When Spring is Reborn at Guerlain
Each year, as soon as spring returns, the Japanese come out to admire the cherry trees in bloom. A poetic ritual that Guerlain now celebrates yearly with an exceptional, limited and numbered edition of the fragrance Cherry Blossom.
For the House, this is the perfect opportunity to combine original artistic collaboration with the most virtuosic creators of artistic crafts. This year is an especially outstanding occasion, as it marks the 170th anniversary of the iconic Bee Bottle.
For its precious 2023 Millésime, Guerlain has asked the Ateliers Vermont, a prestigious Parisian embroidery house, to create the magical adornment of its Bee Bottle. A delicate cherry tree branch in blossom, nestled on a grosgrain bow, which expresses both the peerless expertise of French Haute Couture and the timeless poetry of the most moving of Japanese traditions.
Admiring the Beauty of Sakuras, a Ritual in Japan
From the Okinawa archipelago in the south in January to the island of Hokkaido in the north of the country in April, the Land of the Rising Sun follows the blooming of snowy-petaled, pink-tinged sakuras on the branches of cherry trees throughout the land.
To celebrate a poetic ritual the Japanese call hanami (literally “flower viewing”), friends and families get together to admire sakuras. Under the cherry trees, the delicate blooms fall without wilting, “flower rafts” float on streams, and petals flutter in the breeze like delicate butterflies.
This contemplation of the beauty of sakuras expresses an aesthetic emotion that is deeply anchored within Japanese culture: mono no aware, which could be translated as “a sensitivity to ephemera” or, according to the French poet Jacques Roubaud, “the feeling of things”. Countless songs and poems describe this sensation, such as this one:
The blossoming cherry tree
a radiant sun
its petals like a woman’s lips.
– Bashô Matsuo
A Fragrance Embroidered with Delicate Petals
A poetic tribute to the Japanese ritual of hanami, Cherry Blossom was born in 2000. Ever since, like the sakuras on the island of the Rising Sun, this tender, pink-hued eau de toilette has blossomed time and again at Guerlain.
To capture the dazzling, fleeting beauty of cherry trees in spring, the Guerlain Perfumers drew on their full artistry, since the delicate flower does not yield its essence. Perfumers must therefore invent
a fragrance which can express both the infinite grace of its flower-laden branches and the emotion of those who gaze at them…
First, bergamot, an olfactory signature of the House, sheds its golden light on the fragrance. A fresh, subtle green tea accord recalls another of Japan’s ancient rituals, while threading the luminous overture with the heart of the fragrance through its floral tones.
In the heart notes, the Guerlain Perfumers, artisans of the sublime, have embroidered the delicate petals of the sakura blossom one by one onto the precious olfactory materials of their palette… Tender facets of almond, cherry, and powdery lilac, enhanced by a pearl-white jasmine, conjure their airy corollas.
Carried by a breeze of white musks, these flowers fluttering on slender branches herald the rebirth of spring with the most delicate of fragrances.
The Ateliers Vermont, Exceptional Craftsmanship
To offer the most poetic of adornments to this springtime scent, Guerlain has called on virtuosos of artistic craftsmanship.
Since 1956, the Ateliers Vermont have created intricate embroidery in the heart of Paris for the most prestigious Haute Couture houses but also, more recently, for the greatest designers and interior decorators.
The company puts the intelligence of the hand, the embroiderers’ hands who continue this age-old craft, in the service of boundless creativity.
Embroiderers, designers and studios draw their inspiration from over 20,000 archive pieces going back to the 17th century. A fabulous bounty that allows them to keep the art of Haute Couture embroidery alive and to invent it for tomorrow.
For Jean-Eudes Néton, the Creative Director of the Ateliers Vermont, the artistic collaboration with Guerlain on the NEW 2023 Millésime of Cherry Blossom was the opportunity to enrich the multisensoriality of embroidery.
“We gave the bottle an expression, through all of these materials, fabric flowers, sequins, pearls, tubes, golden thread, to bring it to life”, he explains. “It isn’t just about smell: it has become tactile. Other senses have been aroused.”
For the Ateliers, it was precisely this olfactory dimension that shaped their creation: the very essence of Cherry Blossom, its fragrance, was what inspired Jean-Eudes Néton and the embroiderers.
“Each creation is an experience between an object and the person who creates it”, the designer confides. “It is a communion of two elements: of the craft of embroidery and of the bottle of the House of Guerlain, the essence of Haute Couture perfumery.”
In the cherry blossom’s shade
there’s no such thing as a stranger.
– Kobayashi Issa
A Bottle Adorned with a Slender Cherry Blossom Tree Branch
For the precious 2023 Edition of Cherry Blossom, it is no longer the graceful cherry blossom, but the slender, elegant branch of the tree blooming with sakuras that inspired the new creation.
An infinitely delicate ornament, the cherry blossom tree branch created by the Ateliers Vermont matches the virtuosity of Parisian Haute Couture techniques with the poetry of its Japanese inspiration.
For the teams of the Ateliers Vermont, the Japanese tradition of hanami was also an opportunity to revisit the naturalistic inspirations of embroidery, by creating a graceful cherry tree branch in blossom, rising towards the sky, capturing a fleeting moment for eternity.
The first step of its production was experiencing the fragrance of Cherry Blossom. The scent guided Jean-Eudes Néton’s hand as he drew the svelte, blooming branch. The team chose, he says, “a truly three-dimensional embroidery like a jewel, which allows to highlight the most delicate techniques of embroidery to obtain a couture effect.”
The cherry tree branch is embroidered on a thin gauze with a slender golden thread which traces its elegant lines with its asperities and movements. Then, one by one, the golden pearls and tubes that form the body of the branch are assembled by the nimble fingers of the embroiderer. Sparkling and precious, the branch is now ready to bloom. The delicate corollas are made of fabric with different shades of pink, whose heart is adorned with pink, transparent and red pearls, meticulously sewn one by one onto the glimmering branch.
Needle, thread, scissors: the virtuosic hand of the embroiderer performs the countless minute, infinitely precise gestures that will allow the ornament to emerge in all its poignant perfection.
This slender, scintillating branch is set on a sumptuous, powder pink grosgrain bow, matching the scent’s tender hue. This bow is itself made in a precise and controlled folding. It is a homage to the Haute Couture tradition that drives the Ateliers Vermont, and to the Haute Perfumery upheld by Guerlain in this Exceptional Piece.
The delicate adornment is then passed on to the renowned Dames de Table of the Ateliers Guerlain to be fastened to the Bee Bottle. They also affix the white and gold label of this NEW 2023 Millesime. The coffret reprises the House’s iconic Bee motif, embossed on white paper.
This numbered edition is limited to 100 pieces in Hong Kong. Each 125 ml bottle is presented with a 20ml travel spray in its white leather sheath, as well as a funnel to transfer the fragrance. Cherry Blossom, the poetic celebration of the eternal rebirth of spring.