Close your eyes, and imagine yourself in a field in Provence. Fresh lavender stretches out in an aromatic purple expanse as far as the eye can see. Slashes of white are interspersed throughout, heliotrope whose delicate blooms launch a powerful cascade of vanilla, marzipan, fresh anise, and powdered meringue. Running through the heart of field is a river of vanilla, silky and creamy, coiling its way around the purple and white flowers to create the scent of lavender ice-cream dusted with meringue and anise. The earth below them is made of patchouli, its spiciness complemented by something a little extra that smells of cinnamon, cloves, and chili-pepper. All around, encircling the field like a dark wall, is a forest filled with myrtle, wafting its unique aromas of spicy herbs, fruity sap, herbal flowers, and green woods. Cedar grows there, too, along with green vetiver that first smells mineralized, mossy, and minty, and then, later, smoky and woody.
Strains of Guerlain’s heritage float like olfactory ghosts over a banker wearing pinstripes in a wood-paneled boardroom. As he sits in conservative elegance and restrained reserve, the Ghosts of Guerlain Past move over him via Jicky‘s aromatic lavender creaminess and Habit Rouge‘s citrus cologne opening that lies atop slightly leathered, balsamic resins. There is also the Ghost of Guerlain Future in the form of L’Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme, as well as strains of a fragrance created years later by a Guerlain family member for another company entirely. This is Jean-Paul Guerlain‘s Heritage, both the name of the actual fragrance and an intentional, symbolic encapsulation of parts of Guerlain’s past.
Heritage (officially spelled with an accent as “Héritage“) is actually meant to feel familiar on some levels. The fragrance was created in 1992 by Jean-Paul Guerlain and, according to the unaffiliated website, Monsieur Guerlain, he intentionally sought to combine some of the most beloved parts of various Guerlain classics into one scent, but to push the limits even further,by “playing on the whole legendary Guerlain scent repertoire.” At the time, it was probably an inventive idea; there weren’t endless flankers back in 1992, and the call-backs to Guerlain’s Jicky and Habit Rouge subtly swirled in a sea of other notes that helped to make Heritage a singular character in its own right. I remember smelling the fragrance shortly after its release, and finding it elegant but also very interesting. People sometimes reference bankers when talking about Heritage, and it definitely gave off that vibe, but what a chic, pinstriped banker he was and how he dominated the room with his complex, powerful presence.