adds a delicious, full-bodied flavor to Guerlain Lui, making it feel more creamy in a non gourmand way. On my skin it feels very rounded and really sophisticated.
When vanilla joins the composition, a clove note is still very present. This particular note then gradually transforms into carnation. When that happens it almost feels as if someone put that soft spiciness of clove on fire which gave birth to a flower. Carnation rising like a phoenix from ashes. Floral tones in Guerlain Lui are elegant yet something is lacking. The flower is subdued too much. It becomes even less noticeable when base notes start to appear from the depths of Lui.
Soon appearing leather note makes carnation almost completely hidden. Even if it’s not exactly leather in my opinion, because it’s fuzziness and something powdery in the second plan make it much closer to suede, its fragrance is so full of power that carnation loses in this battle for attention. Things become even more dense when benzoin shows up. This time it’s very resinous, balsamic. But it’s somewhat bright, honeyed, so that in overall Lui doesn’t feel like a dark perfume.
In more distant drydown I can smell pear for a few minutes before it’s gone in unidentified blend of woody tones, slightly animalic musk that smells of fur, probably also some patchouli or amber (though these are not listed) Guerlain Lui is a linear fragrance. Most of these things above happen within 1st hour and then it just exists on the skin in not much changing state. Lui not only is a letter play on a name of 1929’s Liu but even a bottle design is borrowed from this historical fragrance.
Do I like Lui? Oh yes, I do, very much. Screw the fact that it’s not unisex at all. I like the way it smells good and my nose finds it attractive – that’s all that matters to me. I’d be happy to have a bottle of Guerlain Lui but with its luxurious pricing (160€ for 50 ml) it’s very unlikely that I will get it. But this bottle is lemming-worthy too! Despite its linearity, Lui is a lasting fragrance, it stayed on my skin for a whole day with a constantly low sillage. It’s a perfume to seduce someone. Perfumers behind this eau de parfum are Thierry Wasser and Delphine Jelk. Lui is one of Guerlain exclusives.