07 April 2010

A Peek Inside a French Woman's Beauty Closet

French women seem to carry inherently the almost-perfect image of beauty. Easily described as mysteriously sexy, effortlessly chic and au naturel, it's no wonder that there's a constant search for THE french woman's "holy grail". 

Should credit be given to the french-praising authors of books like "French Women Don't Get Fat" (which I am gulity owner of) and the  french-founded glossies like Elle and Marie-Claire influencing the malleable minds of beautyphiles? Or could it be that this enviable distinction is just a simple FACT?

Let me try to find out. 

The Happy Spectator (THS) was invited to spend an afternoon of ooh la la la at la Maison Guerlaindubbed as the jewellers in the Art of Skincare since its founding in 1828 by Pierre-Francois Pascal Guerlain, a famous chemist for "precious beauty potions".

              an ancient style compress powder/foundation made in 1918

He became official supplier of custom perfumes to crowned heads of Europe and eventually created Eau de Cologne Impériale (1853) for Empress Eugenie! Also, I was impressed by the brand's devotion to research and innovation upon knowing their Orchidarium in China to be the center of most of the natural raw materials in its skincare line and perfumes.

sample orchid extract for its anti-ageing l'Orchidée Impériale skincare

Admittedly, as an eczema-prone, rare user of luxe beauty creams, I attended this press visit with limited consumer knowledge of Guerlain except for the Terracotta Bronzing Powder(thanks to my older sister whom I would religiously watch apply make up on herself when I was younger) and their recent endorser, Nathalie Vodianova.  Although I had a big hunch that by the end of the day, I would be a Guerlain convert or at least return to the husband with that "french glow".`

At their neo-classical Marais boutique decked in black and gold, I couldn't help myself from wondering which among their products would unlock the french treasure.

                 a less intimidating store facade than the Champs Élysées' branch, alluring many window shoppers

grand perfume organ at flagship boutique, La Maison Guerlain, along Champs Élysées

 From the Terracotta line to the display of iconic fragrances dating back to 1904 to their successful l'Orchidée Impériale, there was too much eye candy.

                                  bronze me away, pretty please. Terracotta Light 45€

a preserved 1904 bottle of Mouchoir de Monsieur, perfume for men

             unique way of getting a whiff of each perfume: sniff the funnel!

Their latest lipstick, Rouge G de Guerlain, based solely on its packaging, is what I call silver sophistication. Designed by jeweller, Lorenz Baumer, it also serves as a chic powder case. Seriously ladies, its case alone had me at "first-glance". I tried my friend's during a dinner inside the ladies room and mid-way through its application, I thought that it would have been sweeter to do it in public! Haha! This lipstick encapsulates
s-e-x-i-n-e-s-s and is a definite win in getting everyone's attention.

                                                      39,0 € in 25 shades

Among the many rich fragrances which almost got me dizzy, I preferred Cologne du 68. Even if my nose was on olfactory overload with the melange(mix) of perfumes, it was refreshing to smell the scent's subtle composition of 68 ingredients. Plus, since it is unisex,  I actually entertained the idea of sharing it with my husband. Cheesy, me.

 Angelique Noire or Cuir Beluga are must-buys for perfume junkies. seductive & unique scents! 155,0 euros 70ml

Regarding Guerlain's les soins, I was amused by the Happyology hydrating cream line claiming to "stimulate the release of endorphins"?! Is this for real? No need to exercise anymore! :-)  L'Orchidee Imperiale is probably amazing but way OVER my budget. For 50ml of creme, it is 350,0€. Obviously I am not its target market.  More of my comments on their skincare products in my next post where I write about their facial treatment.

So are products like these hidden in the secret drawer of every très belle descendant of Joan d'Arc? Is it a matter of having the money to purchase it all? What have the french women been doing for centuries to maintain this fresh look?

Then came the words of a wise french woman, Sylvaine Delacourte, Guerlain's Director of Perfume Development and former make-up specialist.  Deeply rooted in the luxury world since 1994,  she shed some light on the basic truths of beauty care for the french woman.

  • To simply put it, you can't put on beautiful make-up WITHOUT HAVING BEAUTIFUL SKIN.
  • Education and investment on SKINCARE are the rules by which the french play.
  • Make-up must be quick and efficient.
After hearing these statements, I laughed knowing it was pure logic. Instead of spending time in applying the latest shade of whichever tint on your face, FIRST take the time to STUDY the needs of your skin. Then, match it with a daily application of preventive, hydrating creams and proper cleansing. It's simple maintenance. Et voila, c'est tout (that's all).

But for a low-maintenance gal like myself, let's hope that an increased water intake, no alcohol and a touch of Terracotta Bronzing Powder will do and still bring out "my happy glow". Plus, a spray of Guerlain perfume, of course.

Useful Tips:
  • For your fragrance to last all day and night, in the morning, apply perfume behind the ears, inner side of wrists, inner part of your elbows and a spray of eau de toilette on the back and chest areas. This is guaranteed yumminess.
  • Best way to test a fragrance after spraying it on your skin is by using fabric, specifically cashmere or silk.
  • To give your nose a rest during perfume sampling, sniff on coffee beans; granted the store provides it.
  • If you are having difficulty choosing a perfume, there are ways to simplify the selection process like by doing an association sample test as seen below.

THS would like to thank Luxasia and Guerlain Paris.

For inquiries on Guerlain products available in  Metro Manila, Philippines, you may call Rustans Makati & Shangri-La Mall 633-46-36 loc. 122

Guerlain Marais Boutique
10, rue des Francs-Bourgeois
75003 Paris
Tel 01 53 01 02 00

La Maison Guerlain  Boutique
68, avenue des Champs-Elysees
75008 Paris
Tel 01 45 62 52 57


Anonymous said...

How interesting! I also know of Guerlain from their bronzers. Never knew they had perfumes. That lipstick cover is amazing! looks like a tech gadget that my husband could be holding :)
Just curious - what are the prices of their products like in Paris? Is it cheaper to buy there compared to here in the US(kinda like how MAC is cheaper in Canada)?

Abi said...

Hey Anne! I like this article. Fun and interesting. I'm actually a devotee of Guerlain perfume (won't say which one). Miss you!

Anonymous said...

i am interested in the terracotta bronzers. but how to find the perfect shade?? your photo featured rows and rows of them. was there someone to help you pick and choose? are these events ever open to the public?

The Happy Spectator said...

To the 1st anonymous reader,guerlain actually started as a perfume house before becoming also a make-up/skincare brand. and i'm glad you are intrigued by their lipstick. Wait until you hold it and feel its precious weight in your hand. The shades are just as gorgeous. I will get back to you on the comparison of prices--if there is a difference.
by the way, some products like the limited edition fragrances can't be found in the states. you can buy online though!

Abi-thanks for reading! My other fav perfumes are cuir beluga and angelique noire which were apparently done by well-known perfumers. the scents are so unique and leave you feeling so sexy, beautiful. :-)

2nd anonymnous reader, the photo of the bronzers were just one model. they have a new kind called 4 seasons which has 4 different bronzing shades in a case, allowing you to adjust to your present color. that is 60 euros. yes there are many helpful reps to guide you through your selection. here, in the actual guerlain boutiques they also offer free make-up consultation. perhaps in dept stores they will offer the same service--if you live in manila or the states.

thanks all for your comments!

Anonymous said...

very v! :-) classic!

on a side note... (another) tip...don't sniff coffee beans in between...best way to take perfume 'umay' away is to smell your own skin (non perfumed skin, obviously :) haha)... coffee has more complex aroma molecules than most, hence, it will confuse your nose! :-)

Carmen said...

how was the facial? how different are they from those done by dermatologists in clinics?

Anonymous said...

Really interesting post! It's the first time I've seen where all of these creations are done, and removes that image of just a huge factory with workers in white and masks :P

Anonymous said...

Am not much of a skin care person... Only use miracle cream to take away/hide wrinkles... hehe
but i love the article... actually, the bird article below is yummy!

Anonymous said...

Lol, picking perfume can be so complicated!

kristine said...

I LOVE Guerlain's terracota line and their perfumes! Now if only they were more affordable...

Anonymous said...

I love Guerlain's Orchidee Imperiale Cream! Totally divine .. I saw a difference immediately (color less patchy, surface smoother, skin hydrated immediately!) A bit pricey but completely worth it.. The fluid version is cheaper than the creams.