Years ago (2008), Guerlain made a limited edition perfume to celebrate their anniversary AND to celebrate their customers that spent like a bazillion dollars with them. OK, maybe not a bazallion dollars but their loyal customers that probably do spend a lot. It was a non-commercial perfume that was a gift to loyal customers and industry insiders. One of my friends was one of these folks (actually a few were, but she’s the one that shared a small sample with me).
These days 180 Ans is on sites like eBay for like a bazillion dollars (OK, like $900 or so). You guys know how it is. If you want to immediately increase the demand and the price of a perfume, discontinue it. This one was already a limited run and didn’t have a retail price, it has like so much going on that makes it really, really desirable to collectors and people that are all about exclusivity. People always want what they “can’t” have.
180 Ans smells like all the Guerlains. Well, maybe not all but a lot of them. It opens like pink grapefruit and black licorice.There is this dry, fruity pink pepper. If you didn’t know who made it, you’d already know it was a Guerlain. This opening is gourmand but not really edible which is so Guerlain-y. It’s sweet with vanilla, tonka beans and almond-y heliotrope. The heart is a sugary jasmine white floral with a smooth, boozy tonka. There’s a benzoin, which I always think Guerlain does very well. The base has something green but not really mossy over this sweet vanilla and powdery iris with a smoky incense. It’s that classic Guerlinade, the DNA of the brand (and this perfume was based on the long discontinued La Guerlinade which was like the Guerlain base in a bottle). This base really is the “perfect” amber and what has kept Guerlain in business for all these years.
180 Ans is a wonderful perfume, but I still can’t say that the dollar value slapped on this non-commercial limited edition perfume is a fair price. It’s absolutely stunning in that it does capture what makes a Guerlain perfume “a Guerlain perfume”. What I can’t understand is why Guerlain is not launching perfumes like this for their permanent line! None of their recent launches have been this exceptional. And look at what people are willing to spend on this! People want Guerlain. We don’t want fifteen flankers of La Petite Rose Noire. We’re sick of seeing Shalimar in new limited edition bottles. When we want something “new” from Guerlain, we want something like 180 Ans. But, what we really want is for them to stop discontinuing epic classics like Nahéma etrait, which in my opinion is the most beautiful rose perfume in existence. Guerlain used to be my favorite perfume house but these days, I can’t say that they are. They keep taking away what I love from them. And they won’t stop reformulating perfumes from the lines like L’Art et la Matière and Les Élixirs Charnels. I know this turned into a rant, but I think Guerlain and I have grown apart…or at least for now. And when I see them making stuff like 180 Ans but then releasing stuff that isn’t as good, well, I get a little bitter and a lot frustrated with the industry.
Back to 180 Ans…it’s a lovely perfume. It really is a beautiful interpretation of the long history of the house. It’s a prime example of how Guerlain does oriental/gourmand so well. Now, should you feel an emptiness deep inside you because you don’t own this? No. Wear Shalimar. Wear Attrape-Coeur. Be wild. Wear them together. Wear all the Guerlains because, hell, they may discontinue them tomorrow.¹
Sometimes you can find it on eBay for under $1000. And The Perfume Court sells 5mls for $200 (half an ounce is $559). Crazy. This is starting to make spending a lot with Guerlain just to get the exclusives seem like a profitable investment, no?
¹That’s me being really dramatic. But, really with these big brands, who even knows? They have no loyalty. They cut what doesn’t sell and search for a new trophy spouse that still won’t make them happy…that’s how we always end up with boring flankers in this industry.
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*sample obtained by me. Ava Gardner and her Guerlain pic from www.borntobeaunicorn.wordpress.com