How does one distil the essence of an artwork into a perfume? Delphine Jelk, Director of Perfume Creation at Guerlain, may have achieved it with the luxury perfumer’s latest creation. Launched as part of its L’Art & La Matière collection, the new fragrance celebrates jasmine, one of the six ingredients that make up the Maison’s secret olfactory signature known as the Guerlinade, a unique blend of notes (or accord in perfume parlance) which undergirds Guerlain fragrances.
The new perfume, Jasmin Bonheur, features two varieties of the delicate white blossom: jasmine Grandiflorum and jasmine Sambac. Inspired by the jasmine that originates from Calabria, Italy, Jelk had visions of warm Mediterranean light and happiness that she wanted to express when she was creating the new fruity-chypre fragrance. “I also have my own memories of jasmine in the south of France because I studied in Grasse. And of course, the light and colours of Henri Matisse who found happiness in the south of France,” says Jelk.
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For collectors, the juice is housed within a limited edition bottle created in collaboration with Maison Matisse, a design house whose objets d’art are inspired by the works of the French artist. Jasmin Bonheur continues Guerlain’s tradition of crafting raw materials into works of art. The motif on the embossed plate on the bottle stopper features elements from the artist’s Les Mille et Une Nuits—the vibrant jasmine, hearts and leaves that dance across Matisse’s canvas perfectly capture the exuberant essence of the perfume.
The process of creating the perfume was a very personal journey for Jelk, who described the process as “an exercise of style” as she tried to materialise a very specific jasmine scent she had in her mind. Her idea of a jasmine perfume existed long before the creation of Jasmin Bonheur. With jasmine being a notoriously difficult flower to work with, she had yet to create a jasmine-centric perfume she was completely satisfied with.
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She says, “I have to say that I’ve never smelt a perfume with jasmine where I found what I like in the flower. And I think it’s because it’s hard to work with, as jasmine absolute is different from the flower. You can smell the jasmine, but it’s much more intense and normally, you don’t have the freshness and brightness of the flower. To find the magic of the flower [that you find] in nature inside a lab is very difficult.”
When thinking about scents that conjure that sense of joy that Matisse’s paintings evoke, Jelk immediately thought of “a little pot of apricot oil that I have had from my mother and grandmother since I was a child. This is the smell of happiness because it’s the smell of caring. This scent makes me feel like a child again.” With Jasmin Bonheur, she wanted to balance the sensual, heady scent of jasmine by igniting it with notes of apricot as well as iris and rose. The delicate alchemy of her chosen ingredients culminates in a bright and invigorating floral fragrance, redolent of sun-drenched fields and clear summer skies.
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So what else makes Jelk happy? In a word, life itself. “I’m really a life lover, what makes life good is beauty. In French, we say ‘le bon et le beau’—what is good and what is beautiful. I’m really into food and art, and my family is also a great influence. I have four children and I love their spontaneous joy which is very contagious. Nature also—when I visit the plantations and watch them harvest jasmine at five in the morning, I am amazed that life can give us so many beautiful things.”
Jelk created Jasmin Bonheur not only to celebrate joy, but to bring joy to the wearer. An olfactory composition as lively and delightful as Matisse’s paintings, Jasmin Bonheur is the perfect scent to welcome the warmer months.