If you were to survey 100 people (Family Fortunes style) and ask them about the best fragrances with Guerlain’s oeuvre, it’s unlikely that the name ‘My Insolence’ would crop up more than few times, if it all. This is understandable when you think about it. Guerlain is not famous for its recent flankers and with classics such as Shalimar, L’Heure Bleue and Mitsouko taking residence in their extensive back catalogue, not to mention popular modern scents such as La Petite Robe Noire, it’s easy to why a fragrance such as My Insolence would be overshadowed.
My Insolence was launched in 2007 as the first flanker to Insolence (Maurice Roucel; 2006), one of Guerlain’s most unapologetic modern fragrances. Where Insolence is the epitome of the Guerlain signature of fruit, violet and iris pushed to the absolute extreme, My Insolence takes a softer approach and is intended to be a much calmer and more subdued olfactory experience that celebrates the brand’s love for all things edible. My Insolence was created by perfumer Christophe Raynaud in conjunction with Guerlain’s Creative Director, Sylvaine Delacourte and is, in my humble opinion, a hidden gem within the many shimmering jewels of the Guerlain lineup.
Top: Raspberry and Citruses
Heart: Almond Blossom and Jasmine
Base: Tonka Bean, Patchouli and Vanilla
How Does it Smell?
My Insolence opens in a whirlwind of fuzzy raspberry and cherry-like almond. The two notes together create an exciting tension between the sweet and the bitter gourmand characters. It’s definitely softer than Insolence, which opens with an H-Bomb explosion of glitter and hairspray, but it’s not exactly a shy and retiring character, either. My Insolence is confident and self assured, it just so happens that it’s a bit less confrontational than its forbearer. Truth be told, both fragrances are utterly fab-u-lous.
The bitter facets become stronger in the heart, and My Insolence takes a step away from girlish frivolity, to a more mature and sensuous core. Jasmine dances and plays with the almond to create a big stripe of bitterness in the heart. This stripe does two things; firstly, it ensures that all of the sweetness around it doesn’t become cloying or sickly, a malady of many a fruity floral, and secondly, it gives My Insolence a bold character to match the violet hairspray of the original.
In the base, My Insolence does become that soft fragrance Guerlain promises. Tonka bean and vanilla (two classic Guerlain materials) present a multi-faceted range of foodie odours, from sweet pastry to delicately spiced meringues, all presented in a frothy and plush manner. Patchouli pins this all together, ensuring once again that the sweetness doesn’t take over (sugar has a tendency to become a bit of a dictator in fragrances, it has to be said) as well as acting as a link back to that almond bitterness that gives My Insolence its character.
My Insolence may not be the most famous Guerlain, nor is it one of the classics, but it is an exceptionally well-crafted perfume. Some may say “Oh, it’s just another fruity floral, I’m bored of those”, and they wouldn’t be wrong, but My Insolence has nearly 200 years of excellence and craft working in its favour So yes, it may sing a familiar tune, but it’s a ditty that is sung well. Sometimes, that’s all one needs to create a good perfume, and My Insolence is a very good perfume indeed.